Buoyant Electro Pop group Stepdad pulls into MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. The free show kicks off around 10 p.m. with locals Halvsies.
Stepdad was formed in Chicago in 2009 by frontman Mark “Ultramark” Tafel and his roommate, Ryan McCarthy. The duo — which has grown Stepdad into a five-piece band over time — soon relocated to Grand Rapids, Mich., and self-released its debut recording, the Ordinaire EP, online. The EP drew wider attention to Stepdad, which signed to Michigan indie label Quite Scientific and re-released the EP in 2011.
After completing its debut album, Wildlife Pop, with a little help from Kickstarter, the band signed with Black Bell Records, the relatively new imprint founded by Passion Pit’s Ayad Al Adhamy and distributed by Warner Brothers Records. Wildlife Pop, released last summer, is an incredibly endearing listen, layering vintage-sounding synth bleeps and squiggles with broader, lush Electro atmospherics and a rhythmic base that is muscular and dance floor ready. At the core is Ultramark’s steady stream of exuberant melodies, which adds greatly to Stepdad’s jubilant sound (though, spoiler alert, the lyrics can be much deeper and darker than the upbeat vibe suggest). Wildlife Pop falls somewhere between the M83’s shadowy, cerebral Electronic explorations and Capital Cities’ (see below) warm and cheerily infectious Dance Pop.
Here is the music video for Wildlife Pop single, “Will I Ever Dance Again”:
• Virtuoso Blues/Rock/Roots guitarist, songwriter and singer Sonny Landreth returns to Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater. Rootsy local rockers Monkeytonk open.
After cutting his teeth in the ’70s playing with Zydeco/Cajun/Roots accordionist Clifton Chenier, Landreth (who grew up in Louisiana) launched his solo career in the ’80s, building his reputation as a masterful player and innovative slide guitarist. Landreth’s unique technique involves playing chords behind the slide leads, which he taps, slaps and picks with his right hand. Since the mid-’90s, Landreth has released a dozen albums that have been stylistic adventurous, a testament to his impressive versatility. The guitarist’s playing shows that Blues, Jazz, Rock, Cajun and many other types of music have greatly informed his boundless approach to writing and performing. (Landreth is also a popular session musician, having recorded with artists like Jimmy Buffett, Mark Knopfler, John Hiatt and numerous others.)
Last year, Landreth released another wildly diverse album, Elemental Journey, his first all-instrumental effort which features guests like fellow guitar wizards Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, as well as additives like symphonic strings and steel drums.
Here is a live clip of Landreth performing at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010:
• Over at Covington’s Madison Theater tonight, bring your dancing shoes because Fitz and the Tantrums and Capital Cities are going to have the venue jumping with their ear-grabbing/dance-inducing sounds. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and the event is open to all ages. Tickets are $25 at the door. L.A.’s Electro Dance rockers Beat Club open.
L.A. band Fitz and the Tantrums’ propulsive, modern update of vintage Soul/R&B caught the music world’s attention in 2010 with the release of their debut LP, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, both a critical and commercial success thanks in part to the powerful single, “MoneyGrabber,” a song that was perfectly timed to the national outrage over big banks and other mischievous financial institutions that led to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Tantrums’ second album (and major-label debut), More Than Just a Dream, was released by Elektra Records this past May. Here’s a clip for that album’s “Out of My League”:
Electro Pop duo Capital Cities garnered a lot of mainstream attention this year with its debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, released in June through Capitol Records. The album features the insistently catchy and winsome singles “Kangaroo Court” and “Safe and Warm,” both from the twosome’s self-titled 2011 EP debut. Like MGMT’s “Kids” or Walk the Moon’s “Anna Sun,” songs that were originally issued on earlier, pre-fame recordings but were released to widespread success on their respective major label debuts, “Safe and Sound” was released originally in 2011 and, two years later, continues to earn Capital Cities more fans. The duo’s super-catchy Synth Pop is hard to resist and the more people are exposed to Capital Cities, the bigger they seem to get.
