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Mona Thinks Big, Bob Cushing Celebrates the Blue Note and the Return of WoodyFest and Blacklight Barbarian

By Mike Breen · April 22nd, 2009 · Spill It
Local newcomers Mona Medusa celebrate the release of their debut CD, Shiver, this Friday with a show at the Northside Tavern. The free event also includes performances by some of Cincinnati’s finest Rock bands — The Host, Caterpillar Tracks and The Prohibitionists. For their set, Mona Medusa promise a theatrical production in the form of a short play intended to reflect the new CD (not sure what that means, but I was sent a Lone Ranger mask to wear to the show).

The theatrical bent, as well as the band’s documentary (search the group’s name on YouTube for a glimpse) and Shiver’s excellent CD packaging, suggest a group that is very ambitious. Unfortunately, the actual music contained on the band’s debut doesn’t live up to the ambition. The main thrust of the band’s sound — a mix of ’90s Indie Rock, Punk and Smashing Pumpkins — is charming enough. There is some intriguing guitar riffage and skronk and the harmony and background vocals provide an interesting texture to the sound. But that sound is buried in a jumbled blur; much of the album sounds as if you are listening to the band play while crouched in the corner of their practice space. Dynamics are completely lost.

The standout tracks are the softer ones not weighed down by the hissing, tinny drums. “Water and Women (Reprise)” is an acoustic-based slice of Psychedelia, while opener “Deep Blue” sounds like the soundtrack to some’60s French art film.

But these tracks largely stand out because everything in the mix is audible. Mona Medusa is a good band that has been hindered by awful production. Hopefully, on the next disc, listeners will be able to actually hear all of what this promising band has to offer. (myspace.com/monamedusa)

More Local Notes

• Veteran local musician Bob Cushing recently celebrated 20 years of performing with a live retrospective of his songs (plus some choice covers) at the defunct Blue Note, the Price Hill club now known as Studio 8. The show — which included the stories behind the songs (a la VH1’s Storytellers series) — was recorded and is now available as the two-disc set, Still Alive! Cushing is joined on the disc by Chris Goins, who Cushing credits with originally convincing him to play music. The official release show for the Cushing/Goins CD takes place Saturday at The Dog Haus in Delhi. (bobcushing.com)

• This Saturday at 7 p.m. marks the return of WoodyFest, an annual tribute to music legend Woody Guthrie put together by Cincinnati’s own Woody, Jake Speed. This year, the Fest will take place at Delhi’s College of Mount St. Joseph’s Theatre and will also feature music from Americana trio The Tillers. Speed will play some of his favorite Woody tunes and read from Guthrie’s non-musical writings. Tickets are $10 and the money raised will benefit the general scholarship fund at the college. (freddiesmusic.com)

• After a two-year hiatus, awesome Rock trio Blacklight Barbarian returns to the local club front this Wednesday for a show at the East End Café with Sliver Bridge Disaster. The band’s Chris Owens says that following the group’s break-up, the members searched for other projects but ultimately decided they had a good thing with Blacklight. The band will be doing local and regional shows and is hoping to start recording a new album by the end of the summer. (myspace.com/blacklightbarbarian)

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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