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Fires Enter New Year Burning

By Mike Breen · December 30th, 2009 · Spill It
Local Indie rockers The Koala Fires have the honor of producing the first Cincinnati-spawned release of the new year/decade and, therefore, it’s the best local release of the year/decade so far! In all seriousness, The Beeping in Our Hearts is a strong effort that certainly has the potential to be on future “best of” lists. The band does the “release party” thing Saturday at the Southgate House in Newport with guests The Guitars, The Harlequins and Indy’s Amo Joy.

Those who have been following the Fires since they began know of their high-octane live shows and modern spin on classic Indie/AltRock from the past two decades. But The Beeping in Our Hearts shows major progression and maturity and their songwriting prowess is noticeably stronger. The band sounds a bit like early Weezer with the Pop meter turned to 11, but the Fires’ brand of Pop is broader and much less “pose-y” and paint-by-numbers (though no less ear-grabbing). The fiery guitar interplay (think Sunny Day Real Estate or Built to Spill) and song dynamics are captivating, while the vocals delivering those fantastic melodies are emotionally charged without falling into the whiny-Emo trap. Ultimately, the Fires have developed a more distinct brand of Indie Pop that should help quell the onslaught of comparisons they often illicit (full disclosure: we’re admittedly just as guilty of this as anyone).

The Beeping in Our Hearts sounds as if it could have been released anytime in the past 20 years, but that’s no knock.

At their core, The Koala Fires are a “song” band, and the songs they write have a timelessness that should ensure a long shelflife. Other contenders for “Best Local Release of 2010” accolades — you have your work cut out for you. (koalafires.com)

More Local Notes

• The Comet in Northside presents a special New Year’s Eve shindig Thursday night with a reunion show by one of Cincinnati’s finest bands of yesteryear. The Auburnaires were kind of the like the house party band for Cincinnati’s Jockey Club/ post-Jockey Club Punk scene, playing down-’n-dirty Garage Soul/Funk/R&B with an electrifying energy. The band — fronted by enigmatic singer Vince Gray and fueled by James Cole of The Customs fame — is playing only its second show since splitting in 1991. The band has posted an amazing new song, “Gator Tail,” at its MySpace page: myspace.com/theauburnaires.

• Saturday night, you should be all sobered up and ready to get “Stone-d” at The Mad Frog. The Corryville club is hosting a benefit for VH1’s Save the Music foundation, which strives to strengthen music education in public schools. The night’s theme is The Rolling Stones — Blessid Union of Souls, Freekbass & Tobotius and July for Kings are among the local artists who will pay tribute to Mick, Keef and the boys by performing a couple of Stones classics. Stones tribute band Hair of the Dog will also play, offering a full set of Stones faves. Showtime is 10 p.m. and cover/donation is $5.

• In 2003, a group consisting of some of the best musicians in the area released Ancient Tones and Death Knells, a CD of traditional 17th-19th-century broadside ballads from the UK, spun in a more modern context and released under the band name High Strange Drifters. It was a riveting effort, but the CD release was about the extent of HSD’s activity. This Saturday, the group — led by Bluegrass legend Ed Cunningham and featuring Dave Morrison and Randy Cheek (former Ass Ponys rhythm section), noted picker Harold Kennedy, violinist Paul Patterson (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Faux Frenchmen, 500 Miles to Memphis) and mandolin master Brad Meinerding — plays its first show ever in Ohio, a freebie at The Comet starting at 10 p.m. Copies of the original CD will be available while supplies last.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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