Review: Beggars - Spitting Venom

By: Lex Vegas

 Album artwork for Spitting Venom by Beggars. (Photo courtesy of Spotify)

Album artwork for Spitting Venom by Beggars. (Photo courtesy of Spotify)

This review took me a week longer than it should have because I had to get plastered listening to Beggars’ new album. Well, I suppose didn’t have to probably, but it was certainly inspiring.

Weighing in at nine songs over 30 minutes, the perfect length for a rowdy punk record, there’s not much dynamic to Spitting Venom, but who needs that anyway? Just down a few beers and three shots of the second cheapest liquor you can stomach, and everything else will work itself out.

What it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in plenty of harmonized guitar leads that would make Thin Lizzy plenty proud. It’s raw and ripping, rude and raucous, puked up in chunks just large enough to choke back down with gratuitous glee. One solo even kinda sounds like Slayer.

Honestly, you could probably read the killer song titles (“Piss Your Pants and Keep Partying”) and decide if this album is for you. If your idea of a good time is smoking weed in parking lots and just generally giving ‘em hell, you just stumbled on your summer soundtrack. Hell, the album art alone gave me a hangover, and my immunity to depravity is pretty high.

Like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it ain’t drunk, do a beer bong with it. Beggars high-octane-punk rock n’ roll ain’t broke, but I sure would do a beer bong with them. Thanks dudes, it was a pleasure.

Recommended if you like: Turbonegro, The Bronx, Valient Thorr, Red Fang

If you find yourself in the southern U.S., be sure to check out the end of Beggars' May tour. More info on the dates and location can be found by clicking here.

Fleet Foxes Impress At Express Live

By: Mike Thomas

 Fleet Foxes performing indoor at Express Live on Saturday, May 20. (Photo by: Catherine Lindsay)

Fleet Foxes performing indoor at Express Live on Saturday, May 20. (Photo by: Catherine Lindsay)

Fleet Foxes is one of those rare bands that I can clearly recall hearing for the first time. For me, it was a late night, the summer of 2008. The song was “White Winter Hymnal,” the lead single for the group’s self-titled debut LP. I remember it coming on the radio just as I turned the corner to the street of my childhood home, where I still resided. The song immediately grabbed my attention, and I idled the car in the driveway until it was finished.

That night, I was coming home from a party on the Ohio State campus, where many of my friends were enrolled and plugging right along in what must have been their sophomore year. I was just at the beginning of my own adventures in higher learning, or the relative beginning—a year or so into my first stint at community college, hopelessly lacking in any sort of direction.

Sitting in the driveway that night, bathed in streetlamp light and the driving rhythms issuing forth from the speakers of my late '90s sedan, I had no Idea where I was going in life. It would be the better part of a decade before I would get my act together and earn a degree.

I mention this only so that you’ll know I’m speaking from experience when I say there are generally two camps of people who return to college in their mid-to-late 20s. The first group consists of your practical types—folks looking to make a change in careers, adding a new set of skills to their arsenal in hopes of attracting gainful employment and a better way of life. The second camp, the one I belonged to, are people with something to prove, a misguided need for accomplishment and validation, student loan debt be damned.

 Fleet Foxes return to Columbus off of its latest release, Crack-up. (Photo by: Catherine Lindsay)

Fleet Foxes return to Columbus off of its latest release, Crack-up. (Photo by: Catherine Lindsay)

Then there is Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, whose hiatus from the band and subsequent enrollment at Columbia University complicates this model. Pecknold is such an immensely gifted musical talent that to choose another career path would be absurd, and he clearly had no intention of doing so. So did this international folk-rock sensation, the driving creative force behind a Grammy-nominated band, really suffer from feelings of inadequacy?

By the time Fleet Foxes got around to playing the aforementioned “White Winter Hymnal” during its Saturday night performance at Express Live, it kicked off what clearly felt like a distinct second part to its sprawling set. The majority first six or so songs performed were off of the most recent album, Crack-up, which takes its name from an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay collection and marked Pecknold’s post-educational return to the group.

Perhaps Pecknold really did go back to school for reasons of utility—to pepper in even more ornately crafted and esoteric literary flavor into his songwriting. From the comfortable, easygoing presence he exhibited on stage, it is hard to picture him as the kind of guy who would have anything more to prove to the world.

Throughout the performance, songs went on in an almost seamless chain, one flowing into the next without break. Instrument changes were frequent, often occurring mid-song. For a band with such a polished studio sound as Fleet Foxes, the live experience is a faithful recreation of the sonic complexity on display throughout its discography. Brass instruments, a standard bass and an ever-changing rotation of guitars lend to the rich, full sound. Depth is achieved with little apparent electronic manipulation, minus the echoing layers of reverb that are a trademark component of the group’s style.

