Look for the final edits of this issue and a hardcopy compilation of the last several issues in February.
Reviews the "Smiling Assassin" approves of -- typically negative but light-hearted, jocular reviews. Take this a warning before ya read and get bent out of shape over negative reviews containing this icon.
Motley Hatchet, ZZ/DC, Judas Sabbath, Motor City Mountain, Pica Patt ... No, none of them are real bands (um, so far as I know), but when ya go see Bob City they drink a little. You drink a little. It gets late. The audience gets rowdy and ya begin thinking maybe these bands do exist. Oh, for the record, this is all very much a compliment. Go see 'em.
The Coalition Different Angles CD (New Millenium Records)
The Coalition is a hot contemporary jazz and R&B band that plays a unique blend of popular Jazz for listening and R&B for dancing. Their repertoire includes their own compositions as well as hits from many well known artists. The Coalition performs every Wednesday night at Gibby's Riverview in Dublin, sponsored by Smooth Jazz 104.3. The group also performs frequently in Cincinatti, Dayton, and other cities in the Ohio area and out of state. The release of their second release, Different Angles, has met great initial success, with airplay on many major radio stations. The band's schedule is posted at
The Crayon Theatrical Cassette (Skeptical Cat)
Well, I don't know really where to begin on this one. After listening to this tape a few times, I passed it off to a few buddies of mine for some added counsel. The general consensus was that the listener is either going to really dig this album or just hate it. I didn't hate it and I want to be as fair and objective as possible, but it just didn't do anything for me. You can tell that the players on the tape are really good and the songs were tight but nonetheless, lifeless. A big turnoff for me was the use of a drum machine throughout the recording. They are fine as an effect or clicktrack but I think that a live drummer might have given some of the tunes the spark they needed. I checked out The Crayon Theatrical's website and here is a quote I found there. "The Crayon Theatrical is one of the Midwest's most innovative musical acts. Led by controversial frontman Michael Homyk, The Crayon Theatrical pushes music into a new direction. This is the sound of the next decade." I don't know if Michael Homyk is a controversial figure or not but if it sells records then more power to controversy. I didn't really hear anything that I would call innovative on this recording. That is neither good nor bad. It is just is what I hear. Judge for yourself. You can check out The Crayon Theatrical web site at the following:
They have some Real Audio and some video as well.
- Brian Archer (Nov 18, 1998)
Delightfully Strange Sideshows & Caravans CD (Silva Records)
Delightfully Strange is an "alternative" band that is Columbus based and plays local (Columbus) and regional dates. Delightfully Strange has 3 compilations: Stranger Things, Nickel Caffeine, and the brandnew Sideshows and Caravans. Delightfully Strange can be seen at http://www.Delstrange.com/ or contacted at [email protected]. Delightfully Strange is Kyle Hamm, Scott King, Scott Highfill, Pete Addington, and Chad Vaughan
Endangered Species Preemptive strike CD (Dogbowl)
Too bad this disc wasn't around in, say, 1983 when "bands" like the Pet Shop Boys, Ah-Ha, Taco, and anyone else with a decent synth and drum machine were cranking out dance-club hits. It might've had a chance.
As far as I can tell, this 5-song EP was written, produced and performed by one guy named Steve. If that's the case, Steve is a really talented home-recording, producer type guy.
The reference the Pet Shop Boys is the closest I can get to figuring out where this came from. What ya get is some mid-tempo, some slow-tempo and a pretty sounding package. I guess that's ok. Steve seems to dig it. Maybe I will too when what's left of my hair finally falls out.
Gait Gait CD (Car Wrecords)
GAIT has stagnated in the shadows of the Columbus scene for nearly three years now. After bassist Scott Kidd's departure from Dogrocket, the band commenced a year-and-a-half of gigging, at least once a week (mostly at the dreaded South Heidelberg -- big bar tab, nice & dark) before stumbling into the studio and recording their first disc. A rare use of digital recording in a local release, this album should be viewed (at the very least) as a curiosity. The Jeckyll & Hyde guitars and vocals of Jason Campbell and Bob White provide a rich contrast over the over-the-rim rhythm section of Kidd and gonzo drummer Jeremy Russell. The band, heavy in nature, comes across like a hybrid of Faith No More, Tool, and the Doors. Stand-out selections are the opening "Sloth," the hidden track "Seed" and the...um...DISTINCTIVE track "Kawacus" (any track with a rap lifted from a Haagen Das carton can't be that bad). The big finish is "Wanderlust," a casual walk into oblivion, forever searching for the next big buzz. Be the first on yer block to say, "I'm the first on the block!" You might just enjoy being hip for once.
