Four months ago I wrote a piece where I checked in on some of my favorite Cleveland bands via their myspace pages (a lame gen-now idea but it saved any real thinking on my part). One song was reviewed and it was a nice way for me to play check up on everyone since I have been a poor study of Cleveland rock for the past year. Now I am taking that idea and making it into a full fledged Deadtown Cleveland segment or reoccurring blog if you will (insert audio of Dusty Rhodes saying that last bit) topic much like Cle Food Fetish or the beloved Cleveland Classic.
This time around I decided to change the gimmick a little. Instead of checking on bands that I know and hold dear to my rotten heart I am going to be stopping by myspace pages of bands I have… (or dah, dah, dah!) NEVER HEARD! That’s right; it’s an honest to God fact that there are bands in Cleveland that I have never been privy to in an audio type of way. Now this is not to say that these bands are off my radar: far from it, the bands below are actually ones that I put into Google searches this afternoon because I have been meaning to listen to them for months and, in some cases, f’n years.
Well… let’s be off on this trademarked voyage.
My first impression was simply, holy shit, these guys have a dumb name. And it’s undeniably true; it’s atrocious. I thought it would be ‘punk n roll’, dumb and plain. Oh well, it kind of is except that it owns pretty hard. How can that be Mr Chernus? Well dumb and plain is kind of what all rock and roll is when taken to its barest of elements, asshole. ‘Girl Pile’ reminds me of the early 2000’s when Cleveland was a greasy mess of drunk twenty-something’s getting into bad trouble. All those aforementioned kids are listening to indie rock now and living east of Lakewood but that doesn’t matter worth a fuck to G.G. This song drives all night with a catchy refrain, powerhouse riffing and a strange resemblance to those forgotten Vacancies gems (before that full length came out; you know, when all you knew was the live stuff). Good tune to play at parties where gunfire has no chance to happen and the only thing you’re getting down with is this LP and a twelve of Burning River. (For fans of getting drunk and Parma).
Lick the Blade
Sea of Apathy
My first impression was simply, holy shit, these guys have an amazing name. And it’s undeniably true; it’s fucking cool. Lick the Blade offer up a very commendable classic-metal track that conjures eighties Maiden as easily as the souls of ten witches and gypsy thieves; for real. So maybe it’s not anything new or even anything original, fuck me, this would barely sound new or original the year I was born but it’s still perfect for the jukebox at the Jigsaw (if someone would just resurrect that place). Ted Anderson spins a righteous tale here with ample shout outs given to those ever evil shores. I can imagine that this dude, uninhibited by instrument, is all over the place at a live gig; he better be or else Dio would tell that joke about wanting his voice back. (For fans of Maiden (I already said it), Soulless and Nunslaughter).
The Hot Rails
These guys have been tearing it up in Cleveland pretty hard or so I’ve been told once or twice. I was hesitant to listen to them because, for the longest time, I thought it was a bunch of girls and, well you know, that would probably end up being bad. I was kind of surprised to see this is my old buddy Charlie Druesedow’s (lead drums and ex-everything) band and, even weirder, the easiest nomination for best Post-Sharkey, Ken Janssen is the singer (ex-Vista Cruisers). All put together it kind of sounds like Bad Wizard which is bitter sweet: it’s the perfect party band stuff but these guys could probably have done something a little better. But let’s be fair, ‘Ripper’ does just that; Janssen holds court with maybe the best drunken howl in Clevo and I know he can back that shit up on stage or in a bar fight. Druesedow remains a solid rock drummer, keeping this whole sinking ship of Straub and thin lines of blow together. ‘You want to go for a ride/you better give it up/I’m going to live it up.’ Good enough for a Cleveland summer but it might not keep you warm all winter. (For fans of Stepsister, Annihilation Time and beer).
I’ve known Brian through dealing with the Beachland and general Cleveland this-and-that for a very long while but I have never gone to see the guy play and here I sit kinda kicking myself for it. Yeah, yeah—the dude plays soft, folk stuff and I am an unabashed lover of all things stupid and metallic—but there is a soft spot in this sarcastic soul… shit, I wrote the word soul just now with no intention of tying Satan or sacrifice into it. I tried out all four songs offered on his page which is against the rules I just now put upon myself (the other bands had to deal with the first thoughts I had on the first song I ever heard by them) and this was, admittedly the one that I liked most. Brian has a voice my man, it’s marketable to all the distressed girls that get forced into seeing Hot Rails by their drunk bfs (that means boyfriends); dark, melancholy and distressed in it’s on right. The drums plod along here with the soft strumming and eerie vocal melody making me think it’s like a Goth Fleet Foxes or maybe some other indie rock band that I’m too metal to reference. Brian Straw might be the perfect antidote to people who are sick of the type of bands I wrote about above or just another day at Arabica for the rest of you. (For fans of coffee, poetry, autumn and stuff like that).