The new year brings a new slate of exciting music to tempt listeners' ears. Here is a preview of what local bands have to offer for the new year:
2013 was been a great year for Youngstown's Turbo Lovers. Its sixth release, "Hopelessly Addicted," received excellent reviews in the British magazine Classic Rock, and one of the tracks was featured on a compilation CD distributed with the publication.
Vocalist and guitar player B.J. Lisko said the band just began writing material for a new record, which the Lovers plan to record with engineer Bill Korecky, owner of Mars Studios in Cleveland. Lisko said that he would like the band's 2014 release to embody the same big '80s rock feel in the same tradition of the Turbo Lovers' 2004 debut, "No Longer Attractive," also recorded with Korecky.
"Korecky comes from the '80s. He was a musician then. The best thing about 'No Longer Attractive' was the first four tracks. I did the record in two sessions with two drummers, but the second of those sessions produced an absolutely huge sounding four songs. I want the next record to be Def Leppard's 'Pyromania' meets AC/DC's 'Back In Black' in terms of the record's sound," Lisko said.
Harnessing The Sun
No local band captures the spirit of the heyday of Twin/Tone Records, circa mid-1980s better than the Shenango Valley's Harnessing The Sun. The band's sound draws influences from early Soul Asylum, Samiam, Coffinbreak and Husker Du. The band's late 2013 debut, "Sun Signs," has a generated a great local buzz.
The band includes Doug Roberts on vocals and guitar, Tom Fratilla on bass and Loren Butz on drums and formed in the spring of 2012. Roberts described "Sun Signs" as a punk rock version of his 2012 acoustic solo CD, "UP^RISING."
"We are anxiously awaiting 2014," Roberts said. "We hope that it is as much fun and productive as 2013 was for us as a band. On a personal level, we suffered some great losses and difficult situations. I think that the three of us playing together is therapeutic and truly helps each of us to overcome our hardships. Also, we have been able to play shows with some really great people. The guys from the Youngstown pop punk band, Idle Shades, really helped us out tremendously. They are such a great group and such great 'fellas.' In addition to shows at local venues, we had a chance to play a house party with them, The Spastic Hearts, and the local band Baroque Monody last summer. We can't wait to do something similar this year. We've had so much support from all these folks and we want to return the favors that they have offered to us."
The members of Youngstown's Sleep Projections - Bernadette Lim, keyboard, synth and vocals; Murad Shorrab, bass and vocals; Jesse Martin, guitar, drums and vocals; and Jake Sabeh, guitar, drums and vocals - have been busy writing material for their upcoming release. Martin said that the band is in the process of building its own studio to produce its own music and release a string of EPs.
"We have been planning on releasing music mostly in periodic EPs," he said. "Our musical influences are dreams, video game/film soundtracks, jazz music, 20th century classical and experimental/progressive groups like King Crimson, Grizzly Bear, Queens of the Stone Age and Odd Future. We formed Sleep Projections because we wanted to create music that connected to our dreams in some way. The name came out of this sort of internal reality projected into the external."
Shorrab said that his greatest hope for Sleep Projections is to release some material every year. However, the band has more material than its members have time.
Over the summer, Sleep Projections recorded a three-song demo at the Rust Belt Theater's chapel in the Calvin Center in Youngstown. The band has these songs - "It Stays With Me," "Measuring Cup," and "LKF" available for streaming on its ReverbNation, SoundCloud and Facebook pages.
"We currently have somewhere between 10 and 15 songs in the works, and more that are done and ready to be recorded," Sabeh said. "We love playing shows, but our true passion is in studio work. The four of us work very well together in a writing/recording setting, which is probably why this sprang up so quickly. It was so smooth that we didn't have to try, it just happened."
The Youngstown band will release its full-length debut, "Empress/Emperor," in 2014, first digitaly and later on vinyl. Recorded last fall at MindRocket Recording Studio, band's sound balances the dark sludge rock tones of Jucifer and the noisy pop structure of Hammerbox.
Baroque Monody features Jennifer Rose on guitars, keyboards and vocals; Rick Polo on guitars; Steven Andrew on bass; and Levi Dixie on drums.
Polo said, "Our release, 'Empress/Emperor', is a concept record based off of the Empress and Emperor tarot card archetypes. The Empress trilogy was the concept of lead singer and guitarist Jennifer Rose, and with the remaining four Emperor tracks with myself at the helm. After releasing the album, we hope to continue to expand and plan on continuing to build a buzz in the Northeast Ohio, and neighboring areas such as Kent, Akron and Pittsburgh."