Check out GAIT at Little Brother's on Halloween, October 31st with Salthorse. It's better than getting yer ass kicked by an Athens cop, that's for sure.
Ishkabibble Hair Do's and Don'ts CD (Burnt Sienna)
Songs about food and animals, mostly. How the hell can you argue with that? Some have called these Columbus boys "prog rock" because of it. Nahh. To simply label it "funk" as I have heard many do, is like saying something's jazz just because there's a saxophone in it. To label it at all is rough. So I won't.
For the uninitiated:
Not long ago, before Stache's went to sleep with the fishes, these guys were packing shows and serving up all kinds of cheese-flavored dishes with all the trimmings.
When their last record came out, there was an actual protest going on outside the club - staged by the band, some sources say - complete with picket-type signs and chanting. "Ishkabibble Go Home!"
This same show included a midget who gave out prizes and a fife and drum corps half-time show.
Other shows would include sporadic appearances by Darth Vader and Captain America, who would sometimes fill in on bass - a little known "bonus" super power. And once in a while a Devo cover band called Smart Patrol would play in place of the Ish. (The members of Ishkabibble were mysteriously absent everytime Patrol was playing, causing much debate, speculation and controversy.)
More often than not, the band that named themselves after comedic horn player Merwyn Bogue warped most of their songs and covers into extended jams and dancable passages.
It seems like it would be hard to translate these freaked-out mashings and live show vibes onto a record. And it is, especially for these guys. No midgets. No prizes.
"Do's and Don'ts" features all three members extremely gifted playing. (John Zuck - bass, Tim Devine - guitar, and Chad Paetznick - drums). All the campy-ness, is there too with songs like "Chicken on a Stick" (the best on the record) and "Pass the Turkey". (For other food or animal inspired tunes see: "Doughnuts and Bulldozers", "Go Go Goose", and "The Fly".)
Seems like they toned down the improv, jam stuff a bit and even some of the guitar soloing. Their love of Devo and all things country (as far as Johnny Cash is called country) is pretty evident. There's still a lot of the Ishkabibble tempo changes, but they've come up with more structured pop and rock songs than in the past - and I think that's good.
Overall it's hard to say who would like this record. I think it's funny. I think it sounds great. I think it reminds me of seeing them live and having a good time.
Maybe you should go see and hear them first. Damned if I know what the hell it is.
Jerk Water Jive Little Brother's, Wednesday. November 25, 1998
I went to Little Brothers expecting the all so played out Mighty Mighty Bosstones ska thing reincarnated in a local band. The warm air had driven me from my house like cabin fever, and tonight the only cure was a good (hopefully) live show. I got to Little Brothers just as Jerk Water Jive went on at about 11 p.m. I can honestly say that I was impressed at the versatility of this band, not to mention a substantial Wednesday night crowd. The music moved from a hip-hop, Fishbone origin, to the horn based roots of modern punk/ska that has taken over the indie world. The energy of the show was very high. The song that stuck in my head particularly was called 'Little Sister'. I would highly recommend this band to anyone that is interested in the modern ska/punk sound. After all, it is best done the way Jerk Water does it, with a horn section. If you are in a band, and you would like me to come check you out for a review, e-mail me and put me on the guest list, and it will be done.
Jason Melick Without You Here CD
"Without You Here" is the debut solo release by Columbus native Jason Melick, who is also the frontman for the Columbus, Ohio based band Innuendo. With Innuendo currently between albums, Jason Melick has spent 1998 recording his own cd. Eight songs, all original, make up this pleasantly diverse musical offering with influences ranging from REO Speedwagon and Paul McCartney to Queen, Boston, and King's X.
Copies should be available soon locally and also through mail order. Check out Jason's web site at
for more details.
