Thursday, April 26, 2007

Midwestern Links: Reviewed

I have begun adding some links to Midwestern web-sites. I'm not too keen on the national-focused stuff, but some of these offer other things specific to the Midwest:
Good Hodgkins:
This used to be my favorite site until he got tired of talking about music and stopped. His last post was like the Mission Statement from Jerry Miguire. Essentially, that there's too many shitty bands getting hyped all over the place for no other reason than hipsterism. I was in total agreement. In fact, up until this past year I have been utterly bored by almost every band that people seem to love (Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio). But the dude is back at it again and has already made some hiliarious points.
This site has been around for several years and was known for doing a great job at documenting the Columbus music scene, after the old Web-site dried out. My complaint is that over the past couple years the focus of the site switched to more of a national thing: Posting MP3s and videos of national bands. Then Donewaiting launched a label, started a SXSW blog and kinda gave up on the local thing. The message board still thrived with Columbus chatter, so that was good. Does advertising lead to the end of some web-sites? I'm starting to wonder. But I like the site anyway, so I'll often check it for updates. (UPDATE: It's writers have been stepping it up lately with local coverage, which has been nice.)
Filter's Blog:
I have been reading this site a lot lately. I find some great updates on national bands here, which aren't talked about at the other sites.
My Old Kentucky Blog:
I have a love for the music sites that are featured on Sirius Satellite radio. It is hilarious to hear people who run blogs talk about songs and shoot the shit, mainly because they are so god awful at it. They either play the worst songs you've never heard of, or play tracks from their best friend's bands just to get them better exposure. It's truly bad - in a good way: Awkward silences, talking about things no one understands, babbling about pointless tangents, etc. Gorilla Vs. bear is the worst offender.
Anyway, I haven't heard My Old Kentucky Home featured on the station yet, so there is hope. This site posts a lot of MP3s, does reviews and does interviews. Why don't more sites create articles and interviews anymore? It's based in Indiana.
World of Wemme
This is just a tiny site that rarely has updates, but I appreciate his point of view and taste in music. Based out of Columbus, OH.
WOXY's "Futurist"
The best in radio is still alive. They started a blog and, as always, do their best to highlight both national and regional bands. Plenty of photos and MP3s from Lounge Sessions. They deserve everyone's support at all times.
Each Note Secure
This is how regional music web sites should be made. This guy must be the hardest working "blogger" in the entire Midwest. He treats his site like an actual newspaper. There are a ton of interviews, show reviews, CD reviews, photos, MP3s and a crapload more. He did a lot of coverage and an interview with Bryce Dessner of The National on Cincy's Music Now festival. I didn't even realize the dudes from The National were from Cincy. Well played, Each Note Secure. All other sites could learn a ton from this. I'm also happy to report that he has advertising and STILL works his butt off to get great content out there.
I Rock Cleveland:
I like this site because the guy has a real passion for what he does. Lots of show/CD/band reviews and he isn't afraid to voice his specific opinions. It also helps to know more about Cleveland's rock scene, since the city has shut itself off from the rest of the world. He's like a news reporter in Baghdad.
Aquarium Drunkard:
I like this site mainly because he is a Bob Dylan fan, such as I. But I also appreciate the site because it posts a lot of MP3s for obscure songs and discusses the history of rock in all its forms. I always get the feeling that most music writers these days knowledge of rock goes about as far back as 1985. Not this guy. He does, however, like Ryan Adams - which is unfortunate...
Musical Family Tree:
For as much as I think Each Note Secure works its ass off, I must admit Musical Family Tree takes that even further - by leaps and bounds. My only complaint is that the site is way too full of information! It's almost impossible to digest it all. We're talking thousands of MP3s by local and national bands, reviws and more. Plus, the site singlehandedly documents the entire Indiana music scenes in painstaking detail. Well done!
For as much as people complain about Pitchfork writers, I appreciate them because they obviously have a passion and knowledge about rock and its history. They can be rough on some bands, which I think is great. Most deserve that treatment. I guess my only complaint is that they sometimes confuse "good" music with anyone "pushing boundaries." I'm all for forging new paths in rock, but just because it sounds new doesn't necessarily make it good.
Brooklyn Vegan:
This site isn't Midwestern at all, but I like it because the person does a better job than most at reading a lot of band blogs and reporting what is there, going to great shows and taking photos (the Patrick Wolf freak-out on drummer thing is a perfect touch), plus the site has good tatse - even tho I hate the New York music scenes. But let's face it, Brooklyn is mostly made up of Midwestern expatriots anyway.
You Ain't No Picasso:
Another web-site that shares a focus of interviewing bands and doing reviews with photos. I actually haven't checked it in awhile and noticed there is a flurry of stuff I wanna check out, from the new Rufus Wainwright video to one of Of Montreal on Conan. Still, not much of a local focus. But a good site anyway.
I Guess I'm Floating:
Lots of updates on this blog based primarily out of Kentucky and Rhode Island. I'll be focusing on the Kentucky side, for all intent purposes (the whole Midwestern thing and all). If there's one thing I can appreciate in a web-site or blog, it's the ones that always have new content. I hate going to a site every day to see the same damn picture, from the same damn article they posted a month ago. I was a bit guilty of this myself in May, so I can understand. But I still got 8 articles out. So I base my judgement on sites on whether or not they are doing worse than I am. Back to the point, I Guess I'm Floating updates a lot and they are good articles.
Think you've been doing your blog for a long time? Think again. Joel over at Cringe has you beat. After starting in the early 1990s, the Columbus music site has consistently provided a great resource of getting to know the city's music scene. Since it started, came and went and then Donewaiting popped up. Through it all Cringe remains stable and has even begun expanding to include videos and more features on its front page. Joel also compiles when Columbus bands play out of town - I know, we're talking about Columbus, so that is usually a short list. But at least someone cares! Special feature: check out the "Earshot Gallery" for pictures and live video of hundreds of bands.
The Bomb Shelter:
This is a relatively new blog from a guy who has aspirations to be a local Columbus music journalist. He started the site up to showcase what he is capable of. So far he seems very focused on putting out a lot of good show reviews (honestly, there is a big lack of these in Columbus lately). He also has a very interesting take on a lot of local rock bands, not a big fan of some of those which are overly hyped a lot in the "scene," and isn't too shy to trash a band and/or gush praise when needed. I think he'll continue to do some good work and since he puts out a lot of content I plan to check the site daily from now on.
Chris DeVille's "Sensory Overload":
The Columbus Alive music writer has this ongoing blog going where he touches upon national news tidbits, local stuff that didn't make it to the paper and links to MP3s and articles. I like to read it because he updates a lot. If there's one thing I can't stand it blogs that only update twice a month. In fact, I think I'm going to remove "Snow Globe Universe" from my recommended list on top. The effing site hasn't been updated for the past two months. They're gone!

