by Cassie Lipp
138 days ago
at 11:25 AM | Permalink
Guitarist Coleman Williams can barely see through his
overgrown hair as he leans over a 12-string guitar while he strums out “You
Knew This Was Coming” for local electronic act Dark Colour’s upcoming Animal EP. The song is the last to be
complete after two days of recording in Over-the-Rhine’s Sabbath Recording.
Williams lays down the finishing touches.
Although he can’t seem to play the chords right on his first try while the
sound engineer, Isaac Karns of the Pomegranates, records him, the chords
suddenly come flawlessly from Williams’ fingertips as he practices before the
“Cole is like an endangered species,” Karns says. “He plays this amazing stuff
when you’re not recording and then you’re like, ‘No! Do it again!’ ”For Sabbath Recording, late-night music means polishing tunes with intricate
details that dramatically transform songs, such as the 12-string guitar that
helped turn the aggressive, almost chaotic “You Knew This Was Coming” into a more
Poppy dance track reminiscent of Depeche Mode.
Jacob Merritt, also of the Pomegranates, came up with the idea for Sabbath when
he discovered a love for recording while in college about 10 years ago. Though
his interest in recording was put on hold while the band took off, Merritt
began investing in instruments and gear for a studio and started hunting for
the perfect space when things began to wind down.
Merritt and Karns hope that any artist who walks through their doors leaves
with a more defined or reinvigorated purpose for their music. The idea is for
the artists to feel refreshed and energized about who they are and what they
“If you work from that place, I think the other things are likely to fall into
place sonically or musically,” Karns says.
Merritt says he tries to make artists very comfortable and eliminate any
awkwardness from working with someone new. At Sabbath, the day always begins
with time to ask questions, read from a thought-provoking book and have
meaningful conversation meant to open the artists up.
“Bands consistently comment on how much more connected they feel with their
bandmates,” Merritt says. “If you aren't communicating as best you can, you
might be missing out on your best creative work. I really love seeing musicians
grow as songwriters and thinkers during their time at the studio.”
The goals of Sabbath Recording are just like the name suggests — it is a place
where artists can take time to rest, disconnecting from the stresses of
everyday life in order to focus on something they enjoy. To symbolize this,
artists leave their shoes at the door as they walk into the studio designed to
be a place of healing.
“Before starting, I always ask the artist if they love the songs, or their
voice, or instrument or whatever we will be working on that day and have them
respond,” Karns says. “It's small, but sometimes just saying aloud, ‘Yes, I
love my voice,’ can be a great way to internally prepare for the day.”
The intimate, uplifting recording sessions are what make Sabbath unique among
other studios and opportunities for musicians in Cincinnati. The team’s
dedication to giving every artist the best experience possible is evident in
even the small things they do, from strategically structuring sessions to
keeping the studio stocked with drinks and a snack pile so artists don’t have
to leave in search of nourishment.
“Jacob and Isaac put their hand in the creative direction of the music because
they feel so involved with the projects they bring in there,” says Dark Colour
vocalist Randall Rigdon. “Their connection with the artists set them apart from
other studios, where engineers can tend to act more exclusively as
In the two years that the studio has been open, artists from all over the
country have checked in. Merritt says they are open to working with anyone — and
taking the time before and during sessions to really understand who they are
While Karns is currently putting the finishing touches on Dark Colour’s Animal, which will be released with the
Montreal-based label Kitabu Records this spring, he is also excited to finish
up the quirky, trippy lounge-Punk debut album from S.R Woodward. Karns is also
developing a narrative-driven, collaborative experimental podcast project.
The team’s former bandmate from the Pomegranates Joey Cook will also check into
Sabbath to work on his fever-dream-Psych-Disco record, which Merritt says “will
be an odyssey.”
