Brooklyn, NY • Electro Rock
The seeds of +/- were planted nearly a decade ago when James Baluyut was coming up with home-recorded snippets of musical ideas in the wake of the slow dissolution of Versus, Baluyut’s primary band. When Teenbeat label owner Mark Robinson recorded at Baluyut’s home studio and heard his sonic fragments, he commissioned him to do an entire album, which became +/-’s 2002 debut. This necessitated the formation of a band (Versus guitarist/vocalist Patrick Ramos and drummer Chris Deaner) to tour and record further. Five albums and nine years later, +/- is still exploring the outer reaches of synthetic Pop with the finely honed edge of a homemade yet incredibly sophisticated knife. The trio is in the throes of a new album, but a disc’s worth of B-sides and unreleased tracks is slated for next month. It’s all plus, no minus.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: Sleep-deprived Dream Pop with lullaby synthesizers and a hyper-caffeinated rhythm section. (Brian Baker)
8 p.m. Saturday at Artworks
Cincinnati • Blues
This acoustic Blues duo doesn’t embrace the typical clichés of the genre (as they say, “No pork-pie hats, shades, and ‘Sho’ nuff I got de blues’ crap here’ “). With acoustic guitar, minimal percussion and wicked harmonica, 46 Long crafts an engaging twist on various Blues styles, as evidenced on the twosome’s latest recording, Off The Rack, their first “covers” collection, featuring craftily rewired version of songs by The Beatles, Nina Simone, Morphine, Bob Dylan and many others.
Dig It: Harmonica as an expressive lead instrument, Blues stripped-to-the-bone but still capable of rocking your ass off. (Mike Breen)
8 p.m. Friday at Washington Platform
Seattle, WA • Acoustic/Rock
At live shows, armed with a loop pedal and guitar, Aaron Daniel improvises songs on the spot, and his 2009 album, One Man Banned, is true to its name. Since dropping out of school in seventh grade, Daniel has clung to music; he created four albums before the age of 17. Through battles with homelessness and addiction, he has played every strange spot imaginable %u2015 from a Caribbean beach bar to a private gig for the Honduran president. Daniel’s gritty tales of recovery and truth rock out with a powerful, personal, kicking energy.
Dig it: Happening upon hidden treats, Beck, Levi Weaver, Xavier Rudd. (C.A. MacConnell)
10:30 p.m. Friday at Segway of Cincinnati
Adrien and the Fine Print
Nashville, TN • Indie Folk/Rock
In just three short years, Adrien and the Fine Print have won over Boston area audiences, recorded a pair of well-received EPs (last year’s Honey For Bees, this year’s Tennessee Swing) and just recently moved to Nashville to step things up to the next level as they prepare for a debut 2011 full-length. With a head full of Indie energy, a heart full of Folk authenticity and a soul full of Soul, Adrien and the Fine Print are well on their way.
Dig it: Natalie Merchant and Margo Timmins have a “who can be the quietest” contest, Lou Reed gets his down-home on and referees. (BB)
9 p.m. Friday at Artworks
Albany, NY • Indie Rock/Post Punk
Have you ever had a friend serve you some exotic dish made from a recipe they found on an obscure overseas Web site, and it tastes really great and then they tell you that it contains Tabasco and whipped cream and lime Kool-Aid and turnips? Aficianado is like that (not the turnips part) %u2015 no matter who they might claim as an influence, what they do with it in their sonic kitchen transforms it into something uniquely their own. You might pick out their love of The Hold Steady or Cursive, but if you listen hard enough, you’re likely also hear traces of Polyphonic Spree and Frank Zappa and Queen and Couch Flambeau and Poi Dog Pondering and Gogol Bordello … and Tabasco and whipped cream and lime Kool-Aid.
Dig it: Musical score to a movie about an astronaut who discovers an ancient vaudeville civilization on the inside of a distant planet where giraffemonkeys conduct orchestras comprised of giant ferns that play wind instruments. (BB)
10 p.m. Saturday at Washington Platform
New York, NY • Indie Pop
Allison Tartalia doesn’t fit comfortably in any particular genre and that’s fine with her. She’s translated her Classical piano training into a cohesive style that incorporates Chamber Pop, Folk, Pop and Jazz, and transcends the typical constraints of the singer/songwriter classification. She’s recorded her own work (her 2005 debut Ready, her imminent EP, Sweet and Vicious), guested on other people’s albums (including Ohio’s own Rhonda Everitt in her pale beneath the blue project) and scored musical theater productions and film documentaries. Whatever inner beat you groove to, Allison Tartalia will find a way to tap into it and win your love in the bargain.