Still adding some in, so come back for more....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who do you recommend?
Matt Shiv of WOXY

WOXY Music Director Matt Shiv:

"My favorite bands in the area right now are the Heartless Bastards, (in)camera, Bad Veins, Staggering Statistics, Wussy, Viva La Foxx (Covington, Kentucky). Dayton's Captain Of Industry and Lab Partners.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Midwest's Gateway to the World: WOXY
An interview with Matt Shiv

When it comes to integrity within the national radio community, Cincinnati-based station WOXY has always been a name music fans can depend on.
The focus on providing listeners with a way to hear underground bands that would never succeed or get a voice in the Clear Channel world is what makes the station stand head and shoulders above the rest. Its longevity is also a thing to behold.
WOXY hit some hard times with funding a few years ago, but has since settled nicely into the role of the Internet-based station.
With the scope of People with Animal Heads focusing on the Midwest music scene, not talking to WOXY's Music Director Matt Shiv would be a huge mistake.
Local Cincinnati shows have been packed simply because the station plays a regional band's song. It is this kind of visible regional/worldwide respect that makes the station's impression so unique.
Shiv said there are lots of Cincinnati bands WOXY has playlisted since going internet-only and they also make an effort to have as many of them in for live in-studio "Lounge Acts" as possible. His said this is another way to help present their music to a wider audience.
But Shiv added that the concept of playing local bands with national bands has never been the point. It's all about finding bands they love and then supporting them.
"When WOXY was a local FM broadcast, we really went out of the way to spotlight the local music community. Once we went internet-only in 2004, we had to refocus our efforts a bit. Just because you are a band in Cincinnati or Dayton, that doesn't automatically earn you airplay on the station these days. The music submitted by local artists is held up to the same standards as any submission from around the world. If we like it, we support it," Shiv said. "Mike, Joe, and I are all from this area, so even without noticing that we have a fondness for Midwestern bands and artists, I think that sometimes that just shines through. In addition to the tri-state, we've really supported a lot of bands from Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland and Nashville."
He said the music coming out of all these areas does not seem to be getting the attention it deserves on a national
level. What these Midwestern bands face, as opposed to coastal bands, is that they have to try harder.
"I think that it can be challenging to build a regional following in this area, but if you are lucky enough to connect with an audience, they are really loyal," Shiv said.
Lately, he said, WOXY has been championing Chicago's Bound Stems as a prime example of what they enjoy.
"Their debut disc "Appreciation Night" was one of the best debut albums I've heard in a long time," Shiv said. "We fell in love with them and gave them as much support as humanly possible. They got some solid blog love and toured their asses off, but I still hope more people discover them."
Shiv also has advice for burgeoning bands hoping to pursue the radio frontier.
"The main suggestion that I can make to anybody trying to pursue radio airplay is to have quality product and submit it professionally. At, we've got a staff of three people and get hundreds of cd submissions a week. I can't even keep up with everything that comes in the door, never mind people e-mailing me asking me to follow 500 links to listen to their music online. Our attitude has always been, if you want me to hear your music, you'll get it into my hands," Shiv said.
He also stressed getting to know as much as possible about the radio stations before sending out material.
"If you cannot afford to have your disc promoted to radio, make sure you are doing a bit of research before you mail out all your CD's," Shiv said. "If you are a metal band, WOXY is not where you want to mail your music. It will end up in the trash."
At the end of the day, he said, he feels like WOXY pays less attention to where bands are from and worries more about the question: IS THIS GOOD?
"I know that we have a lot of A&R people from record labels who pay attention to the bands that we playlist who are unsigned. We get e-mails from them often asking us for more details on a certain band or they'll approach us after a Lounge Act performance airs asking for contact info. All we do is play the music that we feel strongly about, but I am always thrilled when that translates into more exposure or a label signing for a band," Shiv said.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Alchemize R.I.P. - Make way for the Decibel Lounge, DL

