Various Artists – Cincinnati Music, Vol. 4

Various Artists
Cincinnati Music, Vol. 4

I have to admit, when I think of the large cities with famous music scenes, I tend to first think of Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle even. Cincinnati doesn’t really come to mind. But Deary Me Records has been putting out several volumes highlighting the talent in Cincinnati that ranges from pure rock to pop to indie rock to country and rockabilly. And, although I can’t think of anything else that Cincinnati might be famous for, it sounds like the city does have a burdgeoning music scene.

I’ve heard a bunch of these local music samplers before, and I always enjoy them. Because, unlike most labels’ samplers, it’s not a bunch of bands that sound exactly sound the same. It’s all different styles of music, all made by bands that play local bars and summer festivals and who play for the joy of making music. There’s always a few duds, but there’s always a few gems, and invariably I discover bands that I would never have heard otherwise. Sure, you may never hear them again without moving to that town, but it’s nice to get a taste of some new, strictly local talent.

Throneberry’s “Too Much” is pure rock, straight-ahead with attitude. The Ass Ponys were the only band I have heard of before, and their “Big As a Hat” is one of the best tracks on the album, sorta indie rock in a twangy, Southern sort of way, with high vocals that make this track special. This song reminds me of the Georgia blend of alternative pop that REM helped bring notice to five or six years ago. The Pariahs contribute a growling, dirty rock track that reminds me of some old Stones or Who tracks. Roundhead contribute one of my favorite tracks here, with a spacey number that at times sounds like the Verve with a little more rock. Sistern have a pretty girl-pop song, slow and lovely. The Wolverton Brothers have a nice, angry rock song that lacks some of the country twang from their full-length. The Haywards have a nice boy-girl acoustic indie pop song with some cool backing strings. This song is one of my favorites! Kid Valance & Mongrel Soup have a rock track that sounds vaguely Bruce Hampton-y. Little Billy Catfish 3Trio have an almost Cramp-y rock/punk song. Love America contribute “Bee Child,” a soulful, late 70’s-sounding rock track. Candy Afterlife have a dark, crunchier rock song that I really like. Ditchweed, surprisingly considering the name, is a very cutesy girl pop band, with their line “and send a memo” repeated multiple times throughout. Chalk have a moody rock track with the singer’s unique, British vocals, some crazy guitar riffs, and none of the electronic fiddlings on their album. Fairmount Girls contribute “1-900-FAIRMOUNT,” one of their best girl-pop songs from their latest album. Let’s Crash has a riotous clap-along rock track. Rip Rock & Raunch’s “Psycho Dad” is funny and rocks in a 70’s rockabilly punk sort of way. And, finally, Charming Turtlenecks contribute a pleasant (charming, even) instrumental that reminds me of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.

So, I still wouldn’t place Cincinnati at the top in terms of the most unique, ground-breaking and influential music being made today. But with such impressive acts as The Ass Ponys, Fairmount Girls, Chalk, Ditchweed, and The Haywards, they do have some good talent. And they certainly put Denver’s music scene to shame, in my mind.