The polls have closed on voting for the 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, the ceremony/party for which returns to Covington's Madison Theater on Jan. 27. Indie Pop greats Culture Queer were added to the CEA performance lineup today, joining Bad Veins, Ricky Nye, Gold Shoes, The Dopamines, Jess Lamb and a special collaboration put together by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation.
While you can no longer vote online for your favorite local musicians, you can still have a say in one last category. The CEA New Music Showcase takes place Friday at Bogart's and, if you attend, you'll be able to vote for the "New Artist of the Year" CEA. The show will feature sets by New Artist nominees Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s, DAAP Girls, Ohio Knife, The Natives, Public and Heavy Hinges (nominee R. Ring was unable to perform). Audience members will be asked to vote for who they thought did best and those total tallies will be weighted by votes from the CEA nominating committee to determine the ultimate winner.
You can do some pre-show prep and pick up this week's CityBeat to read our special cover story package about this year's "New Artist of the Year" CEA nominees, with profiles on each artist. Click here to read the intro and you can click on the band names below to check out each artists' feature article.
Below are a few audio tracks and videos from each nominee, so you can be even further prepared to vote wisely Friday night.
• Heavy Hinges is one of several New Artist of the Year nominees that contains several familiar faces. The Rock/Soul/Funk/Jazz/Gospel/Roots hybrid the band pimps was crafted after popular band Buckra called it quits following a dozen years of local music service. Buckra's guitarist/singer Dylan Speeg and bassist Andrew Laudeman formed Heavy Hinges in early 2012 with guitarist Jeremy Singer (also currently in Jimmelegs) and drummer Brian Williamson, both also experienced local players. Rounding the band out is relative newcomer, singer/ukulele player Maya Banatwala.
As expected in a field of New Artists, there isn't a ton of recorded material available from most of the groups. Heavy Hinges may have the least amount, but here's a cool promo video for an October show that includes a lo-fi Heavy Hinges recording as its soundtrack.
• Ohio Knife is the Indie Rock duo featuring drummer Joe Suer and singer/guitarist Jason Snell, who first teamed up in the late ’90s in the six-piece band Readymaid. After that group split up, Snell launched The Chocolate Horse, a project intended to be more compact, with fewer members in order to keep things more manageable creatively and logistically. The Horse eventually became complicated, as well, so Snell and Suer (along with mostly studio-only keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Higley, another former Readymaid and Chocolate Horse member who now works recording sessions in Nashville) stripped down even more and formed Ohio Knife. The size of the project wasn't the only thing that was different for Snell this time around; he and Suer (who's played in Cincy bands like Caterpillar Tracks and others since the Readymaid split) play a hard-charging brand of melodic Rock, partially inspired by the Grunge bands Snell grew up listening to.Ohio Knife is OK! was released by Detroit's Fountain Records right as the duo launched and Ohio Knife's second show ever was on the streets of Austin, Tex., where they were participating in a art/branding project with local company Landor at SXSW (footage from the trip formed the basis for an expansive, artsy window display in the downtown Shillito's building). Ohio Knife is looking to put out a full-length in the new year.
Here's the Ohio Knife video for the song "Going Down."
• Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s bring a Honky Tonk flavor to the CEA's New Artist category this year. Singer/acoustic guitarist Pinnell proved himself to be one of the area's best songwriters in previous projects like The Light Wires and The Brothers and The Sisters, roots-tinged outfits that suited Pinnell's penetratingly melancholic tunes perfectly. For the 55s, Pinnell reteamed with old high school pal Cameron Cochran, who also plays in Pop Empire and previously was in the excellent Folk duo The Sheds, to form a group that performed in the style of raw, vintage Country, like George Jones or Waylon Jennings. Rounded out by drummer Chris Alley and bassist Ben Franks, the 55s were a steady presence in the clubs in 2012, growing a loyal following in a relatively short period of time.
The 55s have no releases out (there are plans for an LP soon, though), but there is some great live footage of the band shot for the one-shot video project, The Emery Sessions (which Cochran helped organize and record). Here is Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s performing "Back Home" at Over-the-Rhine's historic Emery Theatre.
• If The Natives — a gifted local Hip Hop "band," that performs with live instrumentation — would have come out in the early ’90s, it would have taken them five years to accumulate the amount of music videos and audio releases they managed to released in 2012. Ah, technology. Even better, The Natives are creative and adventurous, so all of the work released is of extremely high quality. Oh and it's all available online for free. The band released two LPs in 2012 — the mixtape-styled Coup d'etat and the more artist- and song-oriented Native America. The Natives also collaborated on numerous pro videos for tracks from the albums, kicking off 2013 with the below clip for "So Much." The Natives will be working on members' solo projects to start 2013, so catch the group in action Friday, while you still can.
• DAAP Girls played it coy when first hitting the local club circuit, leaving an air of mystery surrounding just who was in the band before they played their first show. Fans would soon discover that DAAP Girls were really dudes! And familiar ones to local music followers. Featuring members of The Lions Rampant and Newport Secret Six, DAAP Girls play a groovy, dance-friendly brand of Indie Rock that manages to sound both contemporary and vintage. The lack of much information about the DAAP Girls online has fed the mystery, but it's also partially because the perfectionist members wanted to take their time releasing recorded material. There's a light on the horizon, though, for those who've been craving a take-home version of DAAP Girls — the band's Tape Songs will be released a little later this year. Below is the public's first taste of the album in a great music video for "Kate."
• The trio Public is the newest of the "New Artist of the Year" nominees. Though not far removed from high school graduation, the band already has a tight, masterful AltRock sound that should take them far. The three high school pals are talented musicians inspired by the likes of Muse, Led Zeppelin and The Killers. Public has released just one EP, Red, but it's a wildly impressive start. The songwriting and performance skills exhibited on Red (on which you can also hear touches of The Strokes and Modest Mouse) give one an indication that Public's just getting started and future work might be scarily good. Just last month, Public debuted the music video for the EP's "Castle in the Sky."
• Though not eligible for your vote Friday because they had to decline the invitation to play the New Music Showcase due to scheduling conflicts, be sure to read up on R. Ring. The duo teams local guitarist/singer/songwriter/engineer Mike Montgomery with Dayton, Ohio music hero Kelley Deal. After meeting during a recording session, R. Ring was formed to help Montgomery get over some stage fright about playing a solo show. Though they didn't do the usual "let's get signed!" hustle and bustle, intending to keep the project casual, their unique style quickly began to gain attention. R. Ring played South By Southwest last year and have a European tour on the schedule for this March, though activity will largely have to be routed around Deal's other big 2013 adventure — a world tour with sister Kim to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their band The Breeders' seminal Last Splash album. There isn't a lot of recorded material available yet, since R. Ring has officially only released one 7-inch single, but you can check out their Daytrotter session here. Below is the A-side of R. Ring's single, "Fallout & Fire," which showcases the twosome's sparse, hypnotic approach.
Friday's New Music Showcase at Bogart's starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $7.