Review: Captain Kidd / Clubhouse / Personal Public (Skully’s: 4/8/16)

This past Friday night, three of Columbus’ up-and-coming indie rock groups took to the Skully’s Music-Diner stage not only to entertain the sea of concertgoers who braved the elements, but also to support a fantastic charity. Proceeds went to the non-profit Music Loves Ohio, which makes disadvantaged youths’ dreams come true with scholarships, songwriting workshops, and more.  Early into the evening, the doorman had a wad of cash in his hand and given the crowd’s size  by show’s end, thousands had to have been donated.

Spunky quintet Personal Public (@PersonalPublic) kicked off the night to a great sized audience for a nine o’clock start. All five guys seemed to be having fun performing their array of catchy, yet thought-provoking alternative rock songs. Their sound is a fresh mishmash of Kings Of Leon, Parachute, and Knox Hamilton, who are three acts that have earned respect within the genre. The coolest part of their set was the bassist showing off his drumming chops off stage in front of the crowd. Not to be outdone, Personal Public’s actual drummer took to the standalone kit on the concert floor and did his thing. Furthermore, the fact that the week prior these guys played the same gig as national alternative acts Declan McKenna and Best Coast demonstrates Personal Public is getting the right ears to hear them.

Clubhouse (@clubhouse_music) had big shoes to fill and this group held their own with no issues. These guys stood out with a hybrid of the romantic 1980s sound combined with the hooks and harmonies found in today’s alternative music (think UB40 + The 1975). Their music is cool enough to dance to by oneself, but it strikes the heartstrings enough that couples can be affectionate to it, too. It seemed quite obvious due to what Clubhouse brings to the table musically and aesthetically, they had the female-heavy audience from the first note. This is a band that is not too far from where Personal Public are in terms of opening for nationally known artists. On June 11, they will participate in LaureLive, a festival outside of Cleveland that features O.A.R, Grace Potter, Red Wanting Blue, to name a few.

Despite setbacks with the singer/guitarist’s monitor, once headliners Captain Kidd (@Capn_Kidd) started playing the mob quickly forgot about the snafu and hung onto every chord these guys cranked out. These gentlemen were spot on from beginning to end and their indie dance style caught on with ladies and gentlemen alike. Their best known tune, “Freaky Love”, was played next to last and sounded just as great as it does in the awesome video with over 26,000 YouTube views.

When the night was over, fifteen musicians had given their time, effort, and energy to execute something special. Those who witnessed the greatness exuded this past Friday were left wanting more. Perhaps Columbus festivals’ big wigs were in attendance for a prime scouting opportunity as these bands deserve to be considered for spots. If they were not, then they missed out on good music with a fun crowd for a great cause.

Review: WATM’s Get Busy Living…

Columbus, Ohio’s We Are The Movies (@weare_themovies) have something special with their sophomore EP Get Busy Living… due to be released next Saturday March 26 digitally. That very night, the band will release the CD in their hometown at the Scarlet & Grey Café as part of 99.7 The Blitz’s Local Stuff Showcase. This show and the accompanying record are proof of fantastic things happening for this well-deserving group.

Although it clocks in under 90 seconds, the opener ‘Always the Rule (Never the Exception)’ starts off with a bang with Mike O’Leary and Tim Waters’ solid vocals and Bryan Overholt’s high-energy drum work. If it were a half-minute longer, it would be an amazing single in the same vein as Blur’s ‘Song 2’. It has a chance as a track that could be included in a movie montage, though. ‘The Story So Far’ exudes Overholt’s superb drumming in addition to magnificent guitar play from O’Leary, Waters, and Dan McMillan. The tune also possesses O’Leary and Waters’ spot-on vocals, which will remind pop-punk fans of the genre’s all-time greats Hawthorne Heights, A Day To Remember, and Allister.

The third track ‘Happy EX-Mas (War Is Over)’ has Overholt’s great drum play with its standout guitars not far behind. It is a headbanging, sing-along tune that can be successful on rock radio stations. The song should resonate with listeners due to its lyrics that include “We all want something to believe in, but give me something real like happiness.” Song four is ‘The Best Revenge is Living Well’, which is about utilizing the power of positivity to combat negativity. It makes wonderful use of Stephen Goldstein’s bass skills and the track has great potential as a radio single with in-sync drum work, guitar play, and vocals. With the rise in cyberbullying and social media shaming, the song has a great message as a response to haters.

‘Temporary’ is the EP’s longest tune coming in at near six minutes and is starts off as a ballad with beautiful acoustic guitar work before the group turns up the heat. It could be a radio single if they edited a chunk of it, but that would butcher the track and it is best left alone. The record’s final song ‘By a Thread’ starts off the same way as ‘Temporary’ and is an alternative radio prospect with O’Leary and Waters’ essential singing leading the way.