• R&B singer Jaheim was already wowing audiences at a young age, winning the infamous talent show at the Apollo Theater three times when he was just 15. It was the start of a long, fruitful career that kicked off in earnest when the singer was in his early 20s and was signed to the Warner Brothers-distributed label Divine Mill. Since his debut album in 2001, Jaheim has been a regular visitor to the upper airspace of the R&B charts. His new album, Appreciation Day, was released earlier this year and earned praise for being one of the best displays of Jaheim’s seamless blending of the classic seductive R&B artists like Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross popularized with today’s Neo Soul and Hip Hop-informed approach. Here’s the album’s single “Age Ain’t a Factor”:
Jaheim brings his “Appreciation Tour” with singer Chrisette Michele to downtown’s Aronoff Center tonight, in the venue's Procter & Gamble Hall. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Outside of singing at his church occasionally, brilliant Americana singer/songwriter David Wolfenberger
hasn’t performed in the area for quite some time. After working with the group The Marshwiggles in the late ’90s, Wolfenberger put out three stellar solo albums between1999-2006, earning him high praise both domestically and abroad. But besides occasional performances and scant new material (what he has released has been for charity), the 1999
Cincinnati Entertainment Awards winner for Artist of the Year has kept a low profile for the past several years.
Tonight, Wolfenberger is coming "out of exile"
to join an old friend in concert.
Wolfenberger is re-teaming with Mark
Olson, half of the brain trust behind the best work of The Jayhawks, at
Newport’s Southgate House Revival. Wolfenberger
toured extensively with Olson in the early ’00s as a member of The Original Harmony Ridge
Creekdippers, the group Olson formed with then-wife Victoria Williams
after he left The Jayhawks.
Wolfenberger opens tonight's show with a solo, acoustic set at 8 p.m. and he will also join Olson during his set (along with Olson's current touring partner — and wife — Ingunn Ringvold). Tickets are $12 at the door.
Wolfenberger has been posting some of his older material on his Reverbnation page and, in an email, he said he will be posting new songs "on occasion in the future." Here's one of his earlier cuts, "Tentatively Vince Foster," from his 1999 solo debut, Tales from Thom Scarecrow, released on the local Blue Jordan Records.
• With a Country music base, Rock edge, R&B-inspired three-part harmonies and catchy but emotionally weighty songs, Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow emerged in 2013 as one of the next potential Americana breakthrough artists. The trio’s well received, self-titled debut — featuring songs written by frontman Zach Williams to help him deal with a tragic horse-riding accident that left his new wife temporarily paralyzed — was released last January on Sony imprint, Descendant Records, to high praise from many high-profile press outlets. (Read more about the group from CityBeat’s preview here.)
The Lone Bellow performs tonight at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 at the door. Here’s a one-shot video of the trio performing its song “Tree to Grow” in the hills surrounding Los Angeles for the online “SerialBox Singles” series:
• In the two years since Cincinnati Indie Rock band The Sweep released its third album, III, the group has been busy regrouping with a new lineup and writing and recording material for a new album. Sweep singer/songwriter/guitarist Nic Powers and longtime bassist Glen May are now joined in the band by guitarist Brendan Bogosian, who currently also plays guitar with veteran local crew The Tigerlilies, and drummer Joe Klug, who also keeps time for widely-acclaimed Cincy band Wussy.
The Sweep continues its free, every-Tuesday-of-November residency tonight at The Comet in Northside at 9 p.m. The band is being joined by various special guests during the residency — last week’s opener featured the reignited Pillbug (from the forces behind The Fairmount Girls), while this week Halvsies joins The Sweep. For the Nov. 19 show, Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver will also perform and the Nov. 26 residency finale will feature a set from Fists of Love.
Click here to sample/purchase The Sweep’s great III album.
Besides the official music showcases at September’s MidPoint Music Festival, the 12th annual fest featured the most (and best) “satellite events” in MPMF history. These “unofficial” happenings — ranging from “day parties” to various musical presentations, like the free performances at Findlay Market — greatly added to the electricity MPMF brought to Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. It showed what can happen when creative people get into the MPMF spirit and try to come up with clever ways to add to it.
Some of the best examples of this were found just off the MidPoint Midway area at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where programmers of the school’s gallery (with presenters Fotofocus) decided to run an exhibit of live music photography by area photographers called Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience during the fest, to capitalize on all of the music lovers flooding the streets of OTR. (Click here to read CityBeat's feature about the exhibit.)
Adding another layer of collaborative coolness to the proceedings was “The MidPoint Sessions,” intimate performances by four Ohio musical acts held at the photography exhibit on the Saturday afternoon of the festival. The great Athens, Ohio, Indie/Orchestral Folk ensemble The Ridges performed and curated the rest of the Ohio-centric lineup, which also included Cincinnati’s Molly Sullivan and The Happy Maladies, plus Columbus’ Indigo Wild.
