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Think Globally, Listen Locally

The year in Greater Cincinnati-spawned releases

By Mike Breen · December 28th, 2012 · Music
music1_culturequeer_crashavenuePhoto: Crash Avenue
It was another impossibly great year for recordings created by Greater Cincinnati musicians. Here’s a look at some of the best covered by CityBeat over the past year, culled from the original write-ups written by myself and Mr. Brian Baker. Dig in, search out the ones that sound interesting to you and make it your New Year’s resolution to get out and support local music in the upcoming year. 

Culture Queer – Nightmare Band

Culture Queer is all about anticipation. In the Indie/Art Pop group’s decade-plus existence, the Cincinnati quartet (often aided by a support staff of A/V techs, go-go dancers, etc.) has turned out just a trio of full-length studio efforts — including the just released Nightmare Band — an EP and a single. And Culture Queer’s live presence has been equally sporadic; the group’s calendar listing only pops up on approximately a quarterly basis. Nightmare Band is clearly the best studio work that Culture Queer has produced to date. On CQ’s ReverbNation page, they identify themselves as “Fruitpie Pop for God” and “Bubblegum from underneath the school desk”; Nightmare Band gives credence to those descriptions. There’s a goofy ’60s sugar Pop swagger that hints at the B-52’s and Devo, while a Glam Rock undercurrent suggests Mott the Hoople if they’d been steered by Eno instead of Bowie.

Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon

Local fans of the Cincinnati AltPop quartet knew several of the songs on Walk the Moon’s major-label debut for RCA Records, from both seeing the group’s great live show and from the band’s self-released album, I Want, I Want. But the Walk the Moon LP still offered plenty of fresh material and the older songs were given a tasteful major-label shine. Danceable, textured and full of romantic optimism, Walk the Moon didn’t explode the U.S. charts. But the hard-touring band seems well on its way to an international overthrow.

Foxy Shazam – The Church of Rock and Roll

One of the hardest touring and most internationally renowned bands to come out of Cincinnati in the past decade, electrifying carnival rockers Foxy Shazam, are all set to release their new album, The Church of Rock and Roll, the band’s debut for the newly relaunched I.R.S. Records. Foxy Shazam has been compelling from the get-go, but the group really fine-tuned its sound over the last couple of albums. Though built on a foundation of Hard Rock, Classic Rock and Punk, Foxy rarely abides by the rules of any genre, bending and molding their theatrical, often anthem-worthy compositions into creative new shapes. That doesn’t begin to give a good representation of the group’s latest, though. Church takes Foxy’s unpredictability to new heights and is the group’s most diverse (yet still quite accessible) record to date.

The Hiders – Temenos

There are rootsy elements to The Hiders’ sound, but labeling them “Alt Country” or “Roots Rock” never feels right. Like avowed influence Mark Linkous, Hiders mainman Alletzhauser is one of those rare songwriters whose work transcends easy genre specification and magically takes the listener somewhere that feels familiar without resorting to retro-minded clichés. Each song on Temenos has a hypnotic quality and is loaded with exquisite soulfulness. There are no “rockers,” per se, on the album — each song gracefully melts into the next, buoyed by the band’s distinctive, slow-burning sway. Alletzhauser’s vocals and melodies (punctuated by the fabulous harmonies of singer Beth Harris) recall Neil Young and My Morning Jacket, but, while fans of both would certainly fall in love at first listen with The Hiders, over the course of four albums, the group has found and strengthened its own unique identity. In a word, Temenos is timeless.

Bad Veins – The Mess We Made

The gritty energy of Bad Veins’ debut was almost universally praised, so there’s some hesitation concerning the cleaner, prettier atmosphere of The Mess We’ve Made, the duo’s debut for Austin, Tex., label Modern Outsider. The Mess We’ve Made finds Bad Veins in an overtly Pop mindset, as opposed to the first album’s more frenetic personality. The albums aren’t radically dissimilar, but Mess has many melodic moments that seem suited for Top 40 airplay.

