WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Mike Breen 05.06.2014
Posted In: Local Music, Music Video, New Releases at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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REVIEW: Sleep’s ‘Branded: The Damon Winton Story’

Cincinnati Hip Hop artist crafts a wildly engaging story on new album release

The album is an endangered concept in music, with MP3s and streaming encouraging more and more people to listen to tracks “a la carte.” If people aren’t listening to a collection of songs intentionally put together by an artist in a specific order, why should the artist bother trying? It’s one of the reasons releasing EPs seems to have become more popular than issuing full-lengths.With some exceptions, the “album as art” concept has long been dwindling amongst Hip Hop artists, many of whom have more fully embraced the hodge-podge “mixtape” format, which is perhaps more in tune with our ADD/social media-plagued culture. So it’s beyond refreshing to hear the new release from Cincinnati MC Sleep, Branded: The Damon Winton Story, a collection of eight tracks that tells the story of a young man’s troubled upbringing. It’s not just that Sleep has compiled eight songs that kind of fit together; Branded is a fully envisioned tale that requires the listener to hear the entire album in order to get the total impact. And it’s quite an impact.It helps that Sleep’s “concept album” is based on some excellent storytelling skills, contains some fierce rhymes (with a flow and timbre that recalls Jay-Z at his peak) and is supported by the excellent, often hauntingly atmospheric production of Dope Antelope, which brilliantly reflects the dark, chaotic, heart-breaking nature of the story. The way Sleep — half of local duo 2-Man Cypher — lays the story out is also sharply clever. In lieu of titles, each track is labeled as simply “Question,” followed by the track number. The album opens with a police officer hitting “record” to begin his interview with the main character’s social worker about “what could have led up to what transpired with him this past weekend.” To kick off each track, the social worker is asked about a different aspect of the trouble the young man had experienced and been in. Working backwards from the incident (which isn’t revealed until “Question 8,” so the listener is left to wonder what transpired), Sleep creates evocative, harrowing slices of life, usually told from the main character’s point of view, but with other voices popping in occasionally to give an even bigger picture. The young man’s horrific surroundings are revealed gradually; the listener learns that he has self-mutilated himself, been molested, lost (or never had) faith or religion and had family involved in drugs. Sleep’s brilliance is turning the smaller stories from the big picture into vivid, cinematic tales in themselves — “If this is grown folks’ business/Then why when you conduct it, there’s a child as a witness,” he raps after it’s revealed that the main character’s mother had substance abuse issues. When the social worker tells the officer that the young man had been bullied over his clothes in school, Sleep echoes that pain with lines like, “The peer pressure to be above the status quo/It’s never ending, it’s never taking sabbaticals.” By the last track, the listener is primed to hear just what happened to the main character, but when his fate is revealed, it’s not what most would expect, making the album that much more powerful. (In the spirit of not ruining the final act, I’ll refrain from giving away the ending.)Sleep’s Branded shows just how much power Hip Hop still has to tell a realistic story poetically but without hyperbole. It’s an incredibly moving piece of work that stands as one of the best Hip Hop albums to come out of Greater Cincinnati in recent memory. And Sleep shows that if he ever gets tired of the Rap game (which itself would be tragic becomes the genre needs more voices like his), he’ll be able to find some kind of career as a writer, be it an author, a journalist, a filmmaker or whatever field he decides to lend his talents to.If you’re a fan of intelligent Hip Hop or just great storytelling in general, you must download (for free or whatever you’d like to kick in) Branded immediately at sleep513.bandcamp.com. Here is a music video for the track, "Question 2":
 
 

True Stripes

Cincinnati’s Zebras in Public don’t preach unity — they live it

1 Comment · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Zebras in Public is rightfully protective of their brand of juiced-up metallic Soul/Rock and the band-of-brothers attitude they’ve adopted to create it. The quintet’s freshly released full-length, Paradise Leg, is the band's second, (and strongest) album.  

Growing Up in Public

Cincinnati’s Wussy reaches its full potential on new album, Attica!

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Wussy’s rise from modest Cincinnati upstarts to one of the best bands on the planet has been slow and steady, a natural evolution that couldn’t have happened in any other way.  

Nickel Creek with The Secret Sisters

Tuesday • Taft Theatre

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Nickel Creek is back. The Bluegrass-y trio first arrived in 1993 and quickly became a well-loved band. In 2007, they embarked on their “Farewell (For Now)” tour. Now, they’ve teamed up once again for the release of A Dotted Line.  

