Nashville • Alternative/Rock
Inspired by everyone from Paul Simon to Arcade Fire, this trio makes a huge, engulfing sound full of spacious guitars and passionate vocals that somehow still manages to come off as intimate and personal. Together since 2004, Oblio’s catchy, epic songs have led to steady tour dates and gigs with artists like Camera Obscura (they played with the Scottish group on Fountain Square this summer) and Chairlift.
Dig it: ’70s Folk Pop, U2’s grandeur, The Walkmen. (MB)
10 p.m. Saturday at Mainstay Rock Bar
Atlanta, GA • AltRock/Indie Rock/Post Rock
If the way a band’s music sounds played a determining role in their point of origin, O’Brother would come from a city much colder than Atlanta. Perhaps Minneapolis or Anchorage. The five-piece’s wintry, brooding aesthetic contains notable strains of Metal, Post Rock and occasionally Emo (the good, early ’90s kind). The band’s material is built on song structures that twist, distortion-driven fireworks, and Tanner Merritt’s pained, imprecise vocals dissecting the world around him. Last year’s The Death of Day was a winning release and, with time, the young band’s output should grow even more powerful.
Dig it: A band whose sound wants to analyze a theological/psychological issue while dragging you down into a figurative Hell. (RA)
10 p.m. Friday at Fountain Square
The Odd Trio
Athens, GA • Jazz/Funk/Fusion
The word “Fusion” was created for bands like this, a threesome of classically-trained, technically-gifted musicians who get their freak on as The Odd Trio, concocting a dizzying, freeform mix of Rock, Funk and Jazz without boundaries. Alternately experimental and groove-centric, abstract and direct, The Odd Trio is as advertised.
Dig it: Sun Ra, Phish, Prog Jazz (MB)
11:15 p.m. Saturday at Courtyard Cafe
Oh My God
Chicago, IL • Indie Rock
A perfect blend of Art Rock, Glam Punk and hook-laden Power Pop, Chicago’s Oh My God are well loved in the Cincinnati area. The band’s 2008 MidPoint appearance was a revelation (and the group’s first local show since a near-fatal 2007 van accident suffered near Cincinnati while touring a side-project band), followed by an equally visceral gig jus six weeks later. Since then, OMG has acquired new drummer Michael Caskey and added bassist/guitarist Zach Verdoorn to create a more conventional quartet, but the band still relies on the original tandem of organist Ig, pushing other worldly Hammond organ sounds through Leslie cabinets and bassist/vocalist Billy O’Neill’s thunderous runs. Oh My God is exactly right.
Dig it: The songbooks of Deep Purple, ELP and Uriah Heep as translated by Hesker De. (BB)
10 p.m. Saturday at Fountain Square
London, England • Pop/Rock
With a disarming sense of “humour” and a collection of catchy Pop tunes, British singer/songwriter Ollie Childs counts Cat Stevens, R.E.M. and Crowded House among his influences and his melodic writing style reflects that. He recently completed a U.K. and European tour with Ben Taylor (son of Carly Simon and James Taylor) and had his profile raised considerably when his parody of Plain White T’s hit “Hey There Delilah” called “Hey There Facebook” went viral and notched over half a million views.
Dig It: David Gray, Monty Python, Crowded House. (MB)
11:15 p.m. Friday at Courtyard Cafe
Covington, KY • Rock
Playing a mangy, boisterous brand of Rock & Roll that falls somewhere at the crossroads of Hard Rock, Punk and contemporary Southern/Roots Rock, this Northern Ky. foursome has been building a rep locally since forming just a year ago thanks to its tornadic live show. The group’s relentless pace and unkempt swagger makes them the dictionary definition of a dive-bar house band circa 2010, but don’t let the sonic steamroll lead you to believe it’s all just brute-force Knucklehead Rock — the slashing, infectious melodies and imaginative songwriting and guitar interplay reveal Oso Bear to be a talented band with the potential to go far. The band’s first EP release is due this fall.
Dig It: Pre-Arena Rock Kings of Leon, a Southern-born-and-bred Replacements. (MB)
10:15 p.m. Thursday at Courtyard Cafe
NYC • Alternative/rock
The four multi-instrumentalists of this NYC crew have some impressive résumés that include work with Lauryn Hill, Nas, Spacehog and Rye Coalition. The bandmates’ versatility and experience gives them a wisdom that’s channeled into the accomplished, synth-infused AltRock on the Overnight’s debut album, These Days Are Over.
