The Vibrating Begins

The Vibrating Needle Recording Collective, a D.I.Y. home-recorders collaborative comprised of several local bedroom Phil Spectors, will present its first two CD projects -- from for algernon and Fol

The Vibrating Needle Recording Collective, a D.I.Y. home-recorders collaborative comprised of several local bedroom Phil Spectors, will present its first two CD projects — from for algernon and Folk? — with one release party, on Friday at Downtown's Crush. The event features live performances from for algernon, Dayton's Sleepybird, The Newbees and Bulletproof Charm, plus a special audio/visual presentation of the new self-titled Folk? disc.

· Folk? is the duo of William Ryan Fletcher and Mike Detmer (also known for his work with The Spectacular Fantastic), who have been combining their varied influences for the past five years. The question mark at the end of their name should be taken as a warning to those expecting a pair of folksy acoustic troubadours. On their debut release, the twosome veer fluidly through a Pop cultural tour of Indie music, combining electronic soundscapery and rhythmic enhancements with what are, at their core, marvelously constructed Pop songs, stockpiled with the kind of hooks fans of Detmer's other band have come to expect. The title of the opening track, "Nintendo Pop," offers a good description of Folk?'s sound, with the duo dishing out what could easily be a soundtrack to a hip new video game, albeit one with a distinctively human touch (live instruments are as prominent as digital ones). ADD tendencies aside, it's an incredibly fun ride, with the duo offering up Talking Heads-like New Wave ("Machine Dash"), rustic, acoustic-tinged Agit-Pop ("Float Away"), evocative Electro Power Pop ("Getting On") and most variations in between. If Bob Pollard got trapped inside his X-Box, this is the new sound it would make.

· Singer/songwriter Jason Wells is the mastermind behind for algernon. Wells — also a member of the Vibrating Needle-affiliated Minni-Thins — got his start a few years ago as a solo acoustic performer, and he has more recently been getting into film scoring. The new for algernon disc, The Lost Days of Captain Johnny Sinclair, is reflective of both of those musical guises. Wells' songs have a fragile intimacy and, as a craftsman, he shows a keen attention to songwriting detail. But the spacious ambiance of Sinclair and Wells' use of an impossibly wide instrumental array (cello, flute, French horn, melodica) show his writing to be more "big picture" than lo-fi. Never confined by his verse/chorus structures, Wells' tells his stories with tasteful, just-right adornment (the sweeping strings on the lush "SWPF," the sad, dirty piano on the downtrodden "Seattle," the layered harmonies and keyboards throughout). Wells seems to make music like a film director; the skeletal structures are the scripts (and they are usually good ones, tending toward the moody Indie Pop side of things), but the surroundings are just as important to the final result. Wells' vision often overshoots the home-recorded production quality; like Elliott Smith, he's the kind of singer/songwriter you'd like to see get a big budget to record, just to hear what he could come up with on a broader canvas. But Wells works the lo-fi aesthetic in as just another conveyance tool, helping him to create the pure, unsullied moods he so proficiently communicates with each track. (

Tropicoso on Record
Cincinnati's foremost Latin group, Tropicoso, are set to release their debut CD, Un Cuento, with a big fiesta Monday at the Mad Frog (where they've held down the every-Monday slot for six years now). For the release show, the group (in conjunction with the cultural organization CincyLatino) will offer valet parking and free dance lessons (starting at 9 p.m.), while the newly remodeled downstairs bar at the club is transformed into the "CincyLatino Lounge," with music from Columbia's DJ Paco.

While the group is also known for its interpretations of songs by Latin music legends like Celia Cruz and Tito Puente (among many others), Un Cuento features eight strong original cuts as well as one track written by Bio Ritmo's Rene Herrera. Tropicoso burns with authenticity in both the feeling and musicianship and Un Cuento's crisp production makes the music's genuineness leap from the speakers. With some truly amazing horn work and entrancing, percolating rhythms, Tropicoso's vivacious spin on Salsa, Latin Jazz and other Latin forms is hard not to like. From the infectious spontaneity of the instrumental "Tumbao De Tecato" to the unhinged explosiveness of "Que Negro Mas Feo" (featuring a great vocal turn from the band's superb lead vocalist Carmen Vélez) to the saucy strut of "Nada Es Igual," the energetic nine-piece ensemble's first entry into the recording arena is an unabashed success. (

Scroll to read more Local Music articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.