CLE Bands to Watch (03.19.09)
This admittedly biased guide’s is entitled “CLE Bands to Watch.” In the humble opinion of many Cleveland music lovers, this city’s always been home to artists and performers worth championing. Punk rockers, metalheads, folksters and even good ol’ meat-and-potatoes classic rock lovers love their locals. We’re good like that.
A quick scan of pop media might bring up superstar rock duo The Black Keys, and their emerging cohort, Jessica Lea Mayfield. Now, the Keys are from Cleveland’s southern sister, Akron, and Ms. Mayfield is from a little bit even further out, but that doesn’t mean Clevelanders won’t let them into the musical family that’s been scattered here for 30 plus years.
The active word here, however, is “watch”. . . as in intently, in the absolute present (maybe while you’re surfing online instead of working). The Black Keys and Jessica Lea Mayfield will be on your radar, if they haven’t already shown up. The bands below aren’t the exemplary be-all-end-all, but a mere snapshot of 2009.
And the whole history of Cleveland rock–well, that’s another blog entry, for another longer time. This short list might not get you what you want, like the song says, but it’ll get you what you need.
Afternoon Naps: You like gentle, wistful pop melodies seemingly plucked from the thin air of ‘60s AM pop? This ever-mutating quartet started making friends on both sides of the Atlantic with Sunbeamed, their first record from a couple years back. The Naps will surely be making new friends, once they wrap up the string sections (!) on their upcoming record, currently labored over by engineer Tim Gerak, formerly from Kent’s Six Parts Seven.
Scarcity of Tanks: Matt Wascovich, poet/ranter/frontman for Scarcity of Tanks, has been aggregating friendly minions throughout the country–and maybe even the world–to play in his avant-punk ensemble. If your idea of punk is Sum 41, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you’re hip to deep underground sounds like Black Flag, Saccharine Trust, Pere Ubu and The Mirrors, SOT’s boisterous calamity might make your ears ring with glee. With collaborators like the legendary Minutemen’s Mike Watt in tow, Wascovich is currently gearing up for a West Coast tour supporting a brand-new LP.
Suede Brothers: Cleveland’s always had a sweet tooth for sweet riffs, and these three young dudes serve up that ‘70s style rock, hot! It’d be an oversimplification to say this Perry, Ohio-based band sounds like Sabbath. They certainly like big blues riffs cranked through Marshalls, but there’s an adherence to good hooks that elevate the Suede Brothers beyond mere knuckleheadism. You can still ride round on your hog with your old man/old lady, jamming the SBs on your own personal freedom ride.
Bill Fox: This city loves its lost legends, but the tale of Bill Fox is one of the barmier ones. Guy started a band years ago, called The Mice. He then put out a couple of records. Critics loved it and bands (like Guided By Voices) were influenced. Then, Bill Fox vanishes. A writer from brainy Chicago mag The Believer decides to put out a literary APB for Fox, wondering out loud, “Whatever happened?” The tale of the elusive singer/guitarist spread nationally, along with copies of his excellent albums, Transit Byzantium and Shelter From the Smoke. Fox has recently re-emerged from his musical slumber, knocking out rapt crowds with his Dylaneque rustbelt tales. (Click here for a live review from blog IRockCleveland.com.) –submitted by Ed Sotelo