On Drgn King’s sophomore LP, front man Dominic Angelella tells the story of growing up in Baltimore, MD aka Mobtown (various slogans include "The City That Reads" and "The Greatest City In America). Baltimore Crush is a song cycle that trips through time, re-visiting rock 'n' roll ghosts, churning in the undertow of the present and imagining worlds to come. The songs revolve around a community of disenfranchised kids looking for kicks while trying to make it in a world they can call their own. An underground music scene in a church basement flourishes until various forms of mayhem derail the DIY dream. Angelella's singing and guitar playing is matched by Brent Reynolds’s keyboard soundscapes with the anchoring rhythm of drummer Joe Baldacci and bass player Steve Montenegro.
Drgn King spent a year on the road in support of their debut album Paragraph Nights. The genre-hopping, psychedelic-influenced disc, which spawned solid press and radio play, had AllMusic calling it “…a less bleak if equally as spiritually transcendent version of The Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin.” They were also named by Alternative Press as one of their “100 Bands to Watch” and VICE waxed metaphoric with, “DRGN KING sounds exactly like what smelly stoned group sex would sound like. It's messy… It's certainly different, but not scary different, awesome different.”
For the new album songwriter Dominic Angelella and producer Brent Reynolds wanted to crack open their process and make a record that inhabited a completely different space than their debut. The two had met in a recording studio a few years before and found common ground between Dom’s DIY pedigree (Hop Along) and Brent’s hip-hop track productions (The Roots, Mac Miller). Sessions were booked in between tours and new material was worked out while on the road. Dom found himself writing songs while at college house parties in Ohio, in the suburban punk-sprawl of Northern Illinois, in windowless after-hours Carolina bars, and at East Coast festivals including Firefly in Dover, DE and WXPN’s XPONENTIAL Festival in Philly. Reynold’s deconstructed sounds which were fed back to the rest of the band who perfected the songs as the tour rolled on. Angelella and Brent then re-worked the new material at Kawari Sound, a studio built in a century-old carriage house in rural Pennsylvania.
The album title is also the same name as an ill-fated Women’s Football team that folded before they could play their first game. Baltimore Crush is a feverish ten-song meditation on memory, nostalgia and the dangers of being stuck in the past. The genre-mixing is still present: the lead single “Undertow” flirts with picked bass lines and surf-pop guitar/tambourine, while tracks like “Alchemist’s Lament” and “Solo Harp” bring to mind the stoned-soul prog of Shuggie Otis and Todd Rundgren. The album’s centerpiece is arguably “St. Tom’s,” a piece Angelella wrote about going to see bands in suburban Maryland churches. Amongst the upbeat, dance-y backdrop, he sings “cut a hole in the grass to the past, and we made our way down the path to the woods where all the boys stood dumb and frightening. I once was afraid but I’m seeing better days. The future’s so exciting. It’s so much more exciting than today.”