For next Saturday’s album release show, We Are The Movies will play alongside four other fantastic local groups Absolute Hero, No Dice, The Scratches, and Heroes Like Villains. The gig will be free to the public, but great alternative music lovers will want to bring their wallets to support these groups. Although WATM was founded approximately four years ago, with the musicianship and songwriting exuded on Get Busy Living… show the band members have been honing their craft for much longer. With the new EP and a spot on The Vans Warped Tour in Alaska, great things are in store for the gang for years and years to come.

*Photo courtesy of wearethemoviesband.com

 

Review: Two Years Later’s ‘Dropping Anchor’

Columbus, Ohio’s Two Years Later (@2YLBand) is an alternative pop-punk rock quintet formed in 2013 by principal members drummer Zak Toth and singer/guitarist Jamie Rogers. The duo recruited bassist Mike Johnson and guitarists Chandler Eggleston and Mike Leibrand to fill out the lineup. Two weeks ago, the group made their second album Dropping Anchor available to select fans and on February 20 was released it to online outlets. The official release occurs this Saturday, March 5 at north Columbus’ Spacebar with physical copies available to the public. Given the record’s craftsmanship from top to bottom including Mark Abrams’ mastering and Matt Hagberg’s engineering, the band is ready for the record as well as themselves to go viral. After 20 minutes of taking in Dropping Anchor, the group proves they have the style and substance to succeed.

The EP’s first track, ‘Learn to Let Go’ displays Rogers’ sharp vocals and Toth’s solid drumming skills. The tune is pure pop-punk greatness with fine work from all guitarists. With Rogers as the band’s sole songwriter, listeners will hear songs grounded in a reality that is not all rainbows and unicorns. If one fancies Rogers’ voice on the first song, they will be blown away with what she serves up on ‘You Win’. The song is about the dilemma to sacrifice and concede, even if those are not the ideal things to do. The guitar work is actually more solid here than on the previous tune and each player comes together to concoct a rock radio dark horse.

Dropping Anchor’s third song ‘Pieces’ is pure awesomeness from the arrangement to the lyrics to the musicianship. The theme here deals with experiencing heartache, but ultimately dusting oneself off and moving forward. ‘More Than This’ holds its own on the record as a fantastic song with a fine message put to a wonderful melody. Young people’s empowerment, especially for females, is important in today’s society with the rise of bullying and shaming prevalent due to never-ending technological connections. Whether intentional or not, Rogers has created the next Saturday morning PSA.

Lastly, Dropping Anchor features the surefire rock radio staple ‘Stay with Me’. By far and away, this gem is Two Years Later’s best chance to lead them on the road to fame. #Road2Fame happens to be the group’s first (and already out-of-print) EP from 2014 that lives on in cyberspace. Although consumers will likely compare Rogers to Paramore’s leader Hayley Williams, on this song she comes off closer to highly regarded rock goddess Lizzy Hale.  Johnson’s bass work is spectacular here and Leibrand and Eggleston’s guitar play is on point with everyone else. Toth’s excellence behind the kit is noticeable here and stands out in the final 30 seconds.

Dropping Anchor is a very personal record and all should be grateful Two Years Later and especially Rogers have invited us in to experience it. To promote the EP, the band is taking to the road with stops in Louisville, Charlotte, Cincinnati, and beyond. This band is onto something huge and alternative music lovers will want to join the wild ride.

*Photo by Matt Hamilton is courtesy of the band’s official website

Review of Good Luck Year’s Tinder for the Fire

Good Luck Year (@goodluckyear) is a Dayton, OH-based alternative rock sextet comprising of Matt Shetler, Justin Smith, Tesia Mallory, Jason Thompson, Josh Guild, and Cole Howell. Much like other rock outfits like Children 18:3 and Skillet, there is a hybrid of male and female vocals at play from Shetler and Mallory. On September 18, the group released their third record Tinder for the Fire and they have garnered praise in their hometown for it. Upon listening to the EP, there is no surprise why the outfit has a buzz about them. It is now time for the record and the band to reach a wider audience to show the masses what they are all about.

Tinder for the Fire starts off with a bang with ‘Temporary Light’, a track cocked and loaded with harmonic dual vocals that is Good Luck Year’s staple. The tune is a mishmash of what would happen if Hayley Williams teamed with Andrew McMahon. The result is a surefire Top 20 rock hit one can headbang to. Once a label gets their hands on this band, expect widespread attention off of this song alone.