Dig it: Tori Amos and Rickie Lee Jones play Keith Emerson’s spinning piano at a Laura Nyro tribute while Kate Bush and Rufus Wainwright make shadow puppets underneath. (BB)
8:30 p.m. Thursday at Segway of Cincinnati
Amanda Lucas & Audrey Cecil
Louisville, KY • Pop/Roots
Musical chemistry is something you recognize almost immediately and that’s what happened with these two singer/songwriters, childhood pals brought back together by an instantaneous creative spark after not seeing each other for over a decade. The twosome makes catchy, radio-friendly Pop with a Taylor Swift-like crossover appeal that would make their music a comfy fit on both Top 40 and Country radio.
Dig It: Lilith Fair (they were chosen to play the one in Indy), The Dixie Chicks minus one, Tegan and Sara if they were Kentuckians raised on Patty Griffin’s music (MB)
8:30 p.m. Friday at The Original Tax Place
Brooklyn, NY • Indie/Rock
This Brooklyn foursome played CMJ and MidPoint in 2009, but it wasn’t exactly a banner year for the group. Keyboardist Casey Harris (who has been blind since birth) developed a kidney disorder and had to have a transplant operation (his mom donated hers). Ambassadors have rebounded in 2010, though, thanks to the strength of its eponymous debut album on RethinkPopMusic, which showcases the band’s progressive, passionate songs and creative arrangements, as well as Harris’ brain-tickling, mad-scientist keyboard decorations.
Dig It: Futuristic Prog Rock with heart and soul. (MB)
8:30 p.m. Friday at Below Zero Lounge
Indianapolis, IN • Psych/Pop
If the Elephant 6 Pop music collective is still accepting members, they should fast-track Amo Joy’s application. The Indy four piece’s adorable, warm and fuzzy sound is informed by the classics of Rock & Roll’s mad Pop geniuses (Beatles, Brian Wilson, Zombies, ELO, Syd Barrett), and the band decorates its cheerful, hook-laden songs with an endearingly eclectic array of instruments, from Moog-y synths and melodica to kazoos, clarinet and whistles. If you could pinch a song’s cheek, Amo Joy’s entire discography would be overloaded with sensitive, tender, red faces.
Dig It: Apples in Stereo, pre-Prince-does-Ziggy Stardust Of Montreal. (MB)
1 a.m. Thursday at Below Zero Lounge
Andrew Bean and the Lady Apollo
Plainfield, IN • Rock/Americana
It’s not hard to draw a line between Indiana and New Jersey when you hear Andrew Bean and the Lady Apollo, from the heartland-meets-Jeff Buckley dramatics of frontman Bean to the swinging, soulful heartland Rock laid down by the band behind him. Asbury Park clearly looms large for ABLA, from the obvious Springsteen lyrical references to the band’s story/song mini-operatics and musical benchmarks, but they’re equally indebted to the Stones, Dylan and Otis Redding, among a host of other predecessors. With their just released debut album, The Wreckage of My Youth, Andrew Bean and the Lady Apollo prove to be adept at folding influences into a familiar but solid and singular presentation that shakes the rafters and stirs the soul.
Dig it: Bruce Springsteen and Meat Loaf build a shrine to Stax on E Street and install The Black Crowes as the house band. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Thursday at Mr. Pitiful's
Andy Cook & the Wander Loons
Oberlin, OH • Pop/Rock
While artists can get pretty annoying with their “unique” approaches to descriptive promotional materials (bands, it is so not funny anymore to put “Two-Step” or “Popular Melodramatic Song” as your descriptor on MySpace), it’s hard to hate on Andy Cook’s bio, which laid out as a clever poem. Cook and his band the Wander Loons make incredibly upbeat Pop music, the kind so joyful it could be substituted for your anti-depressants and probably work better. And the cheery tunes are also superbly written and arranged, with compelling instrumentation and the kind of hooks Pop songwriters would give their left andright arms to be able to come up with so seemingly effortlessly.
Dig It: Cloud Cult, Sufjam Stevens goes Power Pop, joyful, optimistic AM Gold. (MB)
10 p.m. Thursday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
Dayton, OH • Indie Rock
It should be noted for the sake of clarity that Astro Fang is fronted by a gentleman named Brian Baker, which only goes to show that there’s one of us in every American city. We’re a franchise, apparently. Very few, however, are as creatively deranged as the one from Dayton, whose alter ego is Grizzzzy Bear. Astro Fang is synth-driven, guitar-powered Electro Punk Surf Wave Outer Space Monster Movie music. The band’s top five influences are Star Wars, Beer, Black Sabbath, Video Games and Hatred of Work and it’s all there in its eponymous debut. Fasten your seat belt and keep your hands inside the rocket sled; it’s going to be fast and crazy.
