Arts

Filling Up The Streets Is The Only Thing That Works: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 106

Knowso - Psychological Garden - self-released - 5 songs - digital

The first of two digital-only (for now?) Knowso EPs released in the past few months. They're down to a two-piece here, with Jayson Gerycz on drums and Nathan Ward on everything else. In that way, it's kinda similar to the first Knowso tape, which I think was just Nathan and Jo Coone. They actually redo a track off of that original tape, "Into A Bug," which already has pretty funny lyrics but is improved even further by Nathan's deadpan delivery. "Isn't it funny how things work out…My life is done now," or the brilliant couplet "My brain's on overdrive / I'm on news channel 5." (A quick digression here, but you know what song from that tape they should bring back out? "Chemical Drink." What a ripper.) This is a slightly more herky-jerky version than the original, as I recall, but still good. Herky-jerky is something of an essential element of the current Knowso sound, after all. The songs on this EP in particular are comprised of a clean guitar and a distorted bass playing the same thing (which actually makes for a pretty cool sound), with the same thing usually being a staccato, pretty rhythmic punk tune in a weird time signature-- not in a math rock kind of way because I don't think they're doing this for those reasons, but more in the way that that's just how Nathan writes, kinda like Spike In Vain. I mean, "Staring At The Spiral" sounds like Neo Neos and that's about as far from math rock as you can be. Certainly less aggressive than past material as well, particularly in comparison to, for example, "Look At The Chart," but again, it's a closer sound to that original demo in a lot of ways. Also, there's more of a lean towards post-punk here, while still being, I'd say, punk. The lyrics on this EP are generally kinda out there, a little bit sci-fi but not quite in a Darvocets way. Sometimes they're about completely normal things, but seen through a filter where it's just a bit off. Like a photo where the color balance is wrong but you can't quite say how. There, that's a poetic description for you. My favorite here, particularly lyrically, is probably "Turning Planet." I really like the lines about "skipping cinderblocks in a cemetery" and "stepping on the names of the dead and dying." Cool stuff. 3.5/5

(knowso.bandcamp.com)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 18, Posted 4:58 PM, 09.02.2020

Annual LHS Alumni Ranger Marching Band Celebration - Canceled Due To C19

The Lakewood High School Alumni Ranger Marching band forfeits the privilege of marching with the current Lakewood Ranger Marching Band at Homecoming due to Covid-19. While this decision saddens us greatly, we are most concerned with the health and well-being of the students, their famillies, the staff, and the alumni who regularly attend. We do, however, look forward to any and all future opportunities to perform with the band.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 17, Posted 4:54 PM, 09.02.2020

Coloring During COVID-19

"Keep Calm and Carry On" seems to be the ubiquitous phrase these days. To deal with any challenge, some may resort to meditation or yoga. I have found my own path to tranquility from an unexpected source...adult coloring books!

They've been around for awhile, but I still find this to be a relaxing and satisfying way to pass time. It is also a creative outlet tailor made for those of us who can't draw to save our lives! The canvas may not be blank, but the final outcome is yours to decide. The possibilities are endless.

With days growing shorter and the restrictions of COVID-19 ongoing, adult coloring books can be a way to tune out the world and unleash unique artistic abilities. If you already have some tucked away in a drawer, give them another try. If not, you can dip your toe in the water without much of an investment. Closeout and "dollar" retailers offer coloring books at bargain prices. There you can also purchase inexpensive sets of colored pencils or markers (I found the need to also buy markers because the paper stock in one book did not work well with pencils). Books are usually themed and my collection (of 20!) includes topics such as nature/animals, fashion, and optical illusions. I've received some as gifts but otherwise could not resist those I've picked up spontaneously, often at art supply stores when searching for individual pencils in offbeat colors.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 16, Posted 3:41 PM, 08.19.2020

A Little Key West In Lakewood

Lakewood’s own Solstice Steps Sunset Celebration is rivaled only by the world-famous Mallory Square nightly ritual. Sword Swallowers, Fire Jugglers, Rings, Hoops and various other acrobatics highlight the Key West celebrations. The Cleveland Flow Collective is a growing group of entertainers who have descended upon Lakewood Park, every Monday night, for a few years. Each week the timid organization inches closer and closer to the Solstice Steps. 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 15, Posted 4:08 PM, 08.05.2020

Absolutely Feral: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 105

The Wild Giraffes - Live At The Cleveland Agora - Neck Records - 8 songs - LP

The Wild Giraffes - Live And Later - Neck Records - 16 songs - CD

I'm combining these because they're essentially two versions of the same release– the first seven tracks and final track are the same on both, the CD just has an additional 8 studio tracks. We'll start with the live material. Oh my god! It's fantastic! They kick off with an absolutely smoking version of "Right Now," the title track from their only LP and it blows the studio version out of the water, which is a story that's repeated with pretty much every track here. I know people think the "Right Now" album is badly produced and sorta not that great– I fully understand that, though I still enjoy it– but they oughta check this out. The songs on the LP (or the live half of the CD, if that's how you're listening) are basically the definitive versions– particularly the classic originals like "Love Me," "I Don't Know About You," and again "Right Now." There's also "Under My Skin," another great tune that's never been released before (though there is a studio version which someone should put out as a single). This is some of the greatest power pop ever recorded. No exaggeration. Immensely catchy songs, very high energy, perfectly jangly and pretty where it needs to be– but never ever wimpy or any of the other more negative traits associated with power pop, because first and foremost the Wild Giraffes are a rock band. And the group absolutely destroys on here. Dave Ivan and Alan McGinty are a powerhouse rhythm section (Dave "Animal" Ivan gets a couple good screams in, too– and I always knew Alan was a good drummer, but man, he's on fire here). The twin guitar attack of Edgar Reynolds and Bill Elliott is in full force– it's really incredible the way they work together on here. And I've always thought, but this record certainly strengthened this opinion, that Chris King is the standard that all singers in this style should be held to. He's just at the top of the game. The whole thing makes you excited just listening to it. It's powerful.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 14, Posted 4:19 PM, 07.15.2020

Review: Little Lions' Den Episodes 1 and 2

Little Lions’ Den is a new TV show from the kids who brought you Cruelster— created by (and starring) Nathan and Alex Ward, edited by Michael “Yes Yes” Gill and Perverts Again fill-in Nick Kroh, and helped along by others in the world of those bands. It’s essentially a spinoff of their radio show, ppm The Good Nite Show, and it is exactly as weird as you’d probably expect if you’re a fan of everything else these guys have done. It’s pretty excellent. 

The basic format is a talk show starring Little Diesel, a puppet who looks and sounds like Mike Trivisonno, and Landon Lammagin, who truly cannot be described better than he describes himself in the first episode: “I look like someone from Hell.” Episode #1, “Our Freakish Hideaway,” is a good introduction to what exactly this show entails. They do a bread test (which really needs to be seen to be understood, but probably isn’t what you’re thinking) and then introduce a recurring segment, Newsline Newsbits, in which they give you the news. Sorta. 

Episode #2, “The Pounding In My Head,” however, is where it gets really good. We get our first guest on the show, a rhythm expert who might be called Jonny Donnal (played with great aplomb by real life rhythm expert Noah Depew in his finest orange suit), who’s here to give Diesel the blues, since he lacks them and can’t sing a convincing duet of “Waltzing Matilda” with Lammagin. Spliced in among the episode is also a wild bird cooking segment and another installment of Newsline Newsbits. The rhythm expert part was my favorite— it is tremendously funny— but the whole thing is very good. 

Th

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 14, Posted 5:19 PM, 07.01.2020

Feverish: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 104

Glenn Schwartz Four - Glenn Schwartz Four - not on label - 8 songs - LP

Alright, so the story with this one is that it's the late Glenn Schwartz and several of his students and kind of functions as a showcase of the styles they played. There's a lot of undeniably good guitar playing on this thing– and Glenn taught these guys well, because a lot of the time you can't even tell when it's Glenn and when it's not. Generally, all the songs are in the blues rock realm, and with the exception of "I'm So Glad," are all instrumentals. Some ("Water Street," "Fear N Doom") are in a more psychedelic style, some are more traditional ("Hound Dog"). Personally, I prefer the former. I don't really spend a lot of time listening to this kind of thing, but those who do (and, obviously, Glenn Schwartz fans in particular) will like this. And again, unquestionably good guitar all over the place here. 3/5

(try a local record store?)