by Brian Baker
Cincy Indie Rock favorites return with their final album and a pair of final shows. Unless …
After a tumultuous period that included personnel change, a career lull, an identity shift and finally an unexpected and unfortunate dissolution, the members of Pomegranates clearly thought their time had come and gone. But now, in a story twist that is equally unexpected and exultantly hailed by even the most casual fan, the Cincinnati band is taking two final bows on stage at Newport’s Southgate House Revival this Saturday, and one final stab at studio redemption with the release of its fifth album, Healing Power.Two years ago, Pomegranates played what they intended to be their last show. The quartet had toured relentlessly behind its fourth album, 2012's Heaven, and when the band finally dropped anchor, the members began work on what should have been their fifth album."We thought we were going to make a noisier Rock record and instead, overall, it seems pretty low key and way more chilled out," drummer Jacob Merritt says. "And it's pretty long, also, with more songs — I don't know if ‘sprawling’ is the right word."When Pomegranates started shopping their new tunes around, they were more than a little dismayed at the lukewarm reception they received. The departure of multi-instrumentalist Curt Kiser and the arrival of the similarly-talented Pierce Geary infused the band with a fresh perspective, but the indifference to Healing Power flooded them with self-doubt. And with members Isaac Karns and Joey Cook thinking about solo projects, the quartet began to reconsider everything."We were a nominally successful, mid-level band and we had been for a few years," Merritt says. "We gave (Healing Power) to a bunch of labels and managers and no one seemed to care. There was this weird stigma, where people were like, 'You guys have been around so long (the band formed way back in the mid-’00s), and you get on all these great tours. Why aren't you more successful?' And no one wanted to take the jump to help us become more successful. Nothing seemed to happen, and the guys were getting tired of the slow, steady growth and the grind of being away for weeks at a time, so we were very disappointed. The lineup had changed with Pierce, and it didn't make sense to release the album as it was, and we were second-guessing ourselves because no new people in the industry seemed to be interested and we were like, ‘Maybe this isn't good.’ ”Thinking that perhaps they needed to shake things up, with a personnel change representing a good time to implement just such a jostle, Pomegranates dropped their name and adopted the title of the new album as their new moniker."We wanted to call the album Healing Power but at that point, we were like, 'Let's turn a new leaf and just be Healing Power,’ ” Merritt says. "It seemed to confuse a lot of people, because we weren't doing anything differently. We were still Pomegranates, playing the same set, but there were people who were like, 'I don't know about Healing Power, I like Pomegranates.’ That was perhaps a mistake, if you want to call it that.”Healing Power lasted for close to a year before the quartet decided to pack it in. The band's official last show came almost exactly a year ago at the request of one of its biggest fans in Virginia, who messaged the group through Facebook and asked if it would consider getting back together to play a wedding. They thought it was a nice way to go out."Our last show was a wedding in a bike shop," Merritt says. "We were like, 'Why not?' We just felt like it."The reclamation of the Healing Power album began with Merritt's friend Ben Wittkugel, who had become interested in the music industry while a student at Indiana University. Knowing Pomegranates were sitting on an unreleased album, Wittkugel proposed an interesting idea."He wanted to start a cassette tape label to go hand-in-hand with a concert promotion company he was trying to get started," Merritt says. “He wanted to put this thing out and we were like, 'Sure. Whatever.’ ”Wittkugel will release somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 first-edition cassette copies of Healing Power through his Winspear label, and the band has pressed up about 100 CDs — there's also a four-song vinyl EP of re-recorded tracks and one song that was dropped from the album ("I don't know why we were so adamant about not having it on the album because it may be one of the better songs …") — which will all be available at the Southgate House shows. The album and EP will then be available digitally when the limited pressings are sold out."Unless something that happens to people in the movies happens to us," Merritt clarifies with a laugh.Merritt's description of Healing Power as sprawling is appropriate; the album has several propulsive moments, including the staggering, stuttering majesty of the seven minute "Hand of Death" and the tribal electric blast of "House of My Mortal Father." There is also a fairly diverse dynamic across Healing Power's 13 cuts, which careen from those spurts of high energy to atmospheric and moody Pop confections, like the gentle and aptly titled "Taking It Easy" and the melancholic reverie of "Morning Light," with the strolling bounce of the title track finding the middle ground between those stylistic ends of the spectrum. Logically, Healing Power stands as a natural progression from Heaven, which the band also thought would be louder and less constrained, and it also reveals Pomegranates' impending solo directions, as the majority of the album consists of songs that Karns and Cook brought to the band in more or less completed form."In the past, it was 