Dig it: Jakob Dylan auditioning to join The Killers, ’80s New Wave with a ’90s Modern Rock heart. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club
Cincinnati • Garage Rock
While The Greenhornes enjoyed their about-to-end hiatus (ask Jack White what happened if you don’t know the story), the band’s singer/guitarist Craig Fox worked with the much-loved Cincinnati Suds. Drummer Andy Jody’s band Pearlene was interrupted when bassist Jesse Ebaugh joined the Heartless Bastards around that time. Meanwhile, Ebaugh’s predecessor, Mike Lamping, was without a project and accepted an offer to join Fox and Jody. And thus was born Oxford Cotton, which has been melting faces and rocking asses for the past year. OC’s John Curley-produced debut is imminent (as is the new Greenhornes disc). If you have any face and/or ass remaining, stay tuned. Oxford Cotton wants what you’ve got.
Dig it: A garage made out of amps, a car shaped like a guitar, an AM radio that will only receive The Kinks, The Pretty Things and Nuggets compilations. (BB)
11 p.m. Saturday at Below Zero Lounge
Nashville, TN • Indie Rock
Parachute Musical has been around for nearly seven years, but the piano-based quartet didn’t hit its stride until moving from Washington DC to Nashville in 2007. In short order, vocalist/pianist Josh Foster, guitarist/vocalist Tim Gilbert and drummer Ben Jacoby found bassist Andrew Samples, recorded their well-received sophomore album, 2008’s Everything Is Working Out Fine in Some Town, and began building a loyal following at home and well beyond.
Dig it: Rufus Wainwright if he swaggered instead of swanned, Coldplay if they turned that frown upside down. (BB)
11 p.m. Saturday at Mainstay Rock Bar
Louisville, KY • Electro/Dance/Indie/Pop
If you’re looking to shake your so-called “groove thing” Thursday night, this Louisville’s quartet’s set is bound to be an instant dance party the second they take the stage. The Pass craft self-described “Psychedelic Synth Pop” but it’s not just a couple of stoned dudes rockin’ their laptops. With guitar, bass, live drums and, yes, synths (and other electronics), the band concocts an endearing New Wave disco vibe, but what makes The Pass exceptional (and decidedly non-“ ’80s retro”) is guitarist Kyle Peters’ superb singing and melodies, which would connect no matter what the musical setting. The dance beats are precise and the synth lines bleep and blip across every track on the band’s 2010 EP, Colors, but there is nothing mechanical or robotic about The Pass. This might well be the “sleeper show” of MidPoint this year.
Dig It: Phoenix, VHS or Beta, The Tings Tings. (MB)
Midnight Thursday at Jack Potts Tavern
Pete Dressman & The 6 Five Shooters
Ft. Mitchell, KY • Blues/Rock
Singing his ass off locally for years, heavily gigging and scoring a dedicated following, throaty, charismatic vocalist Pete Dressman belts it out with an Eddie Vedderish drawl. In 2006, he was voted Favorite Solo Artist on Fox Network’s MyNetworkTV national competition, and he’s shared the stage with several national acts. Now a fresh four-piece, the Shooters’ bluesy Rock and stage presence attracts packed-in, drooling, front-row onlookers. Might see a few “weird, wild, drunken dancing fans” beam in from no man’s land.
Dig it: Pearl Jam’s ocean days, John Lee Hooker piggybacking Chad Kroeger. (CAM)
11 p.m. Thursday at FB's
Saratoga Springs, NY • Psych Beat Pop
Phantogram is the duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, friends since junior high who originally got together three years ago as Charlie Everywhere. With their label signing early last year, they changed to Phantogram and buzz-band status ensued with the release of their debut LP, Eyelid Movies. Phantogram creates a sampledelic soundscape of organic and synthesized textures that are chilly enough to quell the most mosh-driven riot and groovy enough to inspire spontaneous ceiling-dancing (take that, Lionel Richie). Carter and Barthel claim influence from Serge Gainsbourg, and Detroit Hip Hop — who are we to argue? The duo becomes a trio on its current touring trek for the first time — Tim Oakley from The Mathematicians joins the twosome on drums samples.
Dig it: Dream Pop meets Trip Hop, Morcheeba, more chiba. (BB)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at Know Theatre
A Place To Bury Strangers
Chicago • Shoegaze/Rock
A Place to Bury Strangers does indeed go for “total sonic annihilation,” but its brilliant shoegazery finds melody in Rock & Roll and a touch of New Wave. At the helm of APTBS is Oliver Ackermann, whose arsenal of room-rattling pedals — appropriately via the company Death by Audio — includes the 8-bit-spreading Robot and the fuzz-screamer dubbed Soundwave Breakdown. Expect to hear those and variations in the set, fit for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and MGMT.