Dig it: DEVO and Tommy Iommi and the Godfathers and The Mermen write the score for The Creature from the Straight Eight Plan Nine Hang Ten Lagoon. (BB)
11:15 p.m. Thursday at Courtyard Cafe
The Aviation Orange
Brooklyn, NY • Indie Rock
The Aviation Orange cranked out a fantastic set at Below Zero last year for MidPoint, its Wall-of-Pop synth sound filling the space like sharply spiced incense. The Brooklyn quintet clearly has an affinity for ’80s Pop, but luckily the members stir in plenty of contemporary edge to differentiate themselves from their innocuous counterparts from two and a half decades ago. The band’s debut album, Physical, was a marvel of rippling atmospherics, and its impending new EP seems cut from the same bolt.
Dig it: The Thompson Twins, OMD and Spandau Ballet have a smackdown cool-athon with Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and Modest Mouse. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Friday at Below Zero Lounge
Babe the Blue Ox
Brooklyn, NY • Indie Rock
It’s been almost 20 years since Babe the Blue Ox unleashed its eponymous debut on an unsuspecting world. Standing at the crossroads of visceral Punk and psychedelic Blues and directing traffic there to a skronk Jazz/Funk arrangement style, BOX (guitarist/vocalist Tim Thomas, bassist Rose Thomson, drummer Hanna Fox and, later, percussionist Eddie Gormley, who doubles as Fox’s husband) seemed poised to kick the industry in its complacent ass. Alas, a string of brilliant indie releases, knockout live shows and a pair of major-label wonders and it was largely over, other than a few one-off gigs. BOX has been on relative hiatus in the new millennium as everyone pursued other bands, but they reassembled in 2007 and have improbably remained together to resurrect their dreams of world (or at least neighborhood) domination. If MidPoint is serving up any “don’t miss” gigs this year (and we are), Babe the Blue Ox certainly belongs near the top of the list.
Dig It: Pixies and Captain Beefheart voodoostein a body to life with the brain of Tom Waits and the booty of Sly Stone. (BB)
12:30 p.m. Friday at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club
Cincinnati • Rock & Roll
Cincy rockers Banderas were an inarguable highlight at last year’s MPMF, crammed onto the Subway club’s tiny stage which contained them about as well as a baby-doll T contains a stripper’s fake DDD boobs. Besides sporting one of the best live shows in the region, the band also crafts some remarkably powerful (and creative) Rock & Roll, with the pre-Punk swagger of The Stooges, the primal stomp of AC/DC and even a streak of steroid-injected Rockabilly boogie.
Dig It: Murder City Devils, Mudhoney with a thicker groove, Iggy in his slithering prime. (MB)
12:30 a.m. Thursday at Main Event
Brooklyn, NY • Indie Folk
Rebecca and Nathan Bliss started playing cover songs together in Middleofnowhere, Kansas, then shifted to writing original music as well. With no audience for either, Rebecca moved to New York and Nathan remained in Kansas, both recording EPs on their own. The pair reconnected in NYC in 2007, married in 2008 and released Wake the Hero, their debut as Barnaby Bright, in 2009, garnering much acclaim and song placement on network television shows. Whether Simonizing their Garfunkelisms or living up to influences like Nick Drake and Mason Jennings, Barnaby Bright is making a mark in places that are most assuredly not Kansas anymore.
Dig it: Suzanne Vega and Sam Phillips on a Folk pub-crawl down Bleeker Street, looking for the heart of Saturday night
9:30 p.m. Thursday at MOTR Pub
Atlanta • Punk
Punk and Ska have intermingled many times in the Punk Rock’s history, but never quite in the way this five-piece crew does it. In fact, The Bastard Suns don’t mind tossing in elements of whatever they damn well please into its rousing brew, going from singalong Punk anthems to Celtic Punk mosh/jigs to Reggae Punk grooves like some sort of living modern Punk jukebox.
Dig it: NOFX, Social Distortion, Flogging Molly, Bosstones. (MB)
7 p.m. Saturday at Fountain Square
The Bears of Blue River
Chicago, IL • Indie/Folk
This Windy City-based ensemble’s members are Indiana natives currently split between Chicago, Indy and Pennsylvania. And the band’s music does have a scattered feel, though in the best way possible. The Bears majestic brand of sweet, grand Folk is anchored in rootsy Americana and uses the tools of that trade, but the band repels Roots music clichés and writes songs that are loaded with unexpected structures and quirks that offers something satisfying and surprising around every twist and turns.