80% Pomegranates, 20% their songs, and this time it's probably 40% Pomegranates and 60% their songs," Merritt says. “It's hard to know, because you perceive it differently than other people perceive it, because you're so close to it. In my mind, (Healing Power) seems less reverb-y and more introspective. Not that there's not a few moments that are a little more up-tempo."Although Pomegranates splintered at the end, there's no hard feelings among the band members; they continue to work and hang together ("We've been in each other's weddings …"). Cook and Geary are working on Cook's solo project, Merritt runs the Sabbath Recording — where Karns also works, including on a recent project with Aaron Collins — and he keeps a busy schedule recording local bands like Dark Colour and The Yugos, as well as bands outside of the area.Pomegranates' live return has generated a huge buzz, with the Southgate show selling out so quickly that the band added a second, earlier show to the slate (both of which will be opened by Keeps). That response begs the question of any possible consideration for maintaining Pomegranates as a side project going forward."I would say, ‘We'll see,’ ” Merritt says, diplomatically. "Obviously, we aren't opposed to things happening if and when the time arises to play a show here or there. Beyond that, I'm not really sure."The band's two shows will be structured the same, with older catalog material comprising the first half of the set and songs from Healing Power populating the second half, which will also be distinguished by an appearance from Kiser, who will join the lineup to play the new songs.Given the fact that these two shows could represent the last time Pomegranates play together for the foreseeable future, though they also seem to be keeping their options open, there is both very little and potentially quite a lot at stake with the release of Healing Power. Still, the band members are happy to just live in the moment and cherish the memory of the impact they've had to this point."I know how difficult it is for a band to find their audience and to play music for people," Merritt says, philosophically. "To know that our music has meant enough to people that, if even 30 people showed up for one show, it's like, 'Cool, you guys still care.' But when you hear stories about people who were suicidal and they heard your music and it changed their lives and they credit you as a piece of why they're still alive — those sorts of things are really awesome. There's people coming from Chicago and Virginia and Michigan and North Carolina (for the Southgate shows). It's cool. We found people that our music really resonated with."Tickets for Pomegranates’ 9 p.m. Southgate House Revival show Saturday are sold out, but some remain for the 5:30 p.m. show here.
Plus, Healing Power (formerly Pomegranates) plays farewell show and Shake It reissues The Sacred Mushroom's 1969 debut/swan song
2 Comments · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Cincinnati "Tribal Rock" duo Acarya releases compelling new EP this Friday, Healing Power (the artists formerly known as Pomegranates) prepares to say farewell with a final show and new release this weekend and Shake It Records mines Cincinnati's musical past again with a new re-issue of the oft-bootlegged 1969 album from Larry and Danny Goshorn's Sacred Mushroom.
by Mike Breen
Trio of great Greater Cincinnati Indie bands perform for series opener on Fountain Square
The first day of summer isn't for three more weeks, but MidPoint Indie Summer begins this evening.The free, every-Friday concert event — sponsored by CityBeat's MidPoint Music Festival (which recently announced another stack of performers for this September's fest) — is part of Fountain Square's PNC Summer Music Series, which kicked off earlier this week. Shows start every Friday at 8 p.m., preceded by the 4EG Happy Hour (5-8 p.m.), which includes a special guest DJ each week (today it's DJ Ice Cold Tony) and lots of drink specials. MidPoint Indie Summer shows feature primarily local acts, but also a few national touring performers. Click here for the full lineup so far.Tonight's MPIS headliners are using the event to launch into a new phase of their career. It's officially the last show by 7-year-old, nationally-acclaimed Indie Pop band Pomegranates … but also the first show for the band under its new name, Healing Power. Pomegranates/Healing Power will be playing song from all five Pomegranates albums, "some we haven't done in years," the band writes on its Facebook page. Healing Power already has some solid bookings this summer, including dates with Cold War Kids, Ra Ra Riot and former Miracle Legion frontman March Mulcahy. R.I.P. Pomegranates, and welcome to the world, Healing Power. Here's an oldie but goodie, from 2009's Lujo Records release, Everybody Come Outside! (The band has confirmed this one's in tonight's set!) Pomegrantes/Healing Power performs at 10 p.m.At 9 p.m., great Covington quartet The Yugos perform, celebrating the release of their brand-new Life is Awesome and Then You Live Forever LP, a stellar exhibition of the band's twinkly/trippy, melodic Dream Pop. The album was posted today on The Yugos' Bandcamp page. Check out the fantastic first single from the album, "Dream Away" (a free download), below and grab your album download here to get even more pumped for the show tonight. Dream Away [Single] by The YugosKicking off the show in style at 8 p.m. is Cincy Indie Rock threesome The Never Setting Suns. The band has independently released a pair of strong albums so far, including last year's Time & Eternity. Download that album's "Meet Me There" for free here.
