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Expanding the Ohmstead

Cincy Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms prep for fest, plus The Sleeping Sea and Bear (The Ghost) host two-fer release show and The Sundresses hit Mt. Adams

By Mike Breen · August 15th, 2012 · Spill It
spill_it_the_ohms_photo_facebook.com:theohmsThe Ohms (Photo: facebook.com/theohms)

Cincinnati crew The Ohms have built an impressive career over the past decade-plus, starting out in the ’00s as a popular draw on the “Jam band” circuit as Four Ohms, before shifting gears and developing a surprisingly unique twist on the Rock-meets-Reggae hybridization, a pairing that everyone from Eric Clapton, The Clash and The Police to modern players like No Doubt, The Aggrolites, 311, Sublime and Matisyahu has flirted with and/or embraced since the ’70s. 

Changing the band name to simply The Ohms a few years back (and garnering some national industry attention), the now stripped-down three-piece is in top fighting shape, sounding better than ever, as their recently released second album, Press On, proves beyond a shadow of a spliff. They’re a lean, mean skankin’ machine with a fresh coat of Modern Rock paint glazed atop. 

Press On succeeds through careful and crafty mixology — the Rock and Reggae elements never get in each other’s way, feel forced or fight for space in The Ohms’ groove-driven mix, a testament to the musicians’ abilities as arrangers and writers. The title track, for example, sounds like a perfectly natural jam session between Green Day and Rancid. A minute into the track, the Punk/Pop-like drive drops to a head-bobbing flow of buoyant, vintage Reggae rhythms, ’70s-styled songcraft and Ska horns. 

The album continues with that basic blueprint throughout, but few tracks are predictable and there are variations galore. “Vampire” is a voodoo strut that explodes into a huge, engulfing chorus, while elsewhere the band tinkers with the full range of Reggae sounds, styles and approaches (from Roots to Ska to Dub, grunting toasting to full-voiced, highly melodic melodies) and welds them together with the musicians’ excellent grasp of Classic Rock and top-notch musicianship.

Fresh on the heels of the release of Press On, The Ohms kick off a very busy week on Wednesday as they headline the free “Reggae Wednesday” concert on Fountain Square, starting at 7 p.m.


The Ohms go into the weekend co-managing their big Ohmstead music festival at Hannon’s Camp America (hannonscampamerica.com) near Oxford. Ohmstead is now entering its 11th year, which certainly puts the fest amongst some of the longest running artist-built festivals of its kind in the region. For this weekend’s (Friday and Saturday) Ohmstead blowout, The Ohms have joined forces with Wham Bam Thank You Jam fest to help manage and operate a big “Ohmstead Wham Bam Thank You Jam” conglomo-fest, which once again features an impressively diverse lineup of inventive music makers, mostly from Ohio. 

The fest — with The Ohms performing both nights, per tradition — presents everything from progressive Psychedelic Jam Rock (Cincy’s Mr. Brown’s Mysterious Sounds) and Kent, Ohio-based Ambient/Electronic/Industrial musician Pyrosonic to promising Cincy Alt/Psych/Garage/Rock foursome Lemon Sky and popular touring “Hippie-Hop Jam Rock” outfit Boogie Matrix (Toledo). Northern Ohio Jam band Aliver Hall, which features former Four Ohms member Alex Hall on guitar and vocals, also appears. Other artists slated to appear: Dayton-based Phish tribute band Oh Kee Pa, Dayton Funk rockers Magic Jackson and Nigerian-born/Cincy-based AfroBeat champ Baoku Moses. 

Three-day passes are only $35. Visit whambamthankujam.com for info. For more on The Ohms, visit www.ohmsmusic.com.

More Local Notes

• Sunday at 4 p.m. isn’t often a time when most non-church-playing musicians are even awake, let alone working a gig. But that’s what’s happening this week at Clifton Heights’ Rohs Street Café, as local groups The Sleeping Sea and Bear (The Ghost) host a unique dual album release party. The experimental/Indie/Electronic Bear (The Ghost) unveils its new LP What Was All This For?, while the entrancing Indie Pop septet The Sleeping Sea reveals its new effort, Sun Drips. Attendees are encouraged to bring a pot luck dish for some bread-breaking/noshing starting at 4 p.m. Music includes performers throughout the afternoon/evening/night (Sacred Spirits, ADM, The Healing Trapeze and many others), capped off by sets from the album-releasers. (www.rohsstreetcafe.com)

• Live, local, original music comes back to Mount Adams this Thursday as the club aliveOne hosts popular local rockers The Sundresses for the latest installment of the all-original Third Thursdays events presented by The All Night Party. The ’Dresses — who, by most accounts, were a major highlight at last month’s Bunbury Music Festival at Sawyer Point — have reportedly completed their next album and are now merely plotting out release plans, so you may hear a new tune or two. The band is scheduled to perform two sets starting at 9 p.m.; each clubgoer will receive a free song download card from the band upon arrival. For more on The Sundresses — who will be playing Grammer’s with Purling Hiss and Dinosaur Jr. at the MidPoint Music Festival in late September — visit www.off.thesundresses.com.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com TWITTER: @CityBeatMusic



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