Raison D'Etre (Wilder, Ky.)
The three hyper-talented women of Folk trio Raison D'Etre have been astounding audiences with their gorgeous three-part harmonies for more than a decade and a half; regular visitors to the Cincinnati Museum Center will know them from their frequent appearances as a musical adjunct to various historical exhibits. With five albums and a shelf full of awards to their credit, Raison D'Etre will Folk your world.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The Roches tribute the Andrews Sisters at an Emmylou Harris/Linda Ronstadt all-night backyard Folk slam. (Brian Baker)
Marie McGilvray (Nashville, Tenn.)
Marie McGilvray learned guitar at 11 and began writing songs in high school, which led to band memberships and eventually music business jobs in Southern California. After a hiatus to study occupational therapy, McGilvray got back into music, relocated to Nashville in 2005 and did the coffeehouse/club circuit, releasing her well-received debut EP, Big Love, earlier this year.
Dig It: Chamberpopathon with Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin and Jane Siberry as emcees. (BB)
Mark Wayne Glasmire (Nashville)
Singer/songwriter Mark Wayne Glasmire has been everywhere, man. During college, he played in clubs in the eastern Pennsylvania region and recorded his first album, Sad Songs, in the late '70s. A move to Greenwich Village gave him the opportunity to play legendary clubs and open for Suzanne Vega, Arlo Guthrie, Tracy Chapman and Tom Paxton. Glasmire eventually moved to Nashville where he recorded his last two albums, All of My Heart and Scrapbook, and is working on his next one.
Dig It: Harry Chapin pitching pennies with James Taylor in front of the Beatles museum.
The Sloes (Cincinnati)
The Sloes grew slowly over the past half-decade, beginning originally when singer/songwriter Rick Lisak needed a fill-in bassist. Scott Carnder, a Jazz-trained bassist for Jam band Spookfloaters, heeded the call and the seeds were planted. The two would add members over the next few years and in 2005 they released the fruits of their evolution, the fantastic debut CD Desperate Train. The band members give Lisak's soulful Roots/Folk/Pop songs an even more irresistible vibe.
Dig It: Neil Young, Jerry Garcia's Bluegrass excursions, great mandolin playing. (Mike Breen)
BELOW ZERO LOUNGE
Josh Weinstein (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
A singer/songwriter with a Rock base, a Jazzy undercurrent and a soulful edge, pianist Josh Weinstein has electrified local, regional and national stages with his lyrical gift and his musical mastery. Weinstein's latest album, last year's Brooklyn is Sinking, was cited as one of the best releases of the year on npr.org.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Tom Waits and Randy Newman thumb-wrestling for the right to front Steely Dan. (BB)
Andy Shaw Band (Columbus, Ohio)
With a mix of Reggae, Pop, Rock, Jazz and other styles, the Andy Shaw Band has found an audience as diverse as its sound. Shaw began the band as a frustrated Jazz trumpeter who decided he'd rather sing and strum than blow. The resultant band makes fluid, groove-happy music with a strong sense of melody and mystery. Summer's Coming is the group's latest CD.
Dig It: The Police in Reggae mode, The Samples, Ekoostik Hookah in focus. (MB)
Tyler Traband (Milwaukee)
Soulful and emphatic, Traband renders a wide range of emotions from his piano. He has four albums of original material and hundreds of commercial credits under his belt and is also well known for delivering the goods live. His backing band supplies a funky backdrop and supports his occasional improvised jam.
Dig It: David Gray, Jackson Browne, Elton John if he were raised in the Midwest. (Ezra Waller)
One of the latest success stories to come out of the Greater Cincinnati area, the gentle yet soulful Pop/Folk duo Ellery spend a lot of time on the highway, traveling in support of their gorgeous debut for Seattle's Virt Records, Lying Awake. Besides attracting the attention of AAA radio, TV music licensers and promoters, the husband/wife twosome also saw the widespread airing of their concert film, An Evening With Ellery, on PBS stations across the country this year.
Dig It: Over the Rhine, music to drink good coffee and wine to, the sound of domestic tranquility. (MB)
Singer/Songwriter Mike Goetz had a pretty unique style before he got a backing band, but an interesting thing happened on the way to Rock stardom: each member he added spun the project in a different direction. The resulting gyroscope jumped off of its base and was last seen crushing preconceptions like empty beer cans.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The Verve, Whiskeytown, Widespread Panic. (EW)
Though based around warm, dramatic, Rock-radio-ready songs and flawless instrumentalism, there is enough of a creative slant within the grooves of patientZero's music to give the songs an appeal beyond that of your average Rock hit-makers of today. The band's most recent album, the socio-politically-minded Giant Inflatable Ape, received nationwide airplay and earned a chart entry in CMJ.