The recent update on the future of Cincinnati's Alchemize has been announced. Long story short: Nick Spencer is out.
For those still interested in reading, now for the longer version.
According to former Alchemize co-owners Puck Dunaway and Kevin Carlisle, for the time being "alchemize" will remain open, and will continue to be open at 3929 Spring Grove Avenue in Northside.
However, they reported, the name of the bar will soon be changing to the Decibel Lounge (or simply the DL). In better news, all the bartenders, staff, and DJs - with the exception of Nick Spencer - will still be working at this location.
"Although we still love the alchemize name, the press and drama of the last year have tarnished the image to a degree that we feel it's time for a fresh start with a new name," the two said in a recent release on Myspace. "Other than that, expect the same great atmosphere and events you're used to, and we're excited to move forward with bigger and better things!"
This is great news for those who enjoyed Alchemize. For all the bad things that came of the bar, it is good to know that the positive parts will remain. I have known that Puck and Nick have long been champions of local music in Cincinnati, and are extremely trustworthy guys. It will be nice to know another Northside option will remain for bands and music fans.
But I still suggest going to Northside Tavern as much as possible (sorry, it's the best place in the state for bands).
If you’re a talent or act that would like to perform at the future Decibel Lounge, contact Austin Brown, the new booking agent for the space at

Friday, April 20, 2007

Columbus' Earwig soon to be browsing the isles...and I don't mean the ocean...

Just received a note from Earwig's Lizard McGee about recent news for the band getting more attention and opportunities lately:

• Earwig just landed a distribution deal with Meijer to put their new CD "Center Of The Earth" into all 178 Meijer superstores in 5 states and feature the band in their ad circulars (to 7 million households) in May/June.
• Earwig's song 'Used Kids' has been in the top 5 at CD101 regularly for the last 4 months. The band just played CD101's concert at the LC to 1600+ people and their songs are also doing well on other Ohio college radio stations and more ( WXCU, WOBN, ACRN, WCBE...)
• Earwig has been asked to headline the ONE Campaign's concert on the OSU Oval on Saturday, May 19th and will also play later that night with Scrawl at Little Brother's 10 year anniversary blow out celebration.
• Earwig's internet fanbase and myspace fans have exploded in the past few months. Digital and online sales have really taken off for the band making 'Center Of The Earth' their biggest, best selling release yet.

Earwig & LFM Records

Skull Lab 2-Day Fest
"Cincinnati's Yoko Ono"

Tonight, April 20, kicks off the first episode of Cincinnati's Skull Lab Two-Day Festival.
According to SKULL LAB there is music going on all night starting at 8 p.m.
Bands confirmed for Friday are, in no particular order:
1. Plows - Breather Resist-style Louisville rockin hardcore
2. Order 66,
3. Plastic Factory - drums, bass, and vocals in the vein of Jesus Lizard
4. Destined to Fester,
5. Realicide
6. Being - Muncie harsh noise
7. Octopi - Dayton/Muncie noise
8. Jon Lorenz
9. Evolve
10. Moxy - Awesome, intelligent, socially-minded hip hop).

On Saturday the music starts at 2 p.m. and will feature a local film review on a projector until 4 p.m.
From 5 to 7 p.m. will be the Perpetual Motion Road Show, which includes local and national poets and authors doing spoken words and readings.
Then starting at 7 p.m. there will be more music including:
1. Grave Blankets - Columbus based heavy psychadelic experimental rock
2. El Jesus De Magico - Columbus based spacey melodic noise rock
3. Heritech
4. Iron Monger
5. Hentai Lacerator
6. Capital Hemorrhage
7. Roesing Ape
8. Tonight Golden Curls
9. Teeth Collection.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers: At Home on the Range

