Artist Spotlight: Pete Mako

Pete Mako (@PeteTheShark) is an Australian-born singer-songwriter who has primarily focused on performing science-fiction themed acoustic alternative music. Currently based in Columbus, OH, the 10-year industry veteran’s creativity, fascination with peculiar subjects, hard work ethic, and high-energy concerts make him one of the more sought after and standout artists in the local scene. His two full-length efforts are chock full of 19 different audio comic books between them that paint a vivid picture in listeners’ minds.

Mako’s first LP, 2015’s Relationships with Monsters, contains the would-be radio hits “So Far Away” and “Apparition of Love”.  These tracks demonstrate his ability to write mainstream songs in addition to those with a supernatural tone. Other notable tracks on Mako’s debut record are the high-octane “Full Moon’s Glow”, the ballad “Not Just Another Day”, and “Solomon Grundy”. Slickly engineered by Trevor Boggs, Mako went the DIY route on the record playing all parts himself. This is a perfect demonstration of his versatility that would serve him well later in his career.

One year later, Mako dropped The Undead Life, a Ka-Tet Records release that continues his previous album’s sci-fi theme. Much like Relationships with Monsters, Trevor Boggs was involved in this record’s creation. The 10-song album fuses unique songwriting, alpha male vocals, and spot-on acoustic guitar play into an alternative masterpiece. The fourth track, which shares a title with The X Files’ tagline “The Truth is Out There”, name drops David Duchovny’s character and is a nice ode to the recently revived TV series. Mako collaborates from time to time and on the record’s fifth tune “Haunted Trans Am”, Two Years Later mastermind Jamie Rogers contributed backing vocals. Days of the New and Peter Searcy fans will enjoy Mako’s vigor in delivering another quality album that includes songs about vampire romance (“Bite Me”), prostitution (“The Witch of West Hollywood”), and a cowardly dog (“Courage”).

For a time, Mako had his own backing band The Boogie Men who did live shows, but he eventually returned to his roots of going it alone. As of late, however, he has played bass in the supergroup Roxy Mae where he has joined vocalist/guitarist and charter member Matt Starr and Two Years Later co-founder and drummer Zak Toth. Whether it is with his new band or his unplugged solo work, 2018 is bound to be a huge year for Mako. With the sky being the limit for the self-proclaimed ‘Rock N’ Roll Devil’, he and his fans are on their way to experiencing the ride of their lives.

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Artist on the Rise: Sunroof

Sunroof (@SunroofMusic) is an American musician who is self-described as playing electro-acoustic pop-rock. Montana resident Jeff Simpson started the dream in 2012 playing live shows within that year. Fast forward to 2013 and Sunroof made tracks available for sale at iTunes and other online retailers. Given the quality of what he has released so far, it is crystal clear this artist is on his way to having a very successful career.

“Brave”, the song featured in this video, is not a cover of the Sara Bareilles hit, but a track with Sunroof’s own unique acoustic poppy spin. It is a track that with label support, would have a chance to crack the Adult Top 40 and Hot AC charts. On his official Facebook, page he lists Ed Sheeran, Secondhand Serenade, and Owl City as influences. The Owl City-esque single “The Treehouse” is an inspiring, uplifting song for the upcoming season that the entire family can enjoy. “Atlantic Dreams” has legs as a dance club smash and mainstream pop hit with an Ellie Goulding vibe attached to it.

Although Sunroof’s 2014 touring plans have not been revealed as of yet, but he has the look, the sound, and the drive to be a success this year. He may be without a record deal now, but if the right people get an earshot of what he has offered thus far, it will not be too long before Sunroof has inked a contract. Remember the name and remember the tunes as there is a feeling Sunroof will make an impact in the music scene for years to come.

Review of OneFortyThree, They’re Coming They’re Coming, and Jesse Wilkes at Scarlet & Grey Cafe (1/11)

This past Saturday night OneFortyThree (@OHonefortythree), They’re Coming, They’re Coming (@TCTCMusic), and acoustic soloist Jesse Wilkes put on a solid night of musical action. These artists could have easily phoned in their performances, given the fact that a fourth set from another band never materialized. It was quite pleasing everyone involved made an effort to put on their best shows to make up for the other group’s absence.

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As for ChilIicothe native Jesse Wilkes, he played as an acoustic soloist.  No beatbox, no computers, no synthesizers. It was just a man with a guitar and his natural voice.  Wilkes was the opener, designed to warm up the crowd for other acts, but he did more than just keep the stage warm.  After the performance Wilkes provided at S&G, one looks forward to what he has to offer in recorded material. He definitely earned his keep for the evening and people should keep a look out for his work in the future.  Wilkes is the #1 Folk artist in his region according to ReverbNation. Fans of singer-songwriters are best served looking up Wilkes to find out what he is all about. He is expected to have a big 2014.