Dig It: Classic Rock-meets-Modern-Rock-meets-Prog-Rock, the idea of Marillion being born in the 1990s, impeccable guitar playing and singing. (MB)
Bad Luck Kings (Cincinnati)
With a laid-back sound that is equal parts Classic Rock and Post Grunge, this trio excels at sneaking tasty licks into straightforward tracks. Guitarist/vocalist Vasilios (aka Bill Kanelopoulos, also of the Delta Blues revivalists Conrail Saints) has an effortless style and seemingly endless chops.
Dig It: Live, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Crowes. (EW)
Rockin' ass in Boston, Mass., Onebigmess favor a high-octane blend of old-school Hard Rock like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin with Alternative howlers such as Alice in Chains and Soundgarden and a dash of Punk from the likes of the Ramones, Green Day and Deftones. Mix well and garnish with a sprig of Metallica and serve with a chilled Pink Floyd. What is it? That's right: Onebigmess.
Dig It: The all-consuming maw of 40 years of Rock & Roll history. (BB)
Mark Becknell (Cincinnati)
Mark Becknell brings an interesting perspective to the acoustic singer/songwriter bag, as he attempts to translate for American (and, for that matter, Americana) audiences the experiences and philosophies of the Caribbean, where Becknell has spent a fair portion of his life. Appearing alone or with the Mavridoglou brothers from the Swarthy Band, Becknell delights in his skewed Island Americana presentation.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Jimmy Buffett as influenced by Townes Van Zandt. (BB)
Laura DaLallo (Stamford, Conn.)
Laura DaLallo has been inciting audiences around her Connecticut base and well into the Midwest since the late '90s. Her three releases — 2000's Heiroglyph (her band's name at the time), 2002's The Whole Truth and her latest, What Do I Know — showcase her distinctive songwriting style, fluent guitar technique and amazing voice.
Dig It: Introspective lyrics set to a Folk/R&B/Rock soundtrack, like Laura Nyro (minus piano, plus acoustic guitar). (BB)
Steven Gregory Band (Cincinnati/Dayton)
With a strikingly soulful voice and feel-good songs that would make Jack Johnson even happier, Steven Gregory put together a band after years of playing the acoustic circuit all over Ohio. Last year, Gregory released his rich second album, Complicated Simple Thing, and set out for a two-week solo tour of the UK. Once the album was out, Gregory enlisted top-notch local musicians to back him. The band members have since become involved in the writing, something reflected in the group's more recent songs.
Dig It: Dave Matthew Band with a better singer, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson (MB)
Stonehouse (Toledo, Ohio)
Though admittedly a "Jam" band (in the purest sense, praying at the altar of Jerry and Co.), this Toledo quartet builds their improv adventures off of a solid songwriting base, a lost art for many in that community. The band has done many dates around the region and they are moments away from releasing their debut EP (heck, they might even have them for MidPoint). Mainly, it just seems that the group members like to play. From their MySpace page: "Stonehouse is excited and available to play music for anyone and anywhere." Someone please put that to the test (car shows? nursing homes? Nation of Islam rallies?).
Dig It: The Dead and their disciples, stone-cold grooves, twirling while dancing. (MB)
The Prime Ministers (Berkley, Mich.)
The Prime Ministers have been holding court in southern Michigan since 2001 and racking up some impressive credits in the meantime. The PM's latest release, Efficiently Yours, follows a trio of self-released discs and was set into motion when the band won last year's Detroit News Sonic Summer competition, besting 100 acts in the Detroit area to score free studio time.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The Rock immediacy of Foo Fighters, the Pop excellence of Fountains of Wayne. (BB)
Elliot Ruther Trio (Cincinnati)
Whether strumming his acoustic or fronting his power trio, Ruther's insuppressible honesty is explosive, as demonstrated on 2005's Rock 'N' Roll Conceived. A staunchly independent and original voice, he translates personal and political bugaboos into emotionally charged songs that seem to consume him before your eyes.
Dig It: Bob Mould, Bob Dylan, Dumptruck. (EW)
CRITIC'S PICK: darynyck (Columbus, Ohio)
Armed with lo-fi yet somehow resplendent Indie Pop songs that have a classic, occasionally psychedelic undercurrent, darynyck was formed in Toledo by a couple of longtime pals (Dayrn and Nyck, get it?) who made homemade recordings together in high school. After college, the duo found themselves in Columbus and working together on songs again. The group's live shows can include anything from third member, bassist/guitarist Dayn, to drum loops, while their more acoustic shows feature beats from djembes, tambourines, egg shakers and maracas. Fans of the Indie Pop style will find darynyck's music a welcome addition to that canon, fitting comfortably somewhere between Grizzly Bear, Guster and Iron and Wine.
