The members of local Pop/Rock four-piece Shamvoodoo came together in the Cincinnati area from various parts of the U.S. (from California to Kentucky) and possess an equally wide range of backgrounds (from acoustic solo performers to studio sessioneers and engineers). But their ranging pedigrees come together most harmoniously on the band's recently-released debut long-player, Grifters. While you can tell that the influences of each player are varied, they join to form a winning cohesion on their debut, while still managing to show some engaging diversity.
Grifters kicks off with "Hold Me Down," a slice of nimble Pop that glides on an echoing riff as singer Dave Scharold (formerly of locals Ladder 2600) offers classic melodies that are made all the more effective by the proficient, efficient harmonies. While Scharold offers consistent acoustic strumming, it's electric guitarist Jeff Freeman who provides the genre-surfing eclecticism, making Shamvoodoo's brand of Pop more progressive than some, though that adventurousness never steps on the impact of the songs' fairly straightforward verse/chorus/verse motif. On "Angelina," Freeman shifts from overdriven, fiery leads to something so jangly, it could have been sampled wholesale from R.E.M.'s Green.
Then there are the harder Rock influences, which show themselves in the punchy "Last Cigarette," "Broken Crutch" (which sounds a bit like underrated '90s Indie Rock greats, Lotion) and the crunching, chugging "Not Backing Down," which comes closest to bringing together the band's two most prominent personalities (Hard Rock and Jangle Pop). Other highlights include "Blame Me" and closer "Some Place Better" (which have a mid-tempo Pearl Jam vibe, mixed with a little "Classic Rock anthem" bravado) and the vigorous Power Pop cut "Smack Baby," which has a slight Foo Fighters growl. Shamvoodoo isn't going to slay the music world with their originality, but Grifters does contain some well-crafted songwriting and inspired performances.
You have two chances to catch Shamvoodoo live this week. Friday, they play Bakers Mt. Carmel Pub and Saturday they will perform at The Square Bubble in Anderson. (shamvoodoo.com)
More Local Notes
· Local Indie Pop quartet The Spectacular Fantastic is in the giving spirit again. Just as they did before the release of the (ahem) spectacular and fantastic full-length, The Spectacular Fantastic Goes Underground (released on Ionik Records late last year), the band is offering a stop-gap EP, available for free download at their Web site (spectacularfantastic.net). The group has also announced the digital re-issue of their out-of-print debut album, which is currently available on iTunes. The SF is currently working on their next long-player, which is planned for release later this year on Ionik. To see and hear the band up close and personal, catch them this Saturday at Covington's Mad Hatter, where they will be joined by The Minor Leagues and Coltrane Motion, the awesome IndieElectro project headed up by former Cincinnatian/now Chicago-based musician Michael Bond. Coltrane Motion will have a new, limited edition single available at the show.
· Folk/Pop/Roots/Etc. label Blue Jordan Records is celebrating a decade of releasing great, original music (including stellar albums by David Wolfenberger, Janet Pressley and Katie Reider) with a big party/concert at Rohs Street Café this Saturday. The show will feature sets from the aforementioned performers, as well as Mike Helm, Gwendolyn Speaks, Maurice Mattei and some special guests. Music starts at 8 p.m. and the proceeds from the $5 cover charge go to Café Vision, a nonprofit collaborative that helps farmers in the village of Santa Maria de Jesus in Guatemala. (bluejordan.com)
· Stanley's Pub is presenting its annual "Summer Music Festival" this Saturday. The fest — now in its fifth year — kicks off at 4 p.m. and presents a wide range of local music across two stages (including a "patio stage," if the weather holds up). Slated to perform this year: Ray's Music Exchange, Grand Oversoul, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Jerry's Little Band, TriFectaFunk and the Kelly Evans Trio. Tickets are $12 and are available in advance at stanleys.frontgatetickets.com.
· Mark White, drummer for local Rock band The Myths, is going all Hollywood and making a "very low, low budget" movie called Night In the Life of Vinyl Eddie, the story of a talented, aging rocker who gets sucked into the more debauched side of the Rock & Roll lifestyle. White is filming scenes for the film Sunday at Newport's Southgate House and he's looking for extras. If you're ready for your close-up, simply show up at the SGH at around 1 p.m. White says he hopes to have the film ready early next year and he plans to submit it to various film festivals upon completion.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com