When you hear Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers for the first time, you sort of sit back and say, "Yes."
Over the past year the band has taken Neil Young-ish rock, retro vocal harmonies, heaping amounts of wild guitar solos, a ton of balls, and created something uniquely Midwestern. I place them among fellow like-minded heavyweights such as My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon or Dinosaur Jr. Dare I say, the Buffalo Killers may single-handedly bring back the wah wah pedal - which is just as much scary as it is interesting.
The band's CD is out now on Alive Records and can be purchased through Alive at or at the Bomp Store
Since the release, the Buffalo Killers have taken to the road in a serious way. The traveling and heart they put into their music has certainly helped them grow. But more importantly it is their truly Midwestern work ethic, which has taken them to the next level. As we speak, they are on their way out west to California and back. I've even been hearing plans for a European tour. I recommend getting to know the band now, because it's going to be few and far between before they are able to frequent your favorite local venues.
Just your luck, the Buffalo Killers are performing this Thursday (April 19) at The Union in Athens, OH. for the Blackout Festival.
I originally hoped to get this article out on Wednesday, well before the show. I even had it written. It was done. In fact, it ended up being one of the most well-done pieces of rock review I've done in quite some time. Then the Internet died and I lost the whole thing. Typical. But when you are faced with the loss of something, you gotta pick up the pieces and move on.
So I knew the Buffalo Killers was made up of Andrew Gabbard on guitar and brother Zachary Gabbard on bass and drummer Joseph Sebaali. I knew they were formed out of the ashes of their former band Thee Shams, which disbanded in 2005.
What I didn't know is that it took just one year for these guys to completely reformulate, discovered its own sound, write and record an entire album and then tour all over the country. That type of momentum can take lesser bands years to achieve.
Zach Gabbard recently explained the process of writing the CD.
"We never set out for any sound besides something that rocks, moves and feels. We went to the barn, started working on songs for a few months and the result of those sessions are on the album," he said. "I guess our music stands out because it is real. We all love what we do and try to do it the best we can."
Part of the scope of People With Animal Heads is to show up and coming underground bands the best paths to go in their quest to make music and offer them advice from their contemporaries. When it comes to touring, things always get tricky.
Gabbard explained that it's all about focus.
"The band is our job. When I'm home from tour, I'm working, when I'm on the road, I'm working. It is the job you can't escape... it is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is as exhausting as running any business would be," Gabbard said. "I think the biggest mistake most bands make is they run their band like a hobby and if that's what it is, then you don't need to spend as much time with it, but if you want to make it all work, it has to be your job - that, and have plenty of merchandise to sell on the road."
To succeed in this, most successful bands use the help of their label or a booking agent. In the case of the Buffalo Killers, they are in the right hands with Scott Winland who runs Blackout Booking.
"Scott is a long time really good friend of ours and he does our booking," Gabbard said. "Sometimes we will line up shows for ourselves, but the majority of the booking is handled by Scott. I guess the best booking tip I could offer would be to really get to know and play with the other bands in the towns you are traveling to. We have a lot of great friends all over the country and we couldn't do it without them."
But it is the passion that Buffalo Killers extend to their craft that make them a great example for other Midwestern bands.
"The best thing about being a band from the Midwest vs. west coast or east coast is the touring. You can build some pretty impressive long weekend tours centering around major cities and only suffer at most a 12 hour drive. This allows us to do two- week west coast tours vs. month long tours. If you want to keep a band together, you want to avoid month long tours," Gabbard said. "We are influenced by many things, bands, people, location, etc. We’re lucky that we grew up in an area that has a rich musical history. The Midwest sound is a melting pot of the regions that surround it and we’d prefer it no other way."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Toledo Indie Pop Festival - The nuts and bolts

A few Toledo teenagers are trying to single-handedly bring a new genre to their fine city, with the inception of the Toledo Indie Pop Festival.
Kyle Bliss, co-organizer, recently explained what it takes for someone his age to get things moving.
"My friend and I are just teenagers who enjoy our pop music catalog. The bands we like never play in this area and don't even consider trying to play here, so instead of complaining we got off of our butts and did something about it," Bliss said.
It took a trip down to Athens, GA's POP Fest in 2006 to see the light, calling the experience "amazing and a big influence."
Bliss said he went back to Toledo with a thought-seed planted and went out to a local party.
"There we met a cultural artist who was interested in doing festivals including the arts. We ended up deciding to focus on the indiepop scene," he said.
Even though the artist they sought did not end up helping out, Bliss and friends dove into organizing what would become Toledo's Indie Pop Festival. The concert is still in its younger years, but the word is getting out.
"We were worried everyday waking up, that things wouldn't work out," Bliss said. "We had booked bands and promoted for the festival only two months beforehand. Everything has worked out fine, however. Mainly we just wanted to get the music scene that we loved to consider playing in the area because they never have before. Now we are in the presence of emails from touring pop bands today... mission accomplished I'd say."
Bliss is joined by fellow co-organizer James Degregorio. He said the two have set up 2007's Toledo Indie Pop Festival for "lots of music all through the day, art display, crafters and zines, and a friendly environment."
Right now all they have are the concert dates scheduled: July 27th and 28th (Friday and Saturday). More work is in the planning stages.
"As soon as the location is confirmed we will let all of you know, so stay tuned. As far as last year we were not sure If we would be able to afford both days at Vamps [a Toledo area venue] so we had to get the second night at an odd location."
As with any new festival there were some hurdles to get over initially.
Bliss said Toledo's posh Diva bar held the second day of Indie Popfest, to some confusion.
"The bands and kids started to show up with awkward looks on their faces as the 'Wine Tasting' was taking place in the front of the restaurant. As you can see we all forgot our suits, this place is pretty classy. By the end of the night everyone had fun. The turnout wasn't as great as the night before due to location confusion (even one of the bands showed up at Vamps on accident) but it was a great experience. We could surely use a better turnout, though I was surprised by the one we ended up with the first night. It was definitely a big risk since kids aren't too familiar with the pop scene. Its catching on I think."
Venues for 2007 are still up in the air, as Vamps might not be able to renew their liquor license.
For Indie Pop-focused bands looking to take part, submissions are open.
"Since the title of the festival includes 'Indiepop,' we try to be relative to that genre. However, at least half the bands fall into a lot of other music categories. From pop, indierock-pop, folk, electro, etc. Bands and ourselves find it usually most convenient to send us an email or via 'Myspace.' They explain they are interested and can make it. Then we check their songs out and see how much promotion they are capable of and how much they have done for themselves as a band. If we're interested we let them know. As far as headliners, were not as worried about it as much. As long as we get bands that we like and are fun. The turnout is the influence on having an unnecessary headliner. Perhaps we'll have a surprise."

