Tonight's allegedly the "busiest bar night of the year," so if you like to hang out at places that are really packed, this is your jam. If you like to hear live music when you go out, you're also in luck, as a lot of the top acts seek out lucrative Wednesday-before-Turkey-Day gigs because of the aforementioned packed-ness.
If you want that live music to be (primarily) original, here are a few recommendations.
• Troy, Ohio-spawned Miss May I (whose singer, Levi Benton, recently moved to Cincinnati) is headlining the Alternative Press tour, which conveniently brings the increasingly popular "Metalcore" band back to their homeland just in time for Thanksgiving. The band's most recent release, At Heart (on Rise Records), came out this summer and was greeted with the best reviews of MMI's career and a No. 32 debut on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
The thrashy, melodic MMI headlines tonight at Bogart's in Corryville on a bill that also features The Ghost Inside, Like Moths to Flames, The Amity Affliction and Glass Cloud. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets to the all-ages show are $20.
Read CityBeat's interview with Benton here then check out Miss May I's most recent music video, for At Heart track "Day By Day."
• Vintage Rock & Roll stylist Chris Isaak makes his way to downtown Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at the Taft Theatre. Tickets range from $29.50-$59.50. Isaak's going to have to play the show then hop on a plane quickly — he's slated to perform in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. (Click here to read CityBeat's full preview of the show.)
Isaak recently issued a live DVD based on his 2011 double-disc release Beyond the Sun (his first for the Vanguard label). The album was a collection of cover songs originally recorded by artists on Memphis' seminal Sun Records (from Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis to Carl Perkins and, of course, Elvis), a fitting tribute given Isaak's similar approach and sound. The new Chris Isaak Live! Beyond the Sun DVD is a concert flick featuring several songs from the Sun album, as well as some of his big hits. Expect to hear a similar set list tonight. Here's an Isaak original from the DVD, "Live It Up."
• The songcraft experts and flawless musicians of veteran Cincy Pop/Rock band The Newbees host an album release party tonight at Newport's Southgate House Revival. The release show was originally intended to be the second show at the new club (brought to you by the owners/operators of the old, beloved Southgate House across from Newport on the Levee) but a late code inspection held the grand opening up for a week. The Newbs are celebrating their LP Modern Vintage, a patchwork of musical styles and mercilessly catchy songs. Click here for a full review of the album.
The Newbees are joined tonight by The Turkeys, Chaselounge, Honey & Houston, Les Whorenettes, Shiny Old Soul, See You in the Funnies, Sundae Drives and Dave Hawkins. Tickets are $12 at the door (or $14 for those ages 18-20). Showtime is 9 p.m. Here's the Beatles-esque new album track "Up All Night":
• There are also plenty of other local original groups performing tonight. Among the highlights: Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms and soulful, rocking power trio Tattered Roots (which is celebrating its one-year anniversary) join together at Stanley's Pub in Columbia Tusculum. … Rootsy rockers Alone at 3 a.m. are playing a freebie at The Comet in Northside with Jacob Tippey and Matt Wood. … Electronic improvisers Skeetones hold down the party at The Mad Frog in Corryville, joined by guests The B.E.A.T. and Bassface. … Two former members of The Greenhornes — Brian Olive and Eric Stein — perform a free show at Northside Tavern with their current bands, The Brian Olive Band and Stein's Grotesque Brooms. … Rocket-fueled Indie/Blues/Roots/Rock trio The Sundresses headline tonight's free offering at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, joined by Detroit foursome Jeecy and the Jungle. … And two of the city's best modern rockers — Ohio Knife and State Song — perform a free show at Mayday in Northside (see poster above).
• A killer triple bill at Bogart's in Corryville tonight features three of the more kick-ass bands from the new breed of Rock & Roll buzz bands. Known for their explosive live shows and shimmery, energized Indie Rock style, San Diego-spawned/Brooklyn-based Delta Spirit headlines, supporting its self-titled breakthrough release from earlier this year. Endearing and invigorating L.A. Garage Pop foursome Fidlar opens things up at 8 p.m., followed by the smoking'-hot JEFF the Brotherhood, a killer duo from Nashville featuring bros Jake and Jamin Orrall. The band's latest album, the addictive Hypnotic Nights, was produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and is JEFF's debut for Warner Brothers Records.
