On April 22, on-the-rise, prolific Northern Kentucky Hip Hop artist Trademark Aaron released his latest project, the cleverly titled mixtape Words with Friends, for free online (you can download a copy — and his other releases — at trademarkaaron.bandcamp.com). The guest-laden collection will get the release party treatment this Friday at Covington, Ky.’s Madison Theater (madisontheateronline.com). The 8 p.m. party/show with DJ Sinceer will also feature numerous special guests, including Aaron Roy, Powder, 2 Man Cypher, Nin10do and Blayze. Admission is $10.
Words with Friends, which follows last summer’s For the People EP and is a precursor to Aaron’s forthcoming new EP (due this summer), is hosted by DJ AMF (from satellite radio’s Shade 45 program) and showcases a broad range of styles and approaches. Though he’s only been releasing music since 2010, Aaron’s delivery and lyrical content have helped make him one of the most promising MCs in the Midwest.
But with Friends, Aaron shares the spotlight with an array of talented MCs (most from the Greater Cincinnati area), something that keeps the mixtape consistently fresh and diverse and creates a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience from start to finish. By keeping the flow of the project unpredictable — one minute, Aaron and Co. are rhyming about weed and Grippo’s potato chips, the next they’re dressing down promoters for “pay to play” scams (sonically it’s just as dynamic) — Trademark Aaron captures the essence of a great mixtape on Words with Friends. It’s another excellent addition to his already high-quality discography and should do wonders for increasing his deservedly growing national profile. (trademarkaaron.com)
• Another local “Aaron” — progressive Indie Folk/Rock whiz kid Aaron Collins — also has an impressive new release to celebrate this weekend. Collins’ debut solo album, Godlessly Oscillating, will be issued in conjunction with a live performance of the 10-track collection Saturday at the art supply and local music shop Rock Paper Scissors (1301 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, rpscincinnati.com). Appaloosa opens the show at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to all ages.
An affiliate of the Marburg Collective, current drummer of Comprador and former member of the late SHADOWRAPTR, with Godlessly Oscillating, Collins shows what he can do alone, playing, singing and writing every note on the album, save the production work of Pop Empire’s Henry Wilson and a few special guests, like a guitar and keyboard assist from SHADOWRAPTR’s Stephen Patota and ADM’s Adam Petersen (respectively) on the track “Clifton Tiger,” which distantly recalls peak era Radiohead and is one of the album’s highlights, and some ambient guitar work from Comprador'sCharles Dardenne on "Cincinnati Whistle ." (Patota, Petersen and Ben Sloan will perform with Collins at the release show.) What Collins does (largely) on his own is wildly impressive and often downright mesmerizing.
The songs on Oscillating exude a welcoming warmth and are often hypnotic and goosebump-worthy. Collins achieves this largely with only his impressive acoustic guitar work and his gripping vocals (percussion and other light ornamentation pop up here and there), which are frequently layered to create lush, textural harmonies and hover in the same realm as artists like Andrew Bird and Beirut’s Zach Condon. There is an ethereal, haunting quality to much of the album, particularly the winding opener “Clever” (with a great violin part played byEddy Kwon of The Happy Maladies) and the piano-driven closing track “Ende.”
Godlessly Oscillating is a revelatory album, showing Collins to be one of the more captivating singer/songwriters in Cincinnati today. Climb inside Collins’ alluring sound at aaroncollins.bandcamp.com.
More Local Notes
• Local rockers Northside Garage will be celebrating their new CD single featuring the excellent modern Garage Rock nuggets “All the King’s Horses” and “Quite Literally” with a show on Friday at Newport, Ky.’s Southgate House Revival (southgatehouse.com). Tickets for the 9 p.m. event are $6 in advance (through ticketfly.com) or $8 day of show. The new single will be given away free with the price of admission. Joining the band at the release show are The Mudlarks and Tiger Sex, a fiery, punkish group that recently moved to Cincinnati from Las Vegas. Northside Garage’s new single is also available as a free download at northsidegarage.bandcamp.com.
• Brown County native and CCM grad Noah Smith has played in area Rock bands, but this year he is reintroducing himself as a burgeoning Country music star, getting booked at this summer’s big Country/Americana fest Buckle Up and prepping his debut solo EP in at Nashville’s House of Blues. That self-titled EP is now ready for public consumption and Smith will be hosting a release party Friday at Southgate House Revival to give local fans the first crack at it. The 8 p.m. show will also have performances by guests Brent James & The Vintage Youth, Kelly Thomas & The Fabulous Pickups and Michael Moeller. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Visit noahsmithmusic.com for more on the artist.