Quick link: Mike Breen's MidPoint overview
Quick link: Friday 9/26 band previews & critics' picks
Quick link: Saturday 9/27 band previews & critics' picks
Quick link: Wristband/ticket details
Quick link: Scion Streetcar Shuttle details
MidPoint Kickoff at Fountain Square (Free!)
6 p.m. Critic's Pick: Seabird (Cincinnati)
Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heart-wrenching, the piano-led balladry of this local act caught the ear of a manager that secured them a showcase in Nashville, eventually leading to a deal with an EMI subsidiary label. Seabird is keeping its webbed feet planted here for now, as evidenced by their June CD release party on The Belle of Cincinnati (quite possibly the coolest improvised CD release venue since The Brass Ass). The band recently announced its song “Rescue” will be used as the new theme song for the ABC TV hit Pushing Daisies.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: Keane, Guster, John Mayer. (Ezra Waller)
Arnold’s Bar & Grill
8 p.m. Tim Hinde (Cincinnati)
Tim Hinde is a singer/songwriter who performs solo with his 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars and a harmonica. His style is simple and straightforward, Folk Rock without much accoutrement. His first full-length album, Woodnotes, came out earlier this summer.
Dig It: When your favorite corner bar troubadour plays some originals. (Mike Breen)
9 p.m. Sudden Death (Hamburg, N.J.)
If you hear it and immediately think the music of Sudden Death is juvenile and kinda dumb, don’t worry -- you’re having the intended reaction. SD is the comedy Rap act created by comedian Tom Rockwell, bringing a nice (needed?) dose of comic relief to MidPoint. Rockwell gets mad props for being the only artist playing the festival to receive major airplay on the legendary Dr. Demento radio show. Now that’s street cred.
Dig It: Weird Al going exclusively Hip Hop. (MB)
10 p.m. The Tillers (Cincinnati)
Call it Mountain Music, Old-Time or even Hillbilly Music -- but don’t call it Bluegrass. The Tillers are clearly focused on the songs and the stories they tell, not the fancy pickin’. The band, whose resume stretches from Punk Rock to Irish Folk, is far more concerned with keeping the dignity of the songs and the musical style intact than updating it like contemporaries The Wilders or Old Crow Medicine Show.
Dig It: Woody Guthrie’s guitar with “This Machine Kills Fascists” scrawled on it. (EW)
11 p.m. Magnolia Mountain (Cincinnati)
Led by singer/songwriter Mark Utley (formerly of AltRock bands like Stop the Car and Pale Halo), Magnolia Mountain came to be when Mark decided to dig back into music with a different, more acoustic-based approach. The result is Magnolia Mountain’s magical Country Folk, delivered with an elegant energy and intimacy and an almost hovering effect.
Dig It: Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash jammin’ on a cloud. (MB)
Aronoff Fifth Third Bank Theater
9 p.m. The Chocolate Horse (Cincinnati)
Alternative Folk Rock
Three years ago, Readymaid frontman Jason Snell decided to tangent wildly and write and record lo-fi bedroom Folk tunes. With occasional assistance from multi-instrumentalist Andrew Higley and bassist Paul Brumm, the Chocolate Horse was conceived. Their debut, Patience Works!, scored them a couple of CEA nominations, and their upcoming new one, We Don’t Stand on Ceremony, promises even more.
Dig It: Traffic playing Jakob Dylan’s basement demos. (Brian Baker)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Daniel Martin Moore (Cold Spring, Ky.)
Daniel Martin Moore isn’t a scenester. He’s done stints with the Peace Corps in Cameroon, at a bed and breakfast in Costa Rica and played music in Minnesota with his brother. Last year, he sent a blind demo package to Sub Pop, which they improbably listened to and even more improbably loved. Stray Age, his debut CD (for the label that launched the Afghan Whigs to greatness two decades) comes out in October, but Moore’s songs are clearly intended to be heard in a room where listener and singer are inextricably linked by beautiful, unfettered emotion. So go.
Dig It: Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley beating Houdini to first contact from beyond the veil and doing a gig to show off. (BB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Why? (Oakland, Calif.)
Indie Rock/Folk Pop
Featuring former Cincinnatians, Why? reels out weirdly cool Psych Pop made up of the hallucinogenic lyrical nonsequiters of They Might Be Giants and the Folk Hop beat boxisms of Beck while swirling out an acid cabaret soundtrack that is both challenging and completely wondrous.
