The music he made with groups like The Light Wires, The Great Depression and The Brothers and the Sisters helped make singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell one of many local music fans' favorite songwriters. Pinnell's folksy songs were marked by his ability to convey — with an almost uncomfortable accuracy — the kind of dark, ominous emotions most people try to bury. His words, his melodies and especially his muttering yet soulful voice had that rare ability to effortlessly do what most writer's strive for their whole career — to make a deep connection with the listener that goes beyond a hummable hook or slick guitar solo and buries itself deep inside their conscience.
Having practically every person who heard his songs immediately captivated wasn't enough to keep those projects together. Pinnell seemed to ride the waves of success each act experienced (on varying levels), then the band would break up before the project's full potential was reached.
After another dry spell, Pinnell returns to the local stage tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine for the live debut of his latest project, Jeremy Pinnell and the 55's. Once again, Pinnell has hooked up with some gifted collaborators to create more soul-stirring songs to shatter what's left of your fragile, blackened heart.
The 55's reteams Pinnell with one of his earliest musical partners, Cameron Cochran (currently with Pop Empire). When they were 18, Cochran and Pinnell were pals playing Country songs together at their buddies' Punk Rock shows. Cochran says "The Voice" was already in place.
"He had that voice that would shut up a room," Cochran writes in a press release. "It didn't matter what the show was. He would open his mouth and everyone listened."
The two went their separate ways eventually, but recently reconnected. Cochran is vague about the circumstances of their last project ending and this one beginning, saying only that it is a tale of "heartbreak, tragedy, love and redemption" worthy of a Country song. Indeed, the 55's sound is somewhere between AltCountry and Indie Folk, with the timelessness of those genres' precursors driving everything. The band is rounded out by drummer Chris Alley and bassist Ben Franks; Cochran adds spectral atmospherics with his pedal steel guitar work and hovering backing vocals.
Some of the 55's material has come out via a handful of wonderful live videos shot by local photography superstar Michael Wilson. Below, check out one of the clips by Wilson, who is also working with Cochran on a series filming at The Emery Theater called "One Shot Music Videos" (referring to how Wilson shoots each in one continuous shot without edits).
Tonight's show at MOTR is free and starts around 9:30 p.m. Visit JP & the 55's on Facebook here.
Hip Hop star Young Jeezy performs tonight in Corryville, bringing his tour behind the recent Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition album to Bogart's for an 8 p.m. show. The Def Jam Records recording artist released his major label debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, in 2005, spawning the hit single "Soul Survivor," featuring singer Akon. The South Carolina-born, Atlanta-based MC (once a member of the group Boyz n da Hood) put out two more albums — The Inspiration and The Recession (in ’06 and ’08, respectively) — which featured guests from R. Kelly and Keyshia Cole to Nas and Kanye West (their collabo "Put On" was nominated for a Grammy), and he's appeared as a guest himself on singles by Usher ("Love in This Club") and Rihanna ("Hard"). The Thug Motivation masterclass skipped ahead to 103 (perhaps Thug Motivation 102 is audit-only?) and was released late last year after several announced release dates came and went. The album landed at No. 3 on the album charts its first week out (in the midst of holiday shopping fever, making it more impressive).
TM 103 once again features a pretty heady guest list, with cameos by Yo Gotti, Lil Wayne, Freddie Gibbs, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Jill Scott, Snoop and Ne-Yo, who appears on the most recently released single "Leave You Alone." Check the video below (NSFW for language, excessive head tattoos and gratuitous product placement for Crown Royal and Ciroc vodka). Tickets for tonight's show are $25 (plus fees). Read more about Jeezy here.
