by Mike Breen
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 monthsago — 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.
by Mike Breen
Detroit producers/Electro musicians Ryan Spencer and Adam Pressley formed its new project Jamaican Queens last year, following the demise of their previous band, Prussia. The pair bonded over a mutual love for Hip Hop production, something that would find itself central to Jamaican Queens winding sound. Together less than a year, the twosome's single "Kids Get Away" introduced the newcomers with a sound that blends EDM, Hip Hop sounds and rhythms and a somewhat psychedelic brand of Indie Pop. The band calls its music "Trap Pop," a reference to the Trap style of Hip Hop that is something of a successor to the old Southern Crunk style. Still, you won't mistake Jamaican Queens' music for T.I.'s — JQ's unpredictable, fluttering style recalls MGMT's last two albums had the Electronic aspects of their music been more prominent. Jamaican Queens' first full-length, Wormfood, is due in February and was mixed by Christopher Lazlo Koltay, a former Cincinnati musician who has been enjoying a successful engineering/production career in Detroit the past several years, working with artists like The Dirtbombs and Akron/Family. Here's the song that has garnered the band the most attention so far, "Kids Get Away."Kids Get Away by Jamaican Queens
Jan. 9 • 20th Century Theatre
0 Comments · Monday, January 7, 2013
Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Swear and Shake coalesced just a couple of
years ago, but from the sound of its debut full-length Maple Ridge,
you’d swear (and shake) that this electric Folk marvel has been
percolating over the course of a decade or more with a half dozen
previous releases under their belts.
by P.F. Wilson
Over the summer, a video turned up on YouTube of Canadian chanteuse LIGHTS doing an acoustic cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” for Britain’s Secret TV. While her bubbly personality was evident, she did look tired and her voice was not at its usual strength. Fans wondered if the rigors of touring were taking their toll. But there were no such concerns Wednesday (Nov. 14) night when LIGHTS played at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley. Winding down her Siberia tour, the Toronto native sounded absolutely amazing. Two things are sometimes forgotten in the electronic swirl of LIGHTS’s music — she can sing and she can write. Vocally she was at the top of her game Wednesday. Parts that were sung in a more wispy tone on her two albums were belted out with force, topped with high notes that hadn’t come out in the studio versions. And, oh yes, the writing. Proving she has both vocal and songwriting skills, LIGHTS excused her band mid-show to deliver a piano-and-voice-only version of “Saviour.” Showing it’s not all done with machines (as she did on her 2010 acoustic EP), LIGHTS delivered a tune that, like her others, can stand apart from the technological wizardry. In between scaling her vocal range, she invited the audience to sing along, which they did enthusiastically (the track was an Alternative radio hit in 2009).LIGHTS has always toured with a band, pulling a page out the the Thompson Twins’ playbook from back in the day. Chief Twin Tom Bailey always reasoned that it was just more visually pleasing to see musicians on stage and not just three band members bopping around to sequencers and backing tapes. Sonically it helps, too, of course, as the players can improvise and add new dimensions and dynamics to familiar songs. Indeed, one of LIGHTS’s keyboardists even broke out a guitar for one song, playing the keyboard lines on that instead of his synth.The Arkells from Hamilton, Ontario, opened the show with their brand of Canadian Alt Rock. Lead singer Max Kerman told the crowd that his hometown was the best Hamilton in the world, not the Ohio city just up I-75. The crowd got the joke, which sort of surprised and bemused Kerman. “I was expecting some boos for that,” he said before the band launched into “Pulling Punches.” The Arkells provided a nice counterpoint to the main act’s fine, occasionally dub-steppy Synth Pop and the group seemed to have several fans of their own in attendance.LIGHTS returns to Canada at the end of this run of shows, where she will spend the holidays with her new husband, Blesshefall frontman Beau Bokan. The Arkells will support their countrymen The Tragically Hip throughout the winter.
by Mike Breen
• 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.
by Mike Breen
• 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." Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
Nov. 7 • 20th Century Theatre
0 Comments · Monday, November 5, 2012
Since his emergence from the San Francisco Jazz scene
nearly two decades ago, Charlie Hunter has defined his stylistic
direction by resolutely refusing to be tagged as any one thing,
preferring to embrace and explore whatever captures his imagination.
Oct. 3 • 20th Century Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, October 2, 2012
interested in showmanship and persona building, self-awareness and
humility are rare commodities. John O'Regan — the glammed-up,
Kraftwerk-adoring Toronto resident behind Diamond Rings — is a
refreshing exception to this rule.
July 23 • 20th Century Theatre
0 Comments · Monday, July 16, 2012
There isn’t much about Cleveland that Cincinnatians will
admit to liking — it’s a bitter rivalry we just can’t move past.
Cleveland did, however, offer us one very good reason to love them.Raised in Cleveland, singer-songwriter Joshua Radin quickly rose to success with his soft-spoken lyrics and acoustic guitar.
Feb. 19 • 20th Century Theatre
0 Comments · Thursday, February 9, 2012
Officially, Philadelphia-rooted Psychedelic/Garage Rock outfit Purling Hiss consists of three members, but the brain stem of the whole affair is undoubtedly singer/guitarist Mike Polizze. The project is the
product of Polizze messing around with a grab bag of elements, from
sound levels to white noise to the song structures.