Dig It: Arcade Fire as a mellowed-out but still adventurous Folk band, the soundtrack to your “throw a dart at a map of the U.S. south and southwest and GO!” roadtrip. (MB)
9 p.m. Thursday at Artworks
Minneapolis • Folk/Pop
This duo (enchanting vocalist Kay Gillette and imaginative composer/guitarist Joseph Barker) formed early last year and already have a healthy stack of press raves thanks to its effervescent mix of Folk and Pop with a splash of Jazz. Gillette, a former opera singer, has the kind of expressive, colorful vocal style that turns heads and perks up ears. The duo’s trio of EPs helped them get songs licensed for TV shows and won them a spot on Lilith Fair. Next up is a full-length this fall, financed by fans through Kickstarter.com.
Dig it: Feist, Regina Spektor, Yael Naim, Over the Rhine. (MB)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at The Original Tax Place
Mason, OH • Acoustic/Instrumental
When he was 12, Ben Lapps began to show an interest in playing acoustic guitar; by age 14, he’d released his first album, The New Color, on an international level and developed his fingerstyle playing to such masterful heights, he was competing in guitar competitions across North America. And all this was just a year ago. At this rate, by the time he’s 20, “fingerstyle guitar” will be renamed “Ben Lapps-style guitar.”
Dig it: Justin King, Michael Hedges and Thomas Leeb. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Saturday at The Original Tax Place
Fort Wayne, IN • Soul/Jazz/Pop
The Bergamot is the duo of singer Jillian Speece and guitarist Nathan Hoff (and an occasional backing trio) who have been creating music together for the past seven years. The twosome released its first album (a Christmas-themed effort) in 2007 and, this past March, the EP Smilecame out. Next up is the release The Haven, which will feature songs from the pair’s entire time working together and is due later this year. The music has a loungey cool, with Speece’s breathy vocals leading the way over a soundtrack that goes from smooth Jazz Pop to slinky R&B.
Dig It: Anita Baker, Joni Mitchell and Colbie Caillat meet for drinks and end of jamming in the hotel bar ’til the wee hours. (MB)
8:30 p.m. Thursday at Mr. Pitiful's
Los Angeles, CA • Surf Pop
Best Coast’s recently minted debut full-length, the aptly titled Crazy for You, opens with this lyrical nugget from singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino: “I wish he was my boyfriend.” And that’s just the opening salvo in an album rife with simple, California-centric pleasures. The lo-fi video for album-closer “When I’m with You,” an infectious piece of fuzzy Surf Pop, features everything you need to know about BC’s aesthetic: a Ronald McDonald clone, sunglasses, a bedspread with a pot leaf on it, cats, In-N-Out Burger, a sunny beach and a sweet, reverb-drenched guitar solo from Cosentino’s long-haired creative partner Bobb Bruno.
Dig It: Old-school Liz Phair doing ’60s girl-group covers, The Beach Boys, Imperial Teen at a weed-and-beer-fueled beach party. (Jason Gargano)
9:30 p.m. Thursday at Grammer's
Granville, Ohio • Rock
This central Ohio three-piece (vocalist/drummer Dave Butler, guitarist Ed Shuttleworth and bassist Alan Beavers) pimps the kind of stripped-down Classic Rock (think more T Rex than AC/DC) that’s been the soundtrack to beer-swilling pub dwellers for more than four decades now. Butler’s high-pitched delivery comes through loud and clear, giving voice to simple, dark-hued stories laced with the occasional head-sticking nugget, such as “When I’m cremated you’ll smoke my ashes.” Black Owls’ sophomore full-length, June ’71, should be unleashed on the world any day now.
Dig it: The Who, The Rolling Stones cut with Midwestern menace, Guided by Voices. (JG)
11 p.m. Saturday at Jack Potts Tavern
Blind Boy Chocolate & the Milk Sheiks
Asheville, NC • Blues/Roots
Back in the ’70s, underground cartoonist R. Crumb assembled a handful of likeminded musical traditionalists to bear witness to their collective love of Blues as it was found on 78s of the ’20 and ’30s. They called the aggregation R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. Three and a half decades later, Dwight “Blind Boy Chocolate” Hawkins has taken his love of Charlie Poole, Charley Patton and a boatload of other vintage Charlies to do essentially the same thing only different. You’ll always remember this as the day you experienced someone playing a saw.
Dig it: R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders with Crumb and the Serenaders replaced by clever forgeries. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Friday at Madonna's
Bloomington, IN • Roots/Americana
Some parents spy on their kids’ Facebook page or text them hourly to keep tabs on what they’re doing. Musician Michael Latham took a much cooler approach and started a Roots band with his teenage son and daughter. The trio isn’t some obsessive Svengali or stage-parent scenario either %u2015 all three sing and write the songs on their debut We Walk in Temperatures, which reflects pops’ influences (John Prine, Bob Dylan) as well as his children’s faves (Old Crow Medicine Show, Gillian Welch).
