If you are even a marginal fan of Black Owls (whose members split time between Cincinnati and Granville, Ohio) and have not yet visited their Bandcamp page to purchase a copy of their recent recorded triumph, Wild Children (which came out late last year), off with you. I'll wait.
The Owls' fourth album is nothing less than the maturation of a supremely talented band that has been patiently waiting for the right pieces to fall into the right places almost from the beginning. The installation of drummer extraordinaire Brian Kitzmiller and the relocation of vocalist David Butler away from the drummer's chair and to the front of the stage was the first necessary shift, while adding second guitarist Brandon Losacker as a frenetic foil to Ed Shuttleworth's tightly coiled brilliance was inspired and equally required.
The bass position has been problematic only in its temporary nature; Nancy/National bassist Mike Brewer left to pursue his own thing, the thunderously wonderful Alan Beavers was forced from his role due to back issues and Goose four stringer Sammy Wulfeck was almost psychotically overextended and had to bow out; his work is all over Wild Children, a
tantalizing hint at what he brought to the Owls and further proof of his longstanding chemistry with Kitzmiller. (For the record, both Beavers and Brewer guest on Wild Children and remain welcome alumni in the Owls' extended family.)
On the whole, Wild Children is an expansion of the Owls' sonic mission statement of cross-pollinating early '70s-era Glam (see Bowie/Mott/Marc Bolan) with late '70s-era New York Punk (via Tom Verlaine's Television, Richard Hell's Voidoids and Lou Reed's simple fury). A good many of the songs on Wild Children have been worked out in live sets over the past year or so and will be familiar to anyone who has haunted the band's numerous local appearances; the effervescently charged "Incandescent Vultures," the melodically moody "She Invented Air," the propulsive and sinewy title track, produced into a beefy studio anthem. There's even a re-recording of "Julias Morningstar," one of the Owls' most recognizable and popular tracks from their 2008 debut, Lightning Made Us Who We Are. Wild Children shows that the Owls are gelling nicely and becoming even more comfortable and confident in the brilliant niche they've created for themselves.
And while Wild Children is patently excellent and an absolute necessity, perhaps even more exciting is the two-track glimpse into the Owls' future just revealed by Kitzmiller. A result of recent sessions featuring former Doc & the Pods/Roundhead four-stringer Kip Roe, an absolute prince of a human being and the perfect piece to complete the Owls' puzzle, the two songs find the quintet sounding less like the brilliant sum of their influences and more like a blazingly original band that has effectively incorporated their heroes into their creative vision without showing a seam
or dropping a stitch. "Gasoline" is a hard-charging, manic and relentless three minute thrill ride (and a prime candidate for the first single from the album that it will eventually crown), while "Rook" muscles along with the shivering, shimmering energy that has defined the Owls' best work over the past six years. These two as-yet-unmastered tracks show Black Owls evolving into a focused unit of astonishing power and unlimited potential.
More. Soon. Please.
Saturday at Bogart’s you’ll have a chance to see 10 of Greater Cincinnati’s finest up-and-comers as CityBeat presents the first “Best New Bands” showcase. The event coincides with our “Best New Bands” cover story, featuring profiles and info on all of the performers — grab a copy if you haven’t.
Below is the lineup, which includes all six of the local acts nominated in the “New Artist of the Year” category and four other favorites, plus some audio/video previews to whet your appetite. Click the artists’ name to read CityBeat’s stories (and some great original photography) about each. The stories include links to the acts’ websites and more music.
The doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bogart’s and admission is just $5. Performers will be featured on two stages, so it will be non-stop music all night.
7:30 p.m. Pop Goes the Evil
8 p.m. Molly Sullivan
8:30 p.m. Injecting Strangers
9 p.m. ADM
9:30 p.m. Mardou
10 p.m. Austin Livingood
10:30 p.m. Archer's Paradox
11 p.m. Little Lights
11:30 p.m. Tweens
12:15 a.m. Electric Citizen
So far, the videos released from The Queen City Project’s series of clips from The MidPoint Sessions (a day party that took place at the Art Academy during September’s MidPoint Music Festival) have showcased three great Ohio acts — Athens’ The Ridges (also the curators of the Sessions), Cincinnati’s The Happy Maladies and Columbus’ Indigo Wild. Today you can check out the final clip from the performances, this one featuring another Cincinnati artist — intriguing singer/songwriter Molly Sullivan. While the previous performances were acoustic, Sullivan strums an electric guitar and utilizes loops to create a haunting effect.