JEFF the Brotherhood performed "Staring at the Wall" from Hypnotic Nights last night on Conan. Read more about tonight's show here and here.
• Psych/Rock/Roots trio Buffalo Killers’ current tour with rootsy NYC Blues Rock band Hollis Brown winds through Cincinnati tonight for a show at the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre. Tickets are at the door. Showtime is 10 p.m.
While still touring in support of Dig. Sow. Love. Grow,, the group’s fourth album which was released on Alive Records this past summer, the BKs have recently issued some even newer material. The local Shake It Records imprint recently released Buffalo Killers’ two-sided single for the Dangerous Highway: A Tribute To The Songs of Eddie Hinton series, on which the trio covers the Muscle Shoals musician’s “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” and “Still Water Runs Deep.” The group also just recently went into the studio to record two new tunes, “Nothing Can Bring Me Down” and “Baptized,” which are available as pay-what-you-want downloadable singles at buffalokillers.com.
On Nov. 27, Alive is releasing the live compilation, Alive at the Deep Blues Festival, which kicks off with a pair of epic BK tunes. Recorded during the recent Alive-roster-heavy Deep Blues Fest in Minnesota, the album also features a pair of tracks from label mate and fellow local Brian Olive. (Olive and his band play for free at Northside Tavern on Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 21.)
Here's an epic version of Buffalo Killers' "It's a Shame" from the live set.
• Downtown at Arnold's tonight, catch influential cult hero Paleface, a man who has been on the cutting edge of contemporary music's continual fascination with traditional Folk music and an influence on some of the more adventurous musicians who seek to translate that vintage spirit into their own voice. Over the past 20-plus years, the singer/songwriter has been an Anti Folk torchbearer and an Indie Folk mentor, first learning songwriting and lo-fi recordings from underground legend Daniel Johnston in the late ’80s. From there he went on to teach a few tricks to roommate Beck (pre-fame), help the so-called "Freak Folk" scene grow freakier and folkier and collaborate frequently with pals The Avett Brothers. Whether directly or indirectly, if you dig today's "Indie Folk" — or any brand of slanted or subversive Americana — you've likely heard the results of Paleface's unique influence.
Paleface's show tonight at Arnold's — a makeup date for a show canceled in late August — is free and great local Folk Pop group Shiny and the Spoon opens the show at 9 p.m. (Click here to read more.)
Here's a mini documentary about the making of Paleface's latest, One Big Party.
• Tonight you can get your roller boogie on as the bi-annual OTR Skate event returns to help raise funds for Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s Over the Rhine Recreation Center and its scholarships and staffing. The roller rink fun goes from 8-11 p.m. at the OTR rec center (1715 Republic St.) and admission is $5, which includes skate rental (you can also bring your own). Along with numerous raffles for items donated by local businesses, skaters can also play pool, air hockey and other games, or ask the Cincinnati Rollergirls roller derby team members on hand for some tips. Giving the event an extra dose of Rock & Roll attitude, local band The Yugos will perform along with Columbus Indie rockers Indigo Wild. (Facebook event here).
Here's a Yugos track released this spring called "You Don't Want Change, Change is for the Deranged"; check out the group's self titled full-length here.
• Hip Hop comes to Northside tonight with a free, 10 p.m. show at The Comet featuring local artist Abiyah, plus Philly's Has-Lo and New York City's Prem Rock (formerly known as Premonition).
Has-Lo's first taste of national attention came when he did well in the 2007 MTVU Best Music on Campus contest. With his intelligent lyrical prowess and dark, dynamic production style, Lo's initial EP releases and last year's In Case I Don't Make It album garnered buzz in the underground for the producer/MC. Anticipation has been building for his just-released long-player, Conversation B, a trippy rewiring of In Case featuring production collaborations with Exile, J-Zone, Oddisee, Kev Brown, Eric Lau, Apollo Brown and others. The results are blissfully psychedelic and unpredictable. Here's a remix of Lo's "Inherit the Stars."