Dig It: Acoustic Guided By Voices, The Shins blissfully stoned and minus electricity, The Left Banke signed to SpinArt Records. (MB)
Cabin (Louisville, Ky.)
Louisville's Velocity Weekly called Cabin "Kentucky's Coldplay," and that pretty much sums it up perfectly — except for the 30-second breakdown at the end of their I Was Here EP, which sounds like The String Quartet Tribute to Mr. Bungle. Definitely didn't see that coming. Better press play again.
Dig It: Death Cab for Cutie covering "Dust in the Wind," Bono borrowing Del McCoury's band (EW)
Pictures of Then (Minneapolis)
Pictures of Then formed in 2005 and immediately set to work finding a sonic balance between reverence for the past and vision of the future, fashioning a sound that reflected their aptly chosen name. The quartet's debut album, Crushed By Lights, has been widely acclaimed, earning comparisons to Pink Floyd and Smashing Pumpkins.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The shifting bedrock of Prog, the shrieking power of aggressive Modern Rock. (BB)
Reutschle (Dayton, Ohio)
Don't hurt yourself ... it's pronounced "Richly," just like frontman Mike Reutschle's name. Whoa, that's a coincidence, kind of like Lou Gehrig getting Lou Gehrig's Disease. Anyway, after moves and lineup changes that scaled the band down to a trio, Reutschle released its third full-length CD, Exotic Destinations, which lights a fire under the whole Americans-doing-Brit-Pop kettle.
Dig It: The Who fixation of Guided By Voices, the Bee Gees fixation of the Pernice Brothers, Buddy Holly's glasses. (BB)
CRITIC'S PICK: The Teenage Prayers (New York, N.Y.)
My first exposure to The Teenage Prayers was on an Offspring tribute CD, which I checked out hoping someone would reinvent that worthless band's crap and make it sound decent. TTP was the only band that delivered, churning out a brilliantly dirge-y version of "Beheaded." Everything I've heard from them since then has the same broken beauty that never disappoints. Their riffs have a sort of visceral simplicity, somewhere between The Rolling Stones and The Presidents of the United States of America. Add the piano/organ and the juxtaposed guitar parts, and a stew thickens. When you pour in the soulful vocals, the mixture becomes too thick to stir, but the Prayers are just going to start a food fight with it, anyway. They had perfected this formula on 2005's Ten Songs, but based on a few teaser tracks the band has released, the Steve Wynn-produced Everyone Thinks You´re the Best (due in early 2008) will be a revelation.
Dig It: The Stooges heckling Apples in Stereo, The Raconteurs, John Wesley Harding playing Garage Rock (EW)
The Swarthy Band (Cincinnati)
Hard to believe it's been eight years since Swarthy (singer/guitarist Brian Love) burst onto the scene with his exuberant solo set. Enlisting the musical services of some old pals from the Jazz Rock and Americana crowd, he birthed a Power Pop juggernaut. All capable songwriters, the band shines brightly as a whole.
Dig It: Elvis Costello, Beatles intricacy with New Wave explosiveness. (EW)
The Slang (Columbus, Ohio)
The Slang is a freshly formed Columbus band with tons of experience among the foursome's members, including stints with the acclaimed Trapper John and Atlantic Records band Plumb. The band has already produced an EP, they're working on their debut full-length and early notices of their live performances are proof that The Slang might be new but they're no rookies.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The melodic and rhythmic panorama of Nada Surf, Weezer and Teenage Fanclub. (BB)
The Audiologues (Columbus, Ohio)
The College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) training of this talented trio explains the classically inspired melodies and soaring harmonies on their debut, last year's Cartel EP. They also use e-bow and other ambiance-inducing effects to give their sound a lot more expansiveness than you'd expect from their head count.
Dig It: Muse, Suede, The Verve. (EW)
CRITIC'S PICK: The Receiver (Columbus, Ohio)
The natural reaction to your first Receiver song is, "Hmm, great Experimental Indie Rock music. If there are even vocals, I bet they are going to be ... Whoa!!!! What a voice!" The marriage of dynamic structures, keyboard-based songwriting and unendingly pleasant singing is a rare and captivating thing. The project began as Casey Cooper's senior thesis at Ohio State's School of Music. Glowing feedback led him to recruit brother Jesse to play drums and morph the concepts into an organic unit. The tangible result is Decades, a carefully composed musical arc that alternately broods and soothes. The lyrics display flashes of poetry and the breathy vocals make every word seem like it holds the weight of the world. The album is a breathtaking balloon ride that you wish would never end, even if that means disappearing into the ether forever.
