I’m not going to pretend I knew what synesthesia meant before listening to former Cincinnati/current Columbus-based Hip Hop artist Ill Poetic’s latest release, Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement. But after diving into the seven-song EP (and looking up the title on dictionary.com), I discovered that synesthesia is something like a music-induced hallucination where the afflicted see music as colors, which is the perfect description the album has on its listeners.
In the short amount of time it takes to get through this EP (just under 24 minutes), Ill Po takes the listener on a funky, soulful trip through his creative process. On the first track, “Be Cool,” Po is kind of like Samuel L. Jackson in the diner scene of Pulp Fiction (without the Jheri curl), urging everyone from politicians to status rappers to just chill the fuck out and re-birth the cool like Miles Davis.
“Be Cool” then melts into a laid-back Soul cut, the highlight track “On My Way,” which features crooner CJ the Cynic. It’s probably just the producer in him, but Ill Poetic lets CJ take the reins of “On My Way” for almost the first two minutes before he brings his spoken-word lyrical styling to the production, which is reminiscent of early Kanye or Eryka Badu with, dare I say, an added dose of creativity.
The wait for Po's words is well worth it, however, when he spits that “Ghostface is my real estate agent." Again, I really don’t know what this means, but the sheer image of calling Sibcy Cline or Century 21 and getting Ghostface Killah on the other end of the receiver is pure imagery gold.
On the sixth track and first single off the EP, “Gone,” the song cleverly describes Po’s struggle to leave Cincinnati and pursue his dreams (his every body part attempting to convince his brain to dip-out), while the Jazz-style production makes the listener want to roll-up and take a road trip with this song on repeat.
The best part about this album, though, is when Ill says “You don’t have to be cool to listen to this; you don’t have to listen to this to be cool.” So for all the nerds, dorks, dweebs and losers out there looking for new music, have no fear. You don’t have to be cool to listen to this and listening to Ill Poetic won’t make you cool. But it surely couldn’t hurt.
Click below to preview and purchase Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement. For more on Ill Poetic, visit his official site here.
• Baltimore Noise Punk foursome Dope Body introduced itself to the Indie Rock world with the donkey punch that was last year’s Nupping, the band’s first full-length. The group returned this year with the Natural History album on Drag City, on which a chaotic barrage of guitar harmonics, muscular drum/bass pummeling and howling vocals combine for something that sounds like The Jesus Lizard jacked up on speed (or Gang of Four jacked up on The Jesus Lizard). There is an artfulness to the noise, but it’s the group’s hectic energy level — which sometimes makes it seem like they’re going to fall apart at any second — that first draws the listener in, as if sucked up by the tornadic swirl, Dorothy-and-Toto-syle. The herky-jerky rhythms are also alluring, occasionally falling into a seemingly impossible groove that feels like some sort of alien Funk. You can dance to Dope Body — you just might look a little convulsive.
After an appearance at The Comet earlier this spring, Dope Body returns to Cincy tonight for a free, 10 p.m. show at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Brooklyn trio Call of the Wild opens the show. Check videos from both acts below.
• Singer/songwriter James McMurtry (son of successful author Larry) performs tonight at the Southgate House Revival in Newport. The Americana song stylist kicked his career off in 1989 with his debut Too Long in the Wasteland and has continued to make album after album of modern Roots songs, which often showcase his deft lyrical ability (something perhaps in his blood). McMurtry has been celebrated for the short story style of writing, though in recent years he's addressed political issues for frequently and directly. His 2005 song "We Can't Make It Here" fit the Occupy movement's message so perfectly, he gave it away as a free download when the movement began, then re-recorded it with Steve Earle and Joan Baez for inclusion on the Occupy Wall Street benefit compilation, Occupy This Album. You can hear that version below. (Read more about McMurtry in Brian Baker's preview from this week's CityBeat here.)
McMurtry performs tonight at the new Southgate with his band, which at one time was dubbed "The Heartless Bastards," until some bratty kids from Cincinnati stole it for their own and have been using it quite successfully. Locals Monkeytonk open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.