Due to similarities in career trajectory—a hiatus from an extremely successful music career to attend college and eventual comeback—the comparison has been drawn between Pecknold and Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. To see Pecknold live, the comparison to the bashful and geeky Cuomo just doesn’t hold up. In front of a packed audience, Pecknold is humble and workmanlike, looking completely at ease. Whatever led to the hiatus, it would seem he has found what he needed and is content.

The Turbos Fulfill Potential on New EP

By: John Price

 EP artwork for The Turbos' Alternator.

EP artwork for The Turbos' Alternator.

Want one more reason to follow, listen to and endorse local music? The Turbos are making rich, resonant modern rock that draws from past influences, adds its own spin and does so seamlessly without sounding like the band is imitating anyone or trying to resurrect an archaic sound. And The Turbos is doing it all in your backyard.

The Turbos’ new release, “Alternator,” serves its audience very well. Bouncing through an engaging palette of pop-rock songs whose lyrical imagery is consistently sharp. Deft phrasing and soaring vocal performances connect without feeling like such a connection was forced or calculated. Sonically this four-piece delivers a breadth of honed guitar-driven dynamism that is refreshingly anchored to intelligent, melodic hooks. Listeners can either sing along to or lyrically deconstruct to find the songs’ hidden messages.

Unlike almost all bands not called Oasis, The Turbos trade off singing duties between two members. Alex D (an In the Record Store contributor) leads off with the opening anthemic track “Circles,” in probably the most epic of the album’s offerings. His voice has a delivery similar to that of TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, effortlessly switching gears from reflective smooth verses to gravely punching choruses throughout “Fine China,” “Bullet 2 Chew” and “Van Gogh.”  

However, lest the listener’s attention start to wane, the group’s second guitarist/vocalist gets tagged in and periodically takes the mic throughout the 7-track album. Lucas Esterline’s slightly smokier but equally soaring vocal performances provide catchy counterpoints on “Sleeper,” “Don’t You Worry” and “Tall Trees.”  

Throughout “Alternator,” The Turbos’ guitars shift from dark bluesy hues (“Fine China”) to grungy, Seattle-sounding distorted tones (“Van Gogh”). The balance maintained between Alex D’s and Esterline’s guitars ensures that the listener is treated to two very capable and well-schooled six-stringers. The tracks’ collection of builds, crescendos and drops are all supported by the guitars that sound rich and full without being overwhelming.  

Meanwhile, the bass performance by Cam Reck provides interesting lines that also humbly serve the song. Instead of shamelessly shredding and selfishly grabbing the aural spotlight, his skillset remains locked in the gear of the song—using his excellent range of tones to scorch, seize, sway and sucker-punch the listener as the song’s mood dictates. Fill-in drummer Matt Love should feel pride in his performance, as its effect is similarly surefooted and certainly suffices for the rest of the band.

While the project is not without its flaws, they are very few and far between (drum levels and an occasional pitchy emotive vocal) and should not prevent the listener from enjoying the album in full.  

Writing and performing melodic rock music is an art and skill, especially while incorporating a breadth of modern influences such as Kings of Leon, The Killers, Interpol and Incubus as The Turbos have done with “Alternator.”  This album’s sound, diversity and dynamics are delivered by a group whose talent is matched by its ambition.

Check our The Turbos website here and make sure to keep up on forthcoming shows by visiting its Facebook page. The Turbos will be playing a free show at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 26 at Lucky’s Grille and Sports Bar in Marysville.

Kinfolk to Play Early Showcase Happy Hour at Dick's Den

By: Zak Kolesar

 Robert Mason (left), like many of the multi-band artists in Kinfolk, also plays keys for MojoFlo. (Photo by: Kenny Caterer)

Robert Mason (left), like many of the multi-band artists in Kinfolk, also plays keys for MojoFlo. (Photo by: Kenny Caterer)

Columbus is a music city; it’s time to stop fighting that. But what makes Columbus a music city doesn’t necessarily boil down to what genre of music is being played or the fact that you can always find at least one gig to jam out to on a nightly basis.

Our city’s music economy is heavily dependent on the input that Columbus musicians are putting in, and calling it a grind would be selling the efforts of Capital City talent short. Line up a crew of the most-streamed Columbus bands, and you’ll probably find that the same faces appear in a handful of those top-tier groups. Music don’t stop.

Look even further down the line and the groups that musicians like the members of Kinfolk—a new Columbus-based jazz collective of familiar names—contribute to can sometimes stack seven to 10 projects high.

Kinfolk, according to its Facebook page, is “aiming to play the best music they can.” A pretty generic tagline for a band, but one that definitely rings true when you look at the roster of names that make up the collective. Boasting Stephanie Rogers (vocals), Robert Mason (keys), Faheem Najieb (alto saxophone), Hayden Huffman (tenor saxophone), Benjamin Crowder (trombone), Jeff Bass (bass) and Josh Heber (drum set), Kinfolk runs deep.