Contact Toledo Indie Pop Festival:


Send demos to:

566 S Wheeling St.
Oregon, OH 43616

Other people involved with the festival:
Crew/ Street Team- Grace Powers, Steve Mohr

Detroit Urban Craft Fair
Toledo City Paper
Food not Bombs
Little Pocket Records
BBop Records
Zines - tba

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blackout Fest: Ticket Giveaway. Email now!

In an effort to bring together the southern Midwest with its Northern brethren, we would need a common goal.

Let that be the Athens, OH. Blackout Festival!

Concert organizer Scott Winland will give away 10 free tickets to music fans north of Athens, to help them make the trek down for the festival. Simply send an e-mail to with your name, and city you're from. Mr. Winland will handle the rest.

That's a cost savings of $10 per concert night, or the $25 tag to enjoy all three nights of rock at The Union. That is totally worth it for bands of this caliber.

Show line up:




Chicago's Andrew Bird: My ass hates you, but I still love your music

I saw the musician Andrew Bird in concert the other night, and he made me completely re-think the entire way I believe music should be written. But not in the way you may imagine.
Bird is an amazing songwriter. He comes up with rhythms that seem entirely incomplete and yet understandable. The layers are magnificent. He plays violin. He plays guitar. He plays xylophone, while he simultaneously whistles like a winged creature. Notice I didn't say Bird.
But something happened to me while he began each song. I sat in the top nosebleed seats inside the Southern Theatre of Columbus, OH. To look around, you became dizzy from the height. The seats were actually quite comfortable, with a kind of plush blue velvet. However, my knees were crammed against the partition. To my left was the person I came with. To my right was a complete stranger. Behind me were people. In front of me were people. I think therein lay the problem. This wasn't a rock concert - it was a prison. I couldn't stand. I couldn't cross my legs. I couldn't scratch my balls, or even shift them for comfort. I was trapped.
The first musician came out at 8:30 p.m. and by all accounts she was amazing. But when you sit in a prison, you begin to notice the little things. Like the way every song begins with the guy on his Acetone keyboard starting some droning background thing. Then everyone joins in and the girl starts plucking her acoustic guitar like we have all the time in the world. But we don't. I was born on this earth and I swear I am going to live every moment. So the first song ends and the next song ends and then the next song starts. The Acetone kicks in. The bass begins. She starts plucking. I know where this is going.
That is why when Bird took the stage at around 9 p.m. I had to take a step back. In my mind, of course, because I was encased in a prison of seating. It's not until you are forced to sit on your hands for 24 hours straight, that you begin to realize how much you need your hands. Much in the same way, the minute Bird began a song with his violin; you immediately knew that he was going to play it for approximately 2 minutes all by himself. Then when he started making loops you knew you were going to be dealing with another 2 minutes of looping. When the drummer kicked in, you realized that the song hadn't even started yet. But that is when the bass player started up. Some four minutes later Bird finally starts singing and when he does he makes Jeff Buckley look like an amateur.
As I sat back imagining what it must be like to be so gifted as Bird, it occurred to me that I had to leave. Immediately. With each song that Bird started, I knew where it was going. If he picked up his violin it meant that I would not be shifting my balls for another 6 to 10 minutes. The violins would crescendo like heaven's gates had opened. His voice and whistle would warble like Madonna in the 80s. But the whole time you knew where it was going. Each movement he took, only sealed the fate of your prison seating assignment. God forbid the song started with the drummer. Then you really knew you were in for complete hell.
That is why, dear readers, I have completely begun to rethink the way songs should be written. They must each sound different from the first, so you are tricked into listening longer. They must also be short. That doesn't sound so revolutionary. But have you heard the majority of CDs lately? Every band on a major label has a "sound." They make themselves famous with that sound. And then they drive that sound into the ground because they are not capable of drifting beyond it.
After 11 p.m. Andrew Bird came out for his first and only encore. I almost knocked people down trying to get out. So from now on I require that musicians keep in mind that most human beings find it impossible to sit through a 3 hour seated concert without moving. At some point normal human beings need to move around. Music is about moving.
Please Andrew Bird, I beg of you. Stop playing for more than two hours straight. Stop performing in theaters like this. If I had a strobe light I would have thrown it at you from the nosebleed seats. Then I would have been that crazy guy, scratching his balls while the police lights flooded the room.

