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by Mike Breen 12.12.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 09:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

WATCH: 30-Minute Southgate House Documentary

In the summer of 2009, several student filmmakers from Northern Kentucky University decided to make a documentary about Newport music venue the Southgate House. With a soundtrack loaded with local music (Mack West, The Tillers and many others), the movie features some great historical information about the old mansion, lovely footage of the interior and exterior of the building and lots of interviews with area musicians, music lovers, Southgate employees and longtime operator Ross Raleigh, all discussing the uniqueness of the club and what it means to the local music community. There are some prescient comments towards the end about what losing the Southgate would mean to the music scene. Click below to watch the full shebang.

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by Brian Baker 08.10.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, Music News at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Catching Up With WEBN Album Project Alumni

Younger local musicians and the music fans who love them might find it hard to fathom, but once upon a time, Cincinnati’s corporate Rock radio juggernaut WEBN was one of local music’s biggest allies, a wild, wooly and eclectic FM outlet as open-ended and freeform as any internet radio station or podcast. In the ’70s and ’80s, before inflexible, homogenized playlists made it impossible for even major label Cincy bands like The Afghan Whigs to get spins, the annual WEBN Album Project compilations gave major exposure to local and regional artists. Saturday at the Madison Theater, the WEBN Album Project Reunion Show flashes back to that era. In this week’s CityBeat, Brian Baker caught up with one of Cincinnati’s most popular bands ever (and an early Album Project participant), The Raisins, whose seminal lineup is reuniting for Saturday’s event, joining several other AP alumni. Brian also caught up with some of the other participating musicians to discuss the Album Project’s legacy. Below are their thoughts, as well as some vintage video clips from the era.

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by Brian Baker 01.06.2012
Posted In: Reviews, Music Video at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Shall Be Released: A New Beginning

Reviews of new and recent recordings by Kevin Hearn, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, the Dex Romweber Duo, Shonen Knife and others

Well, we’ve taken down the free SPCA fluffy kitty/puppy day planner from the kitchen door and put up the free World Wildlife Fund animal kingdom mother/cub book of days and that can only mean one thing: We didn’t wait until late February to switch to the new year’s calendar, which is typically par for our course. And with the new year comes a change for I Shall Be Released; my weekly review column (or semi-weekly, depending on schedule and level of brainlock), normally found as a web-exclusive feature, has been moved to the spiffy Daily Beat music blog, where you will find it from this day forward. I’m not sure why I was upgraded to first class, but I’m sure everyone now expects me to be punctual and timely to line up with the whole “Daily” theme of the thing. Fly me, Mandy, keep the gin and tonics coming, and I’ll see what I can do to live up to my new seat designation in the better section.

As for today’s post, much like the tail end of last year, the newer stuff is up here, the older catch-up reviews are down there and it’s all good under the hood. January looks light enough to accommodate my outstanding 2011 reviewage while I sample what the new year is bringing. And based on the release sheets and the stuff showing up in my mailbox already, 2012 is shaping up to be another great year for music. And in case no one’s pointed it out yet, we’ve got exactly 100 years before we can make Rush jokes similar to the crop of George Orwell zingers that went around in 1984. Well, someone can make Rush jokes; those of us in the here and now will all be dust in the wind (let the Kansas jokes commence). Read on, literate music fans, and happy new year!

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by Mike Breen 12.16.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Squeeze the Day for 12/16

Chakras, Marbin and Greasmas VII, plus This Day in Music with Big Country and Beethoven Disco

Music Tonight: Just four short years ago, Marbinperforming tonight at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills — came together in Israel when two musicians met just when both were in coming-of-age “crossroads” periods in their lives. Israeli saxophonist Danny Markovitz had just completed his military service (he was an infantry sergeant) when he met Israeli-American guitarist Dani Rabin, who had also just been through a rigorous experience, graduating with a degree from The Berklee College of Music. In 2008, the Marbin duo re-situated themselves in the U.S., landing in Chicago. Since then, the work hasn’t stopped, as Marbin spends around 250 days a year performing (in the Windy City region and across the States).

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by Mike Breen 03.12.2012
Posted In: Music Video, Music History at 08:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Date in Music History: March 12

The Stones censored in China and Blur to headline the Olympics

On this day in 2003, The Rolling Stones were slated to perform in China and, like certain big tech companies, were keen to oblige the nation's government in order to take advantage of the lucrative marketplace. The event came as China seemed ready to fully embrace Western popular music performers; since Wham! broke the barrier in the mid ’80s, the country has allowed performers from Sonic Youth and Linkin Park to Public Enemy, Nine Inch Nails and Ill Divo the chance to come play for their Chinese fans without much fuss. That was until the "Bjork incident," when the Icelandic singer performed in Shanghai in March of 2008 and attempted to lead the crowd in a chant of "Tibet! Tibet!," according to reports in Rolling Stone. That led to even more vetting before artists are allowed to play the country.