• Indie rockers Brighton MA — neither from Brighton nor Massachusetts — hit MOTR Pub tonight for a free show with great locals The Mighty. The Chicago band was formed by two members of Scotland Yard Gospel Choir upon their departure from that acclaimed Indie Pop ensemble, emerging as a successful and acclaimed unit in its own right not long after. An intense mesh of Folk, Rock and Pop, the band's songs have been used on TV shows (like Gossip Girl and Community) and in a successful Jack Daniels ad campaign last year during the holidays. The band also scored a sweet tour van to take a trip on Route 66 for an extensive promotional web series called "Rock the Route," which was sponsored(-the-hell-out-of) by Red Bull. Earlier this year, the group released a new 7-song EP called Billboard Sun, a warm-up for their second full-length, due later this year. Tonight's show starts around 10 p.m.
Oh, and Brighton, Mass., is the neighborhood in which singer Matt Kerstein was born (in case you were wondering).
Here's the band's "Good Kind of Crazy" (aka "the song from the Jack Daniels commercial"):
Tonight at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley, two MidPoint Music Festival alumni team up for an 8 p.m. show, opened by Brooklyn duo and Secretly Canadian recording artists Exitmusic. Tickets are $17.
Welsh-bred, London-based AltRock trio The Joy Formidable were one of the big attractions at last year's MPMF, headlining the big tent stage at Grammer's. Like a lot of MPMFers, the band was on the brink of breaking through in the States and has since been doing pretty damn well — the band's current cross-country tour of America kicked off with four sold out shows (Cincy is the eighth stop on the jaunt). The trio is still doing dates in support of last year's debut LP, The Big Roar, which notched a No. 8 chart position on Billboard's Top Heatseekers charts. Here's a clip of the threesome performing its single "Whirring" at South By Southwest last year.
Another trio that played MidPoint (in 2010) holds down the middle slot tonight. Brooklyn's Post Punk/Noisegaze group A Place to Bury Strangers were also a highly anticipated band at the MidPoint at which they performed. Though their show didn't go exactly as planned (playing the Contemporary Arts Center, the band's light display and legendary volume kept knocking the power out during their set), the group still ended up putting on a stellar performance and didn't lose their cool. In this week's CityBeat, Reyan Ali talks to Oliver Ackermann, singer/guitarist for APTBS, about that CAC show and whether he thinks his band's violent, aggressive sound has helped him release any violence or aggression that may lurk within him. Check it out here. The band is currently working on its third full-length.
Check out the clip for "Keep Slipping Away" from APTBS's last album, 2009's Exploding Head:
• Even more MidPoint vets are playing together at downtown's Mainstay Rock Bar tonight. My absolute favorite show at last year's MPMF was a relatively small gathering at the Main Event club featuring tour-pals Vanity Theft (who originally hail from Springboro, Ohio) and Canada's Hunter Valentine. While some of the other MPMF shows might have had better sound or a dazzling light show, these two all-female groups put on a brilliant display of Rock & Roll, with an impassioned Punk drive, slanted Indie Rock riffs and some New Wave/Post Punk undertones. Both groups were funny, charming and incredibly fun to watch and rock out with, even though they were at the tail-end of a massive North American tour. If Sleater Kinney, The Buzzcocks and Blondie got together for a timewarped jam in 1979, it might have sounded like what you'll hear tonight at Mainstay. Like-minded Indy Pop Punk band Neon Love Life opens the show.
Showtime is 9 p.m. Cover is just $5. Here's Vanity Theft's video for the song "Trainwreck":
• I'd never heard of "Christian Crunk Rock" before I started reading about Atlanta's Family Force 5, but it is definitely now in my Top 10 list of all-time favorite favorite genre hybrids, just behind the Dance/Electronic/Emo mesh EmoDM but a few slots ahead of Doom Jazzcore. Like a good Christian band name, there's honesty in their moniker — there are five members, they are certainly a force in AltChristian music circles and the band contains three brothers. The Olds bros (Solomon Jerome, Jacob and Joshua) are the son of Jerome Olds, who was a popular Christian music performer in the ’80s.