Dig It: The comfort of knowing that, like clockwork, every decade or so brings a new, back-to-the-roots Americana revival. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Friday at The Original Tax Place
Toronto, Canada • Indie/Pop
Mixing Indie with Jazz and Latin influences, blueVenus’ effervescent, exotic Pop sound has been garnering the band attention not just in their homeland of Canada but around the world. Though founded in 1998 by singer/songwriter/violinist Andrea de Boer, blueVenus didn’t release a full-length until last year. That release, Grin, is a joyous and sophisticated hybrid of the group’s influences, but it’s de Boer’s timeless, seductive voice that has the ability to lure millions of fans into blueVenus’ orbit.
Dig It: Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae and the ghost of Billie Holiday sing upbeat Pop tunes on a gorgeous tropical island. (MB)
9 p.m. Friday at Fountain Square
Muncie, IN • Indie/Folk
Singer/songwriter Dan Snodgrass guides this Hoosier quintet through songs equally informed by ancient Folk pioneers and modern Freak folksters and Indie Pop revelers. Smart lyrics and sharp melodies are set against a minimalist backdrop of sparse percussion, acoustic guitar and unexpected additives like a quivering saw and the occasional trumpet, and there’s a spirited surge of energy through most songs that’ll make you uncontrollably clap along. The band has an EP (Family Tree) under its belt and is currently hashing out details for a debut full-length.
Dig it: Time-traveling Folk musicians are transported from a tent-revival in rural Mississippi in 1932 and dropped in the front row of an Andrew Bird concert in 2010. (MB)
11:30 p.m. Saturday at Segway of Cincinnati
Chicago • ElectroPop
This electronic duo has been compared to Phoenix, Hall & Oates and Chromeo, something that might initially seem like a slam, but a confluence of all of those artists is pretty dead on what Boutros sounds like. The twosome’s techno-soulfulness is cheeky fun and campy as hell, which likely means this will be one of the more entertaining performances at MPMF this year.
Dig it: The enduring legacy of Har Mar Superstar. (MB)
11 p.m. Saturday at FB's
Cincinnati • Pop/Rock
Born in Arizona and raised in Kentucky, Brent Reed was writings songs by the time he was 13. He began performing and releasing music a decade ago and has since toured the world, had his passionate brand of Pop Rock used in television shows and put out three full-length albums, the most recent being this year’s All That We’re Made Of, released on his own Verbage Records. Reed’s dramatic melodies, soaring AltRock sound and positive, uplifting message have earned him a following in the Alternative Christian music world and he has performed with artists like Third Day, Audio Adrenaline and Switchfoot.
Dig It: Relient K, Keane, Mute Math. (MB)
9 p.m. Thursday at Fountain Square
The Broken Lyre
Niagra Falls, Canada • Pop/Rock
The Broken Lyre began life as a cover band playing for tourists in their hometown of Niagra Falls, but eventually began to write its own snappy, upbeat Pop/Rock tunes and embarked on tour dates around Canada and the U.S. They hit the studio and released the single “Letting Go of Nothing” in 2008, followed up by this June’s release of the six-track EP Kings, which showcases the The Broken Lyre’s blend of electronic-tinged Dance Pop and a few more Pop Rock-inspired songs, all slathered in an undeniable radio-friendliness.
Dig It: The stuff on Top 40 radio today that actually still features guitars. (MB)
7 p.m. Thursday at Fountain Square
Chicago, IL • Indie Rock
Brighton MA (named for singer/songwriter Matt Kerstein’s hometown) has been kicking around in various forms since 2006, but finally solidified in its current state as a five piece. The band has a rootsy base, but the sound is almost spacey, presented as an airy, hazy dreamscape on top of which Kerstein delivers his direct and alluringly unique vocals.
Dig It: A break-of-dawn tribute to Gram Parsons, whose ghost makes a special appearance. (MB)
Midnight Friday at MOTR Pub
Cincinnati • Rock/Various
There are many things that inspire me to drop to my knees and give thanks to the cosmic overmind; after family, friends and relatively good fortune, I am eternally grateful that I live in the same time and vicinity as Buckra, four guys who play like eight and entertain like a stripper on steroids. Every club they play becomes a church, every audience a deliriously faithful, snake-handling congregation and every song an ass-shaking hymn of redemption and praise. As it is written, chapter and verse, “Thou shalt shake your baby fat and your groove thang. And it shall be good. No, it shall be great. Wait, what’s better than great? Verily, it is Buckra.”