The Mulchmen Covered with Mulch Tape (Big Beef Records)
The Mulchmen pound out surf punk covers from the likes of Link Ray, The
Surftones and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, recorded, explains
co-producer Andy Valeri, "in a spirit of joyful spontaneity." The dark and
briny sounds of "Bustin' Surfboards" and "Shake Some Evil" shift between
upbeat breakers like "Cecilia Ann" and toughies like "Good Cop Bad Cop."
You'll recognize these songs when you hear them. Nothing innovative, just
good, pure fun. Proceeds benefit the Tim Taylor Memorial Fund - enough
reason to check it out!
- Jamie (Jan 15, 1999)
My Uncle Wayne Delusions of Grandure 7" EP (Spilt Milk Recordings)
This 4-song e.p. has some fairly interesting sonic things happening on it, especially during the space-rock of "Heavens to Betsy." Unfortunately, the sound quality of this 7-inch disc is so lo-fi that it borders on sub-bootleg. In fact, there's something that sounds like horns on "Delusions of Grandure (sic)" but I'm not sure; maybe it's some sorta keyboard. It sounds like a Hawkwind instrumental, anyway. The noise-fest-with-structure of "Days of our Lives" is a cool chugging dirge with spots of real prettiness, and actually the lo-fi-ness enhances these qualities.
National Steam Self-Titled CD (Eternity's Fest)
Looks like the powers that be at Cringe gave this one to the wrong guy to review. Three things make a good record in my mind: Guitars, vocals and guitars. Les Paul just lost a royalty check, and the only vocals are straight from Pink Floyd's "One of These Days".
Just a bunch of B-movie soundtrack, ethereal stuff. Three tracks clock in over 8 minutes. I think R2-D2 makes a guest appearance, too.
I usually like to be positive when it comes to local stuff, but what in the hell is this shit?
Norton's Orchestraville Norton's Orchestraville 7" EP (Interzone Records)
The key word for this 3-song e.p. is "quirky." "i for an i" kinda reminds me of the quirkiness of The Dave Matthews Band's music, but with a much better vibe in the vocals. "Living the Still Life" has a quirky Country & Western jaunt to it, with a cool chorus. "Arnold's Monster" has a quirky guitar line to it, as well. A very well-recorded single.
A Planet for Texas
A Planet for Texas has stepped it up a notch. Texas played Friday night at Little Brothers. Let me tell you, that was one entertaining show. They accomplished, for me anyway, what really well done puck rock accomplishes. And that is, they made me laugh my ass off. I mean that in a good way. Can't explain why it makes me laugh, all I can say is that it was quality entertainment. Do yourself a favor and check these guys out.
Twelve Days Dry Twelve Days Dry CD/5 Song EP (Introspective Music)
Columbus band Twelve Days Dry has recently put out a self titled demo/EP. The band is a four piece with Kat Schwed on lead vocals/acoustic guitar, Mike Lehman on drums and assorted shaker type things, Brian Zaharack on guitar, and Ryan on bass guitar. All the songs tend to share a very Renaissance - Medieval flavor and feel. One of the highlights on the disc are the lyrics. There is a little hint of Shakespeare the can be heard throughout the EP. My favorite tune of the disc was "Days Without Rain." The song as a whole was very strong. A combination of good songwriting + good playing + good lyrics. The other tunes on the disc are good as well. My only complaint was in the production. Granted, the disc was originally recorded as a demo so we are not talking about a major label release with a lot of money behind the project. On the 4th song "Jesters Game", I kept hearing this bizarre metallic sound like a hi-hat being struck with a pair of forks or something similar. After talking with Mike the drummer, he informed me that they used two overhead microphones but they were out of phase with each other. For you non-techies this simply means that the sound for one microphone gets to the tape later than the other causing the delay overlap sound. I thought the sound quality was a little dull and could have used just a touch of EQ. Especially on the vocals, which are quite good. Otherwise no complaints except for the technical stuff.
Overall this is a good disc to check out. Twelve Days Dry also has a website with ordering information, show dates, lyrics, and bio's of each of the band members. I hope to hear more from Twelve Days Dry in the future.