Xanny Stars - What Next? - self-released - 8 songs - cassette, digital

This is the debut release by Xanny Stars, who play a kind of hooky pop-punk/indie rock mix– almost in the same area as The Missed (with whom they share a member, Mickey), but slightly more towards the indie rock side than that band. It's decent stuff; they pull off both sides of their style pretty well– the power pop of "Make Up Your Mind" or the alternative stylings of "Spinning." There are good, catchy songs on here for sure. My issue is with the mix: I'm not quite sure what it is about it, but it just doesn't pop at all. Which is kinda weird, since Paul Maccarone recorded this and he definitely knows how to make things sound better than this, so maybe it was the choice of the band to have it sound this way? Maybe it was just laziness? Not sure, but since (as I understand it) this is essentially a demo anyway, there's room for improvement. The vocals at times are murmury to the point of being unintelligible, but that one I'm pretty sure is a stylistic choice– Xanny Stars would not be the first or the last to do this. Overall, a decent tape, good songs, worth checking out an up-and-coming local group and all that. 3.5/5

 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 8:02 PM, 05.19.2020

Three Three Three: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 103

The Cowboy - Wi-Fi On The Prairie - Feel It Records - 12 songs - LP, digital

Hot on the heels of their self-titled 7", The Cowboy are back with their second album and third release total. It's a solid record, 12 tracks of good garagey punk with a strong post-punk edge-- it isn't quite the halfway point between Homostupids and Pleasure Leftists since it's still much closer to Homostupids, but it's somewhere in there between them. This record sounds like The Cowboy, and I know that's a stupid thing to say but really that's what can be said about it. There are good, driving basslines, dissonant but catchy guitar leads, and some cool drum fills (I particularly like the drums on "Papa Bear"). There aren't exactly the standout tracks that there were on the first record (and I would still start there with this band), but this is good stuff. If you've liked The Cowboy so far, you'll certainly like this record as well. My favorite tracks were "Crazy World" and "SS," and the ridiculous closer "The Chief" was pretty cool too. 3.5/5

(feeltrecordshop.com)

Ted Kane - The Dream - self-released - 8 songs - digital

Ted Kane is an expatriate Columbusite and one-time Jim Shepard collaborator living in California these days. This is his latest work, eight tracks of mostly just guitar and vocals. It's definitely within the Columbus tradition: the ballad-like title track and the punker "(I'm So Ambivalent About) Living In The USA" both recall different facets of Mike Rep and/or Tommy Jay (and actually, I could've sworn I recognized the name Ted Kane from some Mike Rep record but I could find no evidence of this, so maybe I just made it up). There are a few instrumentals in here, like the aptly named "Shuffle" and the meditative "The Same Stream," as well as a noisy a capella/percussion track called "Grinnin'," which was pretty weird (though I'm now at a point where I can't tell when things are trying to be weird or just are naturally, so I can't tell you which this is) and, to close out the album, a cover of "Pale Blue Eyes," which at this point is pretty unnecessary to cover, but is always going to be a good song anyway, so I guess I understand. Some of the stuff here is decent enough, but without full rock band instrumentation (or even just something besides guitar), it doesn't really work for me. Even so, good enough that it's of interest to people who are into Columbus-related stuff. 3/5

(tedkane.bandcamp.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 11:01 AM, 04.02.2020

In Sickness And In Health: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 102

The Cowboy - The Cowboy - Drunken Sailor Records - 3 songs - 7", digital

The Cowboy's debut LP was three years ago, as jarring as that is. This is the long-awaited follow-up EP. Side A has two pretty good post-punk leaning punk songs, the vaguely threatening sounding "The Swimmer" and "Mr. Lamppost," which was kind of reminding me of a more aggressive version of Institute or one of those kindsa bands. I probably said something to this effect three years ago, but The Cowboy, for obvious reasons, sounds like a cleaner, more straightforward Homostupids (if the reasons aren't obvious, it's because it's 2/3 the same band). The flip side here is a different kind of thing. "Way Out" is a far more mellow, almost jammy song. It's definitely more laid back than usual for the band, and kind of just meanders its way through itself, but in a weird way, it's enjoyable. The comedown after the first side, perhaps. A strong EP here. 4/5

(drunkensailorrecords.co.uk)

Stinky Monkey Finger - The Earring - DF Records - 15 songs - digital

This might be the best SMF release so far. Every time I review them, I say something like the nearest comparison is Guided By Voices or rather some more out-there Bob Pollard lo-fi project, but I say it with the caveat that it isn't quite accurate. This time it's very accurate: this sounds very much like something out of the Rockathon camp. And actually, it's the better for it, as there are a good few solid songs on here evenly distributed with the weirder material. That's not to say, however, that they just sound like GBV now; they most certainly still have their own identity. There really is a good mix here of the "song" songs ("Call Me Up," "I've Been Drinking" (another Pollard connection), "Slow Burn," to just name three) and the more, perhaps, difficult material (the drum machine free jazz of "Blasting The Boom," the rather aptly titled "Skate World," which sounds ominous enough that perhaps it should've been "Skate Dystopia," and "Bad Ink," which is a melee of instruments that sounds like it's almost gonna fall apart at any second, but never quite does). Probably the best place to start with this band/project/guy (I'm still not quite sure) if you're intrigued. 3.7/5

(dennisbaker.bandcamp.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 3:06 PM, 03.19.2020

Talented Artists Shine At Barton Senior Center

The Barton Senior Center's Talent Exhibit on February 23 demonstrated that there is no age limit when it comes to being gifted. Held in two locations within the Center (on the ground floor of the Westerly Senior Apartments), the event featured residents' paintings, photography, quilts and other unique pieces, one being a vinyl record that was molded into a ruffled bowl.

The Barton member who organized the show summed it up with "this is the epitome of patience and perseverance," acknowledging the amount of time and effort that went into much of what was on display.

Susan Lucas added, "I had no idea so much talent is housed in this complex." Her remark was echoed by many. Other praise included "awesome experience," "fantastic artwork from everybody," and "one of a kind." A crowd favorite was Anna Baker's portrait of her grandparents. It was so well done many thought it was a photograph. Another artist did use a camera to capture images of wildlife, fall foliage and travel landscapes. Needle crafts were also greatly admired by attendees.

Following the visual arts presentations, the celebration moved into the facility's Rotunda. Janis Zemzars, a classically trained pianist, played compositions by Chopin and Debussy. Vocalists sang popular tunes ranging from "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" to "The Rose." The afternoon concluded with the audience singing along to "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night followed by Barton member "Hippie Chatty Kathy's" interpretation of "Old Time Rock & Roll" from Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band.

The Barton Center's Talent Exhibit provided a venue where creativity could be viewed in a formal setting. Some participating artists were asked if their pieces were for sale. It was also a way for the senior community to come together for an inspiring and uplifting afternoon.

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 6, Posted 3:12 PM, 03.19.2020

Psychology: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 101

Cheap Clone - New Paltz/Walk To Canada - Just Because Records / Peanut Butter Records - 2 songs - cassette, digital

These are, sadly, the final recordings from my beloved Cheap Clone (hopefully just temporarily, but for now, this is it). At least they've gone out on a high note! (and that's not a joke about Drew's vocal range). "New Paltz" is a totally great power pop track with jangly/chorus-y guitars throughout and some siren-like noises at the start. It's a really catchy track, and that alternating-two-notes guitar lead throughout works really well. The "flip" (although not really, since both songs are on the same side– and actually, both repeat on the other side as well) is another good track, "Walk To Canada," parts of which remind me of The Mice. There's also part of the guitar lead that I really like and can't quite place what it's reminding me of. In any case, this is really good, much like everything else Cheap Clone has released. I will deeply miss this band and I keep my fingers crossed for their eventual return. 4/5

(cheapclone.bandcamp.com to listen, you may have to bug the band or label directly for the tape)

The Mind - Edge Of The Planet - Drunken Sailor Records - 8 songs - 12", digital

Eight solid tracks of drum machine-driven post-punk from The Mind here, although to just say drum machine post-punk is overly simple. Steve Peffer is a member of this group, which should tell you immediately that it's both better and more strange than just "drum machine post-punk." In some ways, it kinda feels to me like if Factorymen was a more accessible and less immediately weird project. Sorry if those two sentences seem a bit contradictory– these are catchy tracks in a definable genre, but there's still strange and sometimes eerie synth swells, disjointed guitar parts from Jordan Darby, and melancholy, at times almost haunting vocal melodies from Vanessa Darby. The tracks here are all at least a little hypnotic in a way, and they all live up to the tone set by the cover art: a twilight highway with weird neon lights running across it (at least that's what I'm seeing, and, I guess, hearing). A good record– I don't know if I'd necessarily say each track works on its own, but as one piece, this thing is good. My favorite songs are "Running On My Head" and "Technical Intuition," but again, you kinda gotta hear the whole thing. Steve gets a great bass tone on here. A cool project that I hope to hear more from. 4/5

(drunkensailorrecords.co.uk)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 10:32 AM, 03.04.2020

100 Ways To Do Something Or Another, I Can't Remember Anymore: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 100

I’ve been doing this for five years now. This is the 100th review column I’ve written. I’m not sure how many total reviews that adds up to (seeing as these columns range between one and four reviews, usually), but it’s a good few. So, for this one, seeing as it’s moderately special (100 is a big number! Triple digits!), I’m doing a special column. These are quick re-reviews of some of my favorite releases of the past five years that I’ve reviewed here (note: there are things I liked but never reviewed that have been excluded, as well as things older than five years that I did review, but have cut since they’re not within the timeframe I’m trying to work with. I also have reviewed some non-Ohio releases that I loved and could’ve included here, but I tried to keep this Ohio just because otherwise it would be way too long!). There were a ton of records I cut from this list, and it pained me to do so, but I could really go on and on about how much great music has come from Ohio and fill this whole paper with the one column. Thanks for reading, and thank you very much to all the bands and artists who’ve been in some way a part of this column. Here’s to 100 more, I guess. 

Bernie & The Invisibles - All Possibilities Are Open LP (My Mind’s Eye)

This group was one of the lost acts of the late ‘70s Cleveland punk scene, with only three tracks ever being officially released across various compilations. This record solves that problem. Sure, it’s lo-fi, but the music contained is truly some of the best punk rock ever. Bernie is smart, funny, touching–- in certain ways, it’s like a cross between the Modern Lovers and the Urinals. It’s absolutely great. 