• Canadian ElectroPop star Valerie Anne Poxleitner — who legally changed her name to Lights when she turned 18 and has performed under the moniker ever since — comes to the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley tonight for an 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $18. Canadian AltRock group Arkells opens the show. Similar to Robyn's approach, Lights' sound is a mix of more vintage Synth Pop, modern Electronic styles (yes, including Dubstep) and straight-up, ready-for-Top-40-radio Pop. Lights is a bonafide Pop star in Canada, with her albums, EPs and singles selling chart-worthy numbers, and though she has a faithful following in the U.S., she hasn't matched the same level of airplay, exposure and sales. Yet. Lights' sound has an ear-grabbing quality that could make her a chart and radio fixture in the States in an instant.
Here's Lights' latest single from 2011's Siberia, "Timing Is Everything."
Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
• Dean & Britta (formerly of critically-acclaimed Indie dreamscapers Luna) bring their unique multimedia show, "13 Most Beautiful … Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests," to Over-the-Rhine's revitalized Emery Theatre. The project originated four years again after Dean Wareham received a phone call from a curator (and big Luna fan) at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh asking if he'd be interested in writing some music to go with the stockpile of 500 or so "screen tests" Warhol had accumulated in the ’60s. The clips feature Warhol's video of friends and acquaintances, including many familiar faces from the Factory days.
Wareham talked to CityBeat's Brian Baker about the process of writing songs for the 13 "tests" chosen, describing it as being like making a music video in reverse. Read Brian's full feature story here.
Tonight's performance — featuring Dean & Britta's quartet performing in front of large projections of the screen tests — is at 8 p.m. Tickets (if it doesn't sell out) are $25 at the door. Here's some of the soundtracked video to get you in the mood. The event is being co-presented by the Contemporary Arts Center, which is currently exhibiting Image Machine: Andy Warhol and Photography.
• After a tough previous week when she was stuck in New York City during and after “Frankenstorm” Sandy, tonight at 8 p.m., veteran singer/songwriter Aimee Mann performs in Cincinnati at 20th Century Theatre in Oakley.
For 30 years, Mann has built a dedicated core of adoring fans swept away by her smart, clever and emotionally resonate take on Pop music, driven partly by her uniquely inviting vocals (which former CityBeat writer Brad Quinn once brilliantly described as “egg-shaped”). She first came to the attention of the public at large with her group ’Til Tuesday, which received massive support from MTV and radio for the hit “Voices Carry." Mann and some funny pals recently parodied the of-its-era clip in a hilarious video for "Labrador" from her latest album, Charmer.
Mann went solo at the start of ’90s, releasing her debut Whatever in 1993 and then capping off the decade with her brilliant songs written for and prominently featured in the film Magnolia. Departing the major label system at the start of the new millennium, Mann founded SuperEgo Records to release her own material, most recently issuing Charmer, another critically acclaimed gem that provides further evidence that Mann is still one of the great, somewhat under-heralded songwriters of her time.
Another gifted writer deserving of more attention, Ted Leo (of “and the Pharmacists” fame), opens tonight's show solo. Tickets range from $20-$35.
• Blues Rock cult sensation, soulful singer and modern-day geetar hero Joe Bonamassa swings through the Taft Theatre tonight for a 9 p.m. show. Tickets range from $49-$79.
Bonamassa is one of the more celebrated guitarists of our time and he's built a rabid following mostly by word of mouth and without the benefit of a big label corporation behind him. Bonamassa's latest album Driving Towards the Daylight was released this spring, but live and in-concert is where he thrives, as evidenced by his discography since 2000 — he's had nine studio albums but also four live albums and three live DVDs. Check the title track from Driving below and read more about the Blues/Rock star from this week's CityBeat here.
• Acclaimed for its detailed, theatrical recreations of Pink Floyd concerts, Cleveland's Wish You Were Here is bringing its "Classic Floyd Albums Tour 2012" to Bogart's in Corryville tonight for an all-ages, 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are $12. The "tour" (spread over three months) has featured shows across Ohio where the crew has played the albums Wish You Were Here, The Wall and Animals in full. Tonight, the group is doing Dark Side of the Moon at Bogart's.
The band is able to accurately replicate Floyd's intricate sound and concert experience by using a large ensemble of at least nine musicians, plus their own lighting and sound crew. Cincinnati musician Jamie Combs (of 4th Day Echo and various other projects) joined the band in 2006 as guitarist and vocalist. Here's a clip from a 2007 appearance in Cleveland of the band performing "Time/Breath Reprise."