Folk rockers Frontier Ruckus dig into the past for seeds for the future
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
While based in Folk, the critically acclaimed Frontier Ruckus isn’t afraid to let popular music influences seep in.
by Mike Breen
This week, local music fans can check out four brand-new musical projects live
Last Friday at Bogart's, CityBeat and the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards presented a showcase featuring some of the best new local bands of 2012. (Check out some pics from the event here.) This coming week, four brand-new acts (featuring musicians from other established groups) will be playing their first shows ever. Here's a round-up of the new bands (possible nominees for next year's CEAs?) debuting. • Joey Cook of Indie Pop greats Pomegranates has a new solo project called Danny and His Fantasy. Cook — who also headed up the side project Firs and has done a few solo shows with friends and bandmates — leaked the great track below via YouTube a couple of weeks ago. The piano-laden track "Too Out of Touch" is a great slice of dancey and wonderfully melodic Pop, highlighted by Cook's soulful falsetto, that wouldn't be out of place on an of Montreal record. Danny and His Fantasy's debut show is this Friday at Mayday in Northside. Cook will be joined at the free show by Phil Cogley, the Indie Pop maestro from Columbus who performs under the name The Saturday Giant. Cogley's been making waves from our state's capitol, recently earning a slot on Columbus Alive's annual list of "Bands to Watch" for 2013. Locals Speaking Suns also perform.• Also Friday, Pop Goes the Evil plays its first live show. The new crew debuts at MOTR Pub, playing a free show with Indiana rockers Left Lane Cruiser. Pop Goes the Evil is fronted by singer/guitarist Lucas Frazier, formerly of the popular, kick-ass local Rock outfit The Dukes Are Dead. The new group — rounded out by drummer Jordin Goff (also of The Yugos) and bassist Evan Roberts (organist for heavy local band Grey Host) — has issued a couple of great music videos, showcasing a swaggering, energized Pop/Rock sound that's not chasing any trends, opting instead for a more timeless appeal. Here's the second single from Pop Goes the Evil, "Golden Apple." Pop Goes the Evil "Golden Apple" Official Music Video from POP GOES THE EVIL on Vimeo.• Ian Gullett from the great Electro/Indie act Diet Audio is back with a new Electronic project called Photo Electric. Teaming with talented vocalist Cassie Mullen, the duo issued a three-song teaser EP called Boom on Bandcamp for free download. Mullen's crafty, sweeping melodies and seductive vocals combine with Gullett's backdrop of evocative Electronic soundscapes, with intriguing beats, ethereal-to-noisy guitar and an overall ghostly ambiance. Click here to download the EP and check out the duo's first video, for their tune "Tom," below. Photo Electric's debut live performance is Saturday at Newport's Southgate House Revival. The band performs with local Electronic band Playfully Yours and Lexington act SHOZO. Showtime is 9 p.m. and cover is $5 ($8 for those 18-20). The band is asking fans to shoot video at the debut show and send it their way for a planned music video (click here for details). Photo Electric is currently finishing up their debut album. • Tuesday, Jan. 29, at The Comet in Northside, as part of Electronic duo You, You're Awesome's residency at the club, you can check out one of the first shows by Halvsies. The band spawned from a collaboration between YYA's Yusef Quotah and vocalist (and CityBeat contributor) Maria Seda-Reeder, whose voice floats on the same wavelength as Marianne Faithful, Marcy Mays and Hope Sandoval. Halvsies' first EP, Words + Music, showcases the group's eclectic sound, a somewhat trippy brand of Indie Rock with Garage/Nuggets flourishes. Quotah and Seda-Reeder are joined by Stephen Streit (formerly of The Host) on bass and Ohio Knife's Joe Suer on drums. Here's "Stronger Than Teflon" from the debut EP:<a href="http://halvsies.bandcamp.com/track/stronger-than-teflon">Stronger Than Teflon by Halvsies</a>Halvsies plans to release two more EPs over the next few months.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 11, 2012
This weekend’s huge Bunbury Music
Festival at Sawyer Point features some of the top-names in Alternative
music. And it also includes several local favorites. Since Bunbury is
drawing music lovers from all over the region, here is a primer on some
of the Greater Cincinnati-based acts performing at the festival.
