Behind the 'Scenery'

Northern/Central Kentucky's Ralph Jones Band celebrates the release of its dazzling sophomore effort, Just for the Scenery, with a show Saturday at The Comet. Campfire Crush and Minneapolis' West El

Feb 22, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Northern/Central Kentucky's Ralph Jones Band celebrates the release of its dazzling sophomore effort, Just for the Scenery, with a show Saturday at The Comet. Campfire Crush and Minneapolis' West Elliot also perform.

The band — no, no one in the band is named Ralph Jones — released its impressive debut, Drowning in KY, in 2003, throwing down a gauntlet of moody, textural and organic soundscapes. In 2006, the trio (Nathan Newbury on vocals, guitar, keyboards, horns; Jason Hibbitts on guitar; and Joe Burns on drums) is on the rise, working with indie promo company Tinderbox on the new album and earning a slot at the South By Southwest festival in Texas next month.

The creative progress from the last album is equally impressive. Just for the Scenery tightens up the focus for an album of ghostly Indie Pop imbedded in a mesmerizing sea of broad, inventive Post-Rock. The guitars rattle like harmonious windchimes, creating a sweeping churn that sounds a little like traditional Asian music. Burns' kinetic, intuitive drumming is equally compelling, rolling in an almost Jazz-like manner and filling in the space with tasteful contributions that are as vital to the band's sound as anything else.

Newbury's melodies are "catchy," but not in the repetitive, bashed-over-the-head fashion of most Pop; the singer's hooks are more covert and haunting, creeping up on the listener like an unexpected cold chill on a hot summer day. The band's swaying, stream-of-conscious sound is augmented by trickling, spot-on keys, the occasional horn swell, otherworldly harmonies and, on sublime opening cut "That Far," some trippy backwards-masking.

The unique disc is loaded with diversity and highlights, including the airy, fluttering "The Ride's the Reason;" the gorgeous, rootsy "Alecia the Klepto;" and the snaking "Fresh and New," probably the most melodically memorable song on the album. But Just for the Scenery isn't just a collection of singles; it's the kind of album you can get absorbed by, lost in the elegiac grooves, engulfed by the spacious layering and left in awe by the strikingly original songwriting and execution. (

Rumors, Lies and General Misunderstandings
· Playing off a Mardi Gras theme, the "Samedi Gras" (Fat Saturday) fest features an impressively diverse lineup of artists, dancers and musicians, with music ranging from Indie Pop and Hip Hop to Noise and other experimental sounds. The show goes down at the Art Damage performance space at 4011 Hamilton Ave. in Northside and benefits a nonprofit kitchen in New Orleans' devastated Lower Ninth Ward. Among the local acts scheduled to perform: Gordy Horn, Abiyah, The 13s, Campfire Crush, Lindsay Caron, Lesniak, Neato Torpedo and Roesing Ape. The event starts at 8 p.m. (

· The popular monthly "Girls & Boys" dance/live music night celebrates its fourth anniversary Saturday at alchemize. Stunning local newcomers High and Low join Detroit's The Sights as the live entertainment for the night — and as always DJ duo Boy Radio (aka G&B founders Mikey Roesch and Puck Dunaway) spin a variety of Indie music after the bands. The show will mark the first Sights show in Cincy since drummer Keith Fox, formerly of local faves Thee Shams (and younger brother of The Greenhornes' Craig Fox), joined the band. (

· Local Pop/Rock faves Oval Opus bring their two-month tour supporting their new self-titled album (released Jan. 10) to a close Saturday with a hometown area stop at the Mad Hatter in Covington. (

· Local Vintage Punk/Pop crew Frantic Romantic have been reconstituted to record some new material for a debut CD. The group — fronted by Johnny Sick (also of Kill City) and featuring current and/or former members of Denial, Death In Graceland and Turnbull ACs — will also be doing a few shows, the first of which is Saturday at the Poison Room downtown. The group's return show also features sets from Voyageur, Optimus and Columbus' Fat Kid Dodgeball.

· Local rockers Kelp and Backseat Virtue join Athens, Ohio's Red Dahlia and Loaded Revulvas, Columbus' 333 and Chapel Hill's Stephanie's Id for the Cincinnati stop of the "Chicks on the Road" tour, a roadshow version of the annual, female-centric Chicks Rockfest (scheduled for April 7-8 at the Southgate House). The local "On the Road" gig, which follows dates in Columbus and Athens, takes place at The Holy Grail in Corryville this Saturday. (