FF5 transcended the Christian tag by experiencing success in the mainstream with their first full-length, Business Up Front/Party in the Back, and the group didn't do a lot of the things many Christian acts go through when trying to appeal to a wider chunk of the populace. There were no denials and vagueness about their religious beliefs, nor have they ever gone out of their way to specifically target a Christian audience that might want "The Message" a bit more prominent in FF5's music and at live shows. The band wears crazy, colorful outfits, makes songs about partying and having a good time and has a sound that's a blend of Hip Hop's Crunk stylings (as popularized by Lil Jon), Dance-demanding beats and an Emo-y vibe to the melodies and hooks. It's what EMF would be doing if they came out today.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your opinion of Crunkcore, I suppose), tonight's show in Corryville is an acoustic one. The band's Rise Up! Acoustic Tour invades The 86 Club in Corryville, the youth-friendly club on Short Vine (where Top Cat's used to be) that has been presenting modern Christian acts (as well as others) for the past year. The all-ages show starts at 8:30 p.m. (SameState opens) and tickets are $15.
FF5 is premiering an uplifting documentary film on this tour, screening Isaac Deitz's Vital Sign short about FF5 bassist Joshua Olds' battle with kidney failure during a holiday tour in 2009 that almost killed him. Here's the trailer for the flick:
• Always excellent local Rock foursome Messerly and Ewing are playing tonight at The Avenue Lounge in Covington with a pair of cool special guests. New band Hello Mayday has begun kicking around the local club scene in recent months. The group features a quartet of veteran local players — Brian Halloran (formerly of Clabbergirl) joins ex-Crosley members Paul DeNu (also a Clabbergirl for a spell) and Vince and Joel Knueven in the band. The group is currently working on its first recordings with former Moth and The Virgins guitarist Bobby Gayol. Halloran says they hope to have an album this summer and a teaser EP this spring. Opening things up will be a solo acoustic set from singer/songwriter Kevin Nolan, former frontman for the awesome local group Saving Ray.
The show is free and starts at 10 p.m. Click the arrow below to hear M&E's "Living on Lies" from the recent full-length, Every Bitter Thing.
• Great French Jazz guitarist (and Woody Allen collaborator) Stephane Wremble is at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club downtown tonight for two shows — at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Admission is $15-$20 (and, don't forget, you can now have a great dinner at the Wisp, as well). Read more here. Here's some of Wremble's work on the score for Woody Allen's acclaimed Midnight in Paris:
On this day in 2002, rapper for the Pop group TLC, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes died in a traffic accident in the Honduras. The star was allegedly trying to pass a truck, but another vehicle was coming the opposite way when she made her move. To avoid it, Lopes swerved off the road. The Mitsubishi Montero Sport Lopes was driving flipped, hit a couple of trees and threw all four passengers out of the vehicle. Lopes died from head and neck injuries; the other passengers survived.
Left Eye was just a month away from her 31st birthday.
Lopes' casket was engraved with lyrics from the TLC hit "Waterfalls" ("Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you"). Lopes gave an interview to MTV News about her first solo album, 2001's Supernova, in which she described her song/poem "A New Star Is Born," which was dedicated to her late father. In the interview, she said, "That track is dedicated to all those that have loved ones that have passed away. It's saying that there is no such thing as death. We can call it transforming for a lack of better words, but as scientists would say, 'Every atom that was once a star is now in you.' It's in your body. So in the song I pretty much go along with that idea. I don't care what happens or what people think about death, it doesn't matter. We all share the same space."
There are a lot of Left Eye remembrances going on in cyberspace today since its the tenth anniversary of her death. Check out word on a new track — and some remembrances from her former TLC pals — featuring Lopes and Bootleg of the Dayton Family here.
Here's a video tribute to Lopes put together by a fan and set to "A New Star," followed by an earlier different kind of tribute to TLC by Cincinnati's own Afghan Whigs (who just announced their first non-festival reunion date in the U.S., scheduled for October in New York City).
