Eclectic Indie/Alt Rock trio Voodoo Loons returns to the stage this week to celebrate the release of its new album, The Criminal Ear. It’s the second full-length from the band that counts Donegal, Ireland, and Cincinnati as its hometowns (singer/songwriter/guitarist Dennis O’Hagan is a dual citizen and the band has performed on both sides of the Atlantic).
The new album will be officially released Tuesday, but local fans will get early access when Voodoo Loons hosts a release party this Friday at Molly Malone’s (112 E. Fourth St., Covington, covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com). The show starts at 8 p.m. with an opening set from Jody & Sammy Stapleton. There is no admission charge, but the band is asking for donations at the door for the Center for Courageous Kids, a free camp in Scottsville, Ky., for children who are disabled or are suffering from life-threatening illnesses. (Visit thecenterforcourageouskids.org for more on the camp.) Attendees donating $10 or more will get a free copy of The Criminal Ear.
Voodoo Loons’ debut album, 2008’s Euphobia, was lauded for its solid blend of diverse influences and The Criminal Ear shows how that mix, the songwriting and the overall performances and production have been sharpened and refined over the intervening years. It’s not just the diversity that makes The Criminal Ear a thoroughly entertaining start-to-finish listen; the material is also top notch.
The 10 tracks on The Criminal Ear are split between acoustic songs that show elements of Irish and American Roots music and big, distorted, multifaceted Alternative Rock. The album kicks off with the seven-minute “Loving the Monster,” which sparkles with jangly guitar and rhythmic tricks that recall The Police before erupting into a hard, intense chorus, with varied psychedelic noise sprinkled throughout. On “In a Locket,” the Loons’ acoustic and electric sonic personas come together on one track, opening with acoustic guitar and O’Hagan’s creeping, distorted melodies swelling alongside somber string sounds and building into full-Rock mode, with the vocals likewise rising in intensity.
Elsewhere, the gorgeous “The Winter Trail” shows the Loons can be just as powerful with acoustic guitars and mandolin, while “Nothing Happens in Wexford” sounds like an aural gene splice of Roy Orbison, The Waterboys and The Ass Ponys. Another highlight is “Delicate Flower,” a swaying, swaggering track with a spooky vibe reminiscent of some of Greg Dulli’s best work with Twilight Singers. Before closing the album out with “Reprise,” an acoustic instrumental that most reveals the traditional Irish music influence on the band, the Loons offer up the punkish “The Restraining Order Song,” which is loaded with big riffs, raw soloing, a stinging harmonica interlude and compelling lyrics of confused heartbreak.
Visit voodooloons.com for more info on the band.
Good Shows for Good Causes
• If you like The Grateful Dead and going to concerts to support worthy charities, this Friday night The Redmoor (3187 Linwood Road, Mount Lookout, theredmoor.com) is the place to be. The venue is hosting the fifth annual Tie Dye Ball, featuring live music from local Jam veterans Jerry’s Little Band and The Spookfloaters. Admission is $10, which (along with money raised via raffles and split the pot opportunities) will be donated to the local Play It Forward organization (pifcincy.org), which assists area musicians in their times of need. Showtime is 9 p.m.
• Friday at the Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, southgatehouse.com), five area Punk bands are teaming up for a memorial/benefit concert in honor of musician and local music supporter Dave McClain, who passed away in November of last year. The “McClainica Memorial/Benefit” was set up to raise money for McClain’s wife and children and will include a silent auction of artwork and band merchandise. Martin Luther & The Kings, The Zvills, Rev. Fear & the Nightmares, The Nothing and a reunited Total Dudes are scheduled to perform at the 9 p.m. show, which will take place in the Southgate’s Revival Room. Admission is a $10 donation. Click here for more info.
• Last year, after watching numerous friends die from heroin overdoses, local Hip Hop artist Wake decided to form the nonprofit organization #DOGma in an effort to raise awareness about and fight against the resurging heroin epidemic that has again taken hold in the Greater Cincinnati area (and beyond). The group has held various meetings in the area for input on ways to “challenge current mainstream methods of solving the heroin epidemic.” This Friday, #DOGma will present an awareness-raising benefit show featuring performances by Wake, Fayday and J-Sheetz, who donates proceeds from sales of his track “Raindrops” (about heroin addiction) on iTunes to area rehab facilities. Friday’s event takes place at Sports Rock Bar and Grill (453 Old State Route 74, Eastgate, sportsrockbarandgrill.com) and admission is a $3 donation (minimum). For more on the organization, visit facebook.com/DOGmaCincinnati.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN : [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter here and on Facebook here .