Dig it: My Blood Valentine and raptors tackling Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. (RS)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Contemporary Arts Center
Cincinnati • Garage Rock
Four and a half decades ago, Andy Warhol organized New York-and-beyond multimedia happenings featuring the Velvet Underground, Warhol films and contemporary dance which he dubbed the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. It’s decades later and a trio of Cincinnati high schoolers (guitarist/vocalist Phillip Alexander, bassist Andrew Oliver, drummer Robert Francis) have seemingly stabilized the formula, although these new Plastic Inevitables explode with an even greater concussive force than Warhol’s art machinations. PI’s debut album was recorded with six mics and GarageBand, influences that range from VU to The Black Keys to Jack White and they have a raw talent that won’t be constrained by Cincinnati’s zip code.
Dig it: The Strokes record a tribute to the Velvet Underground with Jack White producing and Wayne Coyne throwing shit around in the studio. (BB)
9 p.m. Saturday at Washington Platform
Verona, KY • Pop/Rock
Beginning life as Filthy McNasty (and then just Filthy), Poke is a quartet of veteran musicians that has been around the Greater Cincinnati music scene in some form for over a decade. In 2007, Poke (led by married couple Tom and Julie Judge) finally got around to releasing its first album, Happy Accidents, which showcased the group’s simple, endearing Garage Pop songs which are often slathered in sly humor.
Dig It: Jonathan Richman, Moldy Peaches, Dead Milkmen. (MB)
8 p.m. Friday at Artworks
Cincinnati • Indie Rock/Pop
When the atmospheric Pomegranates appeared with the smokingly fun Everything Is Alive, they burned up several radio stations, hitting the road with bands like French Kicks and Islands. In 2009, back home, they gave some love to Everybody, Come Outside!, their second creation, mixed and mastered by TJ Lipple (of Aloha, who has also worked with MGMT). Pomegranates’ imaginative, innocent feel is a welcome, uplifting snack. With a laidback but strong chemistry and skilled songwriting, Pomegranates peel their own way, making a name and smiling all the while. Look for their new release on Afternoon Records this fall.
Dig it: Well-crafted Pop dripping with artistic juice, ghosts in the graveyard, fluorescent stars and cookies. (CAM)
Midnight Saturday at Mainstay Rock Bar
Cincinnati • Garage Rock
Clearly, The Prohibitionists are referencing a Rock epoch that occurred a good two decades before the members’ births, which is certainly nothing new. But The Prohibitionists channel the authentic Blues obsession of The Stones, Animals, Pretty Things and Kinks as passionately as they respect the original sources. Most importantly, like the very best Garage/R&B soulsters in music history, they bring something blazingly original to their translation. That’s how a band goes from having influences to being one, and The Prohibitionists are well on their way.
Dig it: Blues is the religion, the garage is the shrine, the songs are the hymns, the bands are the choirs. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Saturday at Main Event
The Ready Stance
Newport, KY • Indie Rock
With Middlemarch in the early ’90s, vocalist/guitarist Wes Pence and drummer Eric Moreton enjoyed great local acclaim, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year and Best Local Band honors from various outlets. After the band dissolved in 1994, Pence withdrew from the scene, playing regenerative jam sessions on weekends (hosted by Fewest Moving Parts bassist Paolo Conti), eventually meeting new neighbor Chase Johnston, who had relocated from Athens, Ga., after his band Stories Below splintered. The jams turned into songs, Moreton turned into their drummer and the group turned into The Ready Stance, which has just finished work on a dozen songs for an imminent debut. Hey, you had me at “Middlemarch.”
Dig it: Bill Mallonee fronts Crazy Horse in a tribute to The Ass Ponys. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Thursday at Mixx Ultra Lounge
Brooklyn, NY • Indie Folk/Rock
Chaos follows Richard Buckner like a moody puppy. His whirlwind includes divorces, writer’s block, moves to Canada, Austin and Brooklyn, self-recorded albums, nothing in the bank account, bank account loaded with Volkswagen commercial money, contributions to Howe Gelb’s Band of Blacky Ranchette, a deal with Merge and two great albums in a row (2004’s Dents and Shells, 2006’s Meadow), an album in between with Jon Langford, tons of respect for his work. New album? No word on that, just the good news that Buckner is on the road, which could mean new songs. Or a divorce, more blockage and another move or two. It really won’t matter, because Richard Buckner’s greatness has transcended it all and will until the end of recorded time.