Clocking in at 2:42, ‘Pinch’ is the shortest track of the five and the only downside of that is less of Tesia Mallory’s voice, which leads off the song. It is a departure from ‘Temporary Light’, but it displays to the listener that this six-piece is no one trick pony. The third track ‘Tie Tie’ has elements of Twenty-One Pilots, Panic! At The Disco, and Paramore mixed in leading to what would be another rock radio staple.

The group prides itself in being unique, which is important the current state of the industry. ‘Colors’ turns the intensity down several notches with acoustic guitar more at play than the previous three tunes. On their Facebook page, Good Luck Year mentions they have two keyboardists, which outside of Tennessee act sElf is uncommon. It gives the band more to play around with on this EP and future releases. Lastly, clocking in at exactly four minutes ‘Secret Science’ is the group’s best chance at a crossover pop hit. The pace is slowed even more than the previous tune with the emphasis on the dual vocals and acoustic guitars. Both singers show they have the chops to make this tune work.

Similar independent artists to Good Luck Year can also be found right in the state of Ohio. Cleveland’s Envoi with frontwoman Maddie Finn perform tunes in the same vein as Good Luck Year. Furthermore, Columbus’ Two Years Later with founding members Jamie Rogers and Zak Toth present a similar superb style of music. It is worth a pop-punk fan’s while to hunt down this EP, available at Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon. The band is looking to tour, thus bookers and fans who want them in their town need to take the initiative now before the group’s calendar fills up. It is safe to say with what they have displayed thus far, Good Luck Year will have very, very good luck for years to come.

*Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page.

Mint Leopard is Ready to Pounce

Cincinnati’s Mint Leopard (@MintLeopardOG) consider themselves a psych-jazz rock n’ roll band and based on what they have released thus far, they live up to the hybrid description. Formed earlier this summer, the quartet of lead vocalist Jaxon Hughes, drummer Justin Van Wagenen, guitarist Alex Masset, and keyboardist Ben Bob Hammer have been getting their feet wet with live shows across their hometown and surrounding areas. They recently released the single “Progress in the Evenin’” and even created a music video for the track. Based on first impressions alone, the foursome should have a bright future ahead of them.

The video, directed by Hughes, was conceptualized and executed with sheer brilliance. Based on its premise and production, it would fit right in with the playlist of The Cool TV and MTV2’s 120 Minutes, when the latter network still aired the program. Released this past July, the video is primarily set in the desert, with three guys in business casual outfits searching for Hughes. The song is a melting pot of pop-rock psychedelic greatness that crosses over multiple decades. It would fit like a glove on playlists in the 1970s and 80s. With several acts in the 2000s inspired by music from 30 to 40 years ago, the track is just as relevant today as it would have been back then. Hughes’ harmonic vocals gel perfectly with the slick guitar and synthesizer work of Masset and Hammer. Van Wagenen’s drum work caps off “Progress in the Evenin’” giving the listener approximately four and a half minutes of a non-stop jam session.

Mint Leopard is seeking to expand its horizons beyond being their local territory and they are well on their way in doing so. The group looks to tackle Ohio’s capital, known for its diverse and embracing music scene. Cincinnati has produced good talent across different genres such as 98 Degrees, Pay The Girl, and Motherfolk. With upbeat on-your-feet tunes in their arsenal, Mint Leopard has an excellent chance to succeed anywhere.

*Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page

Critique: Kerchief’s Machine’s and Animals

Kerchief (@KerchiefMusic) is the moniker of ex-Vanity Theft guitarist/vocalist Brittany Hill. Given the blood, sweat, and tears put into her sophomore solo effort Machines and Animals, it is a safe bet Hill is going to be just fine on her own. Released earlier this summer and available at online retailers and live events, the 10-track album includes something for everyone who is a fan of the alternative music genre. Although it might be Hill’s second record and first full-length under this identity, given the output of this album it is clear she is no novice and will have a future in the music scene for years to come.

Machines and Animals from start to finish is a breath of fresh air and a throwback to an alternative scene longed for by fans of Luscious Jackson, Ani DiFranco, and Peter Searcy. The vast majority of tunes are radio-friendly in terms of their length, arrangements and catchy hooks. ‘Milk & Honey’ is the first single and gives off a Brandi Carlisle-ish vibe upon repeated listening of it. It is a song about the hustle to become successful, which is something that any working class member can relate to. The track has a video for it, which has nearly 13,000 views on YouTube alone. There are plans to shoot a video for the equally impressive ‘Jack London’, a track that will surely satisfy Vanity Theft fans.