Thank you,
People with Animal Heads

Friday, April 13, 2007

Midwest Music Summit takes the year off

Fans of Indiana's Midwest Music Summit will be disappointed. It's not going to happen this year. Just found out about this:

"For the best interest of the MMS we are taking the 2007 year to reorganize our beloved event and therefore we have elected to produce the next Midwest Music Summit August 7-9, 2008. The MMS has grown tremendously over the past 6 years and can become very overwhelming for our staff of volunteers. We will utilize 2007 to establish relationships with new sponsors and partners as well as continue working on our 501 (c) (3) filing, and start planning for one of the most aggressive MMS events in our history," a recent release stated.

For more information check out the Midwest Music Summit Web-site HERE

You can still apply for the 2008 Midwest Music Summit. But this kinda sucks, especially after I've gotten to know and love so many Indiana bands this year...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quick note

It occurred to me last night that the music being created right now, in the underground lesser known regions of America (not just the Midwest) is pretty incredible. Perhaps forcing radio stations to play more indie rock will help, but who can tell. Any reasonable person can hear a song by the Heartless Bastards and know they are fucking 100 times better than most shit on the radio. So politics must be behind its demise. If it wasn't radio would be much different.

So I got a few Myspace "friend" requests for the People With Animal Heads site last night and they were all pretty damn good bands. One in particular, Indiana's Motorcycle Blood! Blood! Blood!, was real interesting. Check them out. I've never heard anything like them before. Odd indie rock changes, gang vocals, heavy metal vocals = New and improved.
I also really liked an Austin, TX. band named The Corto Maltese. They don't have a label. For god sake, every douchebag screaming into a microphone with a loud guitar can get on a label and make a ton of records. Somebody sign this band. Why don't lables flock to stuff like this? You know, music based on merit instead of GENRE. Fuck genres. Punk rock is dead. Heavy metal is dead. It's time to move to new horizons, labels. Punk rock has changed. Keep up with us.

Cincy video updates

Head on over to MIND IGNITION CHANNEL for new live videos for the Sunday Runners and Noctaluca.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small portion

In that giant fucking list of bands playing the 2007 Lollapolooza, I had hoped there would be more Midwestern bands rising to the surface. Sadly, I see only two: Indiana's David Vandevelde (Secretly Canadian) and Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards.
I guess two is better than nothing.
Actually, I've decided that both bands are so good, I will heretofor count them as six Midwestern bands.
There are six Midwestern bands playing the 2007 Lollapolooza!

(UPDATE: Count Akron's Black Keys and Richard Swift into that line up too!)

Toledo Indie Pop Festival

You wouldn't know it from the weather, but it's festival season soon. One that I hope to check out this year is Toledo's Indie Pop Festival. They pull in a lot of really interesting bands, taking pop sounds and really mixing it up. For now, check out the festival on its Myspace page: Toledo Indie Pop Festival
I also hope to speak with the organizers soon for another article.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Midwestern Round up!

I thought it was time for a round up on some great bands from the Midwest and what they currently have up their sleeves.

Of the top of my head:
• Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers are perhaps one of my top five recommended bands in the Midwest. Their new self-titled CD is racking up the positive reviews. They are also currently on tour from here to eternity and back. They have a video you can see on Myspace that is pretty neat. Just click the link I provided. Possible interview with them is pending. I see these guys getting big quick, but that's me. I also thought Wilco's "Ghost is Born" was their best release... so what do I know...
• I've been hearing Athen's SOUTHEAST ENGINE may have an exciting announcement soon. Until then, they have a lot of shows booked around the region.
• As you know, I like Arrah and the Ferns, from Muncie, Indiana. They are on tour again. Support them when they come to your town.
• Other Muncie band Everything, Now! has abunch of shit pending, like full-length "Ugly Magic" and another called "Bible Universe" Both due out in 2007. They are about to head south on tour.
• On April 10 (tomorrow) Cleveland's great Machine Go Boom will release it's CD "Music for Parents" on the Collectable Escalators label.
• Columbus band Psychedelic Horseshit are none too subtle on the quest to find a new "hottie" guitar player to join the band. No uglies, need apply.
• Cincy band Diet Audio is set to release its debut CD "Ecrasez L'Infame," pronounced (Ek-ra-say law-fam) in the next couple weeks. They are also planning a tour. I wonder if Nick Spencer still owes them money...
• More to come as I gather stuff...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Blackout Fest!!

Athens Ohio's booker/musician extraordinaire Scott Winland has been a staple in Midwest garage rock circles for as long as I can remember. He gives us a peek into the upcoming Blackout Festival in his fair city.
"The show started about 12 years ago, as a birthday party for a handful of musician friends in Athens. When I took over booking The Union, and eventually started Blackout Booking, it grew to a two-day event, then three. In it's earliest form, Blackoutfest pretty much hosted local and regional bands and has since shifted to more out-of-state stuff, including many bands from the Blackout roster. Some highlights over the years were: The Real Kids, The Reigning Sound, Dirtbombs, Lost Sounds, The Ponys, Gris Gris, Demolition Doll Rods, Tearjerkers, Cool Jerks, This Moment in Black History, High Strung, etc, etc.

