album review

Bulletville: Bulletville

Jan 20, 2015
magnoliamountain.net
Photo by Angie Lipscomb

There's a video going around lately, created by Nashville songwriter Greg Todd, in which six current hit county music songs are all played simultaneously. If you watch the video, what you quickly realize is how shockingly and painfully similar each of the songs are.  

One could easily argue the case that the majority of current popular music is equally formulaic, regardless of genre, and that given most of the songs you might find in today's "Top 40," it is the producer, not the artist, who is the driving force behind the industry. Look at the work of Max Martin or Calvin Harris and you'll see title after title performed by various, insipid Johnny Bravos who worked the assembly line, played the game and achieved their fifteen minutes.

Knowing this makes me want to scream "Thank goodness!" that there are still true musical craftspeople out there like Mark Utley

Pike 27: Calling Out

Jan 6, 2015
pike27.net / FFTV Media

Every once in a while, you find a group that sounds less like a band and more like a few good friends getting together to have a good time. Such is the case with Mike Fair (guitar), Dave Killen (drums), Dave Purcell (guitar, vocals) and Sean Rhiney (bass) who collectively call themselves Pike 27.

The band's name is an obvious reference to Alexandria Pike - Northern KY's Route 27 - that winds through Cold Spring and Ft. Thomas...and finally exhausts itself somewhere outside Paris, KY. However, Pike 27's true roots can be found about 500 miles south of there in Athens, GA -- 583 miles to be precise, if you detour through Nashville, as this band has certainly done.

New Sincerity Works: 44

Dec 9, 2014

44 is a very difficult number to deal with. I know because I'm there.

At 44 you're closer to 50 than you are to 30 and yet you still feel like 30 is old. Sure, you may have the kind of job where you don't have to mop up before you go home; but you also can't party until 3 am because you have to get up at 7 to get the kids on the school bus. So what do you do when you find yourself saying, 'Who am I - and how did I get here?'

If you're Mike Tittel, the creative force behind the band New Sincerity Works, you sit down and write a painfully honest album that feels like a musical version of therapy and you call it 44.

Photo by Christopher Vercheak

Grab your favorite tattered flannel and strap on your 10-hole steel-toed Doc Martens, because Subsets are bringing back the eighties with their new album twothousandfourteen.

For sixteen and a half minutes, every note of twothousandfourteen is a relentless assault of viking fury, packaged to sound like the best of underground bands from labels like SST and Epitaph Records.

Ohio Knife always gives you more than you expect, yet you still want seconds. If there is a real-life personification of the "this one goes to eleven" mentality, you can find it in this Cincinnati band made up of Scotty Wood [bass], Andrew Higley [keyboards], Joe Suer [drums] and Jason Snell [guitar, vocals].

Everything about Ohio Knife is big, bold, loud and full of serious in-your-face attitude. The same can be said for everything about their latest release Our Neighborhood.

Cincinnati's favorite bearded, bohemian brethren, Buffalo Killers are back and are producing cool rocking music at a speed that would made Bob Pollard blush.

Their newest release from Sun Pedal Recordings is called Fireball of Sulk and is a 6-track bookend-like follow-up to their album Heavy Reverie which just came out this past Spring.

Smut: P U R S E

Nov 11, 2014

I'd like you to take a moment and think of your record collection and pick out your two favorite albums. Now, take your favorite sounds from those two albums.

I don't mean think of your favorite songs, but rather, just take an assortment of those uniquely sublime moments that put a hook in your brain and make you think, "Yeah, this is MY music." Try to distill all of that down into something that represents the very essence of the kind of music that speaks to you as an individual on an intimate, almost personal level. Now collect all of those little bits and pieces and mash them together in some kind of mental particle collider.

If you had my brain, the resulting fusion would probably sound an awful lot like PURSE, the new album from Cincinnati band Smut.

facebook.com/daycampband

Sometimes this gig is just freaking awesome.

Back in January of this year, I was turned on to a local act that quickly became one of my favorites - Day Camp. Their throwback 1990's sound takes what's best about Pixies, Lemonheads and TMBG and mixes it with their own sardonic and cynical lyricism as well as tremendously groovy rhythms.

JetLab: JetLab

Oct 28, 2014
facebook.com/JetLabmusic

JetLab strikes me more as a project than a band. It is a giant, musical crucible where rules don't seem to apply and nothing is excluded - and the general rule of JetLab is "go ahead and throw it in and let's see what comes out." But what else would expect from band that started out as a bet?

When I reviewed Sleeve's album Sex Is Stupid back in May, I wondered if they might turn out to be some kind of a one-off band and if I might never hear from them again.

How glad I am to be wrong - again.

Something magical happens for me whenever I get around Lexington, KY. I find myself in a place that is not quite The South but it is certainly no longer The North. It is a land in-between, like the gloaming. It's Narnia, it's Middle Earth. It's a dream-like place where I begin to feel like I'm not so tightly anchored to the real world anymore.

How perfect it is then that a band like Bear Medicine calls Lexington their home? The band's first full-length album, The Moon Has Been All My Life, which was recorded by Otto Helmuth at Nitro Sonic Studios, absolutely shimmers with a shamanic, mystical energy. The ten songs on the album transport you and transform your general outlook. In terms of musicianship, Bear Medicine might be Lexington's answer to Cincinnati bands like Buffalo Killers or The Ridges.

With a lonely baritone ukulele, a voice that is lilting and endearing and a notebook full of delectable poetry, Nancy Paraskevopoulos has recorded a collection of beautifully quirky and charming songs and wrapped them up into a tasty nugget of an album that she calls Comfort Muffin, released earlier this year on Chow Records.

Photo by Nikki Murray (buttershug.com)

So many bands today seem to rely on a gimmick in order to get attention. It might be outrageous costumes, on-stage antics... or maybe it's the incorporation of some strange and obscure 18th century musical instrument; but it seems like almost everybody needs their 'hook' if they want to be noticed in today's media-saturated world.

Then, every once in a while, you run across an artist like Royal Holland. Holland cuts through the sonic clutter with a razor-sharp acoustic guitar and purely superlative songwriting.

Earlier this month, he released his 5-track EP entitled Volume One - The Maze at Northside Tavern. Described as 'dreamy, smooth synth-folk songs about love and loss,' Holland's music is transportive and multi-faceted. He can weave tunes that evoke feelings of calm reflection ("Twin Rivers") and palpable tension ("The Maze"); or he can write energetic melodies that make you want to stand up and clap along ("Devil's Night").

Bummer's Eve is the latest in a series of lo-fi, noisy punk bands that have descended upon the Queen City. However, what sets this band apart - and above - the others is their unique, effects-driven sound that they call 'fuzz punk.'

There is a lot to like about the band's 5-song release entitled Pleasure Isle that came out this Spring.  At their core, Bummer's Eve is a band deeply rooted in the music of punks progenitors like The Damned and Buzzcocks; but they then take this classic fervor and saturate it within layers of fuzz-tone, phasing, and heavy vibrato. The result is a gorgeous marriage of psychedelic and sociopathic.

This week's review is a bit unusual  - mostly because the subject of the review is pretty unusual itself.

On August 8, local bands Ohio Knife and Skeleton Hands were paired together on the Fountain Square stage as part of the Midpoint Indie Summer celebration. To help promote this event, and to celebrate local music in general, Jason Snell, lead singer of Ohio Knife and creator of the downtown branding company We Have Become Vikings, decided to cut a limited-edition 7" dual single and release it on white vinyl.

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