Lo-fi Garage Pop royalty, King Tuff, performs a free show tonight at MOTR Pub with Cleveland's Gap Dream. King Tuff is the pseudonym and band name of Kyle Thomas, a Vermont native now based in L.A. who, after a dozen years working of Tuff material as a side project to bands like Feathers and Witch, released the debut full-length Was Dead in 2008 and started focusing solely on King Tuff. It turned out to be a fruitful decision; Sub Pop Records signed King Tuff and put out its self-titled sophomore album this spring.
Click here to read more about King Tuff, check out the official video for the recent album's "Alone & Stoned" and use the widget below to get a pair of free KT tracks to download.
A week after The Afghan Whigs played a thrilling homecoming show with fellow local greats Wussy at Bogart's, another pair of local bands making waves are set to play their hometown (or across the river from it).
Every time Cincinnati AltPop rockers Walk the Moon come home to play a show, it seems like their star has risen higher. The band is back in town tonight for a sold-out show at Covington's Madison Theater (which is also serving as the two-year anniversary party for the hard-hustling local music promo outlet, The Counter Rhythm Group).
Since last here, Walk the Moon's breakthrough single "Anna Sun" continues to get airplay across the globe, while the latest single, "Tightrope" (as heard in those much-played HP commercials) is picking up steam, as well. The group has also been on tour pretty much non-stop, performing all over North America and in Europe (after tonight's show, the group is off for a few days before resuming its headlining tour in Nashville). The band's Unplugged set for MTV also made it to the airwaves (not MTV, of course, but its HD sister, Palladia).
Check out the "Tightrope" clip below and a behind the scenes look at the making of it here.
Great local Indie Pop duo Bad Veins (fresh off their own cross-country tour dates, with even more coming up starting next week) open, along with L.A.'s Family of the Year. Bad Veins are currently prepping a new music video, as well; a clip for "Kindness" off of the duo's amazing The Mess We've Made Album. Here's a really strong video of the duo performing one of the new album's best tracks, "Don't Run," on the "Off the Avenue" series.
If you don't have tickets, you're going to have to do some hunting. As of this afternoon, there wasn't a single ticket available on StubHub for the concert.
Kishi Bashi is the name for the solo work of Brooklyn, N.Y.’s K Ishibashi, who’s become one of the go-to violin players in the world of Indie music, touring and/or recording with of Montreal, Regina Spektor and Alexi Murdoch, among many others.
Also a founding member of the Indie/Synth Pop group Jupiter One, Ishibashi’s own material is an expansive brand of Art Pop, featuring looped, symphonic strings and voices mixed with magnetic, layered Electronic/Dance sounds and slanted Pop melodies, harmonies and structuring. The end result is laid out gorgeously on Kishi Bashi’s compelling debut full-length on Joyful Noise Recordings from earlier this year, 151a, coming off like a strange but compelling mix of Andrew Bird, Smile-era Brian Wilson and of Montreal.
Whether you call him Beelzebub, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, Mephistopheles, or just the plain ole devil (it’s all about your preferred nomenclature, man) there is no denying the big guy downstairs has been a huge influence on Rock & Roll.
There have been a plethora of songs written about the dark lord (no I’m not talking about Voldemort, you posers) but the real question is — what are Satan’s favorite songs about himself?
So, like the top-notch investigative journalism team we are at the CityBeat music department, my editor Mike Breen and I bought some pig’s blood, drew a pentagram on the floor, lit some candles, recited some Latin and summoned the fallen angel himself.
After a long discussion on various human subjects — how Mitt Romney is in fact not the antichrist, but just an idiot; the state of Gene Simmons' soul and why he is going to hell (apparently, it’s not for his satanic look or the thousand acts of pre-marital sex, but for turning KISS into the biggest whore in the music industry) — Mephistopheles disappeared back into the hell mouth as quick as he came. (Who said real journalism was dead?)
Yet, left in his place was an evil list compiled by the demon of his Top 10 favorite songs about himself, with the instruction to print them without changes. (Satan’s actually a very polite guy but super narcissistic.) So, in honor of his wishes (and extra conscious of our agreement that riches will be bestowed on CityBeat if we completed the task), here are the Top 10 songs about Satan.