This year's fest will include the following bands (and more)-- (editor's note: please don't expect me to make links to every band...):

For anyone hoping to make the treck down to Athens the doors open at 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday (April 19th and 20th), and at 4 p.m. on Saturday (April 21st). Tickets are $10 a night and $25 for all three nights. Out of towners who want to reserve tickets can do so through the myspace page ( There you can also find up-to-date info on the nightly schedules, and extra info on Athens (hotels, record stores, thrift shops, places to eat, etc).
But with so many festivals going on this summer, why should people be sure to catch what Athens has to offer, aside from the fact that it rules?
"Athens (and more specifically The Union), is a great place to play and see a show. It's rare to find a place with such an enthusiastic crowd. It's super cheap too. A cheap place to live, and a cheaper place to drink, if you're into that sort of thing. The fest is also a bit on the eclectic side, compared to others of its kind. It includes everything from experimental noise stuff, to hardcore, to rocknroll to some more mellow stuff," he said. "Being such a small town, some of the best shows in Athens are like this. It's ok to have a hardcore band play with a folky/psych band. There are less attitudes towards what lineups are 'supposed to be like,' with an emphasis on having a fun show. Maybe the town's size keeps bands from wanting to sound the same. If you had to pick your three favorite albums to take with you to the deserted island, they probably wouldn't all be Ramones albums, right? Ok, I guess that one's arguable, but hopefully you get my point! Athens is a bit isolated, and we try to keep it interesting."
Another great aspect of the Blackout Fest is combining national bands with local greats.
Winland said Athens bands such as: Wheels on Fire, The Makebelieves, Dropdead Sons, Chingar Mimi, The Never Evers, We March, Southeast Engine, Paper Machetes, the Dragline Bros., Loaded Revulvas and more will also take part.
"None of these bands sound alike, and all of these bands drink together," he said.
For regional acts playing the fest, The festival will feature This Moment In Black History (Cleveland), Buffalo Killers (Cincinnati), Tough and Lovely, El Jesus De Magico, Psychedelic Horseshit, and Grafton (both Columbus).
"None of these bands are strangers to the Union stage, and in my opinion are some of the best bands in the state," Winland said.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Wake up Cincinnati!
(The story of Skull Lab)

While the Cincinnati music scene discusses all the numerous ways Alchemize deserves to shut down, not many are thinking about a little place known as SKULL LAB. But they should.
For those musicians who are a touch "exploratory" in nature, it's a venue that has offered a unique stage for The Land of the Lost to express themselves - experimental bands, noise bands, and generally musicians with a decidedly more DIY nature.
People with Animal Heads may seem stuck on promoting experimental rock this month, but there is a reason. It's because most Midwestern forms of traditional rock have been abused. Instead of forging new ground, local musicians take what is popular and drive it into the ground. There are just as many trying to create something new and original.
That is why getting to know Skull Lab is important.
The venue is located at 271 McMicken Ave. and doubles as an art gallery and musicians collective.
"We are just getting on our feet but I think there is a lot of potential here. We are not gearing ourselves towards anyone in particular. Hopefully Skullab will break down some of the barriers in the city by bringing unlikely acts together in one place, and by creating a space where artists and musicians can interact. This venue could be Cincinnati's much needed enema. If only we believe," a recent release stated.
For the past year, Skull Lab has provided a spot for these bands to come together and perform for the love of performing. This place isn't about grandstanding, as it is about pushing boundaries and creating new ones.
According to co-owner Jon Lorenz, the problem is that more people need to be aware it even exists.
"The problem is that I think there are a lot of people, at least in Cincinnati, that I have talked to that are into noise that were never aware that there was a noise scene... people just need to be aware of it," he said.
In a town like Cincinnati there is already a thriving indie rock scene, Lorenz said, so show goers have trouble venturing into the ghettos to check out new forms of music.
"I think this is where the underground/indie/noise scene can thrive. I don't think anyone could afford to open up a place in a nice part of town and do noise shows where no money is made. It has to be in the ghetto or in someone's basement because the scene is so small. This is how I think indie rock started. All of these bands played in houses or warehouses, or whatever. This is also why they played in small towns. Because honestly, I think if a noise band plays in a small town where people never get music, more people will come out for the chance to see something," Lorenz said.
In Cincinatti there is so much going on, he said, creativity can get lost in the shuffle.
To get in contact with the venue, book a show or just to discuss music and art you can reach members of Skull Lab via email at: or or
Check out the Myspace link to the venue in the top of the article.