The Choir - I’d Rather You Leave Me 7” (Norton Records)

Two tracks from Cleveland’s first power pop group (?), both very good. Sure, I’ve got problems with this record (the lack of liner notes, the fact that it’s on lavender vinyl…), but the music is good enough for me to look past it. Every bit as great as “It’s Cold Outside.”

Bill Fox - Before I Went To Harvard LP (Eleventh Hour Recording Company)

Perhaps this material isn’t as essential as what’s on “Shelter From The Smoke,” but most of it is still prime Bill Fox. Plus, three Radio Flyers songs, so you need it for that alone. 

Great Plains - The Mark, Don, & Mel E.P. +4 LP and Born In A Barn LP (Rerun Records)

Sure, it’s cheating to include both of these, but how could I possibly choose between them? Ron House is one of the greatest lyricists of this generation or any other generation, and the eerie, Midwestern mood these records conjure is like nothing else I’ve ever heard. Two essential records. 

Kill The Hippies - Let’s Start A Band Nobody’s In CD (Phoenician MicroSystems)

It’s mildly funny to me that this is in the archival section here, but it is an archival release! It’s just that this band is still active, which is great. Two unreleased albums and an unreleased single in one package. And it’s a shame these records weren’t released, because they’re pretty great. Still one of the best punk bands around. 

The One Way Street - The One Way Street 2x7” (My Mind’s Eye/B-W Records)

A killer reissue of one of the greatest, dumbest, nuttiest (no pun intended) garage rock records ever (both sides are on the first “Back From The Grave” if that tells you anything) and a second, more straight-laced but still very good single with two unreleased songs. It has to be heard to be believed. The peanuts are nice but the acid is rare! 

Jim Shepard - Heavy Action 3xLP (Ever/Never Records)

A really great set of all the types of music Jim Shepard made. There are heavy, ripping noise-punk tracks from the band V-3, there are sparse, melancholy, acoustic pieces, there are strange audio collages and answering machine messages. A truly fascinating, touching, tragic, and just good portrait of one of Columbus’s best. 

The Society - You Girl 7” (My Mind’s Eye/B-W Records)

This thing’s been getting a lot of hype lately in garage rock circles, but it absolutely lives up to that hype, without question. A total blaster on Side A (with a ripping fuzz guitar solo less than a minute into the song!) and the moody, organ-driven “Lonely” on the flip, both nearly perfect examples of the genre.

The Styrenes - CLE 76-79 Unreleased 3x7” (My Mind’s Eye)

This is maybe not the most essential Styrenes material, nor the best place to start with them (I did like it more than “The Essential Styrenes,” though), but well worth hearing. Alternate/early versions of some their classics (a killer version of “I Saw You” and an instrumental version of “Where The Girls Are” that lets you appreciate just how fantastic the guitar playing is on it are two highlights), plus two totally unheard tracks, “Empty Vessels” and “Murder Me,” both of which are very good, especially the latter. For the fans, perhaps, but necessary for the fans. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 4:30 PM, 02.05.2020

For The Modern Teen: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 99

Ricky Hell & The Voidboys - L'Appel Du Vide - Quality Time Records / Greenway Records - 10 songs - LP

This is either the second or third Ricky Hell & The Voidboys album (depending on whether you wanna count "Satan Of Cool," which had 8 songs and was cassette only– and actually, it could be the fourth or fifth if you say "Killed By Ricky" and "Hell Is Real" are Voidboys releases, since they do have that band on them and since they were combined to make up "Welcome 2 Hell," which was then rereleased as "Ricky Hell & The Voidboys" later. This band has the most complicated discography of any Quality Time group as far as I'm concerned.)  It kicks off with some kind of blaxploitation spoof before kicking into the opening song, "Life In A Northern Town Again," a nod to Dream Academy's 1985 release. Side A is made up of mostly the kind of things you expect: decent, usually catchy punk-pop. "It's Not Really You" is pretty good, as is "Strychnine" (which has what I think is a pretty cool melancholy clarinet line during the chorus, but it's so deep in the mix I'm not certain it's clarinet). Clarinetist Adam Spektor also does some good stuff on "She Always Knows What To Do"; he's at his best here when he's providing a melodic line instead of just the noise stuff, which feels unnecessary a lot of the time. Side B is definitely the winning side here. "Alaska" starts with an electronic kind of intro that gives way to an early '80s sounding post-punk/synth thing, which then abruptly ends and then the actual song, a slow and kinda sad one starts. Noah Depew plays lead guitar here and Kevin Roche (who I think was in Pack Wolf) adds a nice glockenspiel part. It doesn't sound like anything else here, and that's good. "We're So Vain" and "Burn The House Down" are both pretty good, catchy power pop/punk/indie rock type things, and along with "Romantic Comedy" remind you that Ricky really can write good, catchy songs. "Romantic Comedy" is the one that really sticks in my head here, and since there's no backing vocal credit for it, I assume that it's Ricky doing a falsetto, which is a new move for him, I'm pretty sure. "Amnesia" closes out the album with a typical Voidboys style punker, but with Ricky's usual soft and murmury vocal stylings. He's kinda buried in the mix here and the song also feels like it's over after about 20 seconds. I'm not sure it was the best choice for a final track, but there it is. I still don't really like the sound of this band (or maybe I just don't get it)– I don't like the drum machine, I don't like the layer of noise gunk or whatever you wanna call it on them, and sometimes the performances seem less than lively. I guess the band has an actual drummer now (John from The Roobydocks) and he'll be on the next release, so I'm interested to hear how that changes things– almost certainly for the better in my book. I know it seems like I'm always very harsh with this band, but it's because I truly respect all the guys involved and I know that they can make great stuff, so when they're making stuff that's less than great, it's frustrating. That isn't to say that this record is a waste of time or anything by any means; again, most of the songs on the second side are really good and there's a couple winners on the first side as well. By and large, I am a fan of Ricky's work and if you are as well, it's worth checking out. 3.33/5

(try a local record store)

Street Gurgler - Primal Business - It's A Jinx Records - 13 songs - LP, digital

Street Gurgler (with members of Spike Pit, Splat, Brainwashed California, and many other bands) make their studio debut here. They play a good very hard rock-influenced style of punk, with lots of space rock influence and just a touch of metal. It's pretty good stuff. The band is super tight and a lot of the riffs are killer ("Cat Nip" is a great example). I'm wondering if they got Mr. California a real synth to play on here or he just used his phone– either way, the synth sounds cool. The

Read Full Story
Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:29 PM, 01.08.2020

Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 97

Midnight - Midnight - My Mind's Eye - 4 songs - 12"

I guess the deal with this one is that the four songs here were supposed to be released as a 12" of this sort many years ago, but it never came to pass. They've appeared on Midnight compilations before, but never in their intended form…until now! I'll be the first to admit I do not know nearly enough about metal to make any particularly good comparisons here, but I think this is pretty good. The totally ripping opener "Lord In Chains" has some great shredding, it definitely rocks, it has hooks (not pop hooks, but memorable riffs and structure and all that stuff), and it sounds enough like Motörhead that I'm pleased (again, someone who knows more about this kind of thing than me could probably tell you 'it's not Motörhead, it's [some band that was influenced by Motörhead],' but not I). It's well-balanced by the slower, heavier "Strike Of Midnight." Side B has the spooky "Take You To Hell" (the part where he hits the first "when I take you to Hell!" and the music kicks in is especially awesome) which transitions perfectly into "…On The Wings Of Satan," another total ripper. Tell me you're not waving your fist in the air by the end of this thing. Good record. 3.666/5

(mymindseye.bigcartel.com)

Jim Shepard - Heavy Action - Ever/Never Records - 29 songs - 3xLP, digital

Jim Shepard is one of the big three of the Columbus underground music scene, at least according to that one Obnox song ("Ron and Rep and Jimmy Shep!"). However, whereas it's easy enough to find Quotas records or Great Plains or Slave Apartments or whatever, it is not easy to find Jim Shepard's. Outside of "The Room Isn't Big Enough" by Ego Summit (which has several very good Shepard originals), I don't know if there's any of Jim's music currently in print. Well, until this new set here. This really is a great summary of Jim's music. There's everything from very out-there experimental songs (both of the cuts titled "Music For Instr., Voice, Machine") to scalding noise-punk (most of the V-3 material here, like "Photograph Burns" and "Party at Fifteenth and Summit") to acoustic material somewhere in the tradition of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen (both of whom get covered here, along with similar originals like "One Percent Of Nothing") to excerpts from voicemails he left for people (I assume Charles Cicirella, mainly, whose archive I believe most if not all of this is culled from). The first track is "Fuck The Clock," an Ego Summit outtake of a poem recited by Mike Rep. "Prom Is Coming," which was co-written with Robert Pollard, is a really pretty solo tune performed here live, accompanied by Mike Rep again. The 'banter' on the live tracks, as well as the voicemails, reveal something interesting about Jim Shepard's personality, I guess. I don't know, I don't feel like it's my place to say since I didn't know him or anything, but they paint an interesting picture. Just the way he very earnestly tells the audience on one of the V-3 tracks that if they could find his records anywhere, that'd be really cool seems very self-conscious but not quite self-effacing– same thing with one of the "Devil's Editor Messages," where he ponders whether someone covering his song is a good step, and then immediately decides it's probably better than the original. "Tabernacle Moneygun" is a good Dylan-esque folk tune railing against the selling of oneself to corporate interests, or something like that. Side 2 has three live V-3 performances (and a solo version of Leonard Cohen's "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy"), all of which certainly provide good examples of what "heavy action" means. They're heavy and abrasive and maybe even difficult at times, but there's something about them that puts them above lots of music like that. There's something more tuneful and, well, just more interesting about them. Jim's guitar playing on these is what everyone who plays this type of music wishes they good sound like– it just slashes through you. Even the heavy bass on "Photograph Burns" can't overpower the incendiary leads Jim plays throughout. The second record has a few dark, lo-fi, usually somewhat morose solo tunes: "Come Carry Me Down," "Star Power," and "Damage Control," for example. Not quite folk and not acoustic, but with the same raw feel as a solo acoustic performance tends to have.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 24, Posted 12:41 PM, 12.04.2019