Dig it: A mad scientist brain-scrambles the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Van Halen, Sly Stone and Naked Raygun, and they organize Gypsyjazzgroovapalooza after the electrodes cool. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Thursday at Mainstay Rock Bar
Cameron McGill & What Army
Chicago, IL • Indie/Folk/Rock
A favorite in the Chicago Indie scene (having just recently headlined a show at the big Windy City club, Metro), Cameron McGill a busy and prolific singer/songwriter. If he’s not touring, he’s writing, recording or working with other artists like Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s (his current tourmates) and Rachael Yamagata. Following a string of self-releases, McGill and his band What Army’s first for Parasol Records, 2009’s Warm Songs For Cold Shoulders, was embraced by the AltCountry scene and critically acclaimed, but his more recent efforts (including the new EP, Two Hits & A Miss) show the songwriter to be too wide-ranging and adventurous to be pinned to one specific genre forever.
Dig It: Wilco, Neil Young and other career artists who follow their heart, not their A&R department’s. (MB)
9 p.m. Thursday at the Southgate House
Fort Collins, CO • Indie Rock
With both their new album, the just-released Hidden Lands, and their 2008 debut, The Dream of the Sea Life, Candy Claws have crafted basement epics with hi-fi ambitions channeled though lo-fi perspectives, resulting in a soundscape that is naively sophisticated, intimately expansive, dissonantly melodic and weirdly beautiful (like Uma Thurman). Candy Claws is atmospheric and odd, like Radiohead and Brian Eno reinterpreting Pet Soundswith toy instruments and vintage synths.
Dig it: Brian Wilson, Rivers Cuomo, Robert Pollard and The Polyphonic Spree make beautiful lo-fi aquarium Laptop Pop. (BB)
9 p.m. Saturday at Artworks
Caravan of Thieves
Bridgeport, CT • Vaudevillian Acoustic Swing
The brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Fuzz and Carrie, this New England troupe animate Tin Pan Alley-esque ditties through a variety of instrumentation %u2015 the lead couple’s deft acoustic guitar work and vocal harmonizing are augmented by upright bass, accordion and violin %u2015 and vintage stage-wear to match. The band is known to sprinkle in a few covers during its jovial live shows, including an inspired version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Yes, these Thieves aim to please.
Dig it: Squirrel Nut Zippers, Tom Waits on uppers, Django Reinhardt. (JG)
8:30 p.m. Saturday at Grammer's
Dundas, Canada • Electro Psych Pop
One-man-Canadian-band Dan Snaith has been crafting tasty beat-heavy tunes for more than a decade now. His breakthrough, 2003’s Up in Flames(which came when he was still known as Manitoba), perfected his canny ability to meld eccentric, psychedelia-laced Art Pop with dance-floor-friendly beats and melodic vocals. 2007’s Andorra, his first as Caribou after being threatened with a lawsuit by former Dictators frontman Richard Manitoba, cemented his reputation as a master sonic sculptor, delivering 10 lush songs drunk on mood-altering texture. Caribou’s latest, Swim, finds Snaith in a more introspective mood %u2015 his signature slanted grooves now propel lyrics about old age, alienation and divorce. Recent years have seen Caribou’s touring quartet swell to a 15-member ensemble in an effort to better capture the densely layered head-trips in a live setting. Translation: Prepare to be moved, both ass and mind.
Dig it: Stereolab, Boards of Canada, Four Tet. (JG)
9:30 p.m. Friday at Grammer's
Cincinnati • Indie Rock
Cash Flagg was formed three years by members of Cincinnati bands The Woos and The Stapletons as those projects were coming to an end. The group’s sound is built around male/female trade-off vocals, muscular rhythms, exploratory guitar, strong hooks and a ragged, sometimes raging energy. The group released its debut EP last year and is currently working on its first full-length release.
Dig It: Silversun Pickups with an early NYC Punk/New Wave approach (MB)
9:15 p.m. Friday at Inner Peace Center
The Chain Gang of 1974
Denver, CO • Experimental Psychedelic Dance Punk
In the best tradition of the wildly creative individual who envisions and executes a complex and diverse soundscape in an insular and completely solo atmosphere, Kamtin Mohager is the Chain Gang of 1974. Mohager had played bass with The Vanity and started CGO74 three years ago after the band’s dissolution, deciding to be the only creative force in his new musical entity. Although Mohager works alone in the studio, he typically takes a live contingent with him on the road to translate his beat-driven Psych/Dance/Punk/Pop on stage.
Dig It: Beck, Brian Eno, Andy Partridge and the Gallagher brothers go trick or treating as the Human League. (BB)
Midnight Friday at FB's
Chicago, IL • Indie Pop
With a well-balanced sense of Pop and a powerful voice that surfs the range between gruff and falsetto, Derek Ryan provides a fascinating presence at the front of the stage while the other four members of Channel Theory weave a melodically supple yet sturdy Indie Pop soundtrack. It’s no surprise that the MTV, E! and Oxygen networks have all found uses for songs from the band’s debut album, These Things, which in actuality is Ryan’s one-man-band recording which necessitated the formation of the band. That’s how good he is.