Robben Ford with Kelly Richey

Tuesday • 20th Century Theater

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Ace guitarist Robben Ford has always had the chops. The California native has a resume that includes five Grammy Award nominations, as well as music made with a list of artists ranging from George Harrison, Miles Davis and Phil Lesh to Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi.  

Leo Kottke

Thursday • 20th Century Theater

1 Comment · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Leo Kottke is just supremely talented, fingerpicking his way around 6- and 12-string guitars with flawless dexterity, infinite grace and mind-boggling invention.  

Union of the State

State Song locks in on a solid lineup for its sophomore album, the powerful and evocative Sleepcrawling

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 23, 2014
After recording its debut just after forming, Cincinnati’s State Song returns with a more developed vision on sophomore full-length Sleepcrawling.   
by mbreen 04.16.2014
Posted In: Live Music, Music News at 08:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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MidPoint Indie Summer Concerts Announced

Free summertime Fountain Square shows feature national headliners and lots of local talent

The first good sign that consistent warmth is on its way is the announcement of the lineup for this year’s MidPoint Indie Summer series at downtown’s Fountain Square. The concerts are part of the Square’s free PNC Summer Music Series, which showcases different types of music (played mostly by local acts) five days a week. (The lineups for the every-Thursday Salsa on the Square shows have also been announced; visit myfountainsquare.com for details.)The eclectic, free Indie Summer shows take place every Friday throughout the summer. This year’s lineup is perhaps the series’ strongest yet, with some higher profile national touring acts and the usual array of top-notch local talent. Here’s the full rundown of Indie Summer shows so far (a few slots are still to be announced): • May 30: WHY?; Yip Deceiver; Bad Boxes; Dark Colour • June 6: Wussy; The Tigerlilies; Honey & Houston; Mason School of Rock• June 13: Betty Who; Vito Emmanuel; Captain Kidd; Pluto Revolts• June 20: Those Darlins; The Harlequins; Those Crosstown Rivals; The Frankl Project • June 27: Moon Taxi; Peridoni; Nevele; Acarya • July 4: Local H; New Strange; Mad Anthony; One Day Steady • July 11: Soledad Brothers; Electric Citizen; Pop Goes the Evil; Grotesque Brooms • July 18: Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites; DAAP Girls; Mardou • July 25: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Public; Danny & His Fantasy• August 1: The Spiders (tribute to David Bowie); Honeyspiders• August 8: Man Man; Injecting Strangers; Ohio Knife; Skeleton Hands• August 15: The Nightbeast (a co-headliner will be announced in July)• August 22: psychodots; Lemon Sky; Tonefarmer; Heavy Hinges • August 29: Islands; The Pass; The Yugos; Joey Cook & The Keepers of the SecretThe Indie Summer series is sponsored by the MidPoint Music Festival, CityBeat’s popular annual music extravaganza, which returns to the clubs and venues of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine Sept. 25-27. (Though all MPMF-worthy, the acts are booked through Fountain Square, not by MidPoint.) There will be a MidPoint booth on Fountain Square every Friday where music fans can find the latest MPMF info and purchase tickets to the three-day festival. A limited amount of discounted early-bird passes for this year’s MPMF are available now at mpmf.cincyticket.com. Nail down your three-day tickets (or VIP Experience tickets) before the prices increase. And be sure to stay tuned to mpmf.com and the fest's various social media accounts for the latest updates. 
 
 

Cincinnati Music Releases News and Notes

The latest on new releases from Buffalo Killers, The Infinity Ball, Tweens, Foxy Shazam and more

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The latest on new releases from Greater Cincinnati artists Buffalo Killers, The Infinity Ball, Tweens, Foxy Shazam, Dallas Moore, Freekbass, Comprador and more.  

Arlo Can You Go?

The self-titled debut from Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound might have startled the songwriter more than it will his fans

1 Comment · Wednesday, April 9, 2014
There’s an interesting paradigm in Folk/Americana singer/songwriter Arlo McKinley’s career. McKinley has only been on the scene since 2012; his alter ego, Tim Carr, was a back-of-the-stage fixture for many years. But when Carr moved into the spotlight to front his Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound, he found it necessary to adopt a new persona to handle the increased attention.  

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