Web Gems

A couple of locally based acts have released new EPs, but you won't find them at your favorite local-music friendly retailer (at least not yet). The releases are only available in cyberspace, enabli

A couple of locally based acts have released new EPs, but you won't find them at your favorite local-music friendly retailer (at least not yet). The releases are only available in cyberspace, enabling the artists to get the music out more easily (skipping the pesky and costly manufacturing and duplication phase of CD production) and allowing fans to obtain the music without putting pants on.

· In last week's CityBeat, Detroit producer/performer Brendan Benson talked about his work with successful local heroes, The Greenhornes, reporting that a recording project he was producing for them was cut short because of touring and promotional duties for his own album. He said he thought the band might release some of the songs as an EP, and indeed they have. Available only at the iTunes music store, the band's four-song East Grand Blues is an awesome glimpse into what could have been, had they finished the project. The chiming "I'm Going Away" has a delicious early Beatles/Byrds ring, laden with 12-string guitar riffing, sugar-sweet harmonies and a silky sway, while "At Night" and "Shelter of Your Arms" percolate with a dark, vintage vibe more in line with the band's previous releases. The group recently capped off a three-night tour of Mexico opening for pals The White Stripes. The Greenhornes' next gig is back in their homeland: The group is slated for a June 18 show at the newly opened Mad Hatter club in Covington. (greenhornes.com)

· Locals The Spectacular Fantastic also have a new online EP available, and you won't even have to enter a credit card to hear it. The band's I Love You EP is up for free download at folktheworld.net.

The exceptionally strong effort defies the "you get what you pay for" edict, providing listeners with six tracks of Pop/Rock excellence, overflowing with songwriter Mike Detmer's mouth-watering hooks. The driving "60 Cycles" is sublimely catchy enough to pull even the most obsessive Guided By Voices fan back from the ledge, while cuts like "Smell the Air" and "Don't Know Why" are just as addicting, adding some rootsier elements, but losing none of the melodic magnificence (an energetic, fairly faithful version of Del Shannon's "Runaway" rounds out the collection). Detmer is one of the finest Pop composers in the region; now you can find out why without opening your wallet even a smidgen. Prepare to be dazzled. Once you're hooked, you can go check out the recently reconstituted SpecFan at The Comet in Northside on June 4.

"The Sky" Drops
The Gregory Morris Group releases its new CD, Houses in the Sky, Saturday at the York Street Café in Newport. The release party also features performances from P.J. Herrington and Foxy McCoy.

It is nothing short of sheer joy to hear an artist's new CD and then become a hardcore fan after one listen. Houses in the Sky made a hardcore GMG fan out of me. Sensual. Evocative. Emotionally and lyrically eloquent. A treat for the ears and a feast for the rest of your senses. The Greg Morris Group is Jay Ensminger (sax, piano, flute, vocals), Michael Sadoff (bass, banjo, vocals), Katherine Monnig (percussion) and Morris himself on guitars/violin/mandolin/vocals. Houses was a long time in the making — recorded from September 2004 to March of this year — and the long haul to completion really paid off, as the production is pristine, but far from sterile. The songs are a potluck dinner of jazzy international dishes served up by gypsies passing for servants in the big house. And that's truly what the GMG plays — roving gypsy music with a Rock edge. The songs range from the Latin groove of "Baylight Lullabye" and the ingenious Celtic Jazz flute/Rock guitar combo of "Long Road Home" to the Parisian vibe of "Josephine" and everything in between. Morris is not so much a songwriter (although he's that too ... and a damn fine one) as he is a troubadour, and his raw-edged tenor suits his picturesque tales perfectly. It's music played expertly, but with passion and fire. Do yourself a big favor and live in Houses in the Sky for a while. For more on the group, go to gregorysmusic.com. (Dale Johnson)

CMJ Says "Wow"
Local trio Giant Wow have been invited to the new satellite CMJ music festival/industry showcase in Cleveland next month, joining an impressive lineup that includes the Pixies, Spoon, Stephen Malkmus and Cincinnati's own Heartless Bastards. The group (featuring former members of Sound Mind and St. Louis' Small Ball Paul) formed last year as "Luba Luft," but recently switched to Giant Wow after being confused with a singer with a similar name. The band is working on a full-length album, due out this summer. You can check them out in the flesh this Friday when they play alchemize with Dayton's Captain of Industry and Columbus' Paper Airplane. (giantwow.com)