• Seasonal cheer will be bouncing off the walls of the Northside Tavern Saturday in between the spiky Power Pop Rock sounds of Lovely Crash (pictured), who are celebrating a strong new six-track EP, So Close, with a holiday-themed shindig. The free show will also feature music from Goose and the Beau Alquizola Band. So Close finds LC still offering endearing melodies but shading its well-crafted brand of’90s/’00s Indie Guitar Rock (tighter than ever here) with darker tones, sounding like a natural extension of the soulful, no-BS Rock & Roll of The Gits and Sleater-Kinney.
Special props to singer/bassist Beth Cheek for meeting the challenge of the band’s first release without her excellent harmonizing partner, guitarist Jen Wesenberg, by turning in one of the more remarkable vocal performances you’ll ever hear on a local Rock album. (Band info at myspace.com/lovelycrash. Show details here.)
• iolite is planning a nationwide promotional push in 2010, but Saturday at The Mockbee in Brighton the group’s self-titled EP gets “release partied” with a hometown throw-down featuring guests Eclipse, Abiyah, DJ Nati Kid, djdq and DJ Stacks, plus lots of visual and culinary art.
Singer Arianne Benick’s elastic, commanding vocals are the heart of iolite’s passionate, smoky Jazz/Blues/Soul sound, bringing to mind the varied likes of Tracey Thorn, Anita Baker, Norah Jones and Sade without distracting from the singularity of her approach. But the musicians deserve a lot of credit for creating the sensual mood with their deft, cinematic, urban Soul Jazz, crafted with flute, sax, trumpet, piano and sultry Jazz grooves.
The material, while subdued, still manages to create a sense of liveliness missing from most other attempts at this sort of speakeasy-ready Neo Soul Lover’s Rock. (Band info at myspace.com/iolitemusic. Show details here.)
• Lagniappe has been the area’s finest Cajun music group for almost 20 years now, and the band’s new recording, Irrational Exuberance, shows exactly why they’ve remained so popular and employable. There’s nothing “novelty” about the band’s sound, an authentic but still crafty mix of Zydeco, Dixieland Jazz, R&B, Tex-Mex and many more styles. They are the aural essence of New Orleans in one ensemble and the clean, unfussy production of Irrational Exuberance even keeps the warmth and grit in tact. The band’s CD release party is 9 p.m. Saturday at Arnold’s downtown. (Band info at myspace.com/lagniappe. Show details here.)
• If you ask Santa for the best CD by one of the best Americana bands in Greater Cincinnati, Wild Carrot and The Roots Band’s new live one, Crowd Around the Mic, will magically appear in your stocking (if not, Santa’s existence and/or musical tastes are in serious doubt). The CD is due on the local Blue Jordan Records imprint in late January, but this Sunday at the Leo Coffeehouse (at the Zion United Church of Christ Founder’s Hall in Norwood) Wild Carrot gives local fans an early chance to get the disc (the release event starts at 7 p.m.).
The 24-track collection is a whirlwind of Roots music forms, touching on Bluegrass, Country, swinging Jazz, Modern Folk and Celtic music — the original songs stand up remarkably well against the well-chosen covers — with a consistently masterful grace, while the expansion from duo to quartet proves to be a great excuse to show off some flawless four-part harmonies. (Band info at www.wildcarrot.net. Show details here.)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: firstname.lastname@example.org