Dig it: Rob Dickinson reforms Catherine Wheel with an ear to kick Maroon 5’s candy-coated ass. (BB)
8 p.m. Thursday at Fountain Square
Cincinnati • Indie Rock
The best kind of overnight sensations take time to develop, and so it is with Chaselounge. The quartet had amassed a considerable following after years of local appearances and regional touring and a pair of excellent albums, 2004’s Mayday Roger the Radioand 2005’s Black Plastic Ordinary. But two years ago, the quartet decided to extricate themselves from the touring grind to concentrate on a third album. It was worth the time off and the wait the Erwin Musper-produced Hush of Soundis Chaselounge’s masterwork and one of the highlights of 2010, local or otherwise. Welcome back, boys.
Dig it: The children of The Raisins obsess over their Killers and Weezer and Nada Surf albums and then make better albums than any of them. (BB)
9 p.m. Saturday at Mainstay Rock Bar
The Chocolate Horse
Cincinnati • Folk Rock
For those with short attention spans or faulty memories, let’s recap. The Jason Snell-led Readymade was one the best Cincinnati bands of the early 2000s, a crafty, eclectic Indie Rock unit on the verge breaking through to a national audience when it suddenly (at least for those looking in from the outside) disbanded. It wasn’t long before Snell’s side project, The Chocolate Horse, gained his full attention, the results of which have slowly morphed into a full band that has released two albums (2007’s Patience Works!and 2009’s We Don’t Stand on Ceremony). While initially not as raucous as Readymade, the Horse has slowly become a forceful presence in its own right (both live and on vinyl) infusing its folky, Middle Eastern-tinged arrangements and instrumentation with more traditional Rock elements. The result is yet another compelling entry in Snell’s ever-evolving sonic playground.
Dig it: Sea Changeera Beck, Calexico, Giant Sand. (Jason Gargano)
10 p.m. Saturday at Below Zero Lounge
The Cincy Brass
Cincinnati • N’awlins Soul/Funk
The name isn’t referring to the mayor and his henchmen. The Cincy Brass is a squad of horn players who capture the spirit, soul and energy of New Orleans’ traditional brass bands. The group's comprised of horn players from the Cincinnati Pops, Blue Wisp Big Band, Kentucky Symphony and Fusion band Eclipse has been known to work local club audiences into a frenzy with buoyant arrangements of songs by Kanye West, Lady Gaga and even experimental Indie band Deerhoof, alongside more traditional N’awlins numbers.
Dig It: The vibe of Mardis Gras transplanted into the Queen City’s heart and soul. (MB)
12:15 a.m. Friday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
Clare and the Reasons
Brooklyn, NY • Chamber Pop
Clare Manchon fits in a number of current hot musical trends; she co-fronts her band, the Reasons, with her husband Oliver, she has a flawless Folk/Pop pedigree (Father’s Day cards go to Folk icon Geoff Muldaur) and she’s based in Brooklyn. The Reasons’ exquisite Chamber Pop has been gushingly praised by Spin, Rolling Stoneand The Village Voice, among breathless others, particularly for their last album, 2009’s Arrow. Van Dyke Parks, The National, My Brightest Diamond and Sufjan Stevens are all big fans. You’re next.
Dig it: Regina Spektor and a jaunty string quartet conducted by Brian Wilson tributing Harry Nilsson. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Thursday at Blue Wisp Jazz Club
Cleveland, OH • Indie Rock
With its alternately fuzzy/twinkling/wiry guitars and an anxious, lashing energy, this Northern Ohio foursome recalls not only the early Proto Punk/New Wave bands from their neck of the woods, but also the more celebrated originators in NYC. If CBGB’s opened in downtown Cleveland, Clovers would have been the perfect house band.
Dig it: Television, Unwound, The Feelies, The Walkmen. (MB)
11 p.m. Saturday at MOTR Pub
Jackson, MS • Indie/Rock/Roots
Colour Revolt came into focus when its debut EP was picked up by Interscope imprint Tiny Evil. Later, Roots/Blues indie label Fat Possum singed the band and released CV’s debut LP, Plunder, Beg, and Curse, leading to wide-spread praise from outlets like Paste and Stereogum, live sets at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits and a tour opening for The Breeders. Colour Revolt bounced to No Fear/Dualtone for its just-released album The Cradle, which showcases Jesse Coppenbarger and Sean Kirkpatrick’s twistedly unique, quirky spin on Indie Rock and Roots music magnificently.