The MidPoint Sessions were filmed by The Queen City Project, a local organization that has set out to creatively document some of the interesting and unique things going on in contemporary Cincinnati. Here’s an entertaining, quick-cut look at MidPoint through QCP’s lens:
And we are thrilled to be able to share QCP’s first video from The MidPoint Sessions, featuring The Ridges.
Be sure to check CityBeat’s music blog every Friday over the three weeks as we unveil the rest of the Sessions series videos.
• Tonight at Covington’s Madison Theater you can catch two of the the best and most influential Roots Rock bands of the past 20 years. Drive-By Truckers and Old 97’s might not have had the expansive, obvious influence of, say, Wilco or My Morning Jacket (who also joined forces to tour this year, joined by some guy named Bob Dylan on the summertime Americanarama tour), but it would be foolish to overlook the impact these two bands have had on aspiring artists.
While both groups recently announced the completion of new albums, their current tour together finds each act promoting some refurbished older material. The Old 97’s released the Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings EP in October. The release includes a pair of tracks recorded in 1996 with the Country legend (they were some of Jennings’ final recordings before he died), plus a few unreleased demos. Drive-By Truckers also did some vault-digging, reissuing a remastered version of the band’s third album, the long out-of-print 2000 live effort, Alabama Ass Whuppin’. (Read CityBeat’s Truckers preview here.)
Tonight’s show at the Madison starts at 8 p.m. and is open to all ages. Tickets are $27 at the door.
Here’s one of the Old 97’s’ collaborations with Jennings, “The Other Shoe”:
• A pair of Detroit-area MidPoint Music Festival veterans — Jeecy and the Jungle (which played the Cincy fest this year) and Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas (who played in 2012) — return to the city tonight for a great double-bill at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Showtime is 10 p.m. and there is no admission fee.
Both bands have varying elements of R&B, Funk and Soul, which they spin with their own distinct magic. Jeecy and the Jungle go for a gritty, spiky take on R&B reflecting the Garage and Soul spirits of Detroit’s rich musical history, while the Deltas make uniquely broad, evocative Alt/Indie Pop/Rock driven by Hernandez’s phenomenal vocals, which show a fantastic Soul influence.
Hernandez & the Deltas have a new EP called Demons that is officially released next week, though you’ll be able to pick up the CD version at MOTR tonight. Paste magazine recently debuted the material; check out a track below:
• Seems like the Cincinnati area has become a favorite stop for touring artists from the exploding “live Electronica” scene. Arpetrio is a Knoxville, Tenn.-based, improv-happy guitar/bass/drums trio (with each member adding Electro ornamentation) that has been lauded for its trippy, Jazz-like take of live EDM, which touches on Trip Hop, Trap, Trance, Dubstep and other modern Electronic music elements. The group’s This Side Up EP is available as a free download here; get a sample below:
Arpetrio performs tonight at Corryville’s The Mad Frog. Showtime is 9 p.m. Also on the bill is Ethosine, a Cincinnati quartet featuring members of Skeetones, Bubble Life and The Jive Turkeys. The group also has a free EP you can download — click here or on the player below.
• Nashville Indie Pop Rock crew The Features, which has built up a nice following in Cincy (and appeared at this past summer’s Bunbury Music Festival), returns to the area tonight for an 8:30 p.m. show at the Taft Theatre’s Ballroom. Locals Justin WW and the Even Tiles open the show. Tickets are $15.
The Features’ danceable, highly melodic sound is on glorious display on their most recent album, a self-titled affair released through Kings of Leon’s Serpents and Snakes Records this past spring. Here’s the music video for the album’s “This Disorder,” a clever song about the effect of modern technologies (i.e. smartphones) on our society:
• Classic Country Rock band Poco was formed in 1968 by Richie Furay after his band with Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, called it a day. Despite a lineup that has revolved pretty much since the band began, Poco experienced great success in the ’70s and beyond; its debut, 1969’s Pickin’ Up the Pieces, is considered one of the greatest Country Rock releases of all time. This summer, Poco — now led by co-founder Rusty Young — released All Fired Up, its first album in over a decade.
The current edition of Poco performs tonight in Northern Kentucky at the Newport Syndicate. The pre-show dinner buffet (included in the ticket price) begins at 6 p.m., with openers Kinsey Rose and Laurel Kincaid beginning at 7:30 p.m. Admission ranges from $35-$70. Click here for details.