Click here for more about Sullivan. And you can see/hear her live this Thursday at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine as she opens for Lexington, Ky.’s Ancient Warfare, which also played this year’s MidPoint Music Festival. Find details on the free show here.
Cincinnati five-piece Zebras in Public has released some propaganda to promote its new single and sophomore album.
Actually, it’s a new single and accompanying music video for the group’s strong new song “Propaganda,” an ear-grabbing AltRock track that is slated for the new Zebras in Public full-length, Paradise Leg. The follow-up to the eclectic band’s 2010 debut album Scars & Stripes is due early next year.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing some great new videos shot at September’s MidPoint Music Festival by The Queen City Project. The clips feature performances from The MidPoint Sessions, a day party held during MPMF at Art Academy of Cincinnati in conjunction with FotoFocus’ Reverberation concert photography exhibit. The event showcased acoustic performances by four Ohio acts — Athens’ The Ridges (who curated the lineup), Cincinnati’s The Happy Maladies and Molly Sullivan and the star’s of today’s video debut, Columbus Indie Rock foursome Indigo Wild.
Indigo Wild formed in 2010 and, if the name sounds familiar, it may be due to the band’s frequent shows in Cincinnati. So far, the band has only issued one recording, the 2011 EP If By Sea, but for The MidPoint Sessions, Indigo Wild unveiled a newer song titled “Be Patient.”
The band’s website says “Be Patient” “lays a stepping stone” to Indigo Wild’s first full-length release. Keep updated on the album’s progress and all things Indigo Wild at indigowildmusic.com.
Along with creating captivating, dynamic music that has helped to make it one of Cincinnati’s finest Hip Hop groups, Valley High has released several stellar music videos over the past few years to accompany its tracks. This year has seen some of the best clips yet from the group, including ones for “That One Too” and, more recently, “8 Ball.”
The group blends sounds from several genres and features live instrumentation, like guitars and keys, to back the ear-grabbing flow of MC’s Moxy Monster and The M.O. Hour. Self-described as a “new wave hip hop band,” the latest video from Valley High (which really needs to parody the Van Halen logo on a T-shirt or something) is for the track “Let Me Get Em,” described as “a hard jazzy gritty street track that is a throwback to the 90's era.” The track is featured on the group’s 14-track album titled, appropriately enough, 90’s Tape, which is available for free download here.
Since Los Angeles is one of the centers of the music universe, being dubbed the “Best Live Band” in the city is an incredibly high honor. Energetic eight-member Americana ensemble The Dustbowl Revival received that exact honor this year when the city’s L.A. Weekly named the group the Best Live Band of 2013 in its Best of L.A. issue. Tonight you can see and hear for yourself when The Dustbowl Revival headlines MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Brad Loans of local greats The Sundresses opens the free show at around 10 p.m. with a solo set.
The Revival’s kitchen-sink approach touches on a bigger-than-usual array of American Roots music influences, from Western Swing, New Orleans Jazz, Dixieland and Be Bop to Blues, Gospel, Folk and numerous other styles (both expected and not). Delivered using the classic tools of the Americana trade (numerous brass instruments, fiddle, clarinet, mandolin, washboard, harmonica and kazoo, plus stand-up bass and guitars), The Dustbowl Revival’s latest release, Carry Me Back Home, was released to critical acclaim earlier this year. But, if the enthusiastic testaments online are any indication, seeing the group’s wildly entertaining live show is the best way to experience the Revival.
• Punk rockers turning to Folk and Roots music is nothing new (see: Billy Bragg, The Pogues), but it’s become a not unwelcome epidemic in the past decade. It’s easy to see the appeal — Punk and Folk are kissing cousins that share a raw purity and, often, a sense of social/political justice in the lyrics.