Dig It: The Flaming Lips on a mescaline picnic with the eels, catered by the Polyphonic Spree. (BB)
Below Zero Lounge (Upstairs)
8 p.m. The Flux Capacitors (Cincinnati)
Cincinnati has a small but extremely impressive Surf Rock scene, built around a couple of great bands and a long-running radio show on WAIF (88.3 FM). The Flux Capacitors are an infusion of young blood into the genre. Their instrumental songs are full of reverbed playfulness (check out their twisted take on “Also Sprach Zarathustra” on their brilliant debut, John Q. Brains-For-Arms, but they also have a real musical vocabulary and willingness to explore.
Dig It: The Ventures featuring Syd Barrett, The Fiery Furnaces’ tribute to Dick Dale. (EW)
9 p.m. Spookfloaters (Cincinnati)
The longest running Jam band in Cincinnati, the Spookfloaters began life as the River Runt Spookfloaters in 1987. By 1994, they were just Spookfloaters and recording a debut CD, Flotation. Though the lineup has changed, the band’s heart has long been the same: passionate, Classic Rock-influenced music that grooves.
Dig It: Allman Brothers, Phish, The Dead. (MB)
10 p.m. Daughters and Sons (Cincinnati)
Lord have mercy. Not since the Royal Crescent Mob graced and greased stages in and around our fair city has a band taken up the cause of Rock-crazed Funk with such a furious passion as our own Daughters and Sons. Smooth as a baby’s ass, funky as a chitlin dinner and crazy as a shithouse rat, Daughters and Sons raises a righteous noise with the fervor of a tent revival at each and every gig. There is nary a roof or rafter in the area that is safe with Daughters and Sons ready to plug in and blow the house down.
Dig It: The RC Mob gives Weezer a prison tattoo with the shards of a Curtis Mayfield record and ink made from melted-down Hendrix albums. (BB)
11 p.m. Eclipse (Cincinnati)
Jam/Hip Hop/Jazz A dazzling combination of Hip Hop rhymes with Jazz Fusion (that dips into Rock, Latin and Funk frequently), Eclipse features young trained musicians from the various music colleges in the region, two of Cincinnati’s best MCs (Jibri and Daddie Rich) and veteran Hip Hop DJ/producer DJ Jahson (Mood).
Dig It: The Roots do Zeppelin, Zappa and Yellowjackets covers ... at the same time! (MB)
Blue Wisp Jazz Club
8 p.m. Everthus the Deadbeats (Indianapolis)
Indie/Eclectic Named for the witty rejoinder hurled at The Dude by the guy who pisses on his rug in the early moments of the Coen brothers’ masterwork, The Big Lebowski, Everthus the Deadbeats has been compared favorably to everyone from Ween to The Stranglers to Oingo Boingo to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. ETD is composed of Rock freaks with an ominously twisted sense of humor and self and an expansive view of music history and their well deserved place in the sonic food chain.
Dig It: The Ween Big Band, The Dude, abiding. (BB)
9 p.m. Peter Adams (Cincinnati)
Three years ago, Peter Adams caught global attention for his self-recorded bedroom masterpiece, Thee Spiral Eyes. Despite the gushing reviews and industry attention, Adams didn’t change his approach much at all with his equally dazzling follow-up, I Woke With Planets in My Face, which he self-released earlier this year under a “pay-what-you-want” download scheme. Adams did mature as an artist though, feeling free to explore bringing in elements of World music and other devices to serve the soaring, engulfing songs.
Dig It: Elephant 6 Pop, Radiohead’s poppier moments. (MB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Spectrum (Rugby, U.K.)
With Spacemen 3, Sonic Boom was a member of a band that created a subtle but strong riptide of influence that has led many to call it one of the more significant bands of its time. With Psych Rock coming back gradually, it’s hard to imagine most of today’s practitioners even existing without Kember and Co.’s seminal albums. When SM3 ended with the beginning of the ’90s, Kember didn’t try to go BritPop and cash in; he simply kept doing what he was doing, further exploring the range of sonic art under various guises. The most straightforward of those projects was formed right after SM3 split. Spectrum does contain some dreamy Pop elements, but it has never lost its inherent experimentalism. Whatever he calls the project, anything coming from the mind of Sonic Boom is sure to be provocative, challenging and more psychedelic than the ghost of Timothy Leary jamming with 13th Floor Elevators where the pyramid meets the eye.