The shortage ends

Ok, the past two weeks have not been what I hoped, as far as getting content out there. Hell, I even missed out on putting up something about Times New Viking going on tour with Yo La Tengo. That's pretty rad. But the drought has ended. Now I have so many articles I'm working on there's no time to finish them all. Expect a windfall in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

King Midas in Reverse - Cincinnati's Alchemize

While clubs such as Northside Tavern (best bar in Ohio), The Comet, Poison Room and many more continue to thrive in Cincinnati's talented music scene, a club called Alchemize continues it's descent.
The bar is expected to close, yet again, only to re-open somewhere else, yet again. Read the whole story HERE
A 20-something Cincinnati well-to-do, Nick Spencer is the man behind the bar. He first earned local media attention after running unsuccesfully for Cincinnati's City Council a few years ago. His cause was to help bring the decaying Over the Rhine district back from the grave. He pushed for more of a police presence in the district and he pushed for the city to court its young residents, which he claimed were pushed out in droves to seek other cities more intent on highlighting local arts and culture.
All of these were lovely and just causes that soon turned sour.
You can find a discussion on the changes at Alchemize at the CincyMusic message board, located HERE. Scroll down. It goes on for another 6 pages, but it's worth it.
Back story: Spencer first opened his Alchemize club in Over the Rhine and it proved to be a success, offering a great live music venue for local bands. The venue also brought in a steady stream of national acts from Mates of State to Of Montreal. But rumors of mismanagement soon popped up. The bar also became a magnet for Over the Rhine ruffians, who often showed up to cause problems. Broken windows and fights became more frequent.
Spencer announced it was City Council's fault for not providing more police and then closed shop. Although, Spencer critics claimed he mismanaged the bar, so was forced to close down and blamed it on City Council to save face.
In the meantime, Spencer had more grandiose plans. He announced his intentions of a Cincinnati concert to end all concerts. Enter: The Desdemona Festival.
Truly a magnificent idea, the festival featured three days of supreme national indie rock bands from Apples in Stereo, Heartless Bastards, The Walkmen, We are Scientists, Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos and many, many more. The event also featured regional bands such as the Captain of Industry, Turnbull ACs, Paper Airplane, The High and the Low, Spectacular Fantastic, and more playing alongside the nationals.
The only problem was that Spencer allegedly mismanaged the festival, failed to contact City Council soon enough to get proper permits and ended up losing thousands (eventually his debt was covered by a friend). He claimed in the media that City Council was just choosing not to support local arts again.
But things got worse, because Spencer allegedly got out of debt by not paying any of the local performers. This is where it apparently got really shady.
Regional bands said they were expected to go to places in Cincinnati in order to collect their pay and conveniently Spencer didn't show up. It's been almost a year now and Spencer is still stringing the regional bands along. He just stopped returning phone calls and emails.
Long story short, Spencer sends out a release (found on the Cincy Music link above) for his version of why Alchemize had to shut down again - citing his business partners "dishonesty." I guess that caused a flurry of hate in his direction, with screams of 'hipocrite.' So he followed it up with an apology letter (also found in the Cincy Music link above).
(This is where my nice article turns pretty opinionated)
I really just want to highlight that music scenes are based on trust. When your reputation is known for ripping people off, you screw yourself. But what really pisses me off about Spencer is that stealing from bands is like stealing from the church donation basket.
Musicians work their asses off to create their art. That needs to be respected. It takes a shitload of effort to tour and put out CDs. It's harder then any day job could ever be, and most have those too. Any scrap of cash they earn from these shows helps to keep their art moving forward. When Spencer cheats them out of that money, I hope he gets everything Karma brings.
I just hope Spencer becomes a man soon, goes down the list of local performers he's screwed and makes amends. Maybe start with the local bands and then pay back the money he apparently still owes Of Montreal.
Until then, fuck him.
(Update: I hear the venue located at the current Alchemize location will remain open, but change names. That's good news. Until Spencer starts owning up to his debts, I plan on avoiding Alchemize from now on. Until then, why would anyone ever want to go there when Northside Tavern is a couple blocks away????)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Culture Shock - Indiana event

Free festival going on in Indiana this month, with some great Secretly Canadian and Standard Recording bands - HERE

Plus an article on it from Pitchfork:

Xiu Xiu, Sunset Rubdown Shock Indiana University
Richard Swift, David Vandervelde, Catfish Haven too!
When you've weathered three decades of Bobby Knight, nothing's shocking. Still, Indiana University students (or anybody within a buggy-ride to Bloomington) looking for a jolt of indie rock dogma will get theirs April 14, as student-run WIUX-FM presents their Culture Shock Festival.
Commandeering dual stages behind IU's DeVault Alumni Center, the free festival begins at noon and should rage on until well after the Xiu Xiu-borne heebie jeebies ripple through the crowd at 10:35 PM. Event organizers have encouraged guests to wear sneakers, bring blankets, and be on the lookout for fake blood; from this, it can be inferred that Culture Shock is sort of like Ozzfest with less discarded bat-heads. Though you can never be so sure when it comes to Xiu Xiu.
Revved up to fight for the cream and crimson in addition to Xiu Xiu are Richard Swift and the Sons of National Freedom, Sunset Rubdown, Racebannon, Mudkids, David Vandervelde and the Moonstation House Band, Make Believe, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Catfish Haven, Maps & Atlases, Nomo, Coke Dares, Husband & Wife and Arrah & the Ferns, and the Delicious.