Silo the Huskie Fight CD (Half Life Records)
Damn, this is a good record. The Huskies have evolved - quietly, I might add - into quite the pop/rock band. I'm talking pop ala Gin BLossoms, rock ala Replacements and a little early Soul Asylum thrown in for seasoning and production.
This new record is packed with great songs and performances from one of the most overlooked and underrated bands in Columbus. Frankly, I don't think they play out much, or at the proper places...but that's fixable. They definitely have the material for a good fan base, especially here in the good 'ol midwest. Which is what ya got here - heartland guitar rock from four regular joes. For verification, check the song "Ohio" which states, "To hell with leaving. At Least Ohio has change in seasons. We cut in summer, we count in Fall."
To pick a few, I have to nominate "Fifth of July," "Hotel Mary Appalachia" and "I Believe in Tornadoes" as the best. The rest of the album's 16 tunes are cut from the same well-crafted, tuneful cloth.
The production is all midwest in flavor and exceptional for Columbus too, with about half the songs done at the Chillicothe Workshop and the other done on campus at John Chinn's Workbook Studio (Chinn is the Bob Mould-o-phile who fronts Cowtown's Pretty Mighty Mighty, and even appears on this record with bandmate Noel Sayre).
The record's fifth song, "While You Where Out" (hey, there's the Soul Asylum reference ...) is one of the most sophisticated arrangements I've ever heard out of any Columbus pop band ... just plain good songwriting.
I also gotta say that frontman Brian Barlup and lead guitar slinger Kevin Spain have one of those rare vocal compliments that can really break a band - somewhere between Lennon/McCartney sweet and Jagger/Richards skank. Check out the harmonies on this disc - every friggin' song, every friggin' verse. They make it sound good and effortless. The rhythm section of unknowns (Stuart VanVyven - drums, Pete Cline - bass) is solid and rockin'.
A quick tip of the hat to John Mangus for the packaging, which includes readable lyrics (another rarity in these parts).
If it sounds like I'm up this band's ass, I'm not. I don't like a whole lot of shit. "Fight" is just an undeniably good record. Well worth the 8 or 9 bucks it's gonna cost ya to help these working stiffs pay the fucker off.
Plus, they got real vinyl stickers, which, as you know, is the sign of any good band! (eat yer heart out, d.i.y. cut-and-paste posers!).
Take Scott Waters (the urgent, screaming vocalist of My White Bread Mom) and his slight penchant for humor and comic strip heros and merge it with a "Frendznetic", more late 50s/early 60s rock oriented song structure and yer Mom is at the sock hop her mom warned her about. Much like the raw higher end rapid fire multi-chorded punk of MWBM, it took several shows for me to really appreciate the Frendz. Maybe I just finally caught a good night. Maybe it was in the air with the diminishing rumors of an Econothugs reunion on that same bill. Maybe I decided I'd better get my money's worth since it was one of the only Bernie's shows I've actually paid for - over the last year or so anyway. Yeah, I know, so who am I ta complain.
A coworker of mine used to run a big Greenday website. Several months ago some "official fan club corporation" bought all the rights for the site from him - err, something like that. Well, now I'm wondering if part of that exchange involved giving a Columbus band the rights to the Greenday sound. Yep, Superstar could be Offspring of Greenday - fake, almost Morrissey, British affected, muted vocals intact. All in all, they're a good band of musicians, with the guitarist providing some perty accomplished licks. But it all just starts fitting into that melodic punk pop mold a little too neatly. I once said something to the effect of "the only thing worse than a bad punk band is a flat line punk band." Superstar seems to get a bit too close to flat for me to be all that entertained or excited.
Years ago I reviewed the Wahoos and was somewhat thankful that they had seemed to have broken up. Well, it wasn't long before that that what I had been thankful for was not particularly true. Slowly and sporadically, the Wahoos began playing out again. And over the last several months, they seem to be playing fairly regularly - and not just at vocalist/guitarist Dan Dougan's club, Little Brother's.
While they may have some interestingly clever, biting, historical and sarcastic lyrics, the overall delivery falls in a lazy laid back Dead vein that I'm finding Dan may actually be a bit fond of, but I'm not - at least not in the last 10 years or so.