Dig It: My Bloody Valentine, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spiritualzed jamming around the Burning Man. (MB)
Buddakhan’s Classic Rock Cafe
9 p.m. Shrug (Dayton)
Together for almost 15 years, this Dayton band might have missed out on a deserved big-time record deal when they were younger. But you can tell a lot about an artist by their dedication to their art and desire to continue pursuing music while still holding down day jobs. Shrug’s smart, sophisticated Pop Rock has aged like fine wine; the band now hovers comfortably in the realm of Tom Petty’s timelessness and R.E.M.’s consistency. Not a bad place to be at all.
Dig It: Petty, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello. (MB)
10 p.m. The Weightlifters (Chicago)
The great thing about the success of The Shins and the New Pornographers is that it’s opened the doors for similarly geared guys like Adam McLaughlin, the braintrust behind The Weightlifters.
The “band’s” debut, Last of the Sunday Drivers, was hailed as one of the great albums, Indie or otherwise, of 2006.
Dig It: James Mercer and Joe Pernice channeling Big Star for the Jellyfish roast. (BB)
11 p.m. Scrimshaw (Cleveland)
Northern Ohio’s Scrimshaw are one of those refreshing bands that sincerely doesn’t sound like any one or two bands. They’re coming from a good bed of influences — Afghan Whigs, TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs — but those are distilled into a tight, unique package of fairly minimal sythn-laden Indie Rock with a great groove and some great soul-bearing vocals.
Dig It: Stripped-down Shudder to Think meets circuitry at TV on the Radio’s house. (MB)
8 p.m. Marvin and the Experience (Cincinnati)
Singer Marvin Hawkins has played with a variety of local musicians (his drum skills are top-shelf), but when he’s driving Marvin and the Experience he seems most at home. He’s a born performer with amazing stage presence and the ability to get a crowd moving wherever he’s playing. Having a catalog of excellent, funky contemporary R&B with a Hip Hop sway helps that cause considerably.
Dig It: Usher, Chris Brown, Raphael Saadiq. (MB)
9 p.m. David Andrew Smith Band (Ellicott City, Md.)
If there’s a waiting line to be the next VH-1 Heartthrob, David Andrew Smith should be allowed to cut. And that’s no knock. Like Gavin DeGraw and Jason Mraz and whoever the new one is, with the beard scruff and melancholy tunes, Smith makes emotive Pop Rock begging for hearts to embrace it. And it has personality. Smith’s Sweet, Sweet Nothing is bound to grab industry ears and soundtrack many a late-night bubblebath.
Dig It: Matchbox20, VH-1 (when it plays music). (MB)
10 p.m. July For Kings (Cincinnati)
Five years ago, Joe Hedges had the world by two handfuls of ass as the frontman for July For Kings, but MCA and Geffen combined forces and dropped their rosters. JFK forged on, but Hedges started writing atmospheric Folk/Pop with an Indie Rock edge, leading to his debut solo album last year, Curvature. Hedges’ MidPoint show last year was a hair-raising marvel, so find yourself some front rowage and hold on tight. This year, he’ll be joined by his old JFK bandmates for a much-anticipated performance.
Dig It: Sting having tantric sex while listening to the new Radiohead. (BB)
11 p.m. The Sonny Moorman Group (Cincinnati)
Sonny Moorman has been one of the premiere Blues artists in Cincinnati practically the moment he started his group in 1994. A versatile giant of Blues guitar and a helluva vocalist, he’s been consistently honored by local music award shows, also earning national accolades, like competing in the International Blues Challenge (he placed second overall in 2006) and having his CDs fawned over by critics across the country.
Dig It: Cream, ZZ Top, Allman Brothers. (MB)
8 p.m. Stephen Moore (Cincinnati)
You’ve got to love a guy who lists influences like The Beatles and Pink Floyd, followed by Salvador Dali and Sigmund Freud, and then backs it up. Stephen Moore certainly has a Folk/Pop foundation but there are a dozen other genres marbled through that base, from flecks of Jazz to sparkling bits of Pop to shades of ’60 Rock classicism.