While you may see all of these artists out on the Columbus music circuit any given week, Kinfolk is a pleasant new surprise. A project birthed from Heber’s imagination, talent and knowledge of the city’s finest musicians, Kinfolk keeps a mix of originals and classics in its arsenal, ready to take on any audience’s happy-hour blues. These are uplifting musicians, and one of their primary goals is to try and make your day a little better with their take on what defines a soulful hymn.

The first Kinfolk presentation, which took place on March 28 at Brother’s Drake Meadery for Jazz Wednesday, featured works from Miles Davis and D’Angelo, echoing the sentiment of Kinfolk members by playing the best music they can.

The next installment will continue to feature Kinfolk originals and deep cuts from its members’ favorite musicians, but this time the free happy hour show will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 on Weds., May 16 at Dick’s Den. More information on the event can be found here.

Duck Creek Log Jam Continues its Growth

By: Sam Kayuha

 Duck Creek Log Jam 2017. Courtesy of ND Imagery. 

Duck Creek Log Jam 2017. Courtesy of ND Imagery. 

If the quality of a party is measured by the number of people who want to be there, then Kyle Wilson and his family throw a damn good party. It is the only family I know that has had its Memorial Day cookout grow into one of the best music festivals in the state.

Family property in Hocking Hills was the site for a Memorial Day party in 2011, where someone suggested that it would also be the perfect spot for a festival. It became the setting for the first Duck Creek Log Jam a year later and remains the site for the upcoming seventh, happening on June 15 and 16.

“We’re well-rooted,” said founder, owner and promoter Kyle Wilson. “Hocking Hills is the reason for the festival. The outdoor environment is what our festival is all about.”

The Duck Creek Camping and Outdoor Events Area is located off US-33 in the heart of Southeastern Ohio, adjacent to Lake Logan State Park and near the Cantwell Cliffs. Wilson described a bucolic scene of ponds to swim in, trails to hike on and ground aplenty on which to spread out a sleeping bag after a long day.

“It’s beautiful,” said Doug Cherryholmes, the festival’s emcee and frontman of its houseband, the Hocking River String Band. “The property perfectly exemplifies Hocking Hills.”

Duck Creek began as, and remains, a family project. Wilson and Cherryholmes are brothers-in-law. Mackenzie Shaw, Wilson’s wife, is a co-owner and marketer. Her sister and Cherryholmes’ wife, Mallory Cherryholmes, is the head of vendor coordination. Another sister, Morgan Wendling, coordinates merchandise, while cousin Hobie Shaw is the fest’s web and graphic designer.

250 people turned out for the first edition of the festival. Over 1,000, what Wilson estimates to be the biggest crowd the property can handle, are expected this year.

“It’s small by design,” he said. “We never envisioned doing a 5,000-person festival.”

The growth that has come to the event has brought more work for the half dozen family members who put it on. It takes improvisation for the group to handle the Log Jam’s rising popularity.

“We want as many people as possible but it can be like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a lot of people here,’” Cherryholmes said. “Efforts ramp up every year, and we’re always making tweaks based on the year before.”

The festival brings performers who put their own spin on bluegrass, folk, rock and americana music. It doesn’t host many household name bands, the effect of booking artists who play music somewhat outside of the mainstream.

But CAAMP, the Columbus-born, Athens-formed folk duo, is one name that will draw a loyal fanbase. Duck Creek was one of the first festivals the group played and has been witness to its rise. Wilson said it might not be long before the band is beyond the Log Jam’s budget abilities.  

Headlining on the main stage will be the Hip Abduction. Hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida, the group plays catchy indie pop. Most of the other bands better fit the image of a log jam, incorporating banjos and having styles that sound written to be played around a campfire.

Also on the bill is Doc Robinson, the Columbus duo which has quickly become one of the biggest draws in the capital city.

 Campers at Duck Creek 2017. Courtesy of ND Imagery. 

Campers at Duck Creek 2017. Courtesy of ND Imagery. 

Duck Creek is a festival that was made to be intimate, with nightly jams around the campfire and its performers sauntering around the grounds among attendees.

It is not just the absence of corporate sponsorship and any kind of pretension that makes Duck Creek an outlier in the mass of summer festivals. As long as it exists, it will be defined by the efforts of the small group of people who started the Log Jam, whose original vision of organic community is still alive seven years later.

“I just want everybody to feel at home, be comfortable and have fun,” said Cherryholmes. “People come up to me and talk to me like I’m their best buddy—when someone sees me from the year before it’s like they never left.”

Duck Creek Log Jam will take place June 15 and 16. Presale two-day passes are $99, while one-day presale are $50 with camping and $35 without. Tickets and the full lineup can be found at duckcreeklogjam.com.