Dig it: That long-awaited Hold Steady/Avett Brothers/Television mash-up. (MB)
9 p.m. Saturday at Jack Potts Tavern
Come On Caboose
Cincinnati • Indie Pop
Come On Caboose began life as a home recording project by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Coran Stetter (for shows he assembles an actual band, but essentially Stetter is Come On Caboose). CoC’s atmospheric Dream Pop began drawing wider attention, leading Stetter to perform at the CMJ fest in New York City last year and play shows throughout the Midwest and South.
Dig It: Mew, Broken Social Scene, Nada Surf (MB)
8:30 p.m. Friday at Segway of Cincinnati
Chicago, IL • Minimalist/Experimental Rock
Chicago’s hypnotic and intriguing Conductive Alliance shimmers into view like a mirage in the desert. The quartet, along with a handful of friends, crafts a sound that is equal parts aggressive Ambience, pointy Math Rock, lush Baroque Pop, evocative Classical arrangements and a swirling and cacophonous experimentalism. On their latest EP, Water Glyphs, Conductive Alliance sounds like the band that Philip Glass and Steve Reich would form if they had a deeper understanding of contemporary Rock and Pop and were willing to embrace more than variations on a theme.
Dig it: A symphony orchestra drops acid, gets into Modern Rock but never forgets where the old (and new) masters are buried. (BB)
9:15 p.m. Saturday at Courtyard Cafe
Coralee and the Townies
Lexington, KY • Country/Roots
Coralee and the Townies have only been around for a little over a year, and they’ve already pushed out a terrific EP and given a name to their specific genre: Honky Tonk Soul. It’s a fitting description, as the sextet whoops and weeps with traditional authenticity and contemporary energy, with Coralee’s husky vocals front and center and the Townies providing a righteous, raucous rootenanny soundtrack around her.
Dig it: Lucinda Williams and Tift Merritt on a cross-country drive, singing along to a Hank Williams satellite channel. (Brian Baker)
Midnight Thursday at Arnold's Bar & Grill
The County Line
Louisville, KY • Roots/Rock
The members of The County Line believe it’s all about location. With Louisville being on the line between the South and Midwest, the influence of urban Chicago Blues trickled down while the spirit of traditional Country music floated to them from below. Indeed, the band’s sound shifts from stomping, bluesy Rock to twangy Country and Folk-informed songs without missing a beat and it all comes together perfectly naturally in The County Line’s eclectic and accomplished brew.
Dig It: Avowed influences Neil Young, Kings of Leon, Tom Waits and Ryan Adams poured into a mason jar and served fresh. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Friday at Madonna's
The Crick Gypsies
Cincinnati • Americana//Roots/Rock
Led by singers/songwriters/guitarists Patrick Ewing and Danny McCarthy, The Crick Gypsies return to MPMF for the third year straight. The band has been around the Cincinnati scene for the past three years with a rootsy, gracefully laidback approach that touches on Rock, Country, Soul and Pop for a quintessential Americana sound, highlighted by Ewing’s spin on traditional Folk melody and lyric writing and McCarthy’s elegant lead guitar playing. The band is currently working on its debut full-length.
Dig It: Bruce Cockburn, Eric Clapton and John Prine gather around the campfire for an Americana jamboree song-circle. (MB)
8:30 p.m. Thursday at Madonna's
New York City • Retro Art Pop
This NYC (by way of San Diego) duo’s crafty three-song debut EP, self released earlier this year, is stripped down and atmospheric, no doubt influenced by singer Madeline Follin and instrumentalist Brian Oblivion’s twin love of cinema (they’re both film students). Follin’s fragile, childlike voice haunts simple yet intriguingly textured lo-fi arrangements accented by languid guitar strums, a slowly paced drum machine, piano, xylophone and even a sample of notorious cult leader Jim Jones’ voice. Currently touring behind a full band, Cults is rapidly gathering a cult of its own.
Dig it: Yo La Tengo at its most precious, a Jim Jarmusch film starring Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, Julee Cruise in Twin Peaks. (JG)
Midnight Saturday at MOTR Pub
Cincinnati • Indie/Electronic/Pop
Culture Queer’s clever, colorful brand of Indie/Electro Pop is swine-flu infectious and endearingly left-of-center. The quartet of veteran local artists has brought its frantic live show (with choreographed, artsy visual accompaniment) to MidPoint in the past and also played the Pop Montreal fest in Canada. The list of bands CQ has opened for is a good representation of where they fit in the Indie Rock world’s big picture, warming stages for everyone from Of Montreal and The Frogs to Quasi and VHS or Beta.
Dig it: Imperial Teen, Power Pop turned inside out, a good sugar buzz. (MB)
9:30 p.m. Saturday at Know Theatre