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They’re Coming, They’re Coming is a four-piece Columbus outfit consisting of James Anderson, Louis Liphart, Griffin Brink, and Brad Guggenbiller. From beginning to end, these guys had the female-heavy crowd hanging onto every note. A stuffed ALF doll was present for the set as well and it could be considered an unofficial fifth member of the band. The doll did its job as a good luck charm for the group and the band even received a chant for “one more song”. They’re Coming, They’re Coming did a nice job with the BLACKStreet hit “No Diggity” and performed an alt-country song as their encore. The band has a small presence on the Internet and are ranked #22 at ReverbNation, where would-be Alternative Top 40 hit “The Tree” is available to hear. Here is hoping 2014 is a breakout year for this quartet.

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The third performance of the night was conducted by the #14-ranked alternative rockers in Columbus, OneFortyThree. This quintet was on point and is in the midst of working on a live album, which this past Saturday’s gig was part of.  Newcomer Kristian Wilson more than held her own with the charter members of the band. Boy, does keyboardist Randall Chafins know how to bring the energy or what? Everyone was on point and brought their A-game for one of their biggest performances.  This group should go places in the new year, especially after orchestrating the crowd’s participation in their live recording.  That is when a band knows they are on their way to new heights.  It was announced a new EP is in the works, so be on the lookout for it at online retailers.  OneFortyThree’s current material is available at their Bandcamp page and is downloadable to those who want to add it to their personal music players. Local music fans are best served going out and seeing this group before while they can.  It might not be too long before they are out on the road all over the place spreading their brand.

The music of the evening was all on the up and up and each artist brought something different to the stage, making for a diverse and fun night.  2014 is in its infancy and it will be a shock to no one if all three end up having a better year than 2013.  Music lovers are advised to do their research and learn more about these artists. Get to know them before they explode. Defeatists want to underestimate the central Ohio music scene, but it is not in their best interest to do that any longer.

With Some Backing, New York Artist Will Have Multiple Adult Top 40 Hits

Soloist Caitlin Mahoney (@cmahoneymusic) has created a beautiful work of art with her latest EP West for a While. The singer’s performances should remind music lovers of another respected singer-songwriter, Norah Jones. Jones scored several Top 40 hits across multiple charts with her brand of Adult Contemporary tunes. With her latest effort, Mahoney has proven she has the songwriting and performing skills to follow suit.

Although from Florida, Mahoney’s music hub is in New York City. This is a town that it is difficult to be discovered in, however, given her effort as heard on tracks from the EP Mahoney is up for the challenge. The title track is a catchy little gem that is ready for the airwaves, clocking in at under three minutes. Additional tracks, “Wrong” and “Your Are a Safe Place” do not disappoint and are worthy of airplay. As a matter of fact, Mahoney has some spins under her belt at college radio stations. It is only a matter of time before major labels take notice leading to play on other stations.

Regarding live events, Caitlin Mahoney has one more 2013 gig left. She will grace the stage of The Path Cafe in New York City on December 27. After that, she extends her brand with a tour of Germany after the first of the year. If she is playing in your town, Mahoney is worth the curiosity to see what she brings live. The album West for a While is recommended listening and can be found at her Facebook page, Bandcamp site, among other outlets. Above is a video for a track that is not featured on the record, but is worth checking out as it features vocals from fellow musicians Jo Kroger and Kat Quinn. Spreading her wings internationally, Caitlin Mahoney’s career is bound to soar in 2014.

Veruca Salt Is Not Dead; The Outlook Is Mostly Sunny

The San Diego-based act Mostly Sunny (@mostlysunny) has garnered some attention for the tune “More Than Anyone Else” since its airing in a Red Vines licorice commercial. This commercial primarily airs during Pac-12 Network telecasts, so most East Coasters may be unfamiliar with the tune.

The song is a throwback to the female-led groups of the 1990s Veruca Salt and Luscious Jackson. The lyrics combined with singer Jenni McElrath’s poppy voice are an excellent reminder of emo grrl music that charted nearly 20 years ago. Will this tune become a viral hit in 2013? Who knows and who cares? There is a place for classic alternative music and “More Than Anyone Else” fits like a glove.

The band seems to be doing well for themselves out west thus far. In their genre, they are the #9 ranked artist in San Diego on ReverbNation. Music veteran McElrath recorded this particular song without mates Danny Wallis and Mike Fish and their latest recordings such as “Maybe Someday” are a departure from the 90s alt-rock sound, but equally lovely and worth hearing.