The Happy Maladies – New Again EP

Don’t be fooled by the brevity of this EP; the 23 minutes of music on New Again has more depth and intricacies than most long-players. The four tracks are like Classical compositions, taking the listener on a sonic adventure that combines orchestral twist and turns with more traditional “song” components (and some incredible melodies and harmonies). Like some sort of dream supergroup featuring members of Grizzly Bear, the Flecktones, Kronos Quartet and The Books, the Maladies manage a sound that winds through psychedelic passages, Classical interludes and intimate Folk melodics — all through the course of one track. 

Pomegranates – Heaven 

Heaven was the Poms’ most dynamic effort yet, perfectly meshing the group’s trademark twilight sparkle, artsy but fluid experimentalism and hooks that creep rather than nag. That mysterious, trickling, hypnotic ambiance that has pervaded the group’s sound from the start is layered more vividly thanks to the strong new material and co-producer Miguel Urbitztondo, who has worked magic on similarly enigmatic recordings by Sparklehorse and Daniel Johnston. Listening to “Letters” alone is more rewarding than listening to 75 percent of the albums being released today. 

Why? – Mumps, etc. 

Internationally renowned group Why? — at the core of the Bay Area label and recent replants in their hometown Cincinnati area — dropped their magical fourth album in 2012. The deft amalgamation of Indie Rock, Art Pop and Hip Hop made a lot of Cincinnatians happy to be able to call Why? Cincinnati’s own.

The Newbees – Modern Vintage 

Modern Vintage would be a great title for any album by The Newbees. On the new LP, the skills and songwriting exhibited by the group members, including multiple vocalists and songwriters, combine for a collection of rich, dynamic songs that seem informed by the entirety of contemporary music history (at least the melodic stuff). The songcraft of The Newbees is impeccable and Modern Vintage contains several of the band’s best tunes yet. 

Tonefarmer – Helium 3

This album’s 10 tracks all hover in the same hovering sonic realm. Like the more grounded highlights of The Verve’s Urban Hymns album (think “Lucky Man” or “The Drugs Don’t Work”) or the softer, romantic moments of the Smashing Pumpkins, Rob Hamrick and Co. have crafted a collection of compelling songs that stand as the best of their impressive discography. 

Hickory Robot – Sawyer

The band scored some nice buzz in the Americana underground with its 2010 debut release, Firefly, but Sawyer has some serious mainstream crossover potential. The songs on the album are as creative and diverse as ever (from swaying ballads to shuffling Bluegrass), but the band members’ wider range of influence is more ingrained in the sound and a stronger, natural Pop element emerges. Not the sheeny big-hat Country Pop of Nashville, but the cooler Bluegrass-driven style of Pop that artists like Alison Krauss have perfected. Like Krauss and her band Union Station, the playing is flawless and inspired, guided by great vocals and melodies. 

J-Skillz – King of the Jungle

King of the Jungle is the first solo album from multiple Ohio Hip Hop Awards nominee (including with his group Crack Sauce) J-Skillz, who’s a double threat noted for both his production work and rhyming talent. His ferocious, booming voice (which lies somewhere between Killer Mike, Chuck D and Ice Cube) ties together Jungle’s impressive diversity across 18 tracks. Largely produced by Skillz (plus guests like Yom L.I. and Emaqulent), Jungle shows off the artist’s creative and innovative approach behind the scenes, with each cut featuring compelling beats and arrangements. 

The Ready Stance – Damndest 

Some of the early accolades for Damndest noted a “retro” vibe to the songs, but the album really has a timeless quality, something that’s hard to achieve. The Ready Stance manages to pull it off naturally. There’s some of the jingle-jangle of The Feelies, early R.E.M. and the “Paisley Underground” set, but the band doesn’t sound time-capsuled in from the early ’80s. They could have been born in 1968, 1978, 1985, 1993 or 2012. Damndest is loaded with strong melodies, some classic Pop/Rock harmonies, a sturdy rhythm section and some crafty but never flashy guitar interplay, while Wes Pence’s lyrics are so clever and smart (dealing out stories, humor, social commentary and insight in equal measure), it’s almost as entertaining to just sit down and read the lyrics in the album’s insert. 

