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‘Cheek’ Out Strangetunge

Plus, Cari Clara returns to Cincinnati's club scene to promote latest album

By Mike Breen · March 13th, 2013 · Spill It
tunge in cheek

Local rockers Strangetunge celebrate their latest album, Tunge in Cheek, with a show at the Southgate House Revival in Newport this Friday. The band performs in the club’s “Revival Room” at 9 p.m., followed by Poke and Wild Mountain Berries. The cover charge ($5 for those 21 and up; $8 for fans 18-20) includes a copy of new album on CD.

A fairly straight forward original Rock & Roll crew, Strangetunge’s members’ musical compatibility shine on Tunge in Cheek, a gimmick-less, diverse album that’s like a strange mix of Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Allman Brothers, Squeeze and Elvis Costello/Nick Lowe (a rollicking version of “What’s So Funny (’bout Peace, Love and Understanding” is included). 

Other highlights included the angled funkiness of “Naughty Claudia” and the playful dance track, “Boogie Queen (Disco Fail).” Elsewhere, the group touches on Jazz (“Dangerous Dreams”), while “Everyday Is Forever” showcases an unusual mix of bluesy Rock and synth-driven balladry. Occasionally, the band’s over-use of synth sounds feels awkward, but often it works well and gives the band an extra element of originality. 

While Tunge in Cheek falls short of being exceptional, it’s a strong, enjoyable effort that shows Strangetunge to have a very tight musical chemistry and an admirable sense of adventurousness. (strangetunge.com)

Cari Clara Returns with 'Midnight March'

Over the past decade-plus, Cincinnatian Eric Diedrichs has continually made splashes on the local music scene with the Pop/Rock band The Simpletons and his Cari Clara project (a mostly solo venture in the studio, but also a live band).

A few years back, Diedrichs moved to Lexington, Ky., but Cari Clara continued, the live version of which (though largely on hiatus the past year or so) still featuring mostly Cincinnati area musicians — Eric’s brother Mark Diedrichs, Greg Tudor, Jason Arbenz (also of Goose), Josh Hagen and 500 Miles to Memphis frontman Ryan Malott. 

Last summer, Diedrichs digitally released his fourth effort for Deep Elm Records, the elegant, evocative 10-track album, Midnight March. This Friday, Diedrichs returns to Cincinnati to celebrate the album’s physical release at Northside Tavern. The free local appearance will feature the full Cari Clara band, plus Cincinnati’s Ohio Knife and Dayton’s Motel Beds as openers.  

Diedrichs recorded and produced the expansive and engrossing Midnight March in his home studio in Lexington and the crisp sound welcomes the listener to come inside and get lost in the unique textures and tide-like tempos and structures. Though a lot of “one-man show” albums lack a certain warmth and cohesiveness, Cari Clara is the rare all-solo effort that sounds and feels like a large, full band. But the music is rarely grounded, instead relying on a magical, ethereal aura upon which the songs hover. 

Diedrichs has skills to spare — he’s an amazing vocalist, brilliantly able to translate emotion into words, melody and voice, and his top-notch musicianship (on guitar, bass, piano and a variety of programming and other instrumentation) is apparent on first listen. But as Cari Clara grows and evolves, the way Diedrichs constructs and conducts the varying sounds and layers has become dazzling, adding an extra level of enchantment to his always-stellar songwriting prowess. 

Midnight March is best listened to in full (once you start, you’ll have a hard time stopping anyway), a victory for the dwindling art of making a cohesive album and not just slapping together a collection of songs. Diedrichs says the album is something of a “coming of age” story, saying it’s “an emotional exploration of my own journey from childhood to adult.” That thematic thread is something everyone can relate to and Diedrichs’ lyrics have never been better. 

From the shiver-sending ambiance of “When You Knew It” and orchestral, acoustic guitar-driven “Homage to Excess” to the slinky verses and charged, towering choruses of “Battle Hymn” and the Radiohead-meets-Postal Service slowburn of “Safe,” Midnight March is loaded with musical drama, with practically each song building from a hypnotic hush to exhilarating crescendo. With deft arrangements and orchestration, provocative lyrics and brain-burrowing melodies, Diedrichs has made the recording of his career. And, in many ways, it feels like he’s just getting started. Deidrichs has the talent to become a career artist; hopefully Midnight March reaches the wider audience Cari Clara deserves so he is able to do just that. (facebook.com/cariclara)

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com, @CityBeatMusic or on Facebook here.



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