by Mike Breen
Buoyant Electro Pop group Stepdad pulls into MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. The free show kicks off around 10 p.m. with locals Halvsies.
Stepdad was formed in Chicago in 2009 by frontman Mark “Ultramark” Tafel and his roommate, Ryan McCarthy. The duo — which has grown Stepdad into a five-piece band over time — soon relocated to Grand Rapids, Mich., and self-released its debut recording, the Ordinaire EP, online. The EP drew wider attention to Stepdad, which signed to Michigan indie label Quite Scientific and re-released the EP in 2011.
After completing its debut album, Wildlife Pop, with a little help from Kickstarter, the band signed with Black Bell Records, the relatively new imprint founded by Passion Pit’s Ayad Al Adhamy and distributed by Warner Brothers Records. Wildlife Pop, released last summer, is an incredibly endearing listen, layering vintage-sounding synth bleeps and squiggles with broader, lush Electro atmospherics and a rhythmic base that is muscular and dance floor ready. At the core is Ultramark’s steady stream of exuberant melodies, which adds greatly to Stepdad’s jubilant sound (though, spoiler alert, the lyrics can be much deeper and darker than the upbeat vibe suggest). Wildlife Pop falls somewhere between the M83’s shadowy, cerebral Electronic explorations and Capital Cities’ (see below) warm and cheerily infectious Dance Pop.
Here is the music video for Wildlife Pop single, “Will I Ever Dance Again”:
• Virtuoso Blues/Rock/Roots guitarist, songwriter and singer Sonny Landreth returns to Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater. Rootsy local rockers Monkeytonk open.
After cutting his teeth in the ’70s playing with Zydeco/Cajun/Roots accordionist Clifton Chenier, Landreth (who grew up in Louisiana) launched his solo career in the ’80s, building his reputation as a masterful player and innovative slide guitarist. Landreth’s unique technique involves playing chords behind the slide leads, which he taps, slaps and picks with his right hand. Since the mid-’90s, Landreth has released a dozen albums that have been stylistic adventurous, a testament to his impressive versatility. The guitarist’s playing shows that Blues, Jazz, Rock, Cajun and many other types of music have greatly informed his boundless approach to writing and performing. (Landreth is also a popular session musician, having recorded with artists like Jimmy Buffett, Mark Knopfler, John Hiatt and numerous others.)
Last year, Landreth released another wildly diverse album, Elemental Journey, his first all-instrumental effort which features guests like fellow guitar wizards Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, as well as additives like symphonic strings and steel drums.
Here is a live clip of Landreth performing at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010:
• Over at Covington’s Madison Theater tonight, bring your dancing shoes because Fitz and the Tantrums and Capital Cities are going to have the venue jumping with their ear-grabbing/dance-inducing sounds. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and the event is open to all ages. Tickets are $25 at the door. L.A.’s Electro Dance rockers Beat Club open.
L.A. band Fitz and the Tantrums’ propulsive, modern update of vintage Soul/R&B caught the music world’s attention in 2010 with the release of their debut LP, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, both a critical and commercial success thanks in part to the powerful single, “MoneyGrabber,” a song that was perfectly timed to the national outrage over big banks and other mischievous financial institutions that led to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Tantrums’ second album (and major-label debut), More Than Just a Dream, was released by Elektra Records this past May. Here’s a clip for that album’s “Out of My League”:
Electro Pop duo Capital Cities garnered a lot of mainstream attention this year with its debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, released in June through Capitol Records. The album features the insistently catchy and winsome singles “Kangaroo Court” and “Safe and Warm,” both from the twosome’s self-titled 2011 EP debut. Like MGMT’s “Kids” or Walk the Moon’s “Anna Sun,” songs that were originally issued on earlier, pre-fame recordings but were released to widespread success on their respective major label debuts, “Safe and Sound” was released originally in 2011 and, two years later, continues to earn Capital Cities more fans. The duo’s super-catchy Synth Pop is hard to resist and the more people are exposed to Capital Cities, the bigger they seem to get.