Dig It: Sigur Ros, Christopher Cross fronting Explosions In the Sky, Captain of Industry under heavy sedation. (EW)
CRITIC'S PICK: Revolving Doors (Madison/Milwaukee)
Sliding on a frozen lake of ambient sounds, Revolving Doors make instrumentals that could be marketed as New Age music for Indie Rock kids. And I mean that in the best possible sense. The three-piece released its debut album to positive notice this past summer. Fact is, Revolving Doors end up sounding like no one else with their hypnotic swirl of samples, electronics, keys, hovering, fluid guitars and kinetic rhythms.
Dig It: John Tesh jammin' Red Rocks with Tortoise? Nah, probably closer to Medeski, Martin & Wood on high doses of Can, Eno and Mum. (MB)
Well, Souse is sorta from Cincinnati. The jammy Jazz ensemble (with some wicked organ playing, supple horn and deep grooves) features nine members, all of whom are scattered around the Midwest. They are genuinely a "regional band." The band interprets the music of Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Billy Cobham and the like.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Mahavishnu Orchestra-meets-Yellow Jackets, laidback Contemporary Jazz not in a hurry to get anywhere. (MB)
DLO (Da LEMMINGS OnSombol) (Cincinnati)
It's been a revolving door at Da Lemmings headquarters (save lifers and co-writers John Gentry Jr. and Andrew M. Scorti) which makes it all the more remarkable that the band has retained such consistency playing the "Jam" circuit over the past several years. Quality arrangements give way to fluid improvisations, and each member brings a dazzling amount of talent and creativity to the funky table.
Dig It: Aquarium Rescue Unit, Charlie Hunter, Zappa conducting Weather Report. (MB)
Industrial Jazz Group (Portland, Ore.)
Naturally, it's neither exactly Industrial nor Jazz, but IJG does take the instrumental and compositional chops (and horns galore) from the latter. And if you take into account that the origins of Industrial music can be traced to Dadaism, noise art and a reaction to "agricultural" music, well, suddenly it all makes sense.
Dig It: Throbbing Gristle meets "Yakety Sax" at an art opening. (EW)
The Macpodz (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
They name-check Miles and Zappa, but you don't have to be a 12th degree music ninja to dig The Macpodz' Jazz freak-outs. They are dance-oriented and as fully accessible as any of their Jam peers, except ... those aren't really their peers. They remain more tightly focused on the Jazz/Funk vein (read: no obligatory Bluegrass).
Dig It: Medeski, Martin & Wood on a quadruple espresso, Garaj Mahal. (EW)
Jeff Rolka (Alameda, Calif.)
For his second solo album, Somewhere in the Fade, West Coast singer/songwriter Jeff Rolka enlisted some top-of-the-line musicians to back up his mildly twangy Pop/Rock songs, including members of Chuck Prophet's band. The Detroit native's sound shifts between gentler balladry and more revved up, Byrdsian Pop Roots Rock.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Bruce Hornsby and Ben Folds on a Guitar Pop bender together. (MB)
Andy Brasher (Owensboro, Ky.)
Heartfelt lyrics and passionate melodies are the order of the day on Andy Brasher's new CD, Crows and Buzzards. Brasher did the high school band thing before relocating to Bowling Green, Ky., as a solo acoustic act where he began slipping originals into his set. He set out for Nashville to hone his songwriting chops then came back to Owensboro where he worked up the emotional and raw Crows and Buzzards.
Dig It: The Country/Folk result of learning from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Neil Young and Robert Johnson. (BB)
Liz Pahl and the Pahlbearers (Athens, Ohio)
Vocalist/guitarist Liz Pahl and her crack band have been schooled in the Folk/Blues/Rock tradition (Led Zeppelin, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan) while absorbing the contemporary practitioners of those same sounds (Neko Case, Cat Power, Susan Tedeschi), resulting in a rootsy Americana translation with a lyrical bent toward love and loss. The Pahlbearers' last release was 2004's acclaimed No Regrets.
Dig It: Dusty Americana as steered by the towering Rock/Soul/Folk/Blues figures of the 20th century. (BB)
Jared Mahone Band (Columbus, Ohio)
Groovecentric delivery and hook-laden tunes are the hallmark of this trio. Carefully crafting touching songs that demonstrate delicate mastery of their instruments, it's clear that a slow-brewed chemistry is also present, as Mahone's guitar and vocals are perpetually lifted by the other voices in the band.