But even in the salad years of westerners performing in China, the country had tight restrictions and guidelines. While even Ed Sullivan allowed the Stones to perform "Let's Spend The Night Together" with altered lyrics ("Let's spend some time together"), the Chinese government wasn't so permissive, reportedly demanding set-list approval before the show could go on. The band was told they could not play four of their biggest hits due to apparently salacious lyrical content — "Best of Burden," Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Women" and the aforementioned "Spend the Night."

Those shows ultimately ended up canceled due to an issue in China of a bit more importance — the SARS outbreak — but the band did return in 2006 and played by the rules, leaving those classics out of their sets.

So here's a chance to not take your country's freedoms for granted. Watch this old clip of "Let's Send the Night Together" from a 1967 episode of Top of the Pops and sing along as loud as you can.

Click on for Born This Day featuring Liza Minnelli, Al Jarreau, James Taylor and Blur's Graham Coxon.

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by Mike Breen 05.16.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Music Tonight: Yanni!

JJ Grey, Ghostwriter and Angel Snow also in town for concerts this evening

Greek New Age music god Yanni performs at the Aronoff Center tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $39.50-$99.50.

Think you're too cool for Yanni? Are you cooler than Beck and Thurston Moore? Because they love Yanni so much, they covered an entire album of his.

• If Yanni is a little out of your price range (the ONLY excuse for missing his show), there's a solid alternative at MOTR Pub tonight that will cost you nothing (unless you want to buy merch, drinks or food). Portland singer/songwriter Ghostwriter — called "the post-punk version of a Harry Smith-era self-accompanied singer/songwriter" — performs at the club with another solo troubadour, Nashville's Angel Snow (which IS her real name). Snow co-wrote three songs for Alison Krauss and Union Station on their most recent album's deluxe edition. She wrote them with Krauss' brother Viktor, who produced Snow's sophomore album (due this August). Showtime is 10 p.m.

Here's a clip of Viktor and Snow performing one of the song's they co-wrote, "These Days."

JJ Grey and his band Mofro return to the Cincinnati area tonight for a performance at the new Ballroom at the Taft (in the basement of the Taft Theatre). The swampy, rootsy, rockin' crew from Florida are touring behind the current film and album Brighter Days, recorded live at a performance in Atlanta early last year. Grey and Co. are joined by Bright, Indiana's Pure Grain. The soulful area Country/Southern Rock crew records for Sol Records (home to Dallas Moore and others), which put out the group's most recent effort, Sowing Seeds, last year.

Here's the music video for Pure Grain's "Cowgirl" and a preview of Mofro's live release.

Click here for even more live music events tonight.
by Blake Hammond 06.13.2013
Posted In: Music Commentary, New Releases, Music Video at 09:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

14 Songs That Absolve Kanye West of His Social Sins

Kanye's public persona has overshadowed his music. It shouldn't

“Has anyone seen Kanye lately? I haven’t heard him piss off the world in like a week so I’m starting to worry.” – Tweeted by me on May 16 at 3:59 p.m. 

Not 30 minutes later, at 4:28 p.m., this tweet from Rap-Up.com popped onto my Twitter feed, “‘I ain’t kissing nobody’s motherfuckin’ babies. I drop your baby and you sue me’ – Kanye West”

Like many other Kanye West fans, this is what I’ve had to deal with for the last 10 or so years of his solo career. Whether this soon-to-be father is ranting about not being a celebrity and holding random people’s children, drunkenly yelling at pretty white girls at award shows, freaking out Mike Myers on live television or impregnating the bumper sticker on the Bentley of pop-culture, Kim Kardashian, it’s been hard for Yeezy fans to deal with how “cray” Kanye has been since he was thrust into the public eye. 

But with his near-brilliant performances of “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” on SNL recently (songs from his forthcoming album, Yeezus, due this coming Tuesday), all of Kanye's followers were reminded that Kanye is a lot like your drunken uncle at Christmas. 

Sure, it was embarrassing when he threw up on your sister’s gifts halfway through his tirade about “Obama phones” and how the commie teachers at the university you recently graduated from are ruining America’s youth. But after a long clean up session and your mom stops crying, you open up the card that he gave you before his seventh Scotch and the contents inside contain a joint, $300 and a note stating, “Don’t spend it on drugs,” then you’re immediately reminded of why you loved him in the first place. 