Here’s the title track from Poco’s most recent LP:
• Mega Monster Metal superstars GWAR return to Bogart’s in Corryville tonight for a 7:30 p.m., all-ages show. “Earth’s only openly extra-terrestrial rock band” formed in the mid-’80s, developed an over-the-top live show that makes a KISS concert look like a children’s Halloween party (with B-movie horror film theatrics that look straight outta Troma) and have become one of America’s great cult bands.
The group continues to churn out albums that unveil the mythology behind GWAR, the latest being this year’s Battle Maximus. What’s it about? Oh, you know, usual GWAR stuff:
“GWAR's Battle Maximus features twelve brand new tracks that not only honor their departed ally, but tells the story of GWAR's latest struggle against what may be their greatest enemy yet — the insidious "Mr. Perfect", who has travelled through time itself to steal the power of GWAR — the power of immortality, and use this power to mutate the human race into his twisted vision of what the "perfect" human should be. Once again GWAR finds themselves as the only thing standing between the human race and the latest super-powered shithead bent on the destruction of GWAR and the enslavement of their worshippers.”
GWAR front-alien Oderus Urungus recently showed that he does have a softer(ish) side. Here he is reading Goodnight Moon for the children of the galaxy. In his own way, of course (i.e. it’s NSFW):
• On the other end of the sonic spectrum, Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub welcomes Chicago’s lilting, folksy ensemble The Horse’s Ha to the club for a free show tonight. The band was formed in 2002 by Janet Bean, member of great Chicago acts Freakwater and Eleventh Dream Day, and James Elkington, guitarist (and drummer) for various acts, including Jon Langford’s band Skull Orchard. The group’s gorgeous slant on American and British Folk, laced with pointed harmonies and exquisite cello, has been showcased on just a pair of albums, including this summer’s Waterdrawn.
Fans of talented acoustic guitarists will appreciate Elkington’s playing; he recorded a duo album of acoustic fingerstyle guitar pieces with Nathan Salsburg called Avos in 2011. Salsburg is opening tonight free MOTR show at around 10 p.m.
Here’s a taste of the Ha’s most recent album:
• Brooklyn Indie Folk quartet Jus Post Bellum comes to Over-the-Rhine's MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. show with local headliners Young Heirlooms. Inspired by traditional American Roots, Blues and Country music, as well as modern Folk, the Civil War and American history in general, Jus Post Bellum (latin for "justice after war") features the captivating dual vocal approach of guitarist/keyboardist Geoffrey Wilson and Hannah Jensen and is fleshed out by the bass and cello of Daniel Dieber and drumming of Zach Dunham. The group's live shows are said to be quiet, mesmerizing affairs, so maybe keep your loudmouth drunkard friends at home for the night.
Jus Post Bellum's second album, Oh July, is set for a Nov. 12 release. Here is the new album track "Gimme That Gun":
• For Dar Williams' latest album, last year's In the Time of Gods, the veteran Folk singer/songwriter looked to the past to address modern challenges. The songs on the album, featuring guests Shawn Colvin and Larry Campbell, use characters and tales from Greek mythology to poetically examine today's personal, social and political issues. Always noted for her fantastic lyric writing (which often showcases her sharp wit), In the Time of Gods and its interesting device find Williams really challenging herself and, ultimately, succeeding on levels she hadn't reached before.
Williams brings her Gods tour to Oakley's 20th Century Theater tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. The show is not general admission; seats are reserved by section.
Here is the opening track from In the Time of Gods, "I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything":
• Impressive new Cincinnati band Temple plays tonight at Northside's Mayday, the launch of a mini-tour with Columbus Sludge Metal crew Bridesmaid. The band makes compelling progressive, psychedelic Metal and features members of local acts like Black Dove, Paralyzer, The Awakening and Ohio Knife. Tonight's show also features local band Crushed Velvet and kicks off at 10 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge.
Click here to check out a pair of songs from the band, or just hit the play button below:
• Tonight's show at Bogart's in Corryville featuring star rapper Yo Gotti has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the point of purchase.
• After four albums on which he played every note, David Obuchowski’s Distant Correspondent project morphed into an actual “band” this year with a self-titled debut album release and the launch of its first full U.S. tour. Obuchowski had been operating the DC project on the side, with his main band, Indie Metal powerhouse Goes Cube, taking up most of his time. Distant Correspondent started to blossom when Obuchowski began trading recordings and collaborating with Michael Lengel over the internet. The collaboration grew to include other members, including Emily Gray from the U.K.’s Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia and acclaimed solo artist Edith Frost.