The Pinstripes – I

With I, The Pinstripes went deeper into early Jamaican roots music to construct their own eclectic version, tapping into elements of Dub (particularly in the buoyant, sweeping bass lines), Roots Reggae and even Dancehall. But one of the key details the band hones in on this time around is the influence of early American Soul music on Ska and Reggae’s development. Tracks like “I’ll Be Waiting” and “The Wokkabout” are primarily Soul/Funk workouts, adding to the fluid dynamics of I’s tracklisting. And, as they do on the more directly Ska or Reggae-inspired tracks, the ’Stripes never sound like fourth-generation copies of the real deals. 

Gold Shoes – The Gold Shoes LP

Gold Shoes is comprised of oddly yet perfectly meshed parts, disparate musical personalities contributing unique flavors to their fascinating Indie Rock/Jazz/Hip Hop mix as evidenced on their debut full length, The Gold Shoes LP. Gold Shoes’ most distinctive characteristic is the sextet’s malleable sonic profile, represented on the new album by the Steely Dan/Indie Rock swing of “Stylin’ on ’Em,” the Santana-esque sway of “Complex Love” and the Radiohead-meets-Fleetwood Mac blip-and-burn of “Trade Your Wings,” all of it tinted with MC Buggs Tha Rocka’s considerable Hip Hop genius.

Rumpke Mountain Boys – Trashgrass

The group’s new album (its second) is titled Trashgrass, the name the members have given their eclectic, jammy, sometimes trippy brand of Bluegrass. The band has all the markings of a standard Bluegrass troupe — mandolin, banjo, upright bass, acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies — but the members’ varied influences (they cite Grateful Dead, Ralph Stanley, Tom Waits and Jimmy Cliff among their key inspiration) make the end result its own organic, spontaneous beast.

Vince Herman — a pioneer of the Rumpkes’ jammy take on Bluegrass with Leftover Salmon — called the seven-time Cincinnati Entertainment Award winners for Best Bluegrass act “a party waiting to happen.”

Magnolia Mountain – Town and Country

Mark Utley’s stellar and diverse songwriting chops are showcased better than ever on Magnolia Mountain’s 2012 full-length, Town and Country, which adds a touch more “Rock” spice to the recipe. Songs like “The Devil We Know” and “Don’t Leave Just Now” are some of the most melodically memorable in Utley’s discography, and Town and Country — which does have purer Country-esque moments like the banjo-driven “All My Numbered Days” — has the deep, moody feel of an especially eclectic Daniel Lanois-produced album (think Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball or Dylan’s Time Out of Mind). Rounded out by some fantastic playing and singing from his always-solid (if somewhat rotating) bandmates, you will be hard pressed to find a better Americana album in 2012 than Town and Country. Even if it really is much more than simply an “Americana album.”

Zak Morgan – The Barber of the Beasts

Morgan’s major-label debut (for Universal’s new myKaZoo Music kids’ music imprint) is loaded with special guests like Bootsy Collins and Over the Rhine’s Karin Bergquist. But it’s Morgan’s magical stories and songs that are the focal point. There is a perfect formula for children’s music; like with kids’ films these days, many artists try to hard to make their albums “parent friendly” and tend to go overboard, while those who “dumb things down” tend to be the most annoying. Morgan’s gift is finding the perfect balance. 