Cincy's Pomegranates gain a new member and new confidence with release of 'Heaven'
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Recorded over 10 days last summer, Cincinnati Indie Pop quartet Pomegranates' new album Heaven
doesn’t stray impossibly far from the stylistic Art Pop structure that
has served Pomegranates well since their energetic debut —
a jittery love of Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Sparklehorse and ’50’s/’60s
Pop and R&B.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Heaven, the fourth album by
remarkable Cincinnati-based Indie Pop troupe Pomegranates, was released
nationally on June 5, and this weekend the group presents a hometown
album release party to celebrate. And there’s plenty of reason to
celebrate — Heaven is a stunning work of art that manages to top
not only the Poms’ past three albums, but also most “big name” releases
this year so far.
by Mike Breen
Posted In: Local Music
at 12:15 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati Indie foursome reaches new heights on fourth LP
Heaven, the fourth album by remarkable Cincinnati-based Indie Pop troupe Pomegranates, is in stores today (cyber or otherwise) and, this weekend, the group presents a hometown album release party to celebrate. And there’s plenty of reason to celebrate — Heaven is a stunning work of art that manages to top not only the Poms’ past three albums, but also most “big name” releases this year so far. You can listen to a full-album stream of Heaven through AOL's Spinner here. Heaven is the quartet’s first album under their new deal with Modern Outsider, the relatively new Austin, Tex.-based label that released the latest LP by Cincinnati Indie duo Bad Veins, The Mess We’ve Made, earlier this year.Heaven is the Poms’ most dynamic effort yet, perfectly meshing the group’s trademark twilight sparkle, artsy but fluid experimentalism and hooks that creep rather than nag. That mysterious, trickling, hypnotic ambiance that has pervaded the group’s sound from the start is layered more vividly thanks to the strong new material and co-producer Miguel Urbitztondo, who has worked magic on similarly enigmatic recordings by Sparklehorse and Daniel Johnston. Heaven is a great sounding album, for you fidelity-heads — with a good set of headphones or speakers, one can hear in crystal clarity the subtle yet magnetic ornamentation lurking around each corner. “Art Pop” is perhaps the most fitting descriptor of the Poms and Heaven is a modern Indie music masterwork, eschewing the rule-book of Pop music with structural twists and turns that are consistent and fluid but rarely predictable. Listening to the album in full for the first time is a completely mesmerizing experience, reminding me of the way a great film or the best albums by Popadelic Indie giants of Montreal can pull you into a different dimension. On Heaven, the listener follows Pomegranates as if the four musicians were spirit guides on the thrilling sonic journey, rolling through Ambient Pop like the title track, then traveling on through the falsettoed New Wave Funk of “Passaway,” the pining, emotional piano-ballad-on-a-heartbeat “Surfing the Human Heart” and the Bon Iver-esque “Dream.” “Letters” is a clear standout and encapsulates everything Pomegranates do so well in one track; it’s the song you should send your friends who ask, “What do they sound like?” The track opens with harp-strings and floats on a gauzy, hazy and lazy pulse of tom-drums and other sparse percussion, reverbed-out Surf-like guitar and a chant-like melody. Then, without notice, about a minute and a half in, the tranquility is interrupted by a distorted blast of noise before falling back into the song at a more lively pace, those chanting melodies becoming more extroverted and less muted. The song continues to build, the harmonies stacked higher and higher, the dirty bass dirtier than ever, and the drums trekking along like a vintage train-shuffle beat rewired for a Bullet Train trying to break a speed record, before collapsing in overdriven, buzzed-out exhaustion. Listening to “Letters” alone is more rewarding than listening to 75 percent of the albums being released today. Tack on the nine other gloriously creative tracks and you have an album so fantastic, if it doesn’t move the semi-underground cult faves closer to becoming more of a household name to the majority of Indie music fans on the planet, I’ll weep for the future of music. Pomegranates all-ages release party for Heaven is this Saturday at the Madison Theater in Covington with special guests Josh Eagle and the Harvest City, The Yugos and Shadowraptr. Tickets are $10 and showtime is 8 p.m.