Cincinnati • Hip Hop
Da muttss, which recently returned to the Cincinnati club scene with a lineup reuniting the group’s MCs Kyle David, El Born and Bimu Bishop, make some of the most diverse, multi-dimensional and creative Hip Hop in Cincinnati. The crew split in 2008 immediately following its excellent second album, The Sophomore Slump, but are now back on track with a new DJ (DJ Spam), plus plans for a third group album and solo records from all of the MCs.
Dig it: Prince Paul, The Pharcyde, Mos Def, The Beatnuts. (MB)
8 p.m. Saturday at Fountain Square
Cincinnati • Indie Pop
The collective résumé of this Cincy trio is a gloriously tangled bundle of branches from the Cincinnati Indie music family tree, with past/present connections to The Fairmount Girls, Culture Queer, Meadoe, Radiolaria and Ditchweed. Introducing itself in 2008 with the Studio of Beauty EP, Darlene has been making its adorable, sugary Pop racket in venues around the city ever since. And they’re quite the hospitable hosts — free cupcakes, anyone?
Dig It: The new Archies/Josie and the Pussycats-style cartoon based on Sonic Youth. (MB)
9 p.m. Friday at MOTR Pub
Daughters and Sons
Cincinnati • Funk/R&B
Three years ago, Daughters and Sons rose out of casual jams between guitarist/vocalist Willy Morren and bassist James Cooney, organized five minutes before Morren quit music out of the usual frustrations. A steady series of additions led to the band’s full formation and within months, Daughters and Sons were the city’s premier Funk/Rock outfit. They have the 2008 CEA for Funk/R&B to prove it. Tight rhythms, wailing horns, quivering keys, raucous guitar and Morren’s manic vocal presence combine in a frenetic Funk fever, the simultaneous cause and cure known as Daughters and Sons.
Dig it: Sly Stone and George Clinton shoot dice with the ghosts of Curtis Mayfield and Jimi Hendrix as the Royal Crescent Mob plays on an ancient stereo from a broken window. (BB)
11:30 p.m. Friday at Mr. Pitiful's
Indianapolis, IN • Glam Pop
Dead Beats couldn’t be any more broadly influenced if they claimed Dvorak and Death Metal as inspirations. The Indy quintet draws equally on Tin Pan Alley Pop like Harry Nilsson and The Kinks, populist Rock like The Beach Boys and ELO and left-fielders like Brian Eno, Ween, Tom Waits and Frank Zappa. On paper, it seems impossibly unworkable, but Dead Beats stitch it all together with a surgeon’s skill and a conductor’s elegance. Weird and cool and beautiful.
Dig it: The Polyphonic Spree with the exquisite Pop sensibility of Harry Nilsson, the avant absurdism of Captain Beefheart, the Glam heart of David Bowie. (BB)
10 p.m. Thursday at Below Zero Lounge
Death on Two Wheels
Atlanta, GA • Rock
Frontman Trae Vedder’s grit-encrusted vocals animate this crew’s Southern Rock jams and inject a little psychedelic spice into its Skynyrd base. The Atlanta quintet’s debut EP, Separation of Church and Fate, has converted many a listener, including a Paste reviewer who name-checks everyone from Chris Robinson and Gary Rossington to Duane Allman and Kings of Leon. Maybe, but the lush Pop of “Sweet Love” reveals a band capable of transcending its more obvious touchstones. Bring on a full-length, guys.
Dig: Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special with balls, Kings of Leon. (JG)
Midnight Friday at Jack Potts Tavern
The Delta Saints
Nashville, TN • Southern Rock
The Delta Saints uphold the best traditions of Southern Rock — razor sharp slide guitar riffage, harmonica runs that are alternately as soothing as a baby’s breathing and terrifying as a hellhound’s growl, a slinky yet powerful rhythm section and a soulman at the front who croons with a preacher’s passion and howls with a sinner’s leer. The Nashville quintet shifts from the sweet lull of a siren’s song to the four-alarm uproar of a fire-truck siren in half a heartbeat. The Delta Saints have come for your soul; just put in the plate when it goes around.
Dig it: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sonny Landreth and Blackfoot lost in an electric swamp. (BB)
11 p.m. Friday at Jack Potts Tavern
Despite the Lion
Cincinnati • Alt/Pop/Rock
Despite the Lion’s tale is in its early stages, beginning innocently enough with two Cincinnati area musicians who, growing sick of only finding Rock Star wannabes to play with, took a step back and found likeminded souls that wanted to make music purely for the love of making music. Irony of ironies — they ended up with a catchy sound (with imaginative textures, echoing guitars and the artistic maturity to allow the songs lots of space to breathe) that might just make them the Rock Stars those other dudes wanted so desperately to be. But they’ll have done it on their own terms. The band members’ passion is evident in every note they play.