Dig It: John Mayer, Maroon 5, Jason Mraz. (EW)
Vanderpark (Ontario, Canada)
Who knew Canada could be funky? This tight Canadian band channels some licks and grooves from the collections of Prince and Stevie Wonder and then slathers them in a glaze of smoldering Modern Rock. If Maroon 5 can be played on radio every 15 minutes, Vanderpark should be on every 10. The band's follow-up to their debut, All Your Hands, titled Cherish Yesterday, is due out soon (meanwhile, check out their MySpace page for new stuff).
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Maroon 4, George Michael fronting a Funk/Rock band. (MB)
Nine Yards (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
The Dutch know how to Rock the shingles off the shithouse roof (Don't believe me? Find a copy of any Herman Brood album and you're welcome), and Nine Yards is the evidence of that proud truth. Sweaty, top-volume gigs at the Paradiso and the Melkveg have cemented Nine Yards' reputation at home. Now the quartet brings a little Amsterdam to Cincinnati ... if space cakes are available at the merch table, I'll plotz.
Dig It: The Punkass, Rockass, Popass flight of the Rocking Dutchmen. (BB)
Melding Post Grunge and Power Pop, they refer to their chemistry as the "Superorganism," which is also the name of their 2005 debut album. The trio offers a highly polished sound and radio-ready hooks, which should be abundant on their forthcoming disc, III2I. "Dreampirates," the first single, is already getting airplay in Brussels.
Dig It: 30 Seconds to Mars, Chevelle, Hinder. (EW)
Stud Muffins (Den Haag, Netherlands)
Another Dutch entrant in this year's MidPoint extravaganza, Stud Muffins have been wowing the crowds back home for three years with their hybridized Blues/Rock/Soul influences. Stud Muffins have just released their debut EP, Tricks Up My Sleeve, and, fresh from last week's gig at The Comet, they're more than ready to rock the Queen City.
Dig It: John Mayer and Gavin DeGraw doing double Dutch with Hoobastank and Lifehouse to a Hendrix soundtrack. (BB)
KNOW THEATRE UNDERGROUND
Vanity Theft (Springboro, Ohio)
Take a little pinch of every all-girl band you can think of, roll them all together and you're probably pretty close to this freshly hatched quartet. But instead of sticking to the middle of the road, they swerve all over it. Sounding a decade older than they are, Vanity Theft masterfully mix distortion, sweetness, Indie Pop and Alt Rock.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Throwing Muses, The Runaways, Sleater-Kinney. (EW)
CRITIC'S PICK: Kink Ador (Nachville, Tenn.)
If you think Nashville is all flannel and jeans and cowboy hats and pedal steel and Nudie suits, you've got delusions only the sweet stink of therapy could resolve. Nashville also has an edgy Indie Pop scene, of which Kink Ador is an integral element. From massive bass grooves to violin bows sawing across guitar strings to insistent synth pulses, Kink Ador exposes the quirky white underbelly of Music City.
Dig It: The band we'd send to Iceland in a musical foreign exchange program involving Sigur Ros. (BB)
Lovely Crash (Cincinnati)
Just another example of the spectacular musical diversity that distinguishes Cincinnati from all the dress-and-sound-alike scenes around the country. Lovely Crash's bittersweet Punk/Pop has been called "funny and vulgar" by The Enquirer and we likened them to a brawl between the Breeders, Scrawl and the Bangles (based on the crashing, resonating harmonic energy of bassist Beth Cheek and guitarist Jen Wesenberg). Their debut album, Buddha Car, is proof of all of this.
Dig It: Any band with the girl-cajones to open for Ass Ponys. (BB)
Oxymoronotron (Dayton, Ohio)
Typical Blade Runner conundrum: Are they saving us from the robots or are they the robots? You better learn to play a funky synthesizer or maybe some '80s drum beats and some fuzzed-out Punk guitar riffs. And buy a Talk Box, pronto, because the only way to hide from them is to blend in.
Dig It: Daft Punk, the soundtrack to the softcore porn version of Transformers. (EW)
Tiffany Hull (Chicago)
Shifting between bluesy rockers and silky ballads, Tiffany Hull's voice is the main consistency factor on her latest EP, Don't Make Me Laugh. A breathy, emotive instrument, Hull has an effortless vocal style that apparently is a result of raw, natural talent (she's only been in the biz a handful of years). Hull and her tight band have opened for artists like Alice Peacock and have played the finest venues of the Windy City. Last year she placed in the finals of the international Emergenza Music Festival.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Heart. (MB)
Mike Fair and the Adventure Seekers (Cincinnati)
Initially somewhat of a "side project" for the Cincinnati-based band Wojo, guitarist/singer Mike Fair's Adventure Seekers became the main gig when the members' former main gig ended this year. Fair had been a versatile, longtime sideman in town when he decided to record his first solo CD, the emotionally rich, folksy I Am Smiling Dammit. Fair played everything on the album, so he got his Wojo pals to play a live show with him to promote the disc. The rest is fairly recent history.