Horrific Gray Windowless Buildings Of The Most Bleak Kind: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 96

Breathilizör - Emblematic Picasso Banshee Of Chaos Destructors - My Mind's Eye - 3 songs - CD

Somehow, these three songs last for almost an hour. That's the power of metal, I guess. Track 1 is "Hot Cup Of Doom," which is a pretty good heavy number set in some kind of shopping mall from hell (shopping mall of hell?). Absolutely ridiculous but at the same time kinda good, as you'd expect from Breathilizör. Hearing Food read off the names of businesses in his evil metal voice of chaos is pretty funny: "Hickory Farms…Sunglass Hut…a place that sells cellphones in the middle of the mall." This one's followed up by "Something Of Something, Part X." It's pretty impressive that they're up to Part X now. Is X the most metal roman numeral, or is V? I'm not sure. Please send in your opinions. The final track here is the big one, the almost painfully long "Future Invasion Of Robotic Mayhem." There are some pretty ripping parts, and of course it's great to hear Food's delivery (the way he says "unscrupulous" in the opening line has made me laugh every time), but it's almost more fun to read the included lyric sheet than actually sit through the whole thing. But then perhaps I just have a short attention span. In any case, if you're a Breathilizör fan like myself, you'll need this one. 666/???

(mymindseye.bigcartel.com)

The Missed - The Missed - Just Because Records - 4 songs - 7", digital

This is the first real record for The Missed, following their tape on Quality Time from (I think) over a year ago now. It's pretty good. They're definitely sliding away from the more pop-punk sound of the tape toward a more Nervosas-esque post-punk kind of thing, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. They're still both poppy and punky, rest assured, just in a slightly different way. The songs are catchy, the rhythm section is great, and there's some excellent guitar playing on here (I particularly enjoy the solo on "I Wanna Know"). The opening "Stiff" is a tough stomper and for some reason "Summer Girl" reminds me of Paul Westerberg a bit despite not sounding like Paul Westerberg. I still kinda like the tape better (I wish someone would put that out on vinyl), but this is a solid EP to be sure, and I like it more and more with repeated listens. 4/5

(justbecauserecords.bandcamp.com)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 22, Posted 4:39 PM, 11.20.2019

Danger: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 95

Fan Fiction - No Frontier - Just Because Records - 11 songs - cassette, digital

Fan Fiction returns with the follow-up to their tape from last year, the lengthily-titled, "I Thought You Said The Legend Wasn't Real." 11 tracks of perfectly decent indie rock, all catchy and hooky. Not particularly heavy stuff, but not lightweight either. I think most of the best material is on Side B, like the upbeat "Catch 22" and the sorta-power pop "Creeps," maybe my favorite track on the thing. Side B also closes with a hidden acoustic track about how great a dude Fan Fiction's lead guitarist Joe Vecchio (who also runs the Just Because label) is. It's actually a pretty heartwarming track, another favorite here, and when I think about it, yeah, Joe's probably near the top of the list of people who deserve a song in their honor. Overall, it's a decent tape, though it doesn't have the total hits the first tape had, like "Teenage Landlord." I guess my problem is that it's not quite poppy enough on one hand and then not aggressive enough on the other, though that's really my impossible gripe and not their fault. A solid, likable release either way. 3/5

(justbecauserecords.bandcamp.com)

The Society - You Girl - B-W Records / My Mind's Eye - 2 songs - 7"

Here's a really good archival find. The Society (most of whom were Lakewood High School students) would later morph into the Damnation Of Adam Blessing, but this is their 1967 debut, unheard until now. These tracks are both absolute killers. "You Girl" is a garage fuzz pounder, with incredible guitar playing throughout and a similar vocal line to The Sparkles' "No Friend Of Mine" and, indeed, sounds like something pulled straight off of "Nuggets." There's a guitar solo barely a minute into the song and great call and response vocals: "You're a LOSER!" sings Bill Constable, answered by the rest of the band singing, "You girl!" A total teenage monster here. The B-side, "Lonely," is also absolutely great, trading the fuzz guitar for a slower, organ-driven sound. I wasn't quite sold on it the first few listens, but it really grows on you. And when you think about it, all the best garage singles have the destructo first side with the cool-down flip: "Open Up Your Door" has "Once Upon Your Smile," "Talk Talk" has "Come On In," and "You Girl" has "Lonely." Both sides sound great, too, courtesy of Cleveland Recording and Ken Hamann. Great packaging as well here: looks truly vintage, phenomenal band photo on the cover (and more cool photos on the insert), and interesting and informative liner notes from the garage rock genius Tom Fallon. For fans of garage rock or local stuff or local garage, this is pretty essential. 5/5

(mymindseye.bigcartel.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 20, Posted 5:57 PM, 10.02.2019

Lakewood Author Publishes First YA Novel

When Tony Harmon graduated from Lakewood High School in 2015, he didn’t feel like he had much direction for what was next. So he picked up a pen and a legal pad and decided to write a story. 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 20, Posted 5:57 PM, 10.02.2019

Nightmare On Merl Avenue

As the fall season begins, so comes the time for tricks and treats. How do you plan to spend the spookiest holiday of the year? If you’re looking for something fun, free, and close to home on Halloween, consider attending the scariest experience Lakewood has to offer: Nightmare on Merl Avenue!

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 19, Posted 6:00 PM, 10.02.2019

This Year In Punk: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 94

Brat Curse - Brat Curse - Just Because Records / Anyway Records - 12 songs - LP, digital

This is the debut full-length LP from Columbus's Brat Curse, as far as I'm aware. They were part of that OH7O comp that came out a couple years back and they covered Brainiac. They do not sound like Brainiac. This is a solid twelve songs of hooky, largely upbeat poppy punk. Some of it heads more towards punk and some more towards pop and a few songs (particularly "Modern Snakes") have just the lightest sprinkle of some emo characteristics, but please don't let my saying that put you off. It's somewhere in the middle ground between a Dirtnap Records kind of power pop/punk sound ("Sweat Pants Lawyer," "Who Do You Call") and, say, Cloud Nothings' "Life Without Sound" ("Under The Gun"). "Psycho In The Future" sounds like their Just Because labelmates Fan Fiction, actually. Pretty good record here. It's consistent throughout. I like the back cover photo that kinda apes the back cover of "Something Else By The Kinks." This doesn't sound anything like that, but I like the photo anyway. 4/5

(justbecauserecords.bandcamp.com)

The Choir - I'd Rather You Leave Me - Norton Records - 2 songs - 7"

Here's a real two-sider for you. I think these tracks were recorded sometime after "It's Cold Outside" (and with a slightly different lineup, if I'm not mistaken), but they're every bit as great as that single. "I'd Rather You Leave Me" is very Byrds-esque– lots of twelve-string jangle and great harmonies– and is just a fantastic pop tune. It coulda (shoulda!) been a hit. The flip side, "I Only Did It 'Cause I Felt So Lonely," is equally great; maybe a little less directly influenced by the

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 18, Posted 3:47 PM, 09.18.2019

Better Than Deader: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 93

Peter Laughner - Peter Laughner - Smog Veil Records - 56 (or 61) songs - 5xLP box, 5xCD box (and bonus 7")

Here it is, the Peter Laughner box set, long-awaited for 15 or so years. It's a hefty thing here. On one hand, I feel like it's giving this box set more credit than I'm comfortable giving it to review it and only it this week, but at the same time, I am reviewing five records (or six, actually) and a book and an overall concept here, so…well, so be it. I'll start by going record by record, I suppose, and then onto the other stuff. You're about to see something you don't usually see in these reviews, which is paragraphs. That's right, I'm breaking my aesthetic for this thing. You're welcome, Laughner fans. 

