Mason rockers Bluf host an all-ages CD release party Saturday at The Poison Room in honor of their new album, Documents of Evolution. The four-piece (consisting of frontman/Johnny Cougar nephew Ian Mellencamp and brothers Ben, Elliott and Evan Rubin) takes a slanted Hard Rock approach akin to acts like Chevelle (with whom Bluf has played). In other words, it's Clear Channel-ready Rock but with a bit more going on between the slash-and-burn than your everyday Papa Roaches.
The less expected, progressive side is something the band should delve into more deeply. While certainly centered around big melodies, most are generally paint-by-numbers. When the band tames its gigantic guitar assault (presented distractingly overdriven, despite production by super-producer Erwin Musper), you can hear what Bluf is really capable of.
The Electro-tinged track "Mechanic" is sparse and less messy, the guitar parts more sinewy and engaging and Mellencamp's vocals more distinct and crisp. The piano instrumental "Carny Bordello" shows more musicality than almost any other track, while the proggy, dynamically-arranged "Message From an Alien" is the closest the band gets to merging its Hard Rock side with its more adventurous edge.
But the album is frontloaded with songs like "To You" and "Return," which get swallowed up by the huge, overbearing guitar sound. A better mix, the trimming of about four or five tracks and more confidence to explore the outer-reaches of Bluf's sound would make this a more fully realized and captivating representation. As it stands, it's but a mere hint at the talent, progressiveness and creativity beneath. (More at blufmusic.com.)
More Local Notes
• On New Year's Eve, Cincinnati lost another valiant supporter of local original music when former Top Cat's owner Bobby Nicholas passed away. Nicholas owned the club during the Alternative music explosion on Short Vine in the '90s. And, despite a couple of close closings, he and the staff kept the club alive in recent years, as the venue served as prime stomping grounds for the Metal, Hardcore, Punk and Hip Hop scenes. Raise a shot (or four) for him tonight -- we miss you already, Bobby.
• After his tenure booking bands at Sudsy Malone's up the street, guitarist Chris Lee moved on to Top Cat's, where he booked Metal, Punk and Hip Hop until the venue shut down last year. Chris is a veteran of numerous local bands (from Snaggletooth in the '90s to his current duties as axe-man for Hip Hop MC Ill Poetic's live band) and he's been a shredding saint for fans of Metal and Punk, bringing innumerable touring groups into town and providing gigs and support for an endless stream of local acts. Now it's payback. Chris was diagnosed with cancer last year and has had ongoing treatment to keep healthy (so far so good, he reports). A benefit to help Lee with medical expenses takes place Saturday at Dirty Jack's with music from many of the bands he's helped (and vice versa) along his way, including Pain Link, Retribution, Wicked Intent, Amy O'Meara, Eighty Sixed, Broken Head, Rue Morgue (an Iron Maiden tribute band), Chakras, Clause 83, Billy Carri, Scattered and Wist. The show starts at 5 p.m., and music lovers 18 and up are welcome.
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