The Tillers – The Tillers LIVE: Farewell to the Historic Southgate House

Farewell is actually an excellent re-introduction to The Tillers’ authentic, soulful take on “old-timey” music, as the trio rambles through lively versions of vintage songs as well as a handful of their own. The bulk of the tracks — nicely annotated in the liner notes — date as far back as the 1920s, so you get to hear the band run through magical arrangements of songs written or popularized by The Carter Family, John Hartford, Frank Hutchinson, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Mississippi John Hurt, among others. 

The Dopamines – Vices

This new album finds Cincinnati’s blazing Punk Pop trio returning to the It’s Alive label, home of the Dopamines’ 2008 debut (Expect the Worst came out on Paper + Plastick, the label founded by Fueled By Ramen co-founder and Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie Fiorello). Album of their career and a great sign that the future potential of these rockers is unlimited. 

Tex Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys – Lucky Chaps

The notable groups with which Greg (Tex) Schramm plays and has played might all be considered “Americana,” but each performs various strains of Roots “subgenres,” from Western Swing and Trad Country to Honky Tonk and beyond. Lucky Chaps mirrors Schramm’s band experience — it’s Classic Country-inspired Americana at its core, but the album also has elements of early Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, Western Swing, Alt Country and other forms sprinkled throughout. 

The Minor Leagues – North College Hill

Indie Pop troupe The Minor Leagues returned with a new album on Chicago’s Datawaslost called North College Hill. The release is another “concept record” for the band, this time focusing on singer/songwriter/keyboardist Ben Walpole’s upbringing in the title neighborhood, with themes of childhood wonderment and the disillusionment of growing up. The 10 songs are once again soaked in the kind of irresistible Pop melodies that you only need to hear once before you can sing along, while the music is humbly theatrical and playful. If you like Belle & Sebastian or Elephant 6 Pop, you’ll love North College Hill

Buffalo Killers – Dig.Sow.Love.Grow.

One of Cincinnati’s finest Rock bands, Buffalo Killers laid it all out on the table for Dig. Sow. Love. Grow., the group’s fourth album released on Alive Records this past summer. The group’s Psych Rock has evolved into an irresistible mix that includes strong, classic Pop elements as well as a rootsy vibe, which mesh perfectly with the group’s muddy, swampy Rock & Roll masterpieces. 

Alone at 3AM – Midwest Mess

In addition to a rootsy Drive-By Truckers/Indie Rock vibe, the most striking musical element on Midwest Mess is the cohesion of Alone at 3AM as a unit. Keyboardist/vocalist Sarah Davis, who learned to play keys in order to join the band in 2008, has become a formidable melodic weapon, bassist Joey Beck has formed an intuitive and powerful alliance with drummer Chris Mueller and the interplay between frontman/songwriter Max Fender and Clay Cason has morphed into a stellar guitar tango.

The Upset Victory – Before the World Ends

Gifted Rock crew The Upset Victory full-length, Before the World Ends, was another powerful showcase of the band’s memorable Pop, Metal and Punk blend. The album was issued by Recover Records domestically, while the group also has deals in place with labels in Greece and Australia. 

Jeff Scott Roberson – The Incredible Parade of Cool

Although Roberson played few live dates to support Parade of Cool, it could be the album that exposes him to a wider audience. “Ain’t No Sunshine” sounds like Fleetwood Mac circa 1974, “Dusk to Dawn,” featuring ethereal vocals from Lisa Walker, is heartbreakingly gorgeous and the title track suggests a soulful reworking of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Stylistically diverse, ranging from Ambient Folk to Americana to Country Rock, The Incredible Parade of Cool is reminiscent of Mike Nesmith’s groundbreaking post-Monkees rootsy ’70s Country Pop.

The Never Setting Suns – Time & Eternity

Time & Eternity is a wonderfully dynamic and fluid Rock album, at times huge and epic while other times whisper-in-your-ear intimate. Songs like “Or, The Whale” have the full-bodied feel of Explosions in the Sky or the best early Smashing Pumpkins (especially the guitars), mixed with an almost punkish urgency and a loud/quiet dynamicism that would make the Pixies smile like proud grandparents. But then the band pulls out something like “To Be Found Out” or the acoustic-based “I Am Your Son,” which resemble Neil Young or Band of Horses, with insistent, soulful vocals and a rootsier, balladic vibe. 