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing an April 25 birthday include: Jazz/R&B saxophonist Earl Bostic (1913); legendary Jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald (1917); influential Blues guitarist Albert King (1923); wildly successful songwriter and producer (with writing partner Mike Stoller) Jerry Leiber (1933); bassist for Classic Rock band CCR, Stu Cook (1945); singer for Prog band Marillion, Derek William Dick, much better known as Fish (1958); singer for Synth Pop legends Erasure, Andy Bell (1964); original Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery (1965); and the "Father of Hillbilly Jazz," fiddler Vassar Clements (1928).
Clements' improv approach to Bluegrass was a revelation. Putting a Jazz twist on Roots music makes him a spiritual godfather of the whole "Newgrass" movement.
Clements grew up in Florida and taught himself to play violin at the age of 7. When he was 21, he joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, recording with them in the early ’50s. Word of Clements' prowess and innovative style traveled and he became an in-demand session player. In 1971, Clements joined John Hartford for the groundbreaking Aereo-plain album, widely considered one of the first "Newgrass" records. Hartford and Clements were joined by Norman Blake, Randy Scruggs and Tut Taylor for the album, which was produced by David Bromberg.
During his 50-year career, Clements would go on to become a crucial part of the progressive Bluegrass movement of the ’70s, including appearances on a couple of other trailblazers — the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Old and in the Way, featuring Jerry Garcia, David Grisam, Peter Rowan and John Kahn. By the time he passed in 2005 at the age of 77 (from lung cancer), Clements had played with everyone from Paul McCartney, The Monkees and The Grateful Dead to Stephane Grappeli and Woody Herman.
Here's Clements performing with the Del McCoury Band in 2003.
Archer’s paradox, according to Wikipedia, is the phenomenon whereby "in order to strike the center of the target with an arrow, the arrow must be pointed slightly to the side of the target."
Archer’s Paradox, the band, according to the two members I spoke with on a hot Thursday — much the same.
“It started about a year ago. I disbanded from a band I was in earlier (with Mia Carruthers, of MTV’s Taking the Stage fame) and Stefan Wright (drummer) and I started making songs in my room by myself,” says project founder, Seth Huff, “and then Cam (Nawaz, synth and backup vocals) started coming over out of nowhere, and we started hanging out and he was like, ‘Hey, those songs are pretty good’, and here we are, a year later, with four other people, having fun.”
Originally conceived as a two-piece consisting of Huff and Nawaz performing live with recorded backing tracks, the duo realized that direction would be “the most boring thing in the world,” says Nawaz, “so we quickly moved past that. And we realized that we have numerous friends who are really good at playing instruments.”
The band was fleshed out with Wright on drums, guitarist Alex Solin, and bassist Mark Wilson.
Working with a five-song EP recorded solely on Huff’s MacBook Pro, Archer’s Paradox has a distinctly DIY vibe. Very calculated in their approach to publicity and performing, Archer’s Paradox only performed its first show this year at Rohs Street Café during the sixth The Heights Music Festival in Clifton.
“We’re all about the DIY thing. That’s kind of like our religion. If we had to pick a religion, it would be DIY,” says Huff, who writes all of Archer’s Paradox material.
More shows followed, and in “a stroke of luck”, as Nawaz says, Archer’s Paradox earned a slot at the inaugural Bunbury Music Festival, held at Sawyer Point today through Sunday. Nawaz details how, while informing friends via text of their latest project and upcoming show, Wright happened to text Ian Bolender, a former bandmate from another band (Ellison), who happened to be an employee of Nederlander Entertainment, which happened to be the company booking Bunbury Music Festival. Bolender responded within 15 minutes with the offer of having Archer’s Paradox play Bunbury.
“We make our own luck,” clarifies Nawaz. “We use every outlet of who we know and every resource to our absolute maximum potential.”
Huff agrees, relaying how other shows have fallen into place just as harmoniously. I point out that maybe instead of finding "luck," Archer’s Paradox has serendipity on their side.