10. “Baptized in Flames” – Skeletonwitch
You ever wanted to know what Antichrist’s birth would be like? If so, you’re in luck because Athens, Ohio, natives Skeletonwitch give us a pretty vivid description of the scene.
Minus the death of the mother, inverted crosses burning, men dying and the overall end-times vibe, this birth isn’t all that different from a normal one. But let’s be honest, no matter who’s being popped out, the birthing process is pretty disgusting.
9. “Super-Charger Heaven” – White Zombie
If I had never seen an interview with Rob Zombie (he seems like a really nice guy), I would truly believe this guy had some serious demonic connections. From his grade-A horror films to his music riddle with witches, blood rituals and general spine-chilling terror, he is the poster child for all things evil.
Although his later solo work is a little campy at times, White Zombie always brought the hellish vibe to their brand of Groove Meta and they showcased it no better than on their 1995 single, “Super-Charger Heaven.”
8. “Beezleboss” – Tenacious D
Did you know it’s in the demon by-laws to never turn down a rock-off challenge? I didn’t either. Not until the cataclysmic disappointment, “Pick of Destiny,” came out in 2006 at least.
Even though this movie was shittier than the end of The
Human Centipede, Satan’s gut-busting drum solo (although impressive) wasn’t
enough to outmatch Tenacious D’s power of Rock and friendship, not only saving Kage’s
eternal soul (and anal virginity) but sending the devil back to hell and
finally finding a way to pay their damn rent. (Satan says he found it "cute" that the band would write a fictional song about defeating him and picked this song because he's angling for a part in Kung Fu Panda 4 with Jack Black.)
7. “Con Clavi Con Dio” – Ghost
Sweden probably isn’t the first nation you think of as a hotbed for satanic music (I know, ABBA was scary but definitely not satanic), but when Ghost’s Opus Eponymous came out in 2010, the band took another step towards making that a reality.
This whole album is just one big love letter to the prince of darkness and the first four lines of “Con Clavi Con Dio” says it all: “Lucifer/ We are here/ For your praise/Evil one.”
Overall, I don’t know what’s creepier — this band’s all-inclusive scare factor or their borderline stalker obsession with Satan. (Lucifer, if you’re reading this, you may want to consider a restraining order against these guys. I know they’re from Sweden, but I don’t think they are messing around.)
6. “Mean as Hell” – Johnny Cash
Besides making a star out of Honey Boo Boo and working as an investment banker on Wall Street, Satan says all he really ever wanted was a land to call his own. So God, like the sly dog he is, tried pull a fast one on his old nemesis, giving him the poorest land he had, the Rio Grande.
The Devil, being the mean son of bitch that he is, took God’s offering and riddled the area with scorpions, thorn trees, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and 110-degree weather, making the best hell on earth he could (take that God!).
In the end, Satan proved God wrong, but what’s more interesting is — who is meaner, Johnny Cash or Satan? Sure, Satan made the Rio Grande hell on earth, but Cash lived in it. My money’s on the “Man in Black.”
5. “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones
The devil has been a busy man over the years. He was “’Round when Jesus Christ/Had his moment of doubt and pain” and “Held a general's rank/When the Bliztkrieg raged/And the bodies stank.”
Even though I’m not that particularly puzzled by the nature of his game (am I the only one seeing the trend of death here?), it’s definitely one of the most iconic and politically-driven songs Satan ever inspired.
4. “The Oath” – Mercyful Fate
Kind Diamond is like the satanic equivalent of Pat Robertson. Sure, this guy isn’t actually a Satanist but over his illustrious career, his distaste for organized religion, overtly satanic lyrical content and general creepy demeanor has surely put him in good standing with the minions of hell’s army and their general.
I really could have picked almost any song from the King Diamond catalog, but this one — from the band he fronts, Mercyful Fate — really showcases his unconditional love for Lucifer. Really though, Diamond’s undying love for Satan is only comparable to the love Ryan Seacrest has for hair gel and being a douche. If the song weren’t so damn evil, it would almost bring me to tears.
3. “Hell Awaits” – Slayer
As if this song wasn’t scary enough running normally, apparently if you play “Hell Awaits” backwards, about two minutes in there is a hidden message that repeats "join us" over and over again. Joining what exactly, I’m not sure. Slayer fans? An indoor soccer league? The wait staff at the Olive Garden? Who knows?