The first record is "Fat City Jive," comprised of selections from two WMMS Coffeebreak concerts Peter did in late 1972, which represents the earliest material here. The first half is with The Original Wolverines, which was Peter along with Mike Sands and Pete Sinks, both recruited from the Mr. Stress Blues Band. The second half is just Pete and Mike. You'll find here 17 folk-blues type tunes, all very competently performed. There's some Bob Dylan (the unreleased (at the time) "Please Mrs. Henry" and a straight version of "Love Minus Zero"), some older country and blues, some Lou Reed, basically what you'd expect. There's also two tracks by Terry Hartman, who Peter recorded a LP with entitled "Notes On A Cocktail Napkin" that I'd heard was supposed to be released as a standalone LP by Smog Veil at some point– will this happen or not, who knows– "Drunkard's Lament," which is pretty solid, and what was rather arbitrarily made the title track, "Fat City Jive," which is, I don't know, fine and all. There are even two, count 'em two originals on here, and wouldn't ya know it, they're probably the most interesting tracks here. "Solomon's Mines" is a nice love ballad and "It's Saturday Night (Dance The Night Away)" is a good sad tune ("I like sad songs," Peter admits in between this one and the next, a decent cover of "These Days"). It's a perfectly acceptable set here, though there are certain things that are kinda like, ok, I get why they'd play this on a live radio performance and all that, but why release it? There are alright tunes, but I don't know if it's really peak material. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 17, Posted 6:27 PM, 09.04.2019

Dale Is Our Guru: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 92

Junkhouse Bones - Safari - self-released - 6 songs - digital

This band or project or whatever it is is one of those things that I know I've reviewed before but cannot remember anything about it. The name Junkhouse Bones made me think it was gonna be bluesy or swampy or something like that. It's not. I'd say it's alternative rock/pop punk (pop punk to me always means bands like the Undertones, but I mean the other definition of pop punk). The first three tracks are in a full band kind of mode and the remaining three are more subdued, with more sparse arrangements. I think I like this second half better. "God's Eye View" goes on a bit too long, but it's at times reminiscent of Nirvana with a drum machine. The closing "A Million Years Of Lies," which is just acoustic guitar and vocals, is probably my favorite of the bunch. This is what I assume Brand New sounds like, though I'm not familiar enough with Brand New to make a definitive statement in that regard. It's actually decent stuff, song-wise. My problem with it is the same as my problem with almost everything in this genre (the alternative rock/pop punk/emo continuum), and it's the production. The vocals are mixed too loud (at the same time, the vocals feel kinda quiet, so I guess it balances out), I just don't agree with the guitar and drum sounds (or they don't agree with me, rather). I don't know. I have a friend who absolutely loves music like this (and has no problems with the production and thinks I'm nuts), so I'm happy to have this to recommend to her. Decent stuff, but it doesn't quite grab me. 3/5

(junkhousebones.bandcamp.com)

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 17, Posted 3:19 PM, 08.21.2019

Former Local Poet Dillon Bodnar Publishes Second Volume Of Poetry, "Harmonic Emotions: A Resonating Assembly Of Reflections"

I am so proud as Dillon’s Editor and Press Agent and Publicity Chief to introduce to you, "Harmonic Emotions: A Resonating Assembly of Reflections," his second volume of poetry! Dillon moved to Lakewood at age 3 and went through Lakewood City Schools where his talent for poetry was recognized and nurtured from a very early age. After graduating from Lakewood High School, Dillon attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and earned a Physics Degree in 2017. Up until recently, he was building lasers for Spectra Physics in Silicon Valley, CA where he moved after college graduation. Dillon’s "Music of Our Spheres: A Roundabout Collection of Ruminations," his first volume of poetry, was published in 2014 when he was only 19. It consisted of poems he wrote between the ages of 10 – 18 and received wide acclaim from readers and critics alike. "Harmonic Emotions: A Resonating Assembly of Reflections" includes poems written between ages 19 – 23, plus some early childhood gems.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 15, Posted 2:59 PM, 08.07.2019

In HARMONY At Good Goat Gallery

In HARMONY is a collaborative art exhibition by Lizzie Essi and Catherine Reitz. The show will feature works revolving around the themes of transformation, balance, growth, rebirth and coexistence. The show will include paintings, prints, multimedia and digitally produced content. This project was funded by the Cleveland Foundation through Cleveland Institute of Art’s Creativity Works “build-your-own internship” program. When generating ideas for the collaborative project with different approaches to thinking and making we wanted to embrace the common goal of creating expressive works in the spirit of fun and freedom of making and also create a space where these differences are in harmony with another. The artists works alongside each other showcase and celebrate the contrast and commonality between varied modes and results of making that emphasizes the idea of coexistence. The show seeks to offer spaces for a viewer to slow down, realize, and meditate on the world that surrounds and shapes us.  The work provides insight into the process and concept as it offers many levels of contrast and commonality emphasizing the theme of coexistence.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 15, Posted 7:18 PM, 07.17.2019

When I Look In Your Eyes, I See Your Eyes: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 90

Human Switchboard - Who's Landing In My Hangar? - Fat Possum Records - 10 songs - LP, digital

I always seem to see Human Switchboard listed as "Cleveland punk" even though their path to Cleveland was a wayward and inconsistent one (they were in Syracuse, and then Cleveland, and then Columbus, and then Kent, and then…) and they aren't really all that punk. What they are is garage/power pop/new wave, that kind of thing. It's very '60s-based (Farfisa is all over it), but with a bit of that late '70s punk energy, ya know? A good comparison would be their contemporaries Saucers, if that helps anyone. The songs Myrna Marcarian takes the lead on are especially good, like the opening "(Say No To) Saturday's Girl" and the excellent "I Can Walk Alone," but I really like Bob Pfeifer's songs too. The thing about his songs is that he's a little bit goofy. I don't mean that in a bad way, but there's something that seems a bit self-conscious about him. He also does this thing on a few songs that's particularly noticeable on the slow, Velvets-y burner "Refrigerator Door" where he almost seems like he's doing a Jonathan Richman impression (it's really, really apparent on "In My Room," which isn't on this album, but is similar in execution to "Refrigerator Door")– the question is, is he trying to sound like Jonathan Richman or did he and Jonathan just both independently copy the same elements of Lou Reed? Does "Refrigerator Door" borrow its style from "Hospital," or are both songs just inspired by "Heroin?" Hard to say. Most of the time, it doesn't sound like the Modern Lovers, it's just something in Pfeifer's vocal style. In any case, I think it's a good record. The peppy stuff is good ("(I Used To) Believe In You," the title track) as are the other things they do, like the sinister "Don't Follow Me Home" or the strange, arty closer "Where The Light Breaks." Mostly upbeat, very catchy stuff, and consistently good if you can look past the things I find funny about it that I don't even know why I find funny. You, reader, probably won't even find it that funny, so maybe just ignore my babbling. 4/5

(fatpossum.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 15, Posted 7:18 PM, 07.17.2019

Annual LHS Alumni Ranger Marching Band Celebration

The Lakewood High School Alumni Ranger Marching band is proud to announce the 40th Anniversary of the Trip to England Celebration. All alumni marching band and auxiliary members are welcome to join us for Homecoming game against North Olmsted on Friday, September 27, 2019 at 7 p.m. Save the date and plan on coming out for a night of marching band fun and hopefully some great surprises! “Like” us on Facebook at LHS Alumni Ranger Marching Band for event updates and other events. You may also visit the Lakewood High School Bands Alumni page for updates and to register as an alum band member. It's free to join and we won't bog you down with unnecessary emails. Email us, lhsarmb@yahoo.com with any questions you may have or contact Sean DeRenzo, Alumni Marching Band President.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 13, Posted 6:32 PM, 07.03.2019

Look Here, Buddy...: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 89

Rat Fucker - First Show First Blood - self-released - 6 songs - cassette

This is a new band featuring members of Basement Boys, Weed Whacker, possibly Spike Pit, and probably several others. You know how these things go. There aren't any tracks listed on here (I hope I got the count right– if there are more or less than six, you're more than welcome to send me hate mail, but only if you're a member of the band). Rat Fucker play pretty good hardcore. It took a couple songs for me to get into it, but by song three or so I was digging it. It's a lively performance (I wish I'd been there, but I'm a poser) and the recording is pretty good, things are nice and clear. There are some good guitar leads throughout, the bass is loud and crunchy in the mix. There's not quite as much live banter as I'd prefer, but what's on there isn't bad, particularly the "we'll do better next time" after the last song. A bit more Noncommercial Records than Mirror Records, just a heads up. Pretty good. 3.5/5

(listen at youtu.be/vwbDCh-me7Y– I think you'll have to see the band if you want the tape)

S

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 12, Posted 2:52 PM, 06.19.2019

Whoa Oh Oh Oh?: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 88

Redness - Killer Bees - not on label - 6 songs - 12"

This is a reissue of a 7" that originally came out in 1980 as the sole release on Non Records, to my knowledge. I'm not sure how official this release is, but it's cool to have nonetheless. I usually seem to see Redness listed as a "punk" band, but that's really not the case. It's maybe art-punk and there are a few tracks that could definitely be called no wave, but it's more of an experimental, artsy, DIY kinda sound. The title track has a synthesizer emulating constant bee-buzzing over a jazzy track while a guy screams about killer bees. Bizarrely, it reminds me a lot of Fossil Fuel, and you can try and figure that one out. "Gran Torismo" continues the sorta art-jazz style with a story about the titular car while someone in the background does a ridiculous performance of "Dead Man's Curve." Now, as far as Cleveland "punk" bands with jazz influences covering "Dead Man's Curve" goes, it's not as good as the version by the electric eels, but it's still pretty cool. The last track on Side 1 is "Little Debbie," which is the first one you'd certainly call no wave or art punk. Continuing that theme, the first song on Side 2 is "Creme Rinse," which is punk but also bossa nova or something like that. It might be my pick for the best one on here. "Backwards, Forwards" goes back to the weird artiness and fades out halfway through one of the lines, which leaves me really wondering what it is he said. Finally, "Primitivjam," as the title implies, is a short instrumental noodling freakout song. I'm not quite sure what to make of all this, especially since the band is apparently a complete mystery. Is it serious? Is it a punxploitation kind of thing but making fun of a far more obscure genre? I really don't know. If you're into the weirder side of things, this is a good one to check out. 3.5/5

(Due to this release's dubious officialness, I don't know where the best place to get a copy is. Try a local record store.)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 11, Posted 9:40 AM, 05.22.2019

NYC Based Folk-Noir Duo "Charming Disaster" Returns To The Good Goat Gallery

Brooklyn, NY based goth-folk duo Charming Disaster will perform in Cleveland on May 23, bringing their whimsically macabre duets inspired by love, death, true crime, ancient mythology, and the occult to Lakewood's Good Goat Gallery. The playfully dark duo are touring in advance of the release of their third album, SPELLS + RITUALS. Pre-release copies of the album will be available at the show. Doors open at 6pm.

