St. Vincent’s music is rife with contradictions. Take the first song on the outfit’s most recent album, last year’s Strange Mercy,
which opens with this vague but provocative imagery, delivered by Annie
Clark — the band’s 29-year-old creative ringleader.
Sharon Van Etten began winning admirers with a pair of intimate, soul-bearing albums — 2009’s Because I Was In Love and 2010’s Epic
— that explored love gone bad via a voice that was so big and
expressive and sad-sounding that one feared for the woman from which it
Hanni El Khatib’s world is a dangerous
place. The San Francisco-raised Los Angeles resident prefers to fill his
musical terrain with outlaw characters and disastrous circumstances. At least three of Khatib’s releases, including last September’s full-length debut Will the Guns Come Out,
have covers adorned with the mangled remnants of car wrecks.
Thanks at least partially to our proximity
to Appalachia, Greater Cincinnati has long had one of the finest
Roots/Americana music scenes in the region. And the finest band from
that impressive batch of artists right now is Magnolia Mountain, the
band formed by Rock veteran and singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
Mark Utley about five years ago.
Some bands work for years for even the
smallest scrap of national attention. For Cincinnati’s Bad Veins, that
recognition came just after their second show in 2006 and has hardly
abated in the subsequent six years.
Sometimes the universe offers options you might never have otherwise imagined. Post Rock/Prog trio Pharaoh Loosey had already decided on the Mad Frog as the venue to celebrate the release of its debut CD, (h)wak formal, but when they ventured into the Corryville club’s catacombs, they found an ideal gig location.
Oliver Ackermann has a Cincinnati story he
enjoys sharing: Back when his band, A Place To Bury Strangers, played
the Contemporary Arts Center during the 2010 MidPoint Music Festival,
Ackermann’s Shoegaze/Noise Rock band wreaked chaos on the Sixth Street
space’s electrical system.
It’s been three years since my
introduction to The Pinstripes, interviewing the band in the cramped
rehearsal space they dubbed “The Good Stuff.” We discussed their love of
Ska, Reggae, Dub, Soul and all points between and beyond, as well as
their recordings to that point (Higher Ground and The Decay) while downing a few lightly chilled Pabst Blue Ribbons.
Mike Oliva and I agree — Batman is cool,
but The Joker is simply badass, with his dark sense of humor and creepy,
wide smile. There’s something intriguing about his slick, sarcastic
ways, and, hell, there’s no forgetting that horrific laugh.
Five surf-rockers, two go-go dancers and a guy in a gorilla suit walk into a bar … That’s either the weirdest setup for a
joke ever or it means that Cincinnati’s only Surf Rock band, Doctor
Bombay and the Atomic Bachelor Pad, has arrived.
Zola Jesus likes to have a lot of space. Born Nika Danilova in Wisconsin, Jesus
recounts a childhood spent running around her slice of the Midwest with
ample amounts of freedom and independence. She credits this freewheeling
upbringing with helping her find out who she was at a very young age.
Some guitarists form in the womb and
emerge ready to push their instrument’s limits and in turn be pushed by
them, using their childhoods as a proving ground for the brilliance to
follow. That is not Cincinnati’s Natalie Wells.
One spin through Pete Dressman’s new album, Vol. 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.