Dig It: Wilco, Tom Petty (minus the sheen), The Faces. (MB)
The Northern Whiskey Syndicate (Detroit)
Northern Whiskey Syndicate began as a side project to the rockier Loaded 44s in order to create an outlet for the members' dark Roots Rock leanings. NWS wound up outliving the 44s and have gone on to win the allegiance of most every audience lucky enough to experience them and anyone whose heard their self-titled debut EP and 2005's excellent Voltead 33 (the title refers to the 1933 act ushering in Prohibition).
Dig It: R.E.M. as John Mellencamp's backing band at the Son Volt crew picnic. (BB)
The Sonny Moorman Group (Cincinnati)
The Sonny Moorman Group has become something of a Cincinnati music institution — almost any night of the week you can catch Moorman in a club somewhere in the area. Moorman has a well-deserved reputation for being a soulful, jaw-dropping guitarist and his songwriting and vocal chops aren't that far behind. Moorman's albums have earned rave reviews and he has been the recipient of numerous other accolades, including several local music awards and a second place finish in the International Blues Challenge last year in Memphis.
Dig It: Allman Brothers, Bluesbreakers, Stevie Ray Vaughn. (MB)
NEW STAGE COLLECTIVE
Wild Eyed Boys (Akron, Ohio)
Formerly (and still kinda) known as the Nathan Corsi Band (named after the band's vibrant singer/guitarist), Wild Eyed Boys make bluesy Rock music full of drama and flair. Hailing from the strangely lively and innovative music scene of Akron, the trio is preparing for the release of their new album, A Londoner Anarchist.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Cold War Kids, Jeff Buckley playin' the Blues, a more flamboyant Black Keys. (MB)
Earle Grey (Cincinnati)
Steve Earle, former drummer for Afghan Whigs and Hermano, is taking his turn at the helm and doing a damn fine job of it. Bittersweet and somewhat folky, his Americana-tinged Power Pop sounds equally good with the throttle open or in a more reserved context. His debut (recorded by Steve Girton) is in the can and awaiting proper release.
Dig It: Pete Yorn, The Hang-Ups, Matthew Sweet. (EW)
The Iry (Columbus, Ohio)
Keyboards and clever irony are in the driver's seat, but it's the passengers that make the road trip enjoyable. Understated guitar swells, liberal use of bongos, backing vocal "oohs" and stop-on-a dime structures invite The Iry to the same place in your heart reserved for those quirky guys jamming in the basement at your friend's last party.
Dig It: Modest Mouse, Ben Folds vs. Yo La Tengo. (EW)
A power trio from the wilds of Detroit made up of three brothers who all sing? What's not to like? Schaeffer began stirring up the Motor City's Pop community with their revelatory first album, 2005's No Ordinary People, and the Rossi brothers have trumped their own ace with their latest, a concept album titled Something Worth Fighting For.
Dig It: The new Romantics, an intuitive Knack. (BB)
Dress Code (Dayton, Ohio)
Dayton's Derek Holley was half of the original Dress Code in the early '90s, a duo that drew on Dance, Funk, Rock and Pop influences. The group's debut album, About Time, wound up contributing music to MTV, VH1 and several indie film projects. Holley resurrected Dress Code as a one-man-band concept, this time with an emphasis on pulsing bass and Rock power chords, with Funk, House and Hip Hop crosscurrents.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Groovy Electro-Pop that is as indebted to Rock as Dance. (BB)
Horton the Irrelevant & August the Creep (Madison, Wisc.)
Horton the Irrelevant & August the Creep are most assuredly not the norm when it comes to Hip Hop. The pair's debut disc, Strange Passengers, is an underground celebration of a mainstream genre, mixing expected rhymes and beats with a wholly surprising focus on lighter-side lyrics and occasional Jazz breaks. In a genre where lyrical and beat continuity is a ticket to big sales, Horton the Irrelevant & August the Creep dare to break away from the pack.