They will share the bill with local vaudeville duo Pinch & Squeal, whose modern take on old-time comedic performance, from music to juggling to naughty jokes, has made them a longstanding Cleveland favorite in the circus and burlesque scene. Admission is $13.

"Charming Disaster balances smart pop songs against a confident stage presence, sort of a swagger, that suggest the two people out front are destined for great things...these people are overflowing with musical ideas that simply defy categorization." –The Vinyl Anachronist

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 10, Posted 9:38 AM, 05.22.2019

Precocious Young Men: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 87

Guided By Voices - Zeppelin Over China - Guided By Voices Inc. - 32 songs - CD, LP, digital

I did have the thought that it might be a little irrelevant what I think of any new Guided By Voices release. After all, most GBV fans will buy anything they put out and it's relatively rare that someone's gonna just happen to pick up one of their records to check them out. Also, by the time this review is published, there'll be a new one out. I know that sounds like "ha ha because Robert Pollard puts out a new record every week," but seriously, there's a new LP out April 26th, which is before the publishing date of this review. But I decided I'd review it anyway, because maybe someone reading this has heard of Guided By Voices but doesn't really know anything about them and this will sway them one way or another, or, like me, already appreciate some Guided By Voices stuff but are hesitant to pick up anything they put out because they're not sure if it'll be worth their time (I realize this sounds a little harsh, but you've gotta understand that Guided By Voices and any other Robert Pollard projects put out quite a lot of material– it can't all be great). So here I am to help. You know what? This isn't a bad record at all. It sounds quite a lot like "Isolation Drills"-era GBV, I'm assuming in no small part due to the presence of lead guitarist Doug Gillard, who's got some great playing scattered over the four sides here. The entire first LP is really good, with a solid array of songs (my favorite, probably of the whole record, is "Your Lights Are Out," which is upbeat but also melancholy and is just a great tune). Other highlights include the near-glam stomper "Carapace," the more subdued college rock sound of "Send In The Suicide Squad," and the driving "Wrong Turn On" (I especially like the part where the drums stutter off the beat and then back into it– that's a cool touch). "Think. Be A Man" is a cool pounder with the great closing line, "the little girls do not understand" and to finish off the first half of the record is "You Own The Night," which starts as a total pop hit (with the opening line, "What's it like being all that?," which is pretty good), disappears into a seemingly unrelated second part, and then bursts back into the song. It took a while for me to come around to it, but I kinda like it. How about the second half of the album, or record 2 if you have the LP version? Well, like a lot of double albums, it starts to drag a bit. That said, however, I think there's enough decent material that, okay, the second LP is warranted, but only because it's Guided By Voices and the "why didn't they lose some of the filler songs on here" argument is utterly irrelevant. My favorites from the second LP are "Nice About You" (which has a very familiar melody, but I can't think of why), "Where Have You Been All My Life" (which is the closest this album gets to punk and has a melody that almost sounds drunken– I bet this one's fun live), "Enough Is Never At The End" (which is all piano and strings, which is kinda weird to hear on a GBV album but is an interesting change of pace), and "My Future In Barcelona" (which is another one of the best songs on the whole thing). Once I saw that Doug Gillard was responsible for horn and string arrangements (and there are some nice ones on here– particularly on "The Rally Boys" and "Vertiginous Raft") that made me think, "Oh, so he's like Mick Ronson to, I guess, Pollard's Bowie." I don't know how far you can stretch that comparison, but I've brought it this far and that's where I'll leave it. Solidly a good album, I'd say. 4/5

(rockathonrecords.com)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 9, Posted 8:01 PM, 05.08.2019

Silly Rabbit...A Twisted Vendors Easter Event

The Twisted Vendors Network is bringing the weird once again. If you’re looking for some non-traditional items, come join us at the Winchester Music Tavern on Saturday April 6th from 12 - 5 p.m.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 7, Posted 7:53 AM, 04.03.2019

Poetry + Presents Kevin Latimer

Poetry + is a monthly reading series hosted by Art on Madison for emerging and established writers in Cleveland and surrounding regions. Poetry + aims to shine the spotlight on a single writer, providing them with the platform and time necessary to present a body of their work and to connect with their audience. Each presenter is given the freedom to decide the materials and anecdotes they will share and can determine the duration of their reading. Poetry + is open to all forms of poetry, short and flash fiction, and performative happenings.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 7, Posted 7:53 AM, 04.03.2019

Forced Sneezes: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 86

Red Devil Ryders - Red Devil Ryders - self-released - 9? songs - cassette

This is the official "debut" of Red Devil Ryders so long as you don't count the limited edition live tape or Carter Luckfield's "Crowley 666," which is kind of like the prequel to the whole thing. The sound of the group is firmly rooted in about 1975 or so, in a sort of obscure middle ground between glam rock and pub rock with added hints of country rock and power pop (at its most rock 'n' roll– think Dave Edmunds, say). There's some Brinsley Schwarz influence, a bit of Neil Young, you probably get the picture. Lyrically, the trend is towards themes of driving, women, "gotta get to the show," or, commonly, all three at once. Though I (perhaps unfairly) think of this as guitarist/vocalist Carter Luckfield's band, bassist Adam Spektor takes lead vocals on two of the A-side tracks, "Alabamarama" (a song that sounds exactly like the title makes you think it sounds– it's a "gotta get to the show" tune) and "Spicy Boys" (in which a variety of spicy foods are listed– it's kind of ridiculous, but it's done in good spirit. Come to think of it, this one could probably fall under "gotta get to the show" as well.). "Down At The Club" and "Buy Me A Drink" are very strong as opening and closing songs, respectively. I was worried that "Red Devil" might be another hot sauce song, but it isn't unless it's going for a really weird metaphor, and "The Ballad Of Texas Pete" is an outlaw story song, because what more can you say than that this band goes all in on their schtick? I have to admit I'm slightly annoyed by the flip side, which is taken up with "666 Pt. 2." I thought it might be a really long freakout jam thing, or like Blues Magoos' "Dante's Inferno" or something, but it's not even really a cohesive piece. It's basically four more songs (the last of which, appropriately closing out the tape, is the fantastic "End Of The World") interspersed with bits of recordings played backwards, sometimes jammed over/along with by the band. I don't know, maybe I just find the forced mystery of it a bit irritating. The complaint I have about the tape as a whole, and I feel bad about saying it because I genuinely like this band, is that a number of the songs are very stylistically similar and I think the fact that four more of them are lumped together on side two just adds to the impression of slight sameiness. However, when it works, it works, and there are definitely some really good songs on here and this is a solid debut. You should be able to tell if you'll like this just by looking at the artwork, which includes a van, a cowboy, and a pepper. I also like that they went for a goofy band photo. 3.5/5

(reddevilryders.bandcamp.com)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 6, Posted 12:58 PM, 03.05.2019

Burning River Baroque Performs March 23 At Lakewood Congregational Church

Burning River Baroque continues their 7th season with a series of thought-provoking performances, beginning Tuesday, March 19. "The Other Side of the Story: Untold Perspectives on Familiar Tales" has been crafted to connect baroque music to contemporary social issues.

The March performances engage audiences around the timeless issues of toxic masculinity and consent. Historic passages and tales have been interwoven with a broad range of musical compositions and related commentary. “We frequently get to experience history through the victor’s eyes,” said co-director Malina Rauschenfels, “We’re interested in hearing the other side of the story — from those populations that are often marginalized.”

Drawing from ancient mythology, literature, and Biblical passages, the dramatic music highlights themes raised by the #MeToo movement. From the Book of Judith to the story of a Siren from her own perspective, the performers discuss the ways in which ancient tales resonate in our communities today.

The program for soprano, flute, cello and harpsichord includes baroque repertoire, a medieval work, and the premiere of "Honey sweet we sing for you," a cantata by Aaron Grad and Jennifer Bullis. Amid the week of performances, Burning River Baroque will perform at and host outreach workshops especially designed for the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and CMSD’s Bard High School Early College.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 12:58 PM, 03.05.2019

Calling All Artists To Join Lakewood Art League

Please consider joining the Lakewood Art League! Now is our membership drive for 2019. We meet the third Thursday of the month. Come to our first meeting to kick off 2019 on Thurs Feb 21st from 7 to 8:30pm at our beautiful new space in the Café of Lakewood United Methodist Church, 15700 Detroit Ave!