Dig It: Simon and Garfunkel reimagined by John Wesley Harding and Paul Weller. (BB)
8:45 p.m. Addie Loy (Corbin, Ky.)
Originally from Detroit, this Kentuckian has great vocal versatility, singing in an intimate, swoony plaintiveness one minute, then gruffily belting out a bluesy, blistering growl of which Janis Joplin would be proud. Loy has been doing some summer touring, working on connecting with audiences through her songs, something she prides herself in.
Dig It: Melissa Etheridge, Fleetwood Mac, John Mellencamp. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Wake the Bear (Cincinnati)
Another great frontman-turned-home-recorder project, Promenade’s Scott Cunningham graduated from frenetic, Middle-American Power Pop to Brit-leaning Shoegaze. His two albums showcase a very organic sound (as opposed stark Electro Pop a la The Postal Service) where even the synths and drum machines have a warmth and human cadence. As a result, he’s able to pull off these beauties with an acoustic guitar and keyboard.
Dig It: U2, Joy Division, Trans Love Airways, lovable falsettos. (EW)
10:15 p.m. Megan King (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
With her new album, Pretty Songs, Megan King establishes herself as a bright presence in the contemporary Folk scene, with enough heritage to draw the traditional crowd and a modern mindset to interpret that heritage for a new generation. There’s an underlying power in King’s presentation but it is her openness and vulnerability that reinforces the beauty of her delicate songs.
Dig It: Sarah McLachlan ditching the New Age angle and digging into Joan Baez’s back catalog for inspiration. (BB)
11 p.m. Scott Metcalf (Cincinnati)
Success can come in the strangest ways. Scott Metcalf grew up in Cincinnati, studied music at Miami University, became a club fixture in Oxford and moved to L.A. and then Nashville to pursue his musical dream before returning home. Here, he nailed the audition to compete as a member of Team Lachey on Clash of the Choirs. Metcalf is currently at work on his debut album, and not a moment too soon.
Dig It: John Mayer ditches the fake sincerity and takes a page from Nik Kershaw’s big book of Pop integrity. (BB)
8 p.m. Russenorsk (Athens, Ohio)
This trio might just be the sleeper highlight of MidPoint. With lushness and grace, Rossenorsk (named for an extinct Russian-Norwegian pidgin language developed in the Arctic) makes lilting, emotional songs often driven by persistent acoustic strumming and buoyed by organic atmospherics, chiming guitar and rise-and-fall additives like cello and impulsive percussion. The band’s latest album In a Great Wave of Horn is loaded with great, unique “Folk” styled lyrics and a sorta Fleet Foxes meets Bright Eyes kind of vibe.
Dig It: I’m not positive, but this might be “Freak Folk.” It’s certainly folksy, but getting creative with a storied format doesn’t necessarily make one a freak. (MB)
9 p.m. Heevahava (Roanoke, Va.)
Heevahava is a prime example of use-it-or-lose-it when it comes to supporting local bands. After slogging it out here for a good number of years, Mark Perry took his concept for twisted two-man Garage Rock from Greater Cincy to Roanoke, added a third man on bass and continued to confound conventional sensibilities with his Post Rock exultations. Heevahava’s latest collection, Nine Songs, is a collection of demos that will have you begging for more, or mercy, depending on your tolerances and preferences.
Dig It: Shockabilly doing a Prog Rock tribute to the White Stripes wrapped in chicken wire and burlap. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Black Owls (Granville, Ohio)
Forging a decidedly rural take on Retro-Rock, this authentic crew isn’t just in the Garage to make a fashion statement. They’ve put a lot of miles on their amps and drums assembling their hard-driving, Blues-based style and picked up some skanky hitchhikers along the way. Complementing their revival-tent Rock & Roll are intelligent lyrics full of rust belt imagery and quirky humor. Listening to the Black Owls is like taking the back roads through the countryside — for every moment of breathtaking beauty, there are perplexing visions, depressing vignettes and a ramshackle trailer threatening to come loose from the hitch on the pickup in front of you. While you’re waiting for their debut to drop, contemplate the fact that they are geographically centered between the Ass Ponys and Pere Ubu.