Rose said the idea of Baroque Monody came about when she wanted to form a shoegaze and space rock band, and Polo wanted to form more of a goth act. They decided to intertwine these two concepts together and the combination immediately worked.
"Rapone and Scordo really helped shape our sound into what it is," she said. "They're a great rhythm section and their chemistry really served us well. It's experimental in ways, with elements of all our influences sprinkled throughout. The sound is continually progressing, especially as we work more intensely with our new members."
In February the band will take part in the MindRocket Project, a collaborative effort between MindRocket Studios owner Josh Roman and Jimmy Martin, host of the indie music podcast "The Jimmy Fro Show." Roman records the bands performing in his studio space and Martin records the performance on video and uploads it to The JimmyFro Podcast webpage and YouTube.
The band also has dates booked Saturday at Chipper's Sports Bar & Grill in Austintown and Feb. 22 at Zekes Upstairs Theatre in Girard.
Third Class - Lee Boyle, lead vocals, keyboards and guitar; Pepe Parish, bass, drums and vocals; and Jack Boyle, drums, bass, and vocals - has been crafting some new recordings for 2014.
New songs include "Hey There," "How To Win," "Famous In Our Minds," "All Your Words" and "Cold Morning Light."
"Our plan, for 2014, is to play the new songs out as much as possible, and we hope to get into the recording studio," Boyle said. "Our songwriting style has progressed into a style which heavily draws on bouncy, quirky, pop chords. A signature sound seems to have been nailed down through the years. When you hear us, you usually know it's us. Our direction for Third Class' sound is getting more and more straightforward. Therefore, we might counterbalance the songwriting with more creative styles of recording. Our last EP, '12 And 9 EP,' was relatively bare-bones. We might be more flamboyant this time around. Who knows?"
The band just recorded a cover of the Velvet Underground classic "Pale Blue Eyes."
"We were just looking for an easy song to cover and we thought "Pale Blue Eyes" fit our style enough. I personally feel that the lyrics and execution of The Velvet Underground's recordings resemble ours a little. However, we don't cite them as a huge influence," Boyle said.
According to Boyle the band has numerous live performances planned in the works for 2014.
"In 2014, we have a January 10 show at Generations Coffee in Columbiana with Khaled Tabbara and Katianne Timko, and we have booked The Knox Building in Youngstown with Sleep Projections for Feb. 8," he said.
Jones For Revival
The psychedelic jam band Jones For Revival currently writing and working on new material for its next album. Guitarist/lead vocalist Jim DeCapua said that the band is experimenting with more funk, but their signature style is still evident in their sound.
The band's earlier sound was more pop-oriented, according to DeCapua, and now he is trying to write more "user friendly" material and is interested in connecting with people through music.
"So far, we have about three tunes that are ready for recording, but we are hoping to have at least eight before we even book studio dates," he said. "We've been tossing around the idea of calling the next album 'Brain Diaper,' but nothing is set in stone.
"We've been leaning towards funk lately. We can't explain it. I think the grooves are just coming out of us and we're not worrying about classification. I think there will be a couple of reggae -esque songs on the new album too. I am just thinking about all of the ideas, short demo recordings, vocal harmonies and anything else we've cataloged over the past year and there is definitely some good stuff in there. Our style has morphed, but I believe the intention has stayed the same throughout the years. If anything, we've improved the intention. I have always been a sucker for funky, jazzy, bluesy chords and progressions that use them. I'll probably always be into that sort of thing, but recently, I purchased a Fender Stratocaster and have been really getting into funk guitar."
Jones for Revival - DeCapua; Gino West, drums and backing vocals; Andre Ptichkin, bass; Jay Stephens, keyboards,B3 and backing vocals; and Ryan Mitiska, keyboards and backing vocals - also has a new practice space, which provides an excellent recording, jamming and listening atmosphere. And the band expects to be busy this summer on the festival circuit, playing its own Jonesfest at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park and other events.
"Festival season couldn't come soon enough," DeCapua said. "We have a blast playing festivals because it's really great playing outside in the open air. Especially in an environment that supports your art, we have managed to meet a lot of great promoters and venue owners who organize these events. We try to keep up with it and return each year while adding new ones to the list of shows. We are also hitting Chicago on Jan 3 and Denver at the end of February. We're focusing on some cool cities and are hoping to spread the music in some new areas of interest across the U.S."
