Dave Grohl effectively made the old joke, “What was the last thing the drummer said before getting kicked out of the band? ‘Hey, let’s try one of my songs’ ” way less funny than it once was. Now, veteran Cincinnati drummer Mike Tittel is further taking the punch out of that punchline with the release of 44, the first album from his band New Sincerity Works.
The full-length is largely a solo project, with Tittel (longtime drummer in the band of local Power Pop king Roger Klug, among other projects) capably handling most bass, drums, guitar and vocal duties. He does enlist a handful of talented friends to guest on a few tracks, including Klug, psychodots bassist Bob Nyswonger and former Cincinnatian Mike Michel. Live, New Sincerity Works is Tittel, Greg Tudor, Tom White and Jenni Cox.
Even given the extensive experience of all involved, 44 is a remarkably accomplished debut effort, with Tittel’s songwriting being the prime reason. Tittel’s Indie Pop Rock songs are infectiously melodic, while his lyrics (which seem to deal with personal middle-age observations and revelations; “44” refers to Tittel’s age when he recorded the album) and vocal skills are also impressive. The music shows influence from classic “College Rock” to some of today’s Indie Rock, resultantly adding an element of timelessness to the full-length. The unfussy production gives much of 44 a live feel, which adds a certain intimacy to the songs.
Highlights abound on 44. Beginning with the compelling, ethereal lead-off track “Sincerely,” which floats sans drums, buoyed only by an acoustic guitar and painted with various shades of electric guitar coloring, the album moves gracefully from the Wilco-esque Pop of “Photographs” and the rumbling chime of “Know Yourself” (which is distantly reminiscent of French Indie Pop kings Phoenix) to the wistful, melancholic “As If We Are 24” and “Dreamers,” which recalls early R.E.M., The Replacements and The Smithereens.
The album was released on Dec. 9 on iTunes and CD Baby (it’s also available at local-music-friendly area retailers). The full band will make its first live appearance this Saturday to celebrate the release of 44 at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com). Klug will be sitting in with the band and Mike Landis will fill in for Cox on bass. New Sincerity Works opens for Exit Verse at the free show, kicking things off at 9:30 p.m.
For more info on the project (as well as a short “making of” documentary called Nowhere Ohio), visit newsincerityworks.com.
More Local Notes
• Longtime local vocalist Dottie Warner will celebrate her debut recording, the double-CD release A Serenade in Blue/Thursdays at Arnold’s, this Thursday at Arnold’s Bar and Grill (201 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com). Warner has been a regular performer at Arnold’s since the early ’80s, playing a mix of early (’20s-’40s) Jazz and Blues with pianists Fred Gary (until his passing in 2004), Wayne Shannon and Ricky Nye. For Thursday’s free, 7:30 p.m. show, Warner will be joined by both Nye and Shannon, as well as trumpeter Roy Tate and guitarist Chris Carmichael.
• Local Rock crew Pike 27 is releasing its first recorded material since the band resurfaced on the Cincinnati scene last year, after frontman Dave Purcell returned to the city following a stint teaching at Kent State. The five-track EP Calling Out is Pike 27’s first release since 2001’s Falling Down Hard. Purcell says the re-introductory EP, which eschews much of the rootsier material the previous incarnation of Pike 27 was known for in favor of a more straight-ahead brand of Rock, is tied together by the band members’ mutual love for The Stones’ Let It Bleed, Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True and R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant.
The group — original member/bassist Sean Rhiney, plus newcomers Mike Fair (guitar) and Dave Killen (drums) — hosts a “soft release” party in honor of the EP this Thursday at The Listing Loon (4124 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-5666). The band will perform a stripped down acoustic set at the show. Pike 27 will present an official rocked-up release show for the EP on Jan. 24 at Over-the-Rhine club The Drinkery. (pike27.net)
• Cincinnati Reggae greats The Cliftones join the funkiest brass band in the land, The Cincy Brass, this Saturday for a show at the new Woodward Theater (1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/thewoodwardtheater). Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is $7. The Cliftones will be giving away a free self-titled EP at the event to all in attendance. You can check out some of the new tracks at soundcloud.com/the-cliftones. (thecliftones.com)