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 4, Posted 2:41 PM, 02.19.2019

Further Proof Of Something: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 84

Stinky Monkey Finger - Slapping The Bag - DF Records - 13 songs - CD

I tend to get a build-up of stuff to review (especially CDs, since I usually let records get priority) and so I've misplaced the envelope this was sent in but I believe this…group? project? has something to do with Dennis Baker, whose work I've reviewed here before. (I confirmed this when I looked up where to get the CD– see below). This is a weird one. Somewhere close to half of it is lo-fi acoustic sorta-indie rock, sometimes featuring synth and/or drum machine as well, which is most reminiscent to me of the lo-fi acoustic songs on a Guided By Voices record. That's the nearest comparison I can draw, I'd say. However, instead of then kicking into a full band tune like "Echos Myron" or whatever after one of these songs, Stinky Monkey Finger instead goes into full experimental weirdness. Some of these songs, like "Jazzy Jeff Becomes A Pig" and "ZLT" have a kind of quality to them that makes me want to say they're kind of like the aural equivalent of stumbling across some strange video online, the kind of video that there's nothing necessarily wrong with it in any kind of tangible sense, but you just feel like it wasn't exactly made for you to see– and yet it's there, available to be seen (or heard) by the general public, so clearly in some sense it was meant for you to see. And then there's "I Won't Ask," which is a rather melodramatic piano piece with some keyboard strings and opens with "Have you ever opened an envelope? I mean really opened it up?" Is this song a joke? If it's a parody, it's an interesting one, and if it isn't, well, it's an abrupt change of gears that doesn't really mix with anything else on here. That's kind of my question at the center of this whole thing. I genuinely can't tell how much of this is at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek and how much is entirely serious. In any case, some of the more normal songs ("Have You Met Me?" and "I Fold You," for example) are not bad, and while I still don't know what to make of certain parts of the rest of it, it makes for an intriguing listen. 3.3/5

 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 2:00 PM, 02.05.2019

Just The One This Time: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 83

Rubella - Gallows Humor - Eleventh Hour Recording Company - 8 songs - LP

If we are to make assumptions based on the "r 60" that appears on the insert, I believe this is Rubella's 60th release, which is pretty impressive. It's pretty weird that this is on Eleventh Hour, making Rubella label mates with Bill Fox, since this is not in any way folky. It's more of an electronic alternative rock thing, with some songs slipping more towards punk, some with an industrial feel, and some, weirdly, towards pop. Songs like "Hungry Horses" and "Short Breaths" are almost songs I could hear playing on a different universe's version of whatever the alternative rock radio station is. I was told there was no guitar on this record and I have to agree. I also realized at some point that almost none of the lyrics rhyme, but you barely notice. The lyrics tend to be somewhat, shall I say, edgy, but not in a bad way. It works with the music. Also, in the first song, they reference the Hilliard Bridge, which makes this record solidly more local than most of what I review here. At certain times (especially on the opening track, "Trust Falls"), I'm reminded a bit of Brainiac, but with some of the manic energy replaced by a more resigned feel– especially in terms of the vocals; where Brainiac would have falsetto and yelps, Rubella have a weary almost-monotone– which, again, does work with the overall feel of the record. The songs all seem like they were pieced together very intentionally, and as a whole, the record works well as an album. There's a certain mood you have to be in to listen to this kind of thing, I think, but when you're in that mood, it's not bad. 3.5/5

(2300records.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 3:56 PM, 01.22.2019

Yes, We Are Open!

It is hard to believe that we are finally open but after serveral false starts and unforseen delays we are ready to share our art with Lakewood. Our last hurdle is waiting for the broken window to be fixed. Yes, we were the unlucky business that had a car come through the front window in October. 

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 1, Posted 5:06 PM, 01.08.2019

Pfffffffft: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 82

Chris Butler - Got It Togehter! - Future Fossil - 16 songs - CD

The title of this one is intentionally misspelled (it's a joke, you see), so please don't write in to say that the Lakewood Observer is a disgrace to the community or whatever. The first 12 songs on here are the album proper, plus four bonus tracks. I appreciate the sentiment of that, but if you're gonna do that, you need to also release a version that doesn't have bonus tracks, ya know? I mean, I guess I prefer that to Smog Veil leaving between 1 and 4 songs off of CDs for no reason at all other than to have "download exclusive tracks," but still. Some songs here are contemplative, some are kinda weird (I mean, Chris was in Tin Huey), and the majority of them are pretty catchy (I mean, Chris was in (and wrote the songs for) The Waitresses). I would put the overall genre down as "alternative rock" in a sort of quirky, '90s way that's not entirely mainstream but also not entirely abstract or whatever, especially given the interesting instrumentation. Some have a bit of a They Might Be Giants feel, the "I can't I can't I can't I can't" etc. part of "Late For Work" kinda reminds me of Cake…you see what I'm saying here? If you're familiar with Tin Huey– or actually, even if you just know The Waitresses– you know that Chris Butler writes with a definite sense of humor. I don't always find that sense of humor agreeing with me, (in the same way that sometimes I just can't get with The Tubes) but it's there and I'd rather have that than something that takes itself too seriously. My biggest complaint here is the length, which I touched on before with the bonus track thing, but actually just applies to the album proper as well. Mr. Butler posits on the inner cover that the problem with the CD format is that there isn't enough…space, which is a good visual joke, but I think sometimes the CD format (as in on the disc itself) has too much space. Oh well. The highlights (including "Songs For Guys," "Late For Work," and "Better Than I Ever Was" (though I actually like the bonus track demo better, funnily enough)) are pretty decent tunes. I don't know how often I'll pull this one out, but it's a perfectly okay listen and I know there are people who will love this kind of sense of humor far more than I, so there you go. One more thing: so, there should've been a version without the bonus tracks, like I said, and there also should've been a deluxe version with the bonus tracks and the cover for that should've been an actual puzzle. That would've been cool. 3.3/5

(chrisbutler1.bandcamp.com)

Read Full Story
Volume 15, Issue 1, Posted 3:50 PM, 12.18.2018

Twisted Vendor's Xmas Art Shop

Don't let the name of our group fool you, we have artwork for sale that appeals to just about everyone. Join us at the Winchester Music Tavern on Saturday December 15th from 12-5pm and take care of that last minute Christmas shopping. We'll have paintings, prints and jewelry just to name a few items. We work with all local artists and everything is handmade so whether you're a procrastinator or not, this even is for you! The Winchester is located at 12112 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 23, Posted 2:28 PM, 12.04.2018

"THE FINAL GOODBYE" Returns For A Second Showing

Let me begin by sending a hearty "thank you" to all Lakewoodites who came to the movie premiere of "THE FINAL GOODBYE" at the Capitol Theater last September 9th. Over 300 people attended which astonished the manager for a Sunday night showing. Our initial article in the LO back in late August spurred excellent attendance for our motion picture, filmed largely in Lakewood with many local actor/residents like James R. Smith, Dennis Runkle, Neil Donnelly, Donn R. Nottage, Dan Fox, etc.

We at Mil-Roy/Velvet Buck/WLFK Productions are proud to announce a second screening of this exciting film-noir thriller at the Atlas Lakeshore Cinema 7 on 22624 Lakeshore Blvd. (Babbitt Rd. & Lakeshore Blvd.) Kindly mark your calendars for Sunday, December 9th at 7:00 pm for another chance to view this much talked about movie that occurs in 1961. Yes, it's is a period piece and we managed to recreate this fine community as it looked way back when!

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 23, Posted 2:28 PM, 12.04.2018

Things I Said To Impress Girls: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 81

A Saucerful Of Lies - A Saucerful Of Lies - self-released - 6 songs - CD, digital

Earlier in the year, you may recall the group Exploding Lies (assisted by New Planet Trampoline) released a CD entitled "Obscured By Cloud Nothings." This, now, serves as the rebuttal. The musicians are listed only by their initials, but I'm reasonably certain there are some Cloud Nothings and some New Planet Trampoliners on here. The music on here is all instrumental except for when it features samples of various things. Online, there are titles listed for each of the six tracks; disappointingly, these were not listed on the CD version, which is especially unfortunate as they came up with some good ones. The style here is experimental, some more electronic, some more psychedelic, some more ambient. A couple of them, I think, would serve very as well as the soundtrack to some kind of arty movie. You've kinda got to be in the right mood to get into this, but if you are, it's not bad. I particularly enjoyed "Part III" ("Embryo'Malley"), especially when it moves from a vaguely Floyd-esque thing to a Pere Ubu "Final Solution" krautrock kind of thing. I must admit, my knowledge of Pink Floyd is mostly limited to the Syd Barrett years (and the big radio hits that everyone knows), so I can't say how well this functions as a tribute to them. It's certainly more trippy than the Exploding Lies. For "Part V" ("The Final Kurt"), I think they got the saxophone guy from Magic City to solo for a bit, occasionally joined by guitar. That's pretty cool, and then it moves into an atmospheric moody thing. Hey, when I was able to get into this, I enjoyed it, and I don't usually tend to listen to this kind of thing, so that's gotta mean something. 3/5

(asaucerfuloflies.bandcamp.com or drugorientatedgroup@gmail.com…or try a local record store?)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 23, Posted 2:28 PM, 12.04.2018

Special Holiday Performance Of Charpentier's Midnight Mass On December 22 At Lakewood Congregational Church

Acclaimed early music ensemble Les Délices (Debra Nagy, director) and Northeast Ohio’s premiere chamber choir Quire Cleveland (Jay White, artistic director) will bring Lakewood residents a musical alternative for the holiday with a performance of Charpentier’s Midnight Mass on Saturday, December 22 at 8pm at Lakewood Congregational Church (1375 W Clifton Blvd, Lakewood).  