So no matter what outlandish behavior Kanye comes up with next, I think we all need to be reminded that the “cray” that has inspired Kanye’s less attractive moments is the same “cray” that has been the driving force in creating some of the most genius and interesting songs in Hip Hop of the last decade. 

14. “Drive Slow (feat. GLC & Paul Wall)”; Late Registration – As the laidback beat puts the listener in a trance, Kanye paints a vivid picture of a summer spent driving around with his friend/mentor Mali; blasting his demo tape, looking for girls and desperately trying to grow up too quickly. Even though Kanye displays his great storytelling ability on this song, the real accomplishment here is that West found a way to make Paul Wall’s feature not sound ridiculously out of place, which is a feat in and of itself.

13. “Say You Will”; 808’s & Heartbreak – 2008 was a weird year for Kanye. Hell, 2008 was a weird year for all of us. But his unabashed openness (as you’ll see with the rest of this list) about his lady troubles is what makes this a song stick out. The only downside of this track? It gave Drake the green light to be all open and overly emotional on all his records, so thanks a lot, Kanye!

12. “Drunk and Hot Girls”; Graduation – A lot of people don’t care for this song, which is understandable because it’s not one of Ye’s deeper cuts. What this song does do, however, is give a perfectly, comical description of how one-night stands go. Plus, the song ends in him getting this girl pregnant, which brings to mind that slap-in-the-face reality check that every man and woman has the morning after a random sexual encounter (“Oh my god, not only did I overdraw my account at White Castles last night but is this the person that’s going to ruin my life for the next 18 years and nine months?!?”).

11. “Bittersweet”; Graduation This is the first time Kanye blatantly admits he is in the wrong on a track. Sure, the first half of the cut makes him seem like a total asshole (wanting to drunkenly “shake the shit out of” his girl), but it makes his soul-spilling at the end all the sweeter. 

10. “Addiction”; Late Registration – What’s your addiction? Is it money, girls, weed? Kanye has been afflicted by not one, but all three. But hey, that’s what makes this cut great. There is no catharsis or happy ending about how he found his will power and conquered his many ailments. But instead, we get a track about how, no matter what happens, no matter how hard he tries, his will power will always lose to the bad parts of his life, because they are just too damn good to resist – which is something everyone can relate to.

9. “Everything I Am”; Graduation – He’ll never be picture perfect like Beyonce (no one will, ever) or rock some mink boots in the summer time like Will.I.Am (no one should, not even Will.I.Am), but what Kanye can do is spit some harsh truths about public criticism and Chicago violence over a soothing beat. So please, keep talking shit about him at barber shops if this is going to be the outcome.  

8. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”; Graduation – Kanye addresses a few of his crazy outbursts on the first verse of this track (including the whole “President Bush doesn’t care about black people, right Mike Myers?” incident) and handles it with a precision and poise. He admits that the scrutiny and pressure of fame has changed his behavior, but he doesn’t know how to be himself (slightly crazy) without being criticized by the media. Can any of us understand that feeling? No. Does it sound like a bullshit excuse? Yeah. But hey, at least he knows he has a behavioral problem. Admitting it is the first step. 

7. “Spaceship (feat. GLC & Consequence)”; The College Dropout – Anyone who has had a shitty job (service industry, retail) would be lying if they hadn’t felt violent urges towards overzealous mangers who take their jobs too seriously. Lucky for us, we can live vicariously through Kanye on this joint instead of becoming the next viral sensation on worldstarhiphop.com. 

6. “Jesus Walks”; The College Dropout – This song came out right when I got confirmed, which, as any of you were raised Catholic will know, is also the same time you stop going to church. It made me feel good to listen to Kanye, like his brand of socially conscious, Christ-loving jams were the sole key to my salvation and the only thing that could outweigh my deeply engrained Catholic guilt. Plus, who else could make a club banger about Jesus? Nobody but Yeezus. 

5. “All Falls Down”; The College Dropout – Does anyone else remember when Kanye was the self-conscious outsider of the Rap game? You probably don’t, hell, I don’t even know if Kanye remembers. You’d think Kanye’s egotisical façade he has concocted in place of his old persona would force him to listen to his own music more. But, alas, I fear that this Kanye is dead and gone, much like the career of that cute girl from Clueless that was in the music video.  