• R&B singer Jaheim was already wowing audiences at a young age, winning the infamous talent show at the Apollo Theater three times when he was just 15. It was the start of a long, fruitful career that kicked off in earnest when the singer was in his early 20s and was signed to the Warner Brothers-distributed label Divine Mill. Since his debut album in 2001, Jaheim has been a regular visitor to the upper airspace of the R&B charts. His new album, Appreciation Day, was released earlier this year and earned praise for being one of the best displays of Jaheim’s seamless blending of the classic seductive R&B artists like Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross popularized with today’s Neo Soul and Hip Hop-informed approach. Here’s the album’s single “Age Ain’t a Factor”:
Jaheim brings his “Appreciation Tour” with singer Chrisette Michele to downtown’s Aronoff Center tonight, in the venue's Procter & Gamble Hall. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Click here for more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
by Mike Breen
• With a Country music base, Rock edge, R&B-inspired three-part harmonies and catchy but emotionally weighty songs, Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow emerged in 2013 as one of the next potential Americana breakthrough artists. The trio’s well received, self-titled debut — featuring songs written by frontman Zach Williams to help him deal with a tragic horse-riding accident that left his new wife temporarily paralyzed — was released last January on Sony imprint, Descendant Records, to high praise from many high-profile press outlets. (Read more about the group from CityBeat’s preview here.)
The Lone Bellow performs tonight at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 at the door. Here’s a one-shot video of the trio performing its song “Tree to Grow” in the hills surrounding Los Angeles for the online “SerialBox Singles” series:
• In the two years since Cincinnati Indie Rock band The Sweep released its third album, III, the group has been busy regrouping with a new lineup and writing and recording material for a new album. Sweep singer/songwriter/guitarist Nic Powers and longtime bassist Glen May are now joined in the band by guitarist Brendan Bogosian, who currently also plays guitar with veteran local crew The Tigerlilies, and drummer Joe Klug, who also keeps time for widely-acclaimed Cincy band Wussy. The Sweep continues its free, every-Tuesday-of-November residency tonight at The Comet in Northside at 9 p.m. The band is being joined by various special guests during the residency — last week’s opener featured the reignited Pillbug (from the forces behind The Fairmount Girls), while this week Halvsies joins The Sweep. For the Nov. 19 show, Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver will also perform and the Nov. 26 residency finale will feature a set from Fists of Love. Click here to sample/purchase The Sweep’s great III album.For more live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight, click here.
by Mike Breen
• Brooklyn Indie Folk quartet Jus Post Bellum comes to
Over-the-Rhine's MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. show with local
headliners Young Heirlooms. Inspired by traditional American Roots,
Blues and Country music, as well as modern Folk, the Civil War and
American history in general, Jus Post Bellum (latin for "justice after
war") features the captivating dual vocal approach of
guitarist/keyboardist Geoffrey Wilson and Hannah Jensen and is fleshed
out by the bass and cello of Daniel Dieber and drumming of Zach Dunham.
The group's live shows are said to be quiet, mesmerizing affairs, so
maybe keep your loudmouth drunkard friends at home for the night.
Jus Post Bellum's second album, Oh July, is set for a Nov. 12 release. Here is the new album track "Gimme That Gun":
Jus Post Bellum "Gimme That
Gun" from Jus
Post Bellum on Vimeo.
• For Dar Williams' latest album, last year's In the Time of Gods,
the veteran Folk singer/songwriter looked to the past to address modern
challenges. The songs on the album, featuring guests Shawn Colvin and
Larry Campbell, use characters and tales from Greek mythology to
poetically examine today's personal, social and political issues. Always
noted for her fantastic lyric writing (which often showcases her sharp
wit), In the Time of Gods and its interesting device find
Williams really challenging herself and, ultimately, succeeding on
levels she hadn't reached before.
Williams brings her Gods tour to Oakley's 20th
Century Theater tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. The
show is not general admission; seats are reserved by section.
Here is the opening track from In the Time of Gods, "I Am
the One Who Will Remember Everything":
• Impressive new Cincinnati band Temple plays tonight at
Northside's Mayday, the launch of a mini-tour with Columbus Sludge Metal
crew Bridesmaid. The band makes compelling progressive, psychedelic Metal and
features members of local acts like Black Dove, Paralyzer, The Awakening
and Ohio Knife. Tonight's show also features local band Crushed Velvet
and kicks off at 10 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge.