Dig It: Thrice, Eisley, Copeland, Mae. (MB)
9 p.m. Thursday at FB's
Drew Laplante & the Broke Jones
Covington, KY • Rock/Acoustic/Pop
If you’re looking for mopey songs about how much the world sucks, don’t come knocking on Drew Laplante’s door. The Northeastern Ohio native and current Northern Ky. resident is committed to fighting cool-kid cynicism one sincere, optimistic song at a time. Laplante’s EP Believe shows off his acoustic stylings well, loaded with bubbling grooves and highlighted by his captivating voice, a raspy instrument that spreads like a cosmic glaze across each track.
Dig It: Jack Johnson with the flip-flops, surfer dudeness and summertime beach jams surgically removed and replaced by a Midwestern soulfulness and reflective riverbank autumn jams. (MB)
10 p.m. Thursday at FB's
Drink Up Buttercup
Philadelphia, PA • Indie Rock
The best weirdness comes from Philly, and nowhere is that truism more evident than in the twisted brilliance of Drink Up Buttercup. The quartet’s debut album, Born and Thrown on a Hook, is a marvel of musical dichotomy, veering from Psychedelia to trippy Folk to sunshine Pop to noisy experimentalism to jangly Rock, sometimes from song to song and sometimes from verse to chorus to bridge. If Marah is Philly’s Bruce Springsteen/Replacements hybrid, then Drink Up Buttercup is their Polyphonic Spree/Tom Waits gene splice.
Dig it: Todd Rundgren and The Kinks drop carnival acid and are absorbed by the grooves of The Man Who Sold the World and After Bathing at Baxter’s. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Friday at Madonna's
Bisbee, AZ • Americana/Folk
This singer/songwriter grew up in Michigan and studied Jazz at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, but in 2007 he visited his father in the very small town of Brisbee, Ariz., near the Mexico border and surrounded by desert and mountains. The gorgeous scenery inspired him to move to Brisbee and influenced Charles’ songwriting, as evidenced on last year’s Time For Breakfast.
Dig It: Desert sunsets, desert sunrises, Calexico. (MB)
10 p.m. Friday at Washington Platform
Cincinnati • Electronic/Punk/New Wave
With Eat Sugar, the buzz hits hard and fast. In a short time, these four have gained attention from international press, released two albums, toured the UK and gained a large local following. Combining a New Wave sound with futuristic Punk and Electronic elements, their ultra-kicking tunes create an intense, artistic circus, and, from the first note, you’ll know it’s time to show off your dance moves. The band’s fresh full-length, Levantense, is smothered with sweet synth sounds, driving drums and Aidan Bogosian’s deep, alluring vocals. Catch Eat Sugar — it’s worth the next-day crash.
Dig it: F’n dance! Spoon Simple Minds a drumming pilot. (C.A. MacConnell)
8:30 p.m. Thursday at The Cincinnati Club
Cincinnati • Hip Hop/Jazz
Eclipse made an impact on the Cincinnati scene the minute the ensemble coalesced over three years ago.
Dig it: The Roots, OutKast and Return to Forever collaborate on the score for Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club 2010. (BB)
8:30 p.m. Thursday at Mainstay Rock Bar
Athens, GA • Indie Pop
Even if you haven’t a clue what “Elephant 6” is, chances are, if you’re a fan of melody-laden Indie Pop, you’ve either heard an E6 band or at least an E6-influenced one. Along with Apples in Stereo, of Montreal and Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power was a key member of the collective, which joined forces over a mutual love for classic Pop melodies and arrangements. EP has been rolling since 1994 and recently released one of its finest works yet, a self-titled affair loaded with rootsy, kaleidoscopic Pop gems. Some bands go through a revelatory “Sgt. Pepper phase” once in a career; Elf Power has lived in it since the first note. The mysterious Elephant 6 art film/AV collage Major Organ and the Adding Machine will get a special screening just before Elf Power takes over the MPMF stage.