4. “Roses”; Late Registration “You know the best medicine go to people that’s paid/If Magic Johnson got a cure for A.I.D.S./And all the broke muthafuckers past away/You tellin’ me if my grandma was in the N.B.A./Right now she'd be ok?/But since she was just a secretary/Working for the church/For thirty five years/Things s’posed to stop right here?” 

Kanye makes you feel the pain, anger and confusion of his family as they sit at the bedside of his dying grandmother on this track. I cry literally every time I hear this song come on, but I’m emotionally unstable. Then again, I’m pretty sure if you don’t at least slightly tear up; you don’t know what love is or your mom didn’t hug you enough as a child.

3. “Blame Game (feat. John Legend & Chris Rock); My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – This track is almost “Bittersweet” in reverse because it’s West whose emotions are constantly toyed with by his love interest as she lies about seeing another man. Although this song is mostly serious (especially heavy during the beautiful done Chloe Mitchell poem) it ends hilariously as Chris Rock is revealed as the “mister” (male version of mistress?), reaping the benefits her apparent education at “Kanye West School of How to Wear Some Fucking Jimmy Chu’s” 

2. “Through The Wire”; The College Dropout – If you ever question Kanye’s dedication to the craft, go back and listen his first single, “Through the Wire”. Done only two weeks after a car crash that almost took his life, Kanye hit the studio and rapped with his jaw wired-shut. Nowadays, Nicki Minaj can’t even show up to her set at Summer Jam 2012 because radio personality, Peter Rosenberg, dissed her Katy Perry rip-off, “Starships.” So next time you want to diss Kanye, just remember, despite his flaws, he’s one of the only popular artist’s keeping the spirit of hip-hop alive. 

1.“Runaway (feat. Pusha T)”; My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – He pleads without being pathetic. He’s unflinchingly honest without being cliché. But most of all, he’s artistically progressive without losing his knack for pop sensibility. The beat is one of the most simplistic of his career, but never once feels repetitive or overdone by the end of this 7-minute-and-49-second journey. From top to bottom this has to be considered Kanye’s masterpiece, but who knows, he’s outdone himself before. 

Other Notables: “Heard ‘Em Say”, “The Glory”, “We Don’t Care”

by Mike Breen 12.09.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Squeeze the Day for 12/9

Music Tonight: The range of shows/concerts today is pretty impressive — you can see/hear everything from a patriotic Country singer at a casino (Lee Greenwood at Belterra) to a chainsaw-wielding Hard Rock band (Jackyl at the venue-formerly-known at Annie's, Inner Circle). If your speed clocks somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, I highly recommend checking out JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at MOTR Pub in the Over-the-Rhine. Not only is it way cheaper (free), but the Chicago-based Soul/Funk squad is noted for its great live shows. Add eclectic local rockers Buckra to the mix and you've got one powerhouse night of music one your hands. Check out the band's amazing version of fellow Chicagoans Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," which is the best Wilco cover ever to cross my ears. Showtime is 10 p.m. (Read more about Brooks and Co. from this week's CityBeat here.)

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by Mike Breen 12.14.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Dallas Moore Band Video for "Crazy Again"

On Aug. 30 of last year, local Country artist Dallas Moore and his band teamed up with longtime Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne (who grew up in Cincy) to celebrate the 61st anniversary of music icon Hank Williams’ historic recording sessions at Cincinnati’s Herzog recording facilities. The musicians gathered at the very spot Williams recorded (now the headquarters of the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation on Race St.) and hosted a live recording session/concert in front of a sold-out crowd. The show was recorded for the just-released live album, Hank to Thank: Live at Herzog Studio. Below is the music video for the album's first single "Crazy Again," which is already receiving airplay on Sirius/XM radio.

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by Mike Breen 12.15.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
plume giant

Squeeze the Day for 12/15

Eskimo Brothers, Plume Giant and Molly Sullivan, plus This Day in Music with Dr. Dre, Jimmy Cliff and The Clash

Music Tonight: Rootsy Connecticut-based trio Plume Giant performs at the Rohs Street Cafe in Clifton Heights with Columbus, Ohio's Deadwood Floats and Cincinnati's own Molly Sullivan (check out Sullivan's lovely, unique track "Bad Weather" here). Plume Giant released its self-titled debut EP last year, drawing praise from Seattle to New Haven, and travelled up and down the east coast in support. The Indie Folk trio — built around timeless songs, amazing three-part harmonies and pure, naked acoustic guitar/viola/violin backing — is taking on the Midwest this month, touring in advance of its first full-length, due this coming spring. Click here to listen to the EP and enjoy the Plume Giant song "Old Joe the Crow," performed live below.

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