Dig It: The Rolling Stones, The Talking Heads meet The Kentucky Headhunters. (EW)
11 p.m. The Swarthy Band (Cincinnati)
When Swarthy began gracing local stages 10 years ago, he was a manic ball of solo acoustic energy and those of us with wishes to burn on such luxuries secretly hoped that he’d put together a band worthy of his unique gifts. Done and done. The Swarthy Band’s gig at last year’s MidPoint defined the word “highlight.”
Dig It: Beatley nougat surrounded by dark, semisweet Indie Pop chocolate. How are you? (BB)
Inner Peace Center Stage
8 p.m. Ill Poetic (Cincinnati)
Mr. Poetic is saying goodbye to Cincinnati, but he’s agreed to give one last performance for MidPoint after his big going away blow-out. The MC/producer has made several stellar albums and his production creativity has been on full display lately with his internationally acclaimed mashup album blending Portishead with Joe Budden (his next mash, mixing Nine Inch Nails and OutKast, is just out and destined to get his name further into the public’s consciousness). His own albums are deserved of as much praise, if not more. For this performance, Ill Poetic will be joined by his live band collaborators, Queen City Soul Rock.
Dig It: A producer/MC double-threat with skills on par with many of the heavyweight producer/MCs in the Hip Hop world. (MB)
9 p.m. Eagle to Squirrel (Cincinnati)
Maybe the most unique group at MidPoint, Eagle to Squirrel brings together performance art, Electronica, Hip Hop, Jazz, spoken word and a lot more in their unclassifiable but highly entertaining mix. The group’s show at this year’s Cincy Fringe Festival was cited by any as a festival highlight.
Dig It: Beck bumps into Wayne Shorter and Danger Mouse is left to put the pieces back together. (MB)
10 p.m. Coltrane Motion (Chicago)
You can stand still at a Coltrane Motion show, but they’re gonna give you every reason not to. Live, they stray from the thoughtful Electro-Pop of their albums into uncharted territory with the pedal to the floor and the headlights off. Call it Lo-Fi, Acid-Folk, Laptop-Rock, Avant-Dance, Garage-Punk, Brit-Nuggets, Indie-Tambourine, Post-Shoegaze, Neo-Soul or whatever else you can think of that shakes your booty. Call it an ass-roots movement.
Dig It: Fischerspooner, Vampire Weekend, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. (EW)
11 p.m. Turnbull ACs (Cincinnati)
Denial frontman Dan Mecher struck gold a few years ago with this project. Backed by a cast of local Pop Rock luminaries, he explores themes like death, dying and … death. Electric strumming and Rockabilly rhythms are joined by haunting organ on their eponymous debut, all topped with Mecher’s nihilistic storytelling delivered with his trademark tortured-but-still-hip croon. A new album is due out in November, ushered in by another three-night/three-different-venues CD release weekend.
Dig It: The Shins’ beauty and Built to Spill’s grittiness. (EW)
Know Theater Downstairs
8:30 p.m. Ric Hickey (Cincinnati)
Mr. Hickey has played in great local bands over the years, from the Speed Hickeys to his more current cohorts in The Loose Wrecks and The Emeralds. A guitar whiz-kid and a great songwriter, Ric also does some writing for CityBeat, sharing his accumulated wisdom on music and his great sense of storytelling, something that’s equally evident in his music.
Dig It: Smart, playful and skilled Pop Rock with some rootsy undercurrents and a few left-field tangents. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Cash Flagg (Cincinnati)
The shock of finding out that Jody Stapleton of Roots Pop greats The Stapletons was actually just some guy named Shawn Bracken was nothing compared to the thrill I felt when I first heard Bracken’s latest band, Cash Flagg. Brendan Bogosian, Sarrah Hutton and Brian Moeller help give the band its groovy Post Punk grind and chime. Cash? Money.
Dig It: Dinosaur Jr., The Grifters, The Church. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Lovely Crash (Cincinnati)
Last year, this mixed-gender crew released the highly entertaining full-length, Buddha Car (on locally-based Tokyo Rose Records), which was lauded for its mix of edge and sass, like Chrissie Hynde in that “Brass in Pocket” video. With Cheap Trick lighting and AC/DC thunder, Lovely Crash’s sound is also dripping with gumdrops of sweet, sometimes snarly melody.