• "Unity Jam 7," a recurrent local music event that showcases a wide range of local artists in the name of bringing different people together, takes place tonight at Centennial Barn (110 Compton Rd., Hartwell). Tickets are $20 at the door, with a portion of the proceeds going to the New School Montessori program. The event kicks off with a "Zumbathon" at 5 p.m. Music starts at 7 p.m. and wraps with a "drum circle" at around 10 p.m. The lineup — which spans from Jazz, Fusion and Latin music to Reggae and a variety of other forms of World music — features Unity Jam organizer Baoku Moses and his Image Afro-beat Band, Lisa Marie, Azucar Tumbao, Junya Be, Pharaoh Loosey, Mayan Ruins, Salsa Ires, Mr. Brown Mysterious Sounds and Garry Leidy.
Click here for even more live music in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
• Instrumental Avant Metal veterans Earth bring their adventurous, spontaneous Dronecore to downtown tonight for a hypnosis session at the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre. Showtime is 8:30 pm. Stebmo, Earth collaborator and progressive Jazz pianist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Steve Moore, and psychedelic, noisy Doom duo Eagle Twin open the show. Tickets are $15.
Guitarist Dylan Carlson gave birth to Earth in Olympia, Wash., circa 1990, and remains the only original member in a band that has seen numerous lineup and stylistic shifts. The group put a pair of albums out on Sub Pop during the "Grunge Revolution" (which they had little in common with), got booted from the label briefly and then welcomed back for three more albums. While Earth's aggressively experimental sound didn't quite fit the Grunge buzz, the group actually used the genre's concept of "slowed down Hard Rock and Metal" and took it to the extreme, decelerating even more and replacing Grunge's Punk and Garage influence with inspiration from avant grade composers and musicians and Carlson's singular vision.
Earth didn't survive the ’90s but returned in the early ’00s to start a run that has included several releases for Southern Lord Records, a haven for "Metal" artists on the more experimental side of the music. Earth's latest release is the improvised Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II, the follow-up to part I (and actually recorded at the same time) which has been praised for its gradual, natural exploration of different tones and approaches. Earth's trippy, glacial sound on Demons of Light II is infused with evocative cello and smoky atmospherics and often sounds like a new slant on modern Jazz, something Mingus might have come up with had he been into Black Sabbath.
Here's Demons II track "The Corascene Dog":
• Acclaimed by both fellow artists, critics and her dedicated fan base, Iris Dement has been one of the more compelling singers in the Americana movement since she put out her first album in 1992; her mesmerizing voice has a timeless soul that recalls the best early Country female vocalists. Dement's sound has evolved and taken detours over time. After two straight-forward Country/Folk Pop LPs, the 1996 album The Way I Should showcased a Rock vibe and some serious political commentary. She followed that up by collaborating with John Prine on his In Spite of Ourselves album, which scored her a Grammy nomination, but Dement took a break from music after that.
In 2004, Dement returned with her first album in eight years, Lifeline, released on her own label after her Warner Brothers contract expired. But Lifeline was primarily a collection of centuries'-old Gospel covers. This year, Dement released Sing the Delta, her first album of new material in 16 years. The songs harken back to that purity of her first couple of albums, but also shows how Dement has matured as a composer and performing. She writes with more confidence and has become an even better lyricist, creating an album that is mournful, poignant and poetic.
Dement performs tonight at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley with The Tillers, one of Cincy's finest Folk acts who are coming off of a successful release party for their recent live album. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. Here's DeMent's "Go On Ahead and Go Home" from Delta.
• Milwaukee-based Psych rockers Moss Folk perform a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine with like-minded locals Children of the Emerald Fire. Showtime is 10 p.m.
Formed in Michigan in the mid-’00s by founder Andrew James Shelp, Moss Folk entrancingly collages influences into a sound that draws from a wide range of music that could fall into the "Psychedelic" category. You'll hear elements of Kraut Rock, Pink Floyd, World music, Tangerine Dream and Spacemen 3 mingling in Moss Folk's ambient, hypnotic melange and the band has been known to match the lysergic sonics with fitting visuals (from video projections to cameos by various non-musical performing artists).
Here's a live clip of Moss Folk:
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.