Belle Histoire – Dreamers 

Belle Histoire’s full-length debut, Dreamers, was solid evidence of a sonic maturity beyond the band’s brief existence and relative youth. Dreamers’ expansive vibe suggests a heartland translation of The Cranberries with dashes of Coldplay and U2, standing as a logical extension of the band’s first two EPs, 2011’s Spirits and this year’s I Can Tell.

The Natives – Native America/Coup d’etat

This Hip Hop collective has been around in this particular form — rapper Pii (rhymes with the similarly spelled game system), keyboardist/rapper Hap, keyboardist/vocalist Champayne (Champ for short), keyboardist/vocalist JJ., drummer/vocalist Feeno Goodie — for about three years, playing local shows and building an increasingly large fan base. But back in January, The Natives self-released their debut album, Native America, available for free download on a variety of sites. In a rule-breaking throwback to the ’60s, The Natives released their sophomore album, Coup d’etat, a mere six months after Native America (which was notable for the group’s incredible spin on Toro Y Moi’s “Freak Love,” which they dubbed “Waiting”). Although Coup d’etat offered a slightly more traditional mixtape structure, The Natives insist that the majority of the music is generated by the core band. Both releases exposed the group to its widest audience yet.

Mixtapes Even on the Worst Nights

Even on the Worst Nights, the Pop/Punk quartet’s first proper full-length album and their debut for the No Sleep label, was released to a good deal of critical acclaim as well as the unexpected and welcomed news that Worst Nights had cracked Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. Even on the Worst Nights amplifies all of the infectious seriocomic Pop/Punk energy that Mixtapes has exhibited over the past two years; the title track, the album’s first single, has the potential to be a Green Day-like summer car radio anthem. 

Mad Anthony – Mad Anthony

Mad Anthony is an album that hearkens back to Rock & Roll’s birth. But far from being one-dimensional, the album celebrates much of what makes Rock & Roll so dynamic. Jones’ lyrics sprinkle the 12 tracks with tales from the road, stories of the blue-collar worker and one cleverly disguised middle finger to crappy shows in small towns. The trio then brought in elements of Metal, Rock, Punk, Blues, Funk and (believe it or not) Pop to give each song its own identity. 

Cletus Romp – Snake Oil: half truths, outright lies and the gospel

The words “swampy” and “backwoods” show up in the first sentence of Cletus Romp’s bio and there are few words to better describe the quintet’s unique approach to Americana music. Strutting somewhere between Tom Waits’ gruff yet grounded adventurousness and the Legendary Shack Shakers’ riotous abandon, Cletus Romp would make the perfect soundtrack for an LSD-assisted tour of the Florida Everglades.

The Desert Gun – The Desert Gun

Fans of Queens of the Stone Age will dig The Desert Gun’s debut full-length, an eponymous affair that showed that the future of Cincinnati’s original Rock scene is in good hands. 

Ricky Nye & the Paris Blues Band – Jump Steady

Cincinnati Boogie Woogie piano genius Ricky Nye had a busy year, including issuing this superb release with the French musicians with whom Nye records and tours often in Europe and the States (including this year). Nye also put out another great compilation album featuring tracks recorded during 2011’s Blues and Boogie Piano Summit which, fingers-crossed, will return soon after a 2012 hiatus.  

Philosopher’s Stone – When Life Rafts Begin To Fail

When Life Rafts Begin To Fail — which includes the music video for the ear-grabbing single “Paint” — is the band’s most consistent display of its slanted AltPop sound, which somehow manages to be hypnotically smooth and fluid, but also filled with constant curve balls. The band still utilizes space very well, something that makes them quite original, filtering in a stream of artsy, almost symphonic noise on “Quickly Slowly” without being jarring, for example, and inserting unexpected riffs throughout. Meanwhile, the variety of keyboard sounds (from Deep Purple grinding to New Wave twiddling) also adds to PStone’s sonic mystique. 