Dig It: A more rockin’ Eat to the Beat shaken up like a snow globe. (MB)
Know Theater Main Stage
9 p.m. The Cincinnati Suds (Cincinnati)
Sure, it’s retro, vintage or whatever you want to call it. But if the Garage Rock boon has taught us anything, it’s that classic Rock/R&B from the ’60s is going to live on forever because a) it’s damn fun to play and b) it’s damn fun to listen, drink and rock out to. The Suds are the best in the area right now, as evidenced by their recent CD In Your Bedroom and the party their live shows inevitably turn into.
Dig It: Beer, The Animals, Nuggets of all sorts. (MB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Junior Revolution (Cincinnati)
For a band with so many lineup changes, JRev has had a remarkably consistent career. Never quite encircled by the Pop/Punk or Indie Rock descriptors, they have treated fans to soaring compositions that are as easy on the ears as their pitch-perfect harmonies. The unique sound they’ve been perfecting for nearly a decade has recently been popularized by some high profile acts (Panic! At The Disco et al.), so maybe this rising tide will lift a most deserving boat.
Dig It: Cursive, Saves the Day, The Get Up Kids. (EW)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Oh My God (Chicago)
OMG is such a glorious mess of contradictions that even fans of artsy Noise Rock scratch their heads. Billy O’Neill has a muscular croon on par with any AOR frontman but sings with all the seriousness of The Frogs. Likewise, the band’s potential to be Stoner Rock gods (complete with distorted Hammond organ) is tempered by carefully orchestrated musical ADD that swings to Punk and Crunchy Pop extremes.
Dig It: Deep Purple meets Weezer with Monster Magnet heaviness. (EW)
8:30 p.m. Pete Dressman and the Soul Unified Nation (Cincinnati)
A Power Trio by any definition, Pete Dressman and the Soul Unified Union have been building a strong following since 2006, culminating in the release of his CD, The Current (the release party reportedly drew more than 500 people). The album basically is the sound of current Rock radio, only more consistently substantive.
Dig It: Black Crowes on full blast, Pearl Jam loosening up a little bit. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Noctaluca (Cincinnati)
The Noctaluca pot is boiling. Five years ago, singer/songwriter Jason Ludwig filled it to the top with a delicious stew of cathartic Folk/Rock. His dream rhythm section, the Schlunt brothers, turned up the heat and brought the Rock. After simmering for a few years, they served up Towering the Sum, a dizzying reminder of how moving a well-made Prog Rock album can be. Jazz-influenced guitarist Aaron Almashy is now stirring the pot; boil-over is imminent.
Dig It: Queensryche, Blind Melon, Pink Floyd. (EW)
10:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Elms (Seymour, Ind.)
It’s been an interesting career path for this Indiana quartet. The band has gone from Christian Rock to a lighter Pop sound, then come back on the other side a pretty powerful Rock & Roll band. The Elms have had three albums released on major label imprints, which has enabled them to tour with the Goo Goo Dolls and Buddy Guy. Just back from their first tour of Europe, The Elms should be good and lubed up for their MidPoint showcase.
Dig It: Jet, Wolfmother, Buckcherry. (MB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Ruckus Roboticus (Dayton)
The sample-happy sound of this DJ is the result of 10 years of vinyl shopping and rhythmic tapestry weaving. The beats are big and the breaks are frequent, but Ruckus does much more than entertain the club kids on his debut Playing with Scratches. The hilarious semi-autobiography told through samples from vintage children’s records is so entertaining that it’s hard to believe these are all found sounds. The funky groove foundations are equally engrossing.
Dig It: Cut Chemist, DJ Shadow, Propellerheads. (EW)
New Stage Collective
8:30 p.m. Ryan Adcock (Cincinnati)
It’s been a decade since Ryan Adcock first gave Cincinnati a taste of high quality singer/songwritering, and the city’s been rewarding him right back with every conceivable honor they can think of to keep him at it. Adcock’s last album, 2006’s Unfinished, was anything but, as he scored a track placement on Men in Trees, making rabid fans of Anne Heche watchers everywhere.