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 22, Posted 4:01 PM, 11.20.2018

Folk-Noir Duo, Charming Disaster, Returns To the good goat gallery November 8th

Folk-noir duo Charming Disaster ("Playfully macabre"- Cleveland Scene Magazine) returns to the good goat gallery on Thursday, Nov 8 on their "Bride of Frankenstein Tour! Doors open at 6 p.m. with a few pre-show activities including a special sneak peek preview of the upcoming art show "Je Suis Amélie", an homage to the dreamer & do-gooder, (which officially opens Saturday, November 10th 6 - 10 p.m.). There will also be a tarot card reading by psychic/medium/Shaman- Joy Wedmedyk, traveling gnome photo booth with photographer Stacie Gerrity, gnome portraits by Jeff Ritchie (of Fred Paints), miniature macabre portraits by Angela Oster, and finally dark poetry by writer Nicole Hennessy. Music will begin around 8 p.m. Tickets are limited and can be purchased on the event page of thegoodgoatgallery.com $10 advance, or $12 at the door.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 21, Posted 3:08 PM, 11.07.2018

Ohio Fair Trade Teach-In

The Ohio Fair Trade Teach-in and Expo was first held in 2005 and brings people of all ages together from across the state to learn about and become more involved in supporting fair trade – a model for socially and environmentally conscious consumerism. This year, the event will feature speakers focused on changing the banana industry to be empowering to local farmers and communities.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 20, Posted 2:25 PM, 10.16.2018

By Land And By Air

Art on Madison presents "By Land and By Air"

Glass Sculptures and Mobiles

by Cleveland artist  Michael Zelenka

Join us for an evening of lively entertainment 

Artists' reception Friday, October 19   6 - 9PM
Closing reception Friday, December 14   6 - 9PM 

Live music by Tom Holland & Wyatt Howland


Light hors d'oeuvres & beverages will be served.

Free and open to the public!

Location:

Art on Madison
14302 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, OH

www.artonmadison.com

Wed – Sat 12 – 6 PM, and by appointment

419.345.8980

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 20, Posted 2:25 PM, 10.16.2018

Uptown Lakewood Trick Or Treat!

Join Uptown Lakewood on Tuesday, October 23rd between 5:00pm and 6:30pm on Madison Avenue for a Halloween "treat walk" between Hilliard and Warren Roads. Here's the scoop:

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 20, Posted 2:25 PM, 10.16.2018

Don't You Know?: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 80

Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to pick out what you like (or dislike) about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much. 

Ricky Hell - Blue Lips - Quality Time Records - 3 songs - download

I usually hate to review digital-only releases, because I kinda feel like it doesn't really count (I know this is not a particularly modern stance to take, but whatever), but I've made an exception here. Regular readers may note they haven't seen the name Ricky Hamilton in these pages in a while, while he used to be in here almost every issue. That's because earlier this year, Ricky took off for LA, and there's been little new stuff from him since. However, with very little fanfare (in fact, no fanfare, as far as I saw– not even an Instagram post from the guy), these three songs were put up on the Quality Time Bandcamp not too long ago. Avid readers of this column may recall that I've thought Ricky's solo work (including stuff as Ricky Hell) is somewhat hit-or-miss. I'm pleased to say that this solidly falls under "hit." The title track really brings out Ricky's '80s indie rock influence, in a very melodic, melancholy pop tune. "Nela Park" is a great Cleveland tune, and I like that it's solidly ambivalent, both in the lyrics and the context. It's neither entirely positive nor entirely negative about the city, and while Ricky sings, "Cleveland, the only city that I really love," you can't help but remember that he's no longer living here. Sorry to get all reviewer-creep on you, but I like that kind of thing. I think I'm also starting to understand Ricky talking about how he's influenced by Pulp, which I'm not sure I've ever quite gotten before. Closing out the EP here is "Finger On The Pulse," in which Ricky really brings in the Nick Lowe influence on that chorus, eh? First there was Carter Luckfield quoting Brinsley Schwarz, now there's this, next thing you know Shagg are gonna be covering Little Village. The EP merges what I think Ricky's been going for with some of the previous Ricky Hell/Voidboys releases that didn't really stick for me with the more glam/pop influence of the "Life By The Thorns" tape, which was more my cup of tea. Really, all three songs here are pretty essential in the Ricky Hamilton catalog. If someone ever makes some kind of greatest hits/anthology type thing that includes all of his many projects, I'd say that all three songs here are worthy of inclusion. What's the deal with the release, though? The art (by Noah Depew) looks like it's laid out for a cassette, and yet I've heard no word of a cassette in the works. But then I didn't even hear about this being released in any form at all, so what do I know? It really ought to come out on a physical format of some kind, it's worthy of that. I need a copy when it does, please. 4/5

(qualitytimerecords.bandcamp.com)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 20, Posted 2:25 PM, 10.16.2018

Yayoi KUSAMA! @ Cleveland Museum Of Art 2018 - The Definitive Review

The KUSAMA Experience, a proper perspective of art, art appreciation and happenings.

In mid-2017 I heard in a casual conversation that Yayoi Kusama was going to be on exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2018. I was unfamiliar with her work, so it barely passed notice in my mind, but in fact the seed for a happening had been sown. Little did I realize what it would lead to at the time. Throughout the rest of summer I really never heard the name Kusama again and so it was meant to be. When you sow a seed it often sits fallow in the ground as a season or two passes until it can break through the ground, grab the air and the light of day and grow.


Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 20, Posted 4:17 PM, 10.03.2018

A Lot Of The Old-Wavers, A Lot Of The Cheaters: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 79

Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to pick out what you like (or dislike) about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much. 

 

Drum Machine - What Is A Demo? - Saucepan Records - 7 songs - cassette

The quickest description of this band is that it's basically a continuation of Folded Shirt: Larry on vocals, Mr. Terry California on guitar, and Steve Peffer on bass, with drummer Allie replaced by Richard (from Real Regular, Rubber Mate, etc., etc.). And, again, to quickly sum it up, it is in many ways reminiscent of F/S. That is not to say, however, that Drum Machine don't have their own thing going on, because they definitely do. Genre-wise, sure, you can say it's experimental punk or whatever, but there's lots of lounge and jazz elements in here. Richard doesn't play drum machine by the way, he plays real percussion. And I don't mean just drums, either, I mean there's a glockenspiel or something on here. And he can do it live, too, I've seen proof. Maybe he's the drum machine. Or maybe that's supposed to be obvious and I'm just stupid. Or maybe the name of the band has nothing to do with Richard at all. No song titles are listed here, so I've done my best to make them up. I'm sure they're all completely incorrect. "Wander Around" really brings out the lounge-punk descriptor. "Another Boring Show" is a pretty anthemic tune, very relatable. "Shoulda stayed at home" indeed. There's some real groovy sounds going on with "Just Look Down." It's evident that these guys really know how to play with/against one another. My favorite here is perhaps "Everybody Should Die," which might be the most "punk" of the bunch. It's a sort of semi-goofy but also disturbing tune ("No God…No Narcan…No 911!") very much in the same way that F/S's "Eleven And A Bucket" is. I wonder what Larry said in the part that's backwards. I'm pretty sure "Wipe Your Third Eye" is actually called "Golden Shower," but I think that's a dumb name (not that what I've got is any better). The lyrics are conspiracy theory-oriented, who'd've guessed? "Earth is flat, so's your head." "Slow" starts off sounding like Counter Intuits, but that gets lost very quickly. They really are based in lounge/jazz, and I think I've seen them billing themselves as "Cleveland's quietest band" or something like that. The final track here is "What The Hell Is That?," which features not only some great musical call-and-response, but also vocal call-and-response between Larry and Terry. So what is a demo? I don't know. This, apparently. And it's a pretty good one at that. 4/5

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 19, Posted 2:26 PM, 10.02.2018

First Concert of West Side Chamber Music Group's 60th Season

The Rocky River Chamber Music Society will be celebrating its 60th anniversary all season long, and everyone is invited! The kickoff concert, on Monday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Boulevard in Rocky River, will applaud the extraordinary young talent in our region’s distinguished music schools. The Society will present an ensemble comprised of violinist James Thompson, a Cleveland native and Artist Diploma student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, along with his Cleveland Institute of Music classmates cellist Anna Hurt and pianist Sarah Ha. This ensemble will perform works by Mozart and Shostakovich.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 18, Posted 10:34 AM, 09.18.2018

Burning River Baroque’s “Destructive Desires” Inspires Thought-Provoking Dialogue About Issues Related To #MeToo

Burning River Baroque opens their 2018-2019 season with “Destructive Desires,” an edgy program that challenges audience members to engage with issues that have been brought to the forefront of cultural awareness by the #MeToo movement. It also touches on the profound reach of the movement and the resulting conversations about consent, the misuse of power and the fact that it has provided society with the opportunity to explore new channels of communication and redefine boundaries in all types of relationships.

Read Full Story
Volume 14, Issue 18, Posted 10:34 AM, 09.18.2018