Fans of Goes Cube should know that Distant Correspondent’s music is a different beast entirely, emitting evocative, hypnotic soundscapes that have landed them the “Dream Pop” tag. For the band’s first full American tour, Cincinnati’s Margaret Darling, whose popular local band The Seedy Seeds announced an indefinite hiatus this past summer, joined the group, taking the place of Frost, who was unable to tour. (Read Brian Baker's DC preview for CityBeat here.)
Here is Distant Correspondent’s music video for the new album track “Shatter.”
• This past September at Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival, South Korean rockers Love X Stereo were one of the more anticipated international acts in the lineup. But due to some travel issues, the band was unable to get out of Korea in time to make the festival. The group, which plays highly danceable Electro Rock music heavily influenced by ’90s American Alternative music and Punk, promised to make it back to Cincinnati as soon as possible and, tonight, Love X Stereo makes good on that promise.
The band performs a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Eclectic Bloomington, Ind., Indie/Psych Pop/Rock trio Fluffer — which did perform at this year’s MPMF — opens the show at 10 p.m.
Here is the audio for Love X Stereo’s “Lose to Win,” the lead-off track on the band’s new EP, Glow, which was put together for the group’s first U.S. tour.
Greater Cincinnati Rock band Pike 27 was a staple on the local club circuit in the early-to-mid-’00s, playing sweaty, raucous live shows to a dedicated following (headlining and opening for the likes of Dave Alvin and Chuck Prophet) and releasing the acclaimed full-length, Falling Down Hard, in 2001. But in 2007, frontman/guitarist/singer/songwriter Dave Purcell left Cincinnati for Northern Ohio, taking a job as a sociology professor at Kent State.
This past summer, Purcell returned to Cincinnati and resurrected Pike 27 with a new lineup. Returning to his role as Pike 27's bassist is Sean Rhiney, formerly of Clabbergirl (in which Purcell played rhythm guitar) and co-founder of the MidPoint Music Festival. New to Pike are guitarist Mike Fair (Wojo, Mike Fair & the Adventure Seekers) and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Killen, a professor at Cincinnati State.
The “new” Pike 27 has moved away from the Americana/Roots Rock style it was known for, a reflection of the new songs Purcell has written for the band. (The group is also reviving some older material for its upcoming live shows.) Purcell says that while working on the new songs, the members have remarked that the material is more in line with artists like Robyn Hitchcock, The Kinks, Graham Parker and Grant Lee Buffalo — still smart, catchy and rockin’, but with the twang dialed back.
"How do you pin down REM, Elvis Costello or Glen Hansard?" Purcell says of Pike 27’s less easily categorizable style. "We hope to land in there somewhere — jangly, smart, sometimes noisy, joyful. Good to raise a pint to."
New York City Ska legends The Toasters were the bridge from the late ’70s 2 Tone Records-fueled Ska revival in the U.K. to the one that brought Ska into the American mainstream in the ’90s. Easily one of the most influential Ska acts of all time, The Toasters were formed in 1981 by Robert “Bucket” Hingley, a U.K. native (and the group’s lone constant member) who had just moved to The States, taking inspiration from the 2 Tone Ska being created in his homeland (The Beat, The Specials, The Selecter, etc.).
The Toasters, in turn, helped inspire multitudes of Ska bands to form, something that ultimately led to the development of so-called Ska Punk. Having a hard time finding a label, Hingley formed his own, Moon Ska Records, which grew to become the major American Ska indie imprint, releasing music (via albums or the label’s popular compilations) by The Slackers, Dance Hall Crashers, Mustard Plug, Less Than Jake and No Doubt, among many others. The Moon label was a road-map to quality American Ska when the music was more underground; the imprint, which was artist- and consumer-friendly (like Punk label Dischord, Moon always kept prices low), experienced its greatest success during the ’90s Ska boom, but when the music fell out of mainstream favor, the label faded away. Hingley moved to Spain, where he formed another label, Megalith, to continue releasing Toasters albums.
The Toasters were the cool elder statesmen of the Ska scene and they’ve survived the fickleness of musical trends and an ever-changing music industry for over 30 years now by doing things on their own terms and keeping true to their vision.