Another part of the appeal may just be how some of the artists who make the shift and go full Folk have found huge success after the makeover. Frank Turner, for example. The British folkie was the singer for Hardcore Punk band Million Dead in the early ’00s. The band’s run was short and relatively successful, but nothing compared to what Turner has experienced since strapping on an acoustic guitar and going solo in 2005 after the band’s split. After his debut album in 2007, Turner’s career took off and he built his now-huge fanbase by touring with bands like The Gaslight Anthem, The Offspring and Green Day, which had him open stadium shows for the band in 2010.
This year, Turner released his fifth album, Tape Deck Heart, his first recorded in the U.S. and his first under a global deal with Interscope Records. Turner comes to the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre tonight in support of the album. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Koo Koo Kanga Roo and The Smith Street Band open. Tickets are $20 at the door. Turner is touring with his full backing band, The Sleeping Souls.
Here’s the video for the new album single “Losing Days”:
• Two up-and-coming Rock crews with a rising presence on the FM Rock airways cruise into Bogart’s tonight. The Classic Rock-influenced bands Taddy Porter and Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights play at 7 p.m. Read Amy Harris’ interview with Tyler for CityBeat here and check out Taddy Porter’s video for the single “The Gun” below:
A lot of the great up-and-coming touring artists that made September’s MidPoint Music Festival one of the best yet have been building on their MPMF momentum and returning to the area. Even some of the bands that canceled their MPMF appearances have made their way back.
Korea’s Love X Stereo had travel issues and missed this year’s MidPoint, but recently played MOTR Pub (the club owned by MPMF artistic director Dan McCabe) and now the amazing seven-piece Wisconsin crew PHOX (who missed MPMF to tour with Blitzen Trapper) is headed to the same venue tonight for a great double-bill with San Francisco Psych Rock/Shoegaze outfit (and MPMF alumnus) Sleepy Sun.
The wonderfully eclectic PHOX, which recently announced a new recording was in the works, appear to be on the verge of very big things; seems like everyone who hears the band’s gorgeous and unique mesh of Folk, Indie Rock, Soul, Americana, Jazz, Chamber Pop and other styles instantly falls in love with them. In September, the group issued a live EP taken from its appearance at the ITunes Festival in London. It was the follow-up to its Confetti EP, released earlier this year with an endearing companion “music video EP” featuring clips for each track on the release. Check it out below:
Tonight’s show at MOTR (the venue’s website is calling it “a once-in-a-lifetime MUST SEE Mind Melting Monday Mash-Up”) starts at 9:30 p.m. and, like all MOTR shows, is free.
Last Friday we featured the first video from a series of clips created by The Queen City Project from footage shot at “The MidPoint Sessions,” a day party at the Art Academy of Cincinnati held during September’s MidPoint Music Festival in Over-the-Rhine/Downtown.
The first clip featured Athens, Ohio’s The Ridges, who curated the acoustic performances, bringing in three fellow Ohio acts to join them. Today we premiere the second video from the great Sessions series to emerge. The new video features talented and adventurous Cincinnati Indie Chamber Folk foursome The Happy Maladies performing their song, “Peter’s Sweet 16.”
The Happy Maladies have been playing a lot of out of town shows over the past year, hitting regional venues, Chicago and the East Coast fairly regularly. The band released its debut album, Sun Shines the Little Children, in 2009, followed last year by the magnificent, mesmerizing EP new again (check it out here).
The band is currently working on a new album, which is expected to release in early summer next year. In July, The Happy Maladies announced “Must Love Cats,” an intriguing project that celebrates the collaborative spirit in creativity. The band is soliciting original pieces written for the group from composers of all stripes. Until Jan. 1, interested artists can send the group new “compositions, songs, ballads, marches, sound poems, farcical musicals, improvisational games, panic attacks, etc.” The musicians will chose five pieces and work with the composers to get it in performance shape. In the springtime next year, The Happy Maladies will play the compositions during a special concert series, which will be documented and turned into a concert film, album and booklet with profiles of the composers.
You can find complete details about the Must Love Cats project here on the band’s website. Here is a video featuring the band members explaining the project.
Visit thehappymaladies.com for more on The Happy Maladies.