“THAT’S our religion,” Huff jumps in, eagerly. “I take back that thing I said before.” We note the fact that the letters “DIY” are also in ‘serendipity’, and thusly, the band’s definition is fully confirmed.
“Work smart, not hard,” Huff continues. “Observing the way other bands do it, you can learn a lot and make a game plan from that. If you have decent music, you have a really good shot if you learn to use the machine that is the Internet.”
“We knew we didn’t want to take the ‘let’s get signed right away, let’s get distributed’ path before playing anything,” Nawaz chimes in, referencing internet-phenom bands without much substance to back up their product.
“You have to gain the respect of fans and then they’ll actually want to pay for the music,” says Huff.
At this year’s Bunbury Music Festival, Archer’s Paradox will have their biggest chance yet to do just that.
Archer’s Paradox opens up the Landor Stage at Bunbury on Sunday at noon. Listen to them here and check out this clip for the group's song "Patience."
The Cincinnati natives of hugely popular Brooklyn-based Indie Rock band The National have recorded a song for the upcoming soundtrack for the second season of HBO's critically-acclaimed series, Game of Thrones. The soundtrack is due June 19. The National is the only group featured; the rest of the soundtrack album is the instrumental score, written by Ramin Djawadi and recorded by the Czech Film Orchestra and Choir.
According to Spin, the band members took the words from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin's 2000 novel, A Storm of Swords. Check it out below.
Slanted Indie Pop crew Maps & Atlases formed in 2004 and, in 2010, released its breakthrough LP Perch Patchwork, the Chicago quartet's debut for the esteemed Barsuk label. Since Patchwork, the band has spent tons of time touring, which has included several dates in the Cincinnati area. The band's compelling latest release, Beware and Be Grateful, was issued by Barsuk last spring and is perhaps the finest example of the group's dynamic sound yet. M&A's sound is uniquely layered and structured, full of subtle, unexpected outbursts and song twists, yet still overflowing with magnetic melodies and spine-tingling harmonies.
The band performs tonight at Oakley's 20th Century Theatre with like-minded locals Archer's Paradox, who are readying for the release of their debut album a little later this year. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $15.
Here's the video for "Remote & Dark Years" from the latest M&A album.
• The end of The Grateful Dead, with Jerry Garcia’s 1995 death, didn’t do much to squash the band’s incredible popularity. To satiate some of that Dead thirst, various members from throughout Garcia’s and the Dead’s history have brought the legendary band’s spirit to that huge fan base on a fairly regular basis. Two Dead-affiliated artists have been sitting in with Chicago-based jammers Terrapin Flyer for the past few years for shows and tours. The band will be joined by Melvin Seals, who played Hammond B3 organ with the Jerry Garcia Band for 15 years, and Mark Karan, who played guitar with the post-Dead band The Other Ones and Bob Weir’s Ratdog, when they swing through Stanley’s Pub tonight for a 10 p.m. performance. Tickets are $20.
Here's some footage of the collaboration from last March, doing a version of Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," a Dead fave.
• Over a decade ago, Minnesotans Paul Sprangers and Scott and Evan Wells were integral parts of Hockey Night, a wildly eclectic Indietronic outfit that blended the lo fi Rock and snarky humor of Couch Flambeau with a next generation love of Electronica, Hip Hop and mad crazy sampling (remember "Battlestar Scholastica" from their 2002 debut Rad Zapping and "For Guys Eyes Only" from their 2005 swan song Keep Guessin'?). The band's ugly dissolution would have beaten the musical aspirations from lesser men, but Sprangers and the Wellses were made of sterner stuff and, after a brief hiatus, tapped drummer Nicholas Shuminsky to form Free Energy in 2008.