The Cla-Zels – In a Canyon/Flower of the Gold Rush

Featuring the solid vocals of co-frontpeople Jason Erickson and Joanie Whittaker, who trade off leads from track to track (and harmonize beautifully, as well), the music on In A Canyon primarily fell in the Country realm, but the band explored that realm to the fullest, tapping into both classic and modern Country. (Imagine a collaborative album featuring Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Cash, Sugarland, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, and you’re close.) With Flower of the Gold Rush, The Cla-Zels turned the amps back up and conjured up a Rock set that, just as Canyon still had Rock elements, retains some of the rootsy vibe. 

Majestic Man – Manatee

Manatee is loaded with melodic, well-written songs, but the varied groove the band manipulates throughout the album is just as distinct and magnetic. Be it the Jazz slink of “Someday,” the dubby sway of “Bodysnatcher” or the angled Funk of “Age of No Reason,” the music is rhythmically fascinating. The dazzling guitar playing and superb vocals add cohesion to Manatee, an album that shows Majestic Man to be one of the more gifted newer groups in the Cincinnati area

Big Rock Club – Extinction 

With a mix of Modern Alt Rock and some vintage Rock & Roll undertones, Extinction has a crisp, big sound that showcases the excellent vocal work of Curtis Dressman. The songs are creatively constructed and have a Pop element (and occasional New Wave synth quirk) that would make them a perfect fit for the playlists of most big “Alternative Rock” radio stations, but the songs are never pandering. 

46 Long – Tennessee

On Tennessee, Blake Taylor (who primarily sings and blows a mean harmonica, though also contributes keys, percussion guitar and, uh, “crowbar” on the album) and Jonathan Reynolds (who sings and plays guitar while also providing bass and percussion) start things off with the stanky groove of “More,” then take the listeners through deft interpretations of gritty, Delta-esque Blues (like the title track), gruff Tom Waitsian eccentricity (“Lock It Up or Lose It”), full-bodied, swaggering AltCountry (a cover of the Starkweathers’ “One for Her, One For Him”), boogying Lyle Lovett-like Swing (“Don’t Drink”) and stompin’ Garage Rock (“Something Strange”). If you’ve given up on the Blues because you think you’ve heard it all before, pick up Tennessee and let 46 Long show you otherwise.

Second Chance at Eden – Intrascape EP 

On Intrascape, SCaE proved that the current incarnation of the band is a rock-solid entity capable of making a name for itself not only regionally, but ultimately on the national front. SCaE’s music is the sound found at the intersection of Classic Rock, Modern Rock and Hard Rock, highlighted by the rhythm section’s strong foundation, impressive vintage Rock guitar leads and vocals that have an elastic soulfulness similar to Grace Potter’s impressive singing. 

Shiny Old Soul – Cash Is King

Shiny Old Soul makes a magical noise on Cash Is King, with a Folk/Rock base creating the river on which the sounds flow, natural and breezy. It’s wildly organic and stream-of-conscious-esque (thanks partly to the unfussy, crisp production of Jeff Roberson), hypnotic yet consistently (at least in tone) upbeat and buoyant, with a celebratory sound that may be the result of the band’s spiritual connection to New Orleans (where they’ve had adventures in busking in the past). 

The Blues Merchants – Tattooed with the Blues

The Merchants are fronted by charismatic vocalist Amy McFarland, the group also features Chris Kepes on guitar, Marc Hoffman on bass, Dave Koenig on drums and local legend Bob Nave on Hammond organ and keys. Nave was a member of Cincinnati’s The Lemon Pipers, which had a huge national hit in 1968 with the song “Green Tambourine.” For the new Merchants album, the group re-recorded the old Pipers tune (the only cover on the album), giving it a groove Nave says he originally had in mind when the Pipers first recorded it.

