local bands

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.

In 2004, Jerry Dirr, drummer for the band Knife the Symphony, got the crazy idea that he wanted to start his own record label, with a focus on presenting the kind of music that he likes and that he thought deserved to get noticed.  

Ten years later he and his label, Phratry Records have established relationships with dozens of bands and have released albums for groups from as far away as Toronto [The Shanks], Madison, WI [Tyranny is Tyranny], Portland, OR [Palo Verde] and even Croatia [Joe 4]. 

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