The songs of Northern Kentucky native Jeremy Pinnell have received the kind of glowing acclaim that one might perceive as hyperbole … until one actually hears them. With bands like The Light Wires, The Great Depression and The Brothers and The Sisters, Pinnell has proven himself an impossible-to-ignore songwriter who pours every ounce of soul into his music. Much of his music’s impact comes down to what those around him call “The Voice,” a magnetic vocal presence that is riveting to its core.
For the past few years, Pinnell has been working his songs out with Honky Tonk band the 55’s backing him (the group plays every Thursday at Over-the-Rhine hot spot Japp’s). Pinnell has explored various areas of Americana music in his past work, but with the 55’s he goes full-on old-school Country. As he shows on his new album, OH/KY (credited just to Pinnell, but featuring backing from the 55’s), the genre is a perfect fit for his aching, longing songs. OH/KY is the kind of album that purists will appreciate, but you don’t need to be a Country music aficionado to enjoy it — the songwriting really transcends genres. Hell, OH/KY could even turn a dedicated Country music hater.
The music on OH/KY never strays from the trad Country roadmap, in both song structure and sound, with note-perfect electric guitar twang and sublime pedal-steel sunset licks streaking across the tracks. With 10 mostly mid-tempo ballads that would make George Jones proud, Pinnell bares his soul and then some. According to the press materials, the album tells the story of Pinnell’s life over the past two decades. That story is one of heartbreak and pain, but there is also more of a sense of hopefulness on OH/KY than on releases from Pinnell’s previous bands.
Newcomers Put “Life on Shuffle”
Cincinnati Indie Pop trio 74 West celebrates the release of its debut album, Life on Shuffle, this Saturday at Backstage Café (724 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-491-2445).
The band will be joined by Let’s Get Handsome, Kingdoms Burn and Dark Colour for the 8 p.m. show.
A thoroughly entertaining and jubilant listen, Life on Shuffle is an endearing blend of ’80s New Wave and classic Power Pop. 74 West slathers the album with vintage New Wave ornamentation (snyths that wouldn’t be out of place on a Cars album, electronic-drum/drum-machine handclaps, etc.), but the strength of the melodies and rock-solid songwriting keep it from sounding too much like a retro novelty. The band cites Weezer as an influence, and that band’s first few albums are a good reference point, but the vocal harmonies and back-and-forth between husband/wife team Joey (guitar, keys) and Michelle (bass) Sparto take the music to another realm. A very promising first effort, Life on Shuffle is an Electro-laced, non-stop barrage of charming hooks and playful quirks.
Eighties Tribute/Charity Show Returns
For years one of the most entertaining of the multi-band tribute shows/charity concerts in the area, ’80s Pop … Rocks returns this Saturday. It is the fifth Pop … Rocks event overall, but first since 2008. The tribute concert returns to the Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com), where organizers will be utilizing all three of the venues stages. As in the past, the show features dozens of local, usually all-original acts performing their favorite tunes from the ’80s. As with the previous Pop … Rock events, the show will benefit a local organization dedicated to assisting people with HIV/AIDS. This year, funds raised will be donated to Caracole, which helps individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS find housing (visit caracole.org for more info on the locally based organization).
Along with DJ Empirical spinning ’80s jams between performances and DJ Will Benson spinning in the club’s Lounge, the show will feature ’80s covers from 11,000 Bitches, 500 Miles to Memphis, 7 Speed Vortex , Chakras, A Continuous Now, Crick Gypsies, Darlene, Hippie Twin, Hot for Alice, Holy Beast, JC, JetLab, Kelly Thomas, Lift the Medium, Lovecrush 88, Old City, Pike 27, RITES, Sassy Molasses, Skeleton Hands, Sometimes, Sticky Honey, Sulla, Sweet Ray Laurel, That, That Revolves, The Dirty Shirleys, Mudpies, The Stories, The Tigerlillies, Too Cool, The Whiskey Shambles and UFOhio.
There will also be ’80s fashion shows (presented by Chicken Lays an Egg and Casablanca), raffles and prizes given out for the best ’80s looks. Music begins at 8:30 p.m. and admission is $8. Visit 80spoprocks.com for full show details.
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