Free Energy, now based in Philadelphia, exploded into the wider consciousness when LCD Soundsystem¹s James Murphy produced the band's debut album Stuck on Nothing in 2010, causing UK music magazine NME to erroneously tout them as Murphy's new band. While patently false, the claim focused an extraordinary amount of attention on Free Energy and Stuck on Nothing; Spin and Rolling Stone cited the album and band among the year's best. With their just-released sophomore album Love Sign, Free Energy (now also featuring guitarist Sheridan Fox) reinforces and expands their new musical direction, a Classic Rock/New Wave Pop hybrid that enthusiastically references everything from The Cars to The Outfield to Cracker with equal amounts of affection and adrenaline. And in familiar ’60s Pop/Motown fashion, "Electric Fever," the album's infectious first single — originally leaked 10 months
ago — is the lead track on Love Sign. Free Energy might not be breaking any new ground but they go over the old territory with an ass-kicking intensity.
The band plays at Newport's Southgate House Revival tonight with Sweatheart and Homemade Drugs. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $8 at the door. (Preview by Brian Baker)
Click here for even more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati.
Those retro/modern/futuristic urban-gothic sonics are perfectly reflected in the brand new video clip for "Oxygen." The ominous video — written by Thomas Stemrich (Director) and Josh Chiara (Director of Photography) of local band Holy Beast — was shot over three days in Northside and Over-the-Rhine.
The nutshell synopsis of the video:
"In New Berlin, in the basements of post-industrial mansions, lost youths pray to shrines for nothing and participate in rituals that don’t matter. But tonight, one of New Berlin’s daughters is through with the minutia, ready to dive beneath the insincerity of cult posturing, and finally awaken the beacon of change that swells beneath the city streets. Will this be another lost night in Neverland or will she finally meet the beast of her dreams?"
Stemrich and Chiara have made other music videos, including "Night Drive" for the local act Polar Sky (Polar Sky and Skeleton Hands both record for locally based Racecar Productions). Sharfe says "Night Drive," and now "Oxygen," are unofficially akin to part of a "series," with the Polar Sky clip setting the "New Berlin" tone initially, and the Skeleton Hands' video taking it further.
"In the New Berlin videos, we see Cincinnati through a dystopic lens," Sharfe says. "Prostitutes, cults, deities, people with holes in their torsos. Strange stuff."
Skeleton Hands are currently taking pre-orders for copies of Gone on vinyl. Click here to get in on the action. "Oxygen" will be available as a single this fall through Racecar. The single release will feature remixes, including ones by Kontravoid and the aforementioned Polar Sky.
The duo also returns to the MidPoint Music Festival this year, coming up towards the end of September in various venues around Over-the-Rhine and Downtown. Skeleton Hands is slated to perform at 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at MPMF venue Below Zero Lounge (on Walnut Street, next to Emery Theatre). Click here for MPMF tickets (or visit Fountain Square Friday night between 8-11 p.m., where you can buy tickets in person — one night only — for $10-$20 off).
Despite Frank Ocean's deft leg-syncing and Taylor Swift's torture-porn-disguised-as-wholesome-circus, Akron, Ohio's Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys were The Grammys' big story last night, winning five trophies, the most of any artist.
While the Keys won the Grammys for Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, Auerbach scored two solo Grammys for his production work, winning the trophy for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) and also winning one for producing Dr. John's Locked Down, the Blues Album winner.
While Grammys for album winners are usually given to the producers, engineers, mastering engineers and artists, hopefully Cincinnati's Brian Olive will also score one for his work on the LP. Auerbach — who has produced albums by both Olive and Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers — enlisted Olive (an original member of Cincinnati's Greenhornes) to work on the Dr. John album. Olive has songwriting credits on every track on Locked Down, and he's also credited with playing guitar, percussion and woodwinds, as well as providing background vocals. (Check out CityBeat's profile of Olive from 2011, about his Auerbach-produced Two of Everything album, here.)
Kudos to Mr. Olive! That's him — the handsome feller with big side-burns playing sax (and a little guitar) in this video for the album's "Revolution."
Check out all the winners from last night's Grammys here, and click here or here for some extra musings about the show.