Click here to check out a pair of songs from the band, or just hit the play button below:
• Tonight's show at Bogart's in Corryville featuring star
rapper Yo Gotti has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the point
Click here for more live music options tonight in Greater Cincinnati.
by Mike Breen
If you're craving some solid live music, it's a surprisingly busy Monday night in the area clubs. Besides the always entertaining Insane Clown Posse's return to Bogart's tonight, here are a few other offerings:• Los Angeles-based The Lonely Wild plays a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. Showtime is 10 p.m. The Indie Folk ensemble formed just three short years ago, quickly becoming a favorite on the L.A. club circuit. The group's momentum has only increased since; the Wild's recently released debut full-length, The Sun As It Comes, has been garnering strong reviews and national radio's embrace of it gets stronger by the day. The band is also known for its entertaining, energized live show, which is helping The Lonely Wild grow its fan base rapidly on its current cross-country headlining tour. Read CityBeat's preview of tonight's show here. Have a listen to The Sun As It Comes in full:And here is The Lonely Wild performing live in L.A. late last year:• It's an "Up-and-coming Indie Folk band" kind of night in Cincy this evening, as The Comet in Northside welcomes Denver crew Paper Bird. Austin, Texas-based Indie folkers Dana Falconberry open at 10 p.m. With an exuberant, modern mesh of Roots and Americana, Paper Bird recently released its fourth LP, Rooms, the follow-up to its 2011 score for a collaboration with the Ballet Nouveau Colorado called Carry On. The seven-piece band's compelling sound has gotten Paper Bird featured on NPR's All Things Considered and in a New York Times piece earlier this year about Denver's blossoming music scene (which includes breakthrough, Grammy-nominated Folk Pop act The Lumineers, a tour mate of Paper Bird's). Here's the music video for "As I Am," the first single off of Paper Bird's Rooms:• Justin Furstenfeld, known for his emotional, honest songwriting in the band Blue October, brings his solo tour — dubbed "Open Book: An Evening with Justin Furstenfeld" — to Oakley's 20th Century Theatre tonight for an 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $25 at the door. Texas Indie Pop singer/songwriter Ashleigh Stone opens.Furstenfeld's bipolar disorder has resulted in some highly open-hearted, sometimes excruciatingly bleak songs, something documented in his book, Crazy Making, detailing the origins of each Blue October song in words and music. The Open Book tour features Furstenfeld performing acoustically and talking about his songs (don't fear a total gloom fest; the singer/songwriter also has a sharp sense of humor). Check out CityBeat's preview of tonight's show here. Here is Furstenfeld performing live at the Open Book tour's stop in Santa Ana, Calif., from early April: Click here for even more live show in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
May 13 • 20th Century Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Justin Furstenfeld may not have invented the concept of
“living out loud,” but he certainly embodies it with an enviable zeal.
The Blue October frontman has never hesitated to identify his long
struggle with a bipolar condition as the main grist for his songwriting
Reggae rockers Rebelution blend liveliness, studio craft on latest LP
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Despite self-releasing 2007’s Courage To Grow and 2009’s Bright Side Of Life, SoCal Reggae/Rock crew Rebelution has steadily grown its audience (and also saw the second album debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Reggae chart). The band has been enthused about touring lately, in part because, with the arrival of Peace Of Mind, the group now has more songs than it can fit into a headlining set, giving members a chance to mix up set lists.
April 11 • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Monday, April 8, 2013
If there is a buzz on the concert circuit this spring,
part of it centers on the shows currently being performed by Richard
Thompson. The London, U.K.-born musician is a legend in many eyes, with Rolling Stone magazine listing Thompson as one of the “Top 20 Guitarists of All Time.”
The ladies of American/UK duo Lady have each other’s backs with tight harmonies and straightforward Soul
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Nicole Wray and Terri Walker grew up an ocean apart, but their tight bond over music led them to form modern R&B duo Lady.
Plus, The Afghan Whigs jam with Usher, Elementz celebrates eight years and Madison Theater's Band Challenge reaches the finals
1 Comment · Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Eclectic Cincinnati rockers Vaughn and Company return with their fourth album, Play It Again, The Afghan Whigs cause a stir at SXSW with show joined by Usher, Elementz plans eighth anniversary party and the Madison Theater Band Challenge enters its final round.
March 17 • 20th Century Theater
0 Comments · Monday, March 11, 2013
The Whigs specialize in earnest, guitar-driven nuggets that
recall both their hometown’s jangle-laden roots and a variety of
old-school heavy-hitters, from Neil Young to The Replacements. Hey,
sometimes good taste and a rousing live show is more than enough.