Dig it: The Zombies, Beatles, Beach Boys and numerous other artistic masters of unforgettable song structures and inescapable melodies. (MB)
12:30 a.m. Saturday at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club
Body of Friends, Body of Water (Enlou’s third EP in just over a year) is a magical listening experience and contains some of the finest, most mesmerizing Indie Pop you’ll hear this year. Enlou’s imaginative sound is sparkling and watery, a streaming flow of twinkling textures, unique song structures, crafty harmonies, creative rhythms and instantly memorable melodies. The band’s entrancing dynamics alternately gush and trickle and the sound is hypnotic enough to make you wonder if someone might have spiked your drink while you were listening.
Dig It: MGMT rewrites U2’s Unforgettable Fire and turns it into a Dream Pop masterpiece. (MB)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Grammer's
Eric Tepe Band
After almost a decade of honing his songwriting skills and performing constantly at various venues as a solo artist, singer/songwriter Eric Tepe decided to take things to the next level. He assembled some of the best players in the city to back him and recorded the band’s self-titled debut, which is due out in October. It’s a power move to make Eric Tepe Band irresistible to the masses and the music industry and, so far, the artist has done everything perfectly, developing a high-quality, accessible sound built on grand, majestic songs dripping with powerful hooks and heart-on-sleeve passion.
Dig It: Coldplay, U2, Snow Patrol, One Republic. (MB)
11 p.m. Friday at Mainstay Rock Bar
Evan Holmes with Exit Ghost
Chicago • Folk Rock/Americana
Evan Holmes was a founder of Chicago Alternative Folk group The Days, whose split led to his first solo forays and the formation of backing band Exit Ghost (with a couple of former bandmates lending a hand) in 2009. The group quickly released The Pony Soldier EP that year and Holmes and Co. are currently wrapping a follow-up EP due next month. The band has been a common presence in Chicagoland’s club scene and is working on exposing its violin-laced twist on traditional American Folk music to the rest of the country.
Dig it: Neil Young, Wilco, Sun Kil Moon. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Saturday at Segway of Cincinnati
The Fairmount Girls
Cincinnati • Indie Rock
Lineup shifts and slight re-calibrations in its sonic approach have done little to diminish this longtime Cincinnati staple’s creative verve. In fact, its current incarnation — which includes The Tigerlillies’ Pat Hennessy and former Ass Pony Randy Cheek — might be its best yet. Still distinguished by the addictive intertwining vocals of organist Melissa Fairmount and drummer Dana Hablen, FG’s robust wall of sound careens and caresses in equal measure. As their most recent album title might suggest, who says The Fairmount Girls can’t go on forever?
Dig it: Kaleidoscopic Indie Rock with a girl-group twist. (JG)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club
Brooklyn, NY • Math Rock
Fang Island describes its sound as “everyone high-fiving everyone,” which is about as apt a description as one is likely to find of this Brooklyn fivesome’s jubilant Math Rock soundscapes. Creatively hatched at longtime musical incubator Rhode Island School of Design, Fang Island’s self-titled debut has drawn praise from every corner of the Internet, including the tastemakers of Pitchfork. But, again, it’s the band’s own words that remain incisive: It counts “friendship” and “summer” as its main influences, both of which are immediately apparent the second a song like “Daisy” kicks into gear, spreading guitar-shredding love in every direction. If the band’s live show is anything like its recorded output, fist-pumps and smiles are guaranteed as far as the eye can see.
Dig it: Dan Deacon remixing My Bloody Valentine, Andrew W.K., an endless roller-coaster ride. (JG)
11:30 p.m. Friday at the Contemporary Art Center
Chicago, IL • Pop Rock
When young rockers Filligar hit the road in support of its latest album, The Nerve, they kicked off the trek on an impossibly high note — opening for Eric Clapton and Roger Daltrey. Not only were they not booed off the stage, the crowd apparently ate it up, a testament to the band’s sense of Rock & Roll history, which comes through in the quartet’s soulful, energetic and poppy sound.
Dig It: Mom and Dad’s record collection comes alive, goes to beat up kids’ record collection, changes mind and decides to hang for a while. (MB)
7 p.m. Friday at Fountain Square
Fists of Love
Cincinnati • Indie Rock
When former Snake Punching Contest singer/guitarist Donna Rubin returned to Cincinnati from the Bay Area a few years back, she forged a musical kinship with adventurous local guitarist Chris Schadler (who also sings) and the seeds of Fists of Love were planted. Bassist John Curley and drummer Cedric Rose eventually jumped on board and this year’s self-titled introductory EP was an excellent representation of the band’s varying shades of entrancing, strangely catchy Noise Pop.