Dig It: David Gray before the attention, Dave Matthews before the money. (BB)
9:30 p.m. The Newbees (Cincinnati)
These Pop/Rock chameleons grew out of an acoustic project in 2004, as Jeff and Misty Perholtz sought to expand their sound for recording and club shows. The group now contains four songwriters who each sing like a bird, making for some great harmonies and a playful diversity. The band’s three CDs feature an array of styles — from hyper-melodic Pop Rock songs to Jazz burners — made all the more impressive by their ability to sound completely at home no matter where they land on the musical map.
Dig It: Ben Folds, Jeff Lynne and The Beatles before the drugs (well, maybe just a little bit of drugs) producing a cabaret show. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Rockwells (Knoxville, Tenn.)
I’m ready to forgive The Rockwells for skipping last year’s MPMF, but only because they were making the best album of their career. And that’s a pretty solid catalogue we’re talking about, averaging a release per year since 2000. The early albums unapologetically worshiped at the altar of ’50s and ’60s Rock & Roll, sounding like The Everly Brothers playing with the exuberance of Ben Folds Five, and every moment of it was pure bliss. As their recordings progressed, they seamlessly morphed into a more contemporary sounding Power Pop outfit, while still retaining the soaring harmonies, lilting melodies and vintage veneer that makes them unique. On 2007’s Place & Time (their first release in three years), they really seem to have fully evolved their sound and added some bells and whistles to the recording process as well.
Dig It: A more polished Mekons, a less pretentious Spoon, Hot Hot Heat. (EW)
Southgate House Ballroom
9 p.m. The High Strung (Detroit)
On the High Strung’s MySpace page, they define themselves as “Western Swing/Progressive/Spanish Pop” and list influences like The Beatles, Ween, Beethoven and Dave Chappelle. Although the trio’s driving Garage barrage seems neither Western, swingy nor the rest, they do nail down all of those influences. Twisted Pop that swells like a symphony with a wicked sense of humor.
Dig It: The Beatles recording Abbey Road in a garage in Detroit. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Robert Pollard’s Boston Spaceships (Dayton)
The man. The legend. Robert Pollard is the kind of Rock star who all the guys want to drink and talk music with and all the girls want to ... drink and talk music with. His music with Guided By Voices is some of the most influential of the past 20 years, and his solo albums of late have continued GBV’s unpredictability. Bob is back with a band, this time the Boston Spaceships (co-starring ex-GBVer Chris Slusarenko and former Elliott Smith sideman/current Decemberists drummer John Moen). Tommy Keene and Jason Narducy are in the touring Spaceships. The band has the asskick-ness of GBV, so expect a pretty classic live show.
Dig It: GBV! GBV! GBV! (MB)
The Subway Bar and Lounge
8 p.m. The Frankl Project (Cincinnati)
Here’s proof that there is an intersection of Americana and Ska Punk that’s not fraught with gimmicks and tired cliches. Instead, they mingle the authentic, heartwarming, strumming-around-the-campfire solace of the former with the balls-out, dub-inflected, steady-rocking, infectious melodies of the latter. They’re the cure for 40-minute sets full of amped-up monotony. Several great-sounding EPs, splits and a busy touring schedule attest to their appeal.
Dig It: The idea of The Jayhawks and 311 collaborating to make Pinkerton. (EW)
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: Blastronauts (Columbus, Ohio)
If anyone ever wondered what Pink Floyd would have sounded like in 1966 with Paul McCartney replacing Syd Barrett as their acid-tanned creative force, Blastronauts step up to offer a parallel universe glimpse into the possibility. Driven by James Allison and Jacob Halpern and populated by a rotating cast of live and session members, Blastronauts strut and jam with contemporary psychedelic Folk/Funk wackness.
Dig It: Royal Crescent Mob on electric Kool-Aid at a stoner Rock picnic. (BB)
10 p.m. The Read (Cincinnati)
One of the most exciting new bands to emerge in the past couple of years, The Read is everything most bands who are mixing Punk and Dance rhythms are not: ferocious, insistent, political. Gang of Four is an oft-claimed influence these days, but The Read are legitimate heirs to that band’s angular Punk deconstructionism. They update and put their own spin on things, relying more on a driving, unrelenting groove than GoF’s slower herk-n-jerk. The band’s live shows often turn into huge, sweaty, ecstatic dance parties. A must-see live act.
Dig It: Talking Heads, The Clash and Fugazi taking over the disco. (MB)