Joshua Jesty - 'Laughing Til It Hurts'

Banjos and guitars and strings and other unspecified noises pile on top of each other in this jaunty, yet melancholy tune.

Gap Dream

I’m really loving this Cleveland garage rock band Gap Dream right now. They’ve got a really obvious grasp on songwriting, and these songs are really interestingly produced. You should go check out their self-titled album on Bandcamp for ten tracks of fun do-it-yourself pop.

The first track, “58th St. Fingers” is full of interesting little bits of keyboard and guitar. Those little riffs all over the place in my left ear are tickling my brain and making me want to go pick up my firebird and play along. This band has a really laid back vibe that I would fully appreciate at a show.

“Cover It Up”, the next track on the album, might be my favorite. It’s a bit more of a slow jam, but there’s this really solid fuzz guitar track that pushes the whole thing through. I love it.

The vocals are undoubtedly what make this band’s sound though. They sound double tracked, but I could be wrong about that. They’re definitely put through an intense amount of reverb, and they sound really intensely roomy. Impressively, Gap Dream is creating a unique sound by using very conventional and well explored tools. That’s not easy to do, and they deserve a lot of recognition for that.

Check these guys out! If you’re in the area when they’re playing a show, I’m sure it would be great. This is very clearly the kind of music that is best for live situations. I expect that these guys like The Vines.

Ouisa Hound - Our Wake / Memorand

A lovely new ambient/neo-classical single from Ohio fledgling Joseph Randolph, who goes by Ouisa Hound when making sounds. Be sure to listen to both sides; "Memorand" pushes past the gentle trance set by "Our Wake" into a smeared, fierce yearning. 

The Six Parts Seven - 'In a Late Style of Fire'

Are you freaking out right now? Stop doing that. Listen to this instead. The first track off of The Six Parts Seven's 2000 LP Silence Magnifies Sound will crawl into your nerve endings and shroud them in a nice, easy calm. Seal yourself off from the world for six minutes, then have a good Friday out there.

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Summerays

Daydream EP

I definitely listened to this band’s whole EP three times through as soon as I found out about it because it’s all super good. I have nothing to compare it too, but all five of these tracks are really great. Summerays “Daydream EP” is tagged as pop and surf rock, and these landlocked Cleveland kids are doing it right.

“Lately” is my favorite track on the album. It’s full of perfectly surf rock guitar tones and sufficiently simple drum beats. The vocals seem to be recorded really interestingly. There’s a sort of group effect, but it’s very minimal. It’s just enough for me to think it’s cool, but not so much for me to think that they’re being totally typical for their genre. This track is lean three minutes long, but short song lengths are definitely a mainstay of surf rock.

“Toyohashi” is also really great. It swells in, sort of like a wave, and then burst into a lot of beautiful organic electric sounds. This one is pretty catchy without being cheesy. That’s pretty hard to do with surf rock.

I really want to pronounce Summerays like “Some Rays” because of the coloring on their album art. The letters “Summe” are white and then “rays” is yellow. I hope it won’t offend these dudes if I always think of them as Some Rays cleverly disguised in the word Summerays. Excellent work, Cleveland! The beach is a cool part of the geography of this great world we all live in!

Bears - Greater Lakes

How is it that I've never come across a band named 'Bears' before? Seems like they would be one of the first animals to fall into the indie machine. Anyway, this Cleveland outfit has been playing their retro-styled indie pop since 2005, but their brand new full-length Greater Lakes marks a new zenith for them in songcraft and production. They've come out sounding like Belle & Sebastian or Baxter Dury, but with a little more punch. The whole record is fantastic, but especially be sure to check out 'Don't Wait'. I (predictably) love it for its bright synthy flourishes and soaring vocal harmonies. 

CityCop

“X” might be my favorite track just because of how hopeful it is

CityCop’s album “The Hope In Forgiving & Giving Up Hope” is totally a great post-whatever punk Ohio album. This is sort of like mewithoutYou, but I hate making comparisons. Although, mewithoutYou is awesome, so I hope nobody takes that as a negative comparison.

First off, when you put any sort of sea creature on your album cover, I’m going to come to your music with a great first impression. Then if the catch phrase from one of your songs is “Let’s create something great.” it’s going to be hard for me to have a negative image of you at all. So excellent job guys, I really love you.

“X” might be my favorite track just because of how hopeful it is, but I also really like, “Ode To Bula/Flight Lessons”. That one is a bit harder, and I love the intensity on the acoustic guitar. I’ve always been of the opinion that acoustic guitars are percussion instruments. Hit them as hard as you can. Acoustic guitar and double bass drums. If that’s not genius, nothing is. Nice amount of delay on the vocals too.

“Go West”. That’s solid advice in itself. Lots of people learn just from moving somewhere, and west is very often the direction of choice. The lyrics in this song are really great.

If you can, go see CityCop. I’m sure they’re tons of fun! If you can’t, go name your price to purchase their album “The Hope In Forgiving & Giving Up Hope” on their Bandcamp.

Summerays - 'Spacious'

As their moniker suggests, this Cleveland surf-pop outfit makes music that's sunny as anything. Upbeat and warm without being precious or obnoxiously cheerful, Summerays strike a good middle ground inside their genre.

Andrew Yorn

Academia

I love the word academia. I love academia. Andrew Yadon drew me in immediately with just this album title. They lyrics are as great as they should be too. The opening tracks speaks on the fear of difficulties and the constant surprise of positive results. Andrew Yadon hopes everyone is decent, and I think that’s great.

We all have to work together. Andrew Yadon understands this, and his song “Consequences” is absolutely beautifully written. Consequences are deceiving. Consequences don’t have to mean anything.  As long as we are determined to be as good  and decent to each other as we can, the world will keep getting better.

You can download this ten song album for free on Yadon’s Bandcamp page. It’s obviously carefully crafted, both lyrically and musically. He describes nailing mattresses to his walls to record the final copies. That’s what you’ve got to do sometimes. Personally, I stop at the typical eggshell mattress toppers, but mattresses are almost definitely better. Excellent work, Andrew.

This album is really great. He admits that he put a lot of time into it, with these songs being written over the past year. It definitely shows. He announced its release on Facebook on January 15th. So, it’s totally fresh and ready for your listening. Check out Andrew Yorn at a show if you can. He seems to play pretty infrequently, but I’m sure it’s a great show of honesty when it happens. The singer/songwriter thing is usually either really terrible or amazing. This is amazing.

Lost Jon

Lost Jon is honestly the best thing I’ve heard from any of the blogs I wrote for in a long time. This is exactly the kind of music I like. He’s only got two songs on his BandCamp, and it looks like their Facebook page hasn’t been up for very long either, maybe only a few hours. It’s listed under Lost Jon And The Ghosts.

“Rattlesnake” is incredible. It’s just an acoustic guitar and vocals, but it’s anything but boring or typical. If he made this available to download, I’d absolutely put it on a mix cd and listen to it in my car every day for a while. I sense strong influences from Andy Hull here. I love Andy Hull. These vocals are shaky, and the words are incredible. He starts with, “There is a noose that swings between where you are and where you want to be.” Then he goes on to say that “You pretend that you don’t see it.” Goodness gracious that’s powerful. This is an incredible song.

The other song on Lost Jon’s BandCamp is called “The Question”. It’s a little more elaborately produced and arranged, and it sounds great. I like this one a lot, but it’s not as immediately captivating like “Rattlesnake”. I can tell though, if I had this in my car, I’d probably end up loving it just as much.

I’d love to talk to this guy and ask him what kind of music he likes. In my head I feel like I have a pretty good idea, but it’s always surprising.

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