Dig it: Thurston Moore joins The Kills and they begin to make alluring, unpredictable Psych Pop together. (MB)
9 p.m. Saturday at Below Zero Lounge
Fools For Rowan
Nashville, TN • Rock
Fools For Rowan could only have happened faster if they’d sprung fully formed from Zeus’ forehead. The Nashville-based quintet is comprised of seasoned veterans and within months of forming FFR, the band had recorded its debut album, Twisted. Tied Up. Tangled., opened shows for Halestorm and Sick Puppies and garnered a metric ton of good press, particularly for lead vocalist Erin Mullins, who’s been favorably compared to Paramore’s Hayley Williams, Pat Benatar and Heart’s Wilson sisters. FFR can hit the balcony and play for the front row; see them now before every seat in between is occupied.
Dig it: The sons and daughters of Heart rise up and smite Evanescence. (BB)
11 p.m. Thursday at Jack Potts Tavern
Cincinnati • Indie/Folk
Singer/songwriter Jason Wells has been recording music as for algernon since 2001, crafting dark, personal, poetic songs that have a way of precisely capturing the human condition at its most downtrodden and, by doing so, are tangentially uplifting in a “you are not alone” way (he also has a dry wit and references literary works, lest you think he’s constantly a Danny Downer). His talent as a songwriter and arranger was evident even on his lowest-fi home recordings, but the relative robustness of his more recent collaboration with the band Sleepybird showed Wells’ potential to create greatness on a bigger scale.
Dig it: Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse, M. Ward. (MB)
10 p.m. Saturday at Artworks
Cincinnati • Garage Rock
Foster Grants are like the Indie Rock version of the Stooges and the MC5. The trio pumps out dissonant, pulse-pounding Garage Rock with a soulful Blues heart and a careening individuality that doesn’t give a goodly damn about image or what the kids are listening to these days. Show up to Foster Grants’ traveling carport, get your ass up front and prepare yourself for the raw and bloody truth about Rock & Roll.
Dig it: The Strokes sans the trust fund education with an actual dirty garage to practice in and an Iggy fixation, in the best possible way. (BB)
8:30 p.m. Saturday at Mixx Ultra Lounge
Frontier Folk Nebraska
Covington, KY • Americana
What’s in the water over yonder in Covington that makes the Roots music a little rootsier, the Bluegrass a little bluer and the Folk a little more folked up? Frontier Folk Nebraska is just another fantastic example of a Northern Kentucky band taking the simplest sonic ingredients and cranking out music that is both elegantly authentic and energetically contemporary, with the electric power to shake the dust off the rafters, the acoustic subtlety to let it settle and the intensity to raise a campfire blister in either mode. If those are Americana CDs peeking out of your saddle bags, Frontier Folk Nebraska just might be your new favorite band.
Dig it: Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright III, Neil Young and Ryan Adams thumb it cross-country, singing in bars on Saturday nights and in the choir on Sunday mornings. (BB)
9 p.m. Thursday at Washington Platform
Los Angeles, CA • Pop/Adult Alternative
Guatemalan-born, L.A.-based Gaby Moreno — probably MidPoint’s first Emmy-nominated songwriter (for co-writing the theme to NBC’s Parks and Recreation) — has the kind of talents people sell their soul to the devil for. She has a soulful, golden voice that is downright hypnotic and she writes irresistible songs that are catchy as the flu without being formulaic and predictable. Singing in both Spanish and English, Moreno has been showered in accolades, handpicked by Ani DiFranco and Tracy Chapman to be tour support and asked to collaborate with the legendary Van Dyke Parks. Why she doesn’t have a higher profile and isn’t in constant rotation in every Starbucks in the country might be one of the world’s biggest mysteries. But talent like Moreno’s can’t be held down forever. You’ll being hearing lots more from her soon, so see her now.
Dig It: Devendra Banhart reborn in Norah Jones’ body. (MB)
8:30 p.m. Thursday at Blue Wisp Jazz Club
The Galt Line
Poolesville, MD • Americana/Swing
The Galt Line is a jumpin’, jvivin’, swingin’ Washington DC-area quartet that meshes R&B, Rockabilly, Western Swing, Jump Blues and Gypsy Jazz into a sound built for dancing. The band began in 2008 as a “ukulele-guitar duo” and gradually added members with the hopes of building The Galt Line into an all-encompassing Americana big band. The number stands at four members now, but they’re still going to get you moving the moment they take the stage.