Dig it: Tom T. Hall and Nick Drake get in Jeff Goldblum’s Fly machine and come out as one singer/songwriter. (BB)
11 p.m. Thursday at Artworks
New York, NY • Acoustic Folk/Pop
After spending the ’70s pursuing a career as a dancer and actor, singer/songwriter Richard Thorne decided to give music a shot and spent the next couple of decades playing in New Wave and Rock bands before deciding to call that quits as well in 1993. His musical muse came calling again at the dawn of the new century and Thorne began honing a rootsy Folk style with a Pop sensibility and clever, socially-aware lyrics. Since then, Thorne has released two albums and an EP and performed regularly around NYC and beyond.
Dig It: Cat Stevens, Pete Seeger, traditional Folk in the modern world. (MB)
10:15 p.m. Friday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
The Right Now
Chicago • Soul/Pop
Classic Soul and Funk inform the grooves of this tight septet. The ensemble’s debut album, Carry Me Home, is loaded with slinky, after-hours love ballads and horn-driven party jams that fall somewhere between the modern Neo Soul practitioners and the old-school Funk/R&B bands currently back in vogue. The Right Now is set apart because they revisit the Soul music of the mid-’70s instead of rehashing James Brown rhythms or Motown’s shimmying Pop.
Dig it: The living embodiment of the ’70s Soul compilation Hey Love advertised on TV constantly in the ’80s (the one with the memorable tagline, “No my brother, you got to buy your own”). (MB)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at Mr. Pitiful's
River City Extension
Toms River, NJ • World Folk/Pop
Here’s something associated with the words “Jersey Shore” that commands respect. River City Extension is an octet from the Garden State that plays an amazing brand of Americana, swirling with elements of the Blues, Calypso, Chamber Pop, Mariachi, Bluegrass and Celtic Punk. Frontman/songwriter Joe Michelini earns a lot of comparisons to a certain N.J. Boss (no, not Tony Soprano, ya mook), not because he bears a sonic resemblance to him but because his songwriting can be focused down to the smallest detail or widened out to encompass the horizon. The difference is that Michelini utilizes a kitchen sink approach to writing and arranging, particularly on RCE’s latest album, The Unmistakable Man. Prepare to be challenged in the best possible way.
Dig it: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes reinvent themselves as a Pogues tribute band in a Mexican restaurant. (Brian Baker)
12:15 a.m. Saturday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
Knoxville, TN • Rock/Electronic
Music-hungry and aggressively touring since high school, this noisy, digital-age Rock trio’s lineup has mysteriously multiplied at times, but in 2006, they found magic. Their homemade album We Breed Champions landed in the hands of Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), who re-released it on Audio Eagle Records. The rabbit was out of the hat, and the Bangs opened a slew of Black Keys shows, later playing such hot spots as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. The band’s sophomore album, Let It Beep, deals out an even stronger hand of Euro-Dance/Electronic card tricks.
Dig it: Your computer comes alive, eating up ’70s Rock for lunch. (CAM)
9 p.m. Friday at Know Theatre
Rubber Knife Gang
Cincinnati • Bluegrass/Americana
Bring on the banjo, upright bass, mandolin, guitars, three-part harmonies, and, as they say, “musical succotash.” This Roots-driven trio recently released its second album, Drivin’ On. Although the songs are highly intricate, delivered by multi-instrumentalists with spider hands, there’s a “back porch,” natural chemistry present that makes them seem effortless. Drifting from raw, drawling, old-tyme Country into uplifting layers of Bluegrass, they hit heart central on the bluesy ballads. Hello drinkin’, smokin’, fist fights, easy good times and, hell yeah, makin’ up.
Dig it: Chasing tail, hard-earned nicknames, dusty roads and hound dogs. (CAM)
9 p.m. Friday at Washington Platform
Run with Bulls
Nashville • Roots/Rock
This rootsy, rockin’ trio hopes to follow in the footsteps of Nashville bands from Jason & the Scorchers to Kings Of Leon. They already have the basic ingredients, incorporating Country, Blues, Modern Rock and R&B into its lively sound.
Dig it: People who can listen to Radiohead and Country music with equal enthusiasm. (MB)
9:15 p.m. Saturday at Inner Peace Center