'Tones on Film

There was a time when I first started writing that the arrival of a "video" (back then, they were on ye olde VHS) from a band made me cautiously pessimistic. Someone probably borrowed a giant video

Jun 6, 2007 at 2:06 pm

There was a time when I first started writing that the arrival of a "video" (back then, they were on ye olde VHS) from a band made me cautiously pessimistic. Someone probably borrowed a giant video camera from their parents and took some shaky-handed footage of the band playing live, accompanied by audio that sounded like it was recorded on the boombox.

But just as new technological developments have made it easier for musicians to record pretty good sounding music on their own, video technology has also become more affordable and higher quality. The DVDs being put out by local bands today, while perhaps not totally on par with big-budgeted label product, are more often than not highly professional-looking, serving as a great souvenir for fans, a glossy introduction to potential new fans and a solid visual press-kit for would-be business contacts.

A new stellar entry is The Vinyltones: Live @ The Mad Frog, the release of which the excellent local Pop/Rock band is celebrating this Friday at, of course, The Mad Frog. The DVD — shot by Loveland-based Innerchild Music + Film (truartists.com) — is impressive right off the bat, featuring a simple, easy-to-use interface that allows you to watch the film in full or pick select songs. The concert movie kicks off with a crafty, visually-compelling montage shot out of a moving car window of a few Cincinnati neighborhoods (Corryville, home of the Frog, being the most prevalent).

The show itself is shot equally impressively, with quick edits and multi-camera shots. The sound isn't "perfect," but it is perfectly appropriate and effective, giving the viewer the feel of actually being at a small club show. The only thing missing is that spilled-beer odor and the drunk guy standing next to you who's so into it he keeps elbowing you in the rib cage.

Like their music, The Vinytones aren't overly flashy in the live context. There's congenial banter between songs, but when they are actually playing, there's a focused intensity on stage that, coupled with the group's stellar songs and impressive instrumental abilities, makes the need for any extra bells and whistles (leg kicks, fancy light show, pyrotechnics, etc.) irrelevant.

The band balances their compelling originals (mostly from their debut Memoirs of a Songbook CD) with a few choice cover songs (frontman Craig Dockery at one point jokingly intros a cover by saying it's "so you guys stay interested"). The band does a bouncy take on Neil Diamond's "Cherry Cherry," an alternately smoldering/propulsive version of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and a searing "Helter Skelter." There are some brief black-and-white interview clips with the band interspersed, featuring talk about the anticipated evolution of the songwriting for the forthcoming sophomore release ("a little bit darker," they say). The DVD also features "Down the River," a dynamic, slide-guitar-fueled burner slated for the new album. The film ends with an amazing rendition of Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues," fitting as they do The Who's arrangement and recall another testament to great live performance, Live At Leeds. (vinyltones.com)

More Local Notes
· Best band name ever? I'm going to have to go with Mustache-Twirling Villains, a crew of local Indie musicians who make their Cincinnati debut Thursday at The Comet in Northside. The band features current and/or former members of Lonely the Seabird, view-finder, Charlston Entry and Hyperstatic (to name but a few).

· Also new to the scene (and with a swell band name, to boot) is White Girls, a blistering Rock crew featuring members of Gazelles!, The Virgins, Lions Rampant and White Gold. The band performs this Saturday at the Gypsy Hut for a free show with excellent rockers Crimson Sweet from New York City. Showtime is 10 p.m. (myspace.com/musicalwhitegirls)

· Music meets visuals in a very unique way this Wednesday as local experimental music org Art Damage takes over Northside's Gypsy Hut for a night of live, improvised soundtracks to short films. The free, 10 p.m. event features Iovae soundtracking the 1968 flick T, O, U, C, H, I, N, G, Deuxeau, with former members of (in)camera, doing sound for an excerpt from The Passion of Joan of Arc, Columbus' Envenomist taking on German film The Life and Death of 9413 ­ A Hollywood Extra and Napoleon Maddox (film yet to be decided).

· Tune in to the local-music radio show Kindred Sanction on WAIF (88.3 FM) this Thursday at 8 p.m. for a special tribute to late local musician Mark Chenault. Former bandmates of Mark's will be on hand to spin music by Shag, Bubu Ray, Cadillacs for Jesus, Nervous Pioneers and more. You can also listen to the show online at waif883.org.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com