The Happy Maladies may share their instrumental make-up with a typical Bluegrass band (mandolin, banjo, violin, acoustic guitar, stand-up bass), but the anything-but-typical Indie Chamber Folk foursome has an expansive palette of influences that merges a wide range of styles, resulting in a compellingly unique sound. Fans of the recent MusicNOW festival’s progressive programming who are unfamiliar with The Happy Maladies should remedy that right now. Your favorite new band awaits; visit thehappymaladies.com immediately.
The group’s approach to touring (recent stops have ranged from museum and theater shows to Jazz and Rock clubs) and recording projects is equally original. This Saturday, the Maladies’ host a release party for their latest project, Must Love Cats, with a performance at Hoffner Lodge (4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside, hoffnerlodge.com). Showtime is 8:30 p.m. and admission is $5. Canadian cellist Genevieve Guimond and local “Garage Jazz” troupe Animal Mother also perform.
The Happy Maladies began the Must Love Cats project in 2013 when they put a call out to composers of all experience levels to submit new, original compositions for the band to arrange, perform and record for the release. The band chose pieces by five composers: Cincinnati’s Marissa DiPronio; Portsmouth, Ohio’s T.R. Beery; Philadelphia’s Roger Alejandro Martinez; and Chicago’s Timothy Young and Michael Hwang. (You can read more about the composers and their contributions here.)
The result is an engaging collection of Neo Classical/Chamber music that is dynamic, adventurous and riveting. The music is mostly instrumental, although DiPronio’s “frost,” perhaps the most avant garde piece on the release, is threaded with a spoken-word reading of Robert Frost’s poem, “On Looking Up By Chance at the Constellations.” Elsewhere, Young’s “Hands – Edgar Meyer Visits Me in a Dream” drifts hypnotically on airy acoustic guitar clouds, the arrangement rising and falling like deep, meditative breaths, occasionally peppered with more angular sonic bursts. Beery’s “The Fox, the Girl and the Honey” is split into three movements (with a brief prologue and epilogue) and almost feels like a three-part play, journeying the listener through a diverse array of colors and feels and also touching on some of the folksier Roots music elements evident in the Maladies’ original music. Though each piece on Must Love Cats is distinct, The Happy Maladies give the album a fluidity that makes it a captivating listen from start to finish.
The Maladies funded the Must Love Cats project through a Kickstarter campaign that also helped them record a new album of their own material. The next LP, the all-original follow-up to the band’s stellar new again EP from 2012, is slated for release in the coming months. Stay tuned to facebook.com/thehappymaladies for release news, concert updates and other projects from the band members.
More New Local Releases
• Dead Man String Band is the impressive one-man-Rock-&-Roll-show masterminded by guitarist/singer Rob McAllister, who’s been impressing local audiences with his high-octane live act since beginning the project last year. A fingerpicking guitar specialist, McAllister creates a full-band sound in concert with the help of a kick-drum set up, great vocals and some solid, Roots- and Blues-inflected songwriting.
Dead Man String Band’s debut album I will be released this Saturday in conjunction with a show at Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, southgatehouse.com) in the venue’s Revival Room (the gig is also doubling as McAllister’s 27th birthday celebration). Local groups Wilder and Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound, plus Indianapolis’ Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes, are also on the bill. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $12 in advance (through ticketfly.com) or $15 at the door. All attendees will receive a free copy of the new album on CD. For a preview of I, grab a free download of the swaggering track “Joe’s Not Here” at deadmanstringband.bandcamp.com (or just click the player below).
• Heavy local psych-rockers Go Go Buffalo celebrate the release of their first EP, It Ain’t Worth It, with a free show this Saturday at Northside Tavern (4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com/cincy). The band is joined by fellow Cincy bands The Harlequins and Draculas for the 9 p.m. event.
Go Go Buffalo formed in 2013 — or, rather, landed on earth that year (the band has an extensive sci-fi origin story and its members go by pseudonyms like DJX-5000 and Diamond Jim) — and has been a steady presence on the local club scene ever since. The five-track It Ain't Worth It kicks off with “Ironclad Lad” (listen below), which is loaded with winding riffage, heavy, shape-shifting rhythms and Diamond Jim’s gruff, eye-bulging vocals. Elsewhere, “Worth It” shows the psychedelic side of the band a bit more; it still retains that Hard Rock fire, but the arrangement takes so many twists and turns in just over four minutes, you may want to pop a Dramamine before listening (and if you’re flashback prone, perhaps strap yourself to a chair, because those evil laughs will have you flinching uncontrollably).
To hear more Go Go Buffalo, go to go-go-buffalo.bandcamp.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.