What’s really funny, though, is that people freak out when they hear Slayer has a “satanic message” when you play it backwards. Really? If you listen to the song forward, the “satanic messages” are even more explicit. Jeez people, the whole thing is about Satan! It’s Slayer, what do you expect?
2. “N.I.B.” – Black Sabbath
Aside from “Sympathy for the Devil” this is the only other song on this list written from the perspective of Lucifer. Besides the monster riff and Black Sabbath general early awesomeness, what makes this track phenomenal is that it's about Satan falling in love and trying to become a good person.
Though knowing that information makes this song seem a little less evil and is slightly reminiscent of a Joss Whedon plotline (no dig there, it’s just true), it exemplifies why Black Sabbath will always be the best Metal band of all time — its creativity.
Personally, I wish Ben Gibbard would do one of his so cute (it makes me want to puke) acoustic covers of this song so I can play it at my wedding (like that’ll ever happen).
1. “Number of the Beast” – Iron Maiden
I’ve always been a bit confused when it comes to the actual logistics of this song. I mean, did he see this satanic ritual happening or not? My personal belief is that Steve Harris (lead guitar/writer) took one too many hits of LSD, watched The Omen II and had the most terrifying trip known to modern man.
Either way, “Number of the Beast" solidified Bruce Dickinson as Maiden's new lead singer (even though I’m more a Paul Di’anno fan myself) and made Maiden titans in the Metal genre.
Remember — I’m just the middleman here. If you have a problem with this list, I’m sure Satan would be willing to hear you out. (Here’s his contact email: email@example.com.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This morning I sent Blake's write-up to Satan for approval (we usually don't do that, but, hey, it's Satan), he responded with a curt, all caps message: "WHERE IS MY FAVORITE BAND HOGSCRAPER!!! I WILL BRING YOU DOWN HERE EARLY IF YOU DON'T ADD MY THEME SONG!!! THANKS!!! HAIL ME!!!" He's referring to the mysterious, undead Cincinnati "Satanic Bluegrass" band Hogscraper and I can only assume his "theme song" is the one below. When I texted him just before posting I informed him that Hogscraper was back from the dead and headlining this Saturday's "Grand Opening Redux" concert at the new Southgate House Revival. "NO SHIT. I'LL BE THERE WITH SCARY BELLS ON. PRE-GAMING @ HOOTERS BEFOREHAND IF YOU WANNA HANG OUT!"
American Ska legends The Toasters perform a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Showtime is 10 p.m. and — sorry, kids — you must be 21 or older to get in.
The band was one of the leading inspirations behind the "third-wave" Ska explosion of the ’90s, but the band actually began 30 years ago, influenced by the 2-Tone Ska movement in the U.K. The Toasters blend of NYC Rock and 2-Tone made them cult heroes in the Ska underground, as did the band's D.I.Y. approach; founding member (the sole one in the current lineup) Robert "Bucket" Hingley formed the influential Moon Ska Records in 1983 to release his own albums, as well as those by acts like Mustard Plug, The Slackers and Hepcat. The label's various compilations also gave a boost to up-and-coming, non-Moon acts like Less Than Jake and No Doubt.
Here's The Toasters' first music video, for the tune "Radiation Skank" off of the band's debut release, 1985's Recriminations EP (which was produced by British singer/songwriter Joe Jackson; he is to The Toasters what Elvis Costello was to The Specials).
And here is "Modern World America" off The Toasters' 2002 release, Enemy of the System.
Indie rockers The Kickback come to MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight for a free show. The band formed just a few years ago in Chicago, where brothers Danny (drums) and Billy (vocals/guitar) had relocated from South Dakota. So far, the band has put out just one release — the Kill Fee EP, a mix of live and studio cuts — but its shimmering, winding brand of Indie Pop is said to really come alive on stage; The Kickback's live show has been lauded by The Chicago Sun-Times and other outlets for its explosiveness, while Rolling Stone, You Ain't No Picasso and other pro listeners have heaped praise on Kill Fee. Fans of The Walkmen, The Strokes, French Kicks and Pomegranates will delight in The Kickback's slanted but rocking style. The Yugos (MOTR's Artist in Residency for October) also perform.
Here's Kill Fee's great track, "Sting's Teacher Years."