More Great Artists to Watch in 2015

JetLab, Harbour, Near Earth Objects and Kate Wakefield join CEA New Artist nominees at Best New Bands showcase

Harbour

The small town of Lebanon, Ohio, in Warren County just north of Cincinnati, is known for its quaintness and historical landmarks (like the 212-year-old Golden Lamb Inn). But someday soon it may well be known as the birthplace of Harbour, an incredibly talented young AltPop/Rock band.

For only just forming last year (members previously worked together under the band name The Monument), the four-piece group has a remarkably accomplished sound, mixing danceable rhythms, compelling guitar work and an insistent, undeniable melodic prowess. Harbour’s sound is in line with bands like Neon Trees and Walk the Moon and it would be to the surprise of no one who has heard the band if Harbour followed in those acts’ footsteps and landed on national radio playlists and high profile tours in the not-so-distant future.

In 2014, Harbour won the “Battle of the Bands” competition at all-ages venue The Underground, scored a slot at the Bunbury Music Festival and released its dazzling eponymous debut album.

For more information on Harbour, visit its official site at harbourtheband.com.

Kate Wakefield

Digital music outlets like Pandora and Spotify tout “discovery” programs that allow users to explore music they might like, with the idea that computer algorithms might help find you some favorite new music based on your tastes. But the best — or at least more rewarding — way of discovering a great new artist is still during a night on the town, accidentally stumbling into a performance by an artist who stops you in your tracks and drops your jaw.

That probably happened numerous times in 2014 during performances by dynamic solo artist Kate Wakefield, a singer, songwriter and cellist who creates haunting songs with her voice, her cello and some looping pedals that allow her to build captivating dreamscapes all by her lonesome. Whether playing the casual Classical music gathering “Classical Revolution” at Northside Tavern, opening for a Texas Dream Pop band at MOTR Pub or participating in Ric Hordinksi’s “Occasionally Annual Holiday Concert” at his Monastery studio/performance space, Wakefield’s mesmerizing live appearances have no doubt enchanted a variety of new fans over the course of the past year.

Wakefield’s just as likely to wow new fans with her recorded music. Her avant garde “Cello Rock” (featuring her sublime vocals, which reach operatic heights at times) is on glorious display on the debut release, Eyes in Walls are Louder, which she released this past fall through katewakefield.bandcamp.com.

For more on Wakefield, visit katewakefieldmusic.net.

Jet Lab

JetLab was conceived by veteran local musicians Elle Crash (ex-Lovely Crash, Fairmount Girls) and Nick Barrows (4 Track Allstars, Eagle to Squirrel) as a way to blend their love for Rock/Pop and Electronic/Dance music; drummer Dave Welsh rounds out the group and does a superb job of holding together the mélange of sounds and approaches. The result is a spiritual throwback to the ’70s New York City scene centered on CBGB; though largely lumped together as “Punk,” the bands of that era ranged from the dynamic New Wave/Pop of Blondie to the anxious Rock stylings of Talking Heads and Television. JetLab is kind of like a one-band CBGB scene as its debut dips into a wide range of styles and vibes. That Crash and Barrows both write and sing adds to the engaging diversity of the trio’s self-titled debut album, released this past November.

The album starts with the accurately titled “Dance Floor,” a swirl of electronic sounds and dance-ready rhythms that introduces both vocalists’ distinct styles — Barrows’ is elastic but largely low-register cool (falling somewhere between Richard Hell and Thurston Moore) while Crash brings fire with her soaring pipes, which show hints of Chrissie Hynde, Johnette Napolitano and Debbie Harry. Other JetLab highlights include the swaggering, sassy “What,” which manages to mix Electro Funk with acoustic Pop, the driving Post Punk of “Old Days” and the airy, mesmerizing and passionate closing track, “Happiness.”

For more on JetLab, visit facebook.com/jetlabmusic.

Near Earth Projects

The seeds of Indie Rock crew Near Earth Objects were planted when singer/guitarist Devin Clarke and bassist/keyboardist Leland Davis got together to jam while in high school (they’d been friends since middle school). A few years later, they decided to get more serious about starting a group, landing Richard Inman to play drums and taking on the name Near Earth Objects. The trio took its time developing material and chemistry before making its live debut in late 2013.

Last summer, Near Earth Objects released its first recorded effort with the four-song EP Situational Awareness, which showcased the group’s progressive, occasionally psychedelic style, marked by an engaging stream-of-conscious fluidity. The band’s imaginative arrangements were on full display on the EP’s opening epic “Introduction to Feeling Something,” as well as the closer “Serotonin Drift,” which sounds like David Bowie and Pink Floyd writing a winding Math Rock/Post Rock ballad for Secret Machines.

More recently, Near Earth Objects added a fourth member — Daniel Walton — to provide cello for the band as it continues work on its first full-length. On the great album track “My Mind,” Walton’s presence is felt in the billowing, sophisticated atmospherics he adds to the proceedings, a perfect compliment to the group’s expansive sound. The band is hoping to have the new album out sometime this summer.

To find out more about Near Earth Objects, visit nearearthobjectsneo.com.

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