Noah Wotherspoon & Jessi Bair – Carolina Songs EP 

Taking a break from their outside project, Wotherspoon and Bair teamed up for this EP, which showcased the duo’s clear songwriting compatibility and some wonderful vocal harmonies over five tracks of soothing, original Americana/Folk Pop

The Ohms – Press On 

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. 

Pharaoh Loosey (h)wak formal

Pharaoh Loosey put its own stamp on the idea with an instrumental gene splice of Prog complexity, Post Rock vibrancy and Jazz Fusion improvisational methodology. Grant Kilgard is a textural keyboardist, playing foundation and melody simultaneously, Eric Osmanoglu brings a guitarist’s perspective to the bass and Wayne Kilgard is an amazingly musical drummer. Together the trio makes sounds that would be impressive for a quintet.

Wonder Brown & MC Forty – Walking Words

The duo’s Walking Words album features a lot of Cincinnati shout-outs and references while the lyrics veer from the personal to the socially aware (often simultaneously). The pair’s distinct flows and vocal tones work well together as they trade off or intertwine rhymes, while the production is dazzling, combining choice samples and loops to create a radiant backdrop of Soul vocals, strings, piano, horns and more. 

Total Dudes – Top of the Dude Chain

In 2012, sizzling, fun West Chester rockers Total Dudes celebrated their fifth anniversary and the birth of their new baby — their latest recording, Top of the Dude Chain — a great collection of swaggering, hard-charging, Punk-fueled Rock & Roll.

Trademark Aaron – Prelude to Greatness

From the jazzy slowburn of “Yeahman” to the infectious bounce of “Like Me,” Aaron offers a sonic hybrid of Soul, Jazz, Pop and Hip Hop on Prelude while weaving lyrical textures that view life from a refreshingly positive perspective.  “This My Job” is a case in point — over a soulful beat, Aaron assures his girlfriend that late nights in the club are about work, not the party.

Mr. Dibbs – Deadworld Reborn 

A dynamic mix that also served as a tribute to Cincinnati Hip Hop great Skandal da Ruckus Man, Deadworld Reborn blends tracks from Dibbs’ Deadworld release, which featured artists ranging from Doseone, Brother Ali and Murs to Juliette Lewis and The Black Keys, plus the Dibbs/Skandal collaboration “Where Pigs Fly.”

Pete Dressman and the S.U.N. – Volume II

One spin through Pete Dressman’s new album, Volume II, might give the impression that the Cincinnati singer/songwriter and his band, the Soul Unified Nation, are unrepentant lovers of contemporary classic Rock icons like Pearl Jam who wouldn’t be the least bit out of place opening for locally-based Psych Rock trio Buffalo Killers. And you’d be right.  


More-than-Honorable Mentions

The Kiss Me Everlasting – The Kiss Me Everlasting

The Harlequins – The Harlequins

John Zappa – Not Too Slow, Not Too Fast …

Leo Clarke – Leo Clarke

Cincinnati Skids – Hangin’ By a Thread

Fo/Mo/Deep – A Beautiful Bang

Northside Garage – Another Night of Indecision 

Public – Red EP

Acarya – Hiding Face EP

Gorges – Gorges EP 

Jody Stapleton and the Generals – Turn on Your Lights

Ohio Knife – Ohio Knife Is OK! EP

Damn It To Hell – Damn It To Hell EP 

Da 3rd Element – Expense Report 

Junya Be - Pon Di Map

Homemade Drugs – Homemade Drugs

Billy Wallace and the Virginia Blues – Tucumcari, New Mexico and Other Songs

Merely the Mocs – A Cynic’s Prayer EP

Natalie Wells Band – Live From Earth

David Rhodes Brown – Kentucky Dinosaur EP

Playfully Yours Indwell EP

Ric Hordinski Arthur’s Garden

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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