Dig it: Americana with a groove, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Asylum Street Spankers. (MB)
9:15 p.m. Saturday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
Gentleman Jesse and His Men
Atlanta, GA • Power Pop/Punk
Don’t see Gentleman Jesse and His Men if you want precise, complex guitar solos and avant-garde ambition. However, if you’d like to indulge in an endearing, delectably unfettered basement soundtrack that stems from an equal love of ’60s Pop and ’70s Punk, these guys will satisfy. Per an interview with founder/guitarist/vocalist Jesse Smith, the band’s motto runs somewhere along these lines: “It doesn’t matter what it is/ if it’s fast or slow or aggressive/ just as long as it has a hook.”
Dig it: The Replacements when they were feeling affectionate and lighthearted. (Reyan Ali)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at Main Event
Girls Guns & Glory
Boston, MA • Americana
Five short years ago, a quartet of similarly influenced Bostonians coalesced around an abiding love of the Americana sound, christening themselves Girls Guns & Glory. Crafting a sonic identity from the raw materials of Country, Rockabilly, Blues, Folk, Western Swing and Rock, the band hit the studio just three weeks after its launch to begin recording its debut album, Fireworks and Alcohol. GG&G’s third and latest album, 2008’s Inverted Valentine, earned an Album of the Year nomination in the Boston Music Awards, and they were BMA’s Americana Act of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Dig it: The Band, Dwight Yoakam and Chris Isaak channeling the untamed spirits of Hank Williams, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. (BB)
11:15 p.m. Friday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
Chicago • Indie Pop
Gold Motel is the brainchild of Greta Morgan, cofounder and creative force behind popular Chicago Indie band The Hush Sound. With The HS on hiatus, Morgan packed up for California and began writing songs for the next phase in her career, forming a full backing band in the process. The debut Gold Motel album, Summer House (released in June), is the confluence of a wide spectrum of Morgan’s classic Pop influences (from swinging, vintage girl-groups to The Beach Boys’ pre-freak-out ’60s gems), all slathered in a SoCal sunniness that is guaranteed to raise your spirits, rain or shine.
Dig It: Beach Blanket Bingo starring The New Pornographers and Camera Obscura. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Thursday at Mixx Ultra Lounge
Cincinnati • Indie Pop/Rock
Goose has been lighting up the local scene for the past eight years, but frontman Jason Arbenz and drummer Paul Cavins have been subverting “normal” music for the past quarter century, dating back to their Liquid Hippos days in the ’80s and later with Throneberry. With Goose, Arbenz, his brother Jordan, bassist Lance Stapleton and Cavins have found the perfect balance of youthful energy and mature classicism, veering from reflective Pop quietude to Blues/Rock/Soul thunder with a well-timed glance. Goose is great in a studio, but on stage they become an elemental force of nature. Dress appropriately.
Dig it: Joe Cocker fronting The Jayhawks for either an Elliott Smith tribute or The Afghan Whigs’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Friday at Mr. Pitiful's
Georgetown, OH • Folk
Many Folk singers probably think of themselves as some sort of philosopher, but most don’t have the credentials of Greg Loving. The Illinois native teaches philosophy at University of Cincinnati Clermont College when he’s not writing and playing Folks songs both alone and with his duo, No Consolation. Fear not — you don’t have to have your Master’s to enjoy Loving’s music, which is smartly written, clever and insightful, but not academically so, likely thanks to avowed influences like John Prine and Bob Dylan and an evident sense of humor that shines through in his writing.
Dig It: The young Shel Silverstein, Arlo Guthrie and Kris Kristofferson climb into a time machine, become one person, land in 2010 and continue reflecting society in song. (MB)
9:15 p.m. Thursday at Courtyard Cafe
Cincinnati • Blues/Soul/Rock
Since its formation in 2003, Grooveshire has become one of the area’s most revered and hardest-charging Jam/Blues groups on the circuit, racking up hundreds of local and regional appearances and acclaim for its debut EP, last year’s American Son. In 2009, on the heels of American Son, Jambands.com knighted Grooveshire with the coveted “New Groove of the Month” honor, and this year the band has been busy touring and recording its soon-to-be-released debut full-length. If hard work and dedication translated to fame and fortune, Grooveshire would be U2; as it is, they’re just happy to be playing for you, too.
Dig it: The Black Crowes get their chocolate in Phish’s peanut butter, thereby inventing Grooveshire’s Allman Brothers Cups. (BB)
11 p.m. Friday at Washington Platform