Signed to non-major label 825 Records, Kerchief managed to show how talented she is without a huge budget behind her. She penned every single tune on the album and outside of minimal input from Matty Amendola (who co-directed the ‘Milk & Honey’ video), Hill played all of the instruments heard on Machines and Animals. This effort is fairly close to D.I.Y. as one can get keeping the costs low, but maintaining high quality. Unlike some one-person acts like The Saturday Giant and Happy Chichester, on tour Kerchief is a stripped down trio which again keeps expenses at a minimum but still allows Hill to rock out at live events.

Machines and Animals is a solid ride from top to bottom with the kind of variety that will keep listeners debating their personal favorites among each other. This could very well lead to word of mouth regarding the record, which is another way indie artists are being discovered every day. Some may embrace the storytelling behind the personal song ‘Weekend’ while others might prefer the perfect-for-radio ‘Out of Focus’.  For an independent musician, the more listeners the merrier and the more one listens to this LP, the more one will admire and respect what Kerchief has to offer the music consumer.

*Photo courtesy of Kerchief’s Facebook Page

Artist Showcase: Corina Corina

Oakland, California native Corina Corina (@CorinaCorina_) has demonstrated she’s a fierce player in today’s independent music scene. Having resided on the other coast in Brooklyn, NY, Corina is well on her way to garnering attention from the mainstream with her angelic, soulful voice and genuine songwriting. Having two full-length solo records under her belt in under half a decade along with an acoustic blues side project demonstrates Corina’s strong work ethic and dedication to building her brand with her musical talent being the driving force.

Corina Corina’s 2012 debut The Eargasm is a melting pot of pop, hip-hop, and R&B goodness mixed into an LP worthy of the paying public’s attention. A video was made for the first track ‘The Familiar’, which would fit right in on the I Heart Radio’s Top 40 playlists alongside offerings from the Iggy Azaleas and Demi Lovatos of the world. Corina Corina’s main focus musically is providing beautiful vocals on the album’s bevy of upbeat tracks that match the instrumentals like a glove. In addition to The Eargasm’s up tempo songs, she carries herself quite well on the record’s ballad ‘Royalty’. It is crystal clear Corina can write, produce, and perform across multiple genres and with this record in the right hands and heard by the right ears, she should have a career in the industry in some capacity for decades to come.

Co-produced by the highly regarded Willie Green, the album is riddled with tunes worthy of airplay on Top 40, hip-hop, and R&B stations. The key is these tunes have substance behind them, which cannot always be said for the major label offerings of today. ‘The Wrong Direction’ is a warning to females to avoid the pratfalls of the mainstream media’s images of women. ‘Baby Don’t Sell Yourself Short’ are words of wisdom as advised by Corina’s father, but the lesson is one that everyone can relate to. These two tracks along with the album’s first and last songs have the greatest potential of taking Corina over the hump from underground to the next breakout star. On the other hand, much like other underground artists, without major label support Corina has the creative control that other artists sometimes lose. Writing, producing, and recording the record sans corporate backing led to a fantastic debut effort that indie music lovers need an earshot of.

Corina Corina’s sophomore effort, The Free Way, dropped last year and was bankrolled by the public through an Indiegogo campaign. Much like her debut album, Corina and Willie Green served as Executive Producers maintaining that creative control and authenticity that can be lost with major label involvement. Although many of the record’s tracks have potential for airplay at Top 40 and R&B stations, The Free Way’s standouts are ‘When I Say’, ‘Time’, and ‘Last Night’. There is something for everyone on this album and casual fans of pop and R&B will not be disappointed.

Consumers can expect smooth collaborations, tight hip-hop beats combined with on-point raps, upbeat tunes to get dancers in the mood to move, and lyrics from the heart and mind that have a purpose. Combine these elements with Corina’s angelic vocals and pop music lovers will get something that holds up to the mainstream offerings of Taylor Swift and Charli XCX. Give independent music lovers credit as their support in making this record a reality contributed to the ability of Corina and Green to create the kind of record they wanted to. This cohesive duo gave it the basics to make it professional, yet not overproduce it nor include soulless, hollow songs just to fill quotas.

Corina Corina continues to tour all over the country in support of her two brilliant works, however, she is also involved in the two-piece act Max Caddy. In fact, the final tune on The Eargasm titled ‘Me and Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine’ is a Max Caddy song included as a bonus track. Do not let this artist’s pierced and tattooed exterior fool you. Corina has come to play as a pop, hip-hop, and R&B artist and with the ability to write and produce material it makes her a valuable asset in an industry that is not always known as female-friendly. Being multifaceted and having the results to back it up gives Corina leverage to do things on her terms, which is a win for music, artists, and fans alike.

*Photo by Gubi Chiriboga and courtesy of corina-corina.com.