Dig It: Pushing the Hip Hop envelope with nods to KRS-One, Slick Rick and Ludacris. (EW)
Dayton Boyz (Dayton, Ohio)
At the start of 2003, the Dayton Boyz formed in — of all places — Dayton, Ohio, put out the appropriately titled CD, The Beginning, and began selling discs out of the trunks of their cars. They moved operations to the Internet in order to reach a wider audience and it worked. Six members strong, the group has most recently recorded a collaborative project with Roc Da Spot and they continually strive to work with other artists in the Dayton area.
Dig It: Three 6 Mafia, Dayton Family, Gangsta Rap of today. (MB)
Ill Poetic (Cincinnati)
With an open mind and creative approach to production and writing, Ill Poetic has become one of the city's finest Hip Hop MCs and producers, drawing from influences as varied as OutKast and Jay-Z. His most recent album, The World is Ours, reflects the wide influence and is all the better for it. Also half of the duo Definition, Ill Poetic's CDs have received praise from national print and Web press. He has also shared the stage with artists like Talib Kweli, Little Brother and Chuck D.
Dig It: J Dilla's production, observational poetry, smart MCs in general. (MB)
Cheree Silcox (Nashville, Tenn.)
Ever just want to say, "Screw it," pack up all your things and move somewhere to make all your dreams come true? Cheree Sicox did just that, and she brought her young child and husband with her when she left Florida for Nashville to "make it." The Country singer/songwriter must have been on to something, because not long after relocating, she signed a deal with new Indie label, MY Records Nashville. The label has released two singles to positive radio response and an EP of Silcox's music, In His Dreams, is also available.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Leann Womack, Barbara Mandrell (MB)
Ann Driscoll (Boston)
Inspired by Rock as a kid, Driscoll (a Cincy native) started playing bass, drums and guitar and then began writing her trademark clever, jangly songs. While attending journalism school at the University of Missouri last year, she gigged with a full band. She is currently attending Berklee on a songwriting scholarship and will be coming home for a solo set at MidPoint.
Dig It: Juliana Hatfield, Liz Phair, Siouxsie Sioux playing Beatles tunes with The Cardigans. (EW)
Greg Madden (Dayton, Ohio)
Greg Mahan (Cincinnati)
It was almost 10 years ago that Greg Mahan — up until then known around town as the singer/guitarist for the trio banjo — officially went solo by recording his first CD. Two years later the disc — a great mix of Folk/Roots and Pop — came out and he was nominated for a slew of Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. Mahan has kept busy with tour dates and local shows since, and he's also been recording his much-anticipated follow-up disc.
Dig It: Dylan jammin' with John, Paul, George and Ringo after hours during the Let It Be sessions. (MB)
Angelo M. (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Folk singer/fingerstyle guitarist Angelo M. got a late start in the music biz. It took losing his job at a steel mill for him to record his debut album, Far From Home, which features the song "Thirty Years," about his time working towards a pension, somewhat regretting the years it took away from his musical life.
Dig It: Joe Henry, Mark Sandman of Morphine on an Americana kick. (MB)
POISON ROOM: POISON STAGE
HUMAN X (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
With big, metallic guitar riffs and gnarling vocals, Human X makes music to pump fists to (if you so please). The band formed in 2000 and released its lone album, Wilted, three years later. What to expect from the band's live show (from their bio): "HUMAN X have created and polished a live show, which excites fans and audiences from several age groups and musical tastes." Fun for the whole family!
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Seven Mary Three, 3 Doors Down, Hinder. (MB)
Vaeda (Long Island, N.Y.)
A power trio with Pop Punk leanings that breathes new life into a gasping genre with a mix of raw power and progressive leanings. This and their unquestionable chops won them the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands slot on both the Taste of Chaos and the Warped Tour this year.
Dig It: Mae, A Perfect Circle, a high-speed collision of Emo and Grunge. (EW)
Bill Mike Band (Minneapolis)
BMB laid waste to their MPMF venue last year with an incendiary set of otherworldly guitar acrobatics. Since then, they've received a recording grant and have been making, in Mike's words, "our Led Zeppelin II — it's darker, groovier than the last record." They've also been winning awards, playing festivals and collaborating with a wide range of artists.
Dig It: Trevor Rabin, XTC's tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Adrian Belew jamming with Primus. (EW)
The Frankl Project (Covington, Ky.)
With a touch of Ska, a dash of Punk and whole lot of Pop, The Frankl Project has grown a dedicated fan base in the Greater Cincinnati area. The trio released its first EP in 2004 and has toured, sharing stages with Mustard Plug, The Toasters and Westbound Train (though the Frankls aren't quite as "Ska" as those acts). "When it comes down to it," the band's bio says, "(the band) is just three kids with a few ideals, a little talent and a lot of heart hoping to play music for anyone who will listen."
Dig It: Against Me, 311, Sublime. (MB)
The Terrors (Cincinnati)
The Terrors are "Pop" in the sense that they produce indestructible melodies, but their adventurous arrangements belie such compact terminology. On their debut, Foolish Treasure Hunter, the group loads the songs with dizzying keyboard, synth and xylophone licks, dynamic guitar work and a powerful, creative rhythmic bite, drizzling unanticipated sound effects and quirks throughout.
Dig It: Pop Rock without boundaries. (MB)
POISON ROOM: TOXIC STAGE
Thirty Ought Six (Columbus, Ohio)
Alternative Rock/Nu Metal
In three short years, Columbus quartet Thirty Ought Six has grown its fan base to extraordinary numbers with tireless area appearances and a high profile on MySpace, where it was among 20 finalists from a field of 53,000 to compete for a chance to provide music for the Scarface video game. The new album, Amazing Attractions for Rebellion, has been gaining airplay at home and around the country.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The melodic, aggressive groove of Incubus and Sevendust. (BB)
This profoundly talented Rock trio reinvented themselves on their last album, swimming in the confluence of the rivers of Post Rock and Emo (but still within sight of the Mainstream shore). Known for flawless recordings and dead-on performances, it's a cinch that whatever direction they choose, they're going to nail it.
Dig It: Chavez, Jawbox, Stone Temple Pilots. (EW)
(intheclear) (Louisville, Ky.)
A hard-driving quintet from Louisville, (intheclear) combines a heavy, passionate Rock sound with a subtler yet still energetic undercurrent. The fivesome has opened shows for Hawthorne Heights, Finger Eleven, Days of the New and Staind and they won the WLRS Summer Series Battle of the Bands in 2004 after less than a year together. (intheclear)'s new album, ninetyseven11lyriclane, is certain to get them noticed on a wider scale.
Dig It: A Perfect Circle and Incubus downloading U2 and Jeff Buckley bootlegs. (BB)
Hooks so big you can eat them with a shovel? Probably not their intent, but the name could easily refer to their megalithic riffs and iconic choruses. Consisting of three brothers, a turntablist and a former-guitar-tech-turned guitarist, they are favorite sons in Philly, especially on local Rock station WMMR.
Dig it: Incubus, Deftones, Sevendust. (EW)
Dark Shift (Milwaukee)
At least we used to call this Metal. Double-bass drumming, guitarmonies, solos that last longer than 16 measures and melodic singing that actually requires rehearsing. Nowadays it's all pretty much Cookie Monster vocals and blast beats, so it's great to hear bands like Dark Shift that carry the torch proudly.
Dig It: Helloween, Megadeth, Headbanger's Ball circa 1988. (EW)
Voodoo Loons (Cincinnati/ Donegal, Ireland)
The show by the "Irish/American" trio Voodoo Loons at last year's MidPoint was so good, they haven't had a gig since! Actually, the band has a good reason for not doing any live dates. With members in Ireland and the U.S., the band can "rehearse" and write (thanks, Internet!) but it's not so easy to join up for a gig at the local corner bar. The Web has been good to the Loons — the group's presence online has earned them fans and even radio airplay. See 'em now or you might have to wait another year, at least.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Pop/Rock with a slant, The Waterboys reborn as an AltPop band? (MB)
Sons of the Abyss (Cincinnati)
The softer side of one of the busiest local party bands, SotA is moody and eclectic, combining ethereal Adult Alternative grooves with smooth vocals and tasteful instrumental breaks. Essentially a songwriting and music production vehicle for guitarist/singer Ryan Marcotte, this project has a lot of potential.
Dig It: Seal, Pink Floyd, Remy Zero. (EW)
Hojas Rojas (Minneapolis)
Two years ago, Hojas Rojas assembled from the pieces of the late, lamented Leaves and hit the scene running. The quartet's debut CD, KILLMEILOVEYOU, yielded the song "You Don't Know Me At All," which was a semi-finalist in the 2007 International Songwriting Competition. Hojas Rojas is putting the finishing touches on Helium, its sophomore release, due early next year.
Dig It: The straightforward Rock of the White Stripes with the weirdness factor of the Flaming Lips. (BB)
murmur (Dayton, Ohio)
Making chiming, honey-dripped Pop Rock that is alternately tranquil and nervous, this Dayton quintet has had a lot of drama in just three short years of existence. Spinal Tap-worthy drummer rotation? Check. Near total loss of all musical gear and recording equipment? Oh yeah (though most property and, more importantly, recordings were salvaged).
Dig It: Toad the Wet Sprocket reborn as The Shins. (MB)