Matt Servenack and Rob Craig, ex- members of Youngstown's doom/sludge metal outfit Centrifuge, are exploring a more upbeat musical sound with Full Moon Canoe. Joined by Justin Mitchell, Veronica Chordas and Aaron Tyger, the Canoe's sound veers more towards the classics such as Janis Joplin, Wilco, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and The Black Crowes.
Servenack said that 2014 is going to be a big year for Full Moon Canoe as the group makes plans to record a full-length debut album.
"Right now, we are just tightening up our current list of 20-plus original songs and five or six covers before we start writing new material after the new year," Servenack said. "Hopefully, we will record a full length album within the first three months of 2014. We all contribute to the music and the lyrics, which helps create a different vibe from song to song. Within the first 2 months of 2014, we should easily have five new songs ready to add to our song list, plus maybe a few extra covers. We currently have a four-song demo EP that was recorded with James Eliser, engineer and producer at Mindsound Studios in Struthers. Hopefully, we will work with him again when doing the new album."
The Youngstown band has been working since 2011 on its debut album. Recording at Spider Studios in Cleveland is complete, and the band - Armand DePaul, vocals and guitar; Kevin Merrell, guitar; Kyle Powell, drums and backing vocals; and Billy Wright, bass - is waiting for the final mixing and mastering.
Phoenix Rising shot a music video last summer for the song "Let Go," and it is booked to play Cedars West End on Jan. 31 with Akron's Red Sun Rising. .
"We will have a CD release party once the album is complete," Merrell said. "We want to have a finished product, so that we could network with other bands and venues outside of the area. The best part of recording our debut album was that we went into a professional setting, Spider Studios, who cater towards a major-label quality sounding product. The best moment was watching our sound change from where we were originally all the way to industry standards. We watched our music grow and change during the years we recorded our debut album. Spider Studios taught us how to write and arrange music professionally.
"As far as favorite songs on the album, my favorite is 'Do You Still Think You're Right?' because it's a more in your face and a heavy song. We have a mix of everything on our debut album, including some ballads and heavy songs."
Amnesty For Astronauts
This Struthers band - Josh Green, vocals, guitar and keyboards; Aly Byerly, vocals; Chris Byerly, guitar; Joe Carbon, drums; and Sam Silsbe, bass draws on multiple genres for its sound and even covers Don Henley' 1984 hit "The Boys of Summer." The band features former members of such local acts as Slander, Moral Dilemma, Abnormal Psyche and Erin's Vineyard and is working on its debut album.
"We have 12 original songs finished and completely written," Carbon said. "We just need to go into the studio and record. We are going into the studio and making sure we could lay three to four tracks down at a time, per session. Our goal is to get this album done."
The band has some songs available for streaming on its ReverbNation page, including "Miss Perfection," "Counting Sheep" and "I will not be your ghost." Carbon said the songs showcase the musical diversity that the band brings to the table and hint at the influences that will be heard on its debut release.
"We have a song called 'Echo' which has a disco backbeat and another song called 'I'll Be Fine,' which is heavily influenced by metal and nu-metal. The song 'I'll Be Fine' is in your face , but aggressive and clean sounding. Another original song we wrote is 'Counting Sheep,' which is more straightforward, fast-paced alternative rock. We have another song called 'Underneath The Silver Ship,' which is kind of a ballad, but when you listen closely to it, it's an upbeat type of ballad. We want to build up the music scene again and it's a personal mission, but hopefully the scene will keep going."
First In Space
In 2013, local power pop act First In Space released its third full-length, "Greatest Hits Vol. III," which vocalist and bassist Johnny Stanec said is filled with some of the best songs the band has written.
"Greatest Hits Vol. III" received excellent responses and sold well this year, and Stanec said its success can only inspire a band to create more.
The band's fourth album is in the works, and some of the new songs by the band - Stanec; Dolus McCormick, vocals and guitar; and Beau Basement, drums - include "Letters From Hell" and "A Captive's Point of View."
"We just got back to work on new songs and we'll start recording over the winter months," Stanec said. "We plan on having it out by March/April. We'll also be booking shows for the spring and summer. We have shows in the works for the East Coast and some Midwest dates, plus we'll play shows regionally. The songs have just started taking shape over the last month. Our last record was really stripped down and straight forward, so I think on this one, we're going to work on making a more expansive sounding record. We want to bring back some Hammond organ and even piano on some songs.
"We've discussed that this record will most likely contain songs that, as a three piece, we won't be able to pull off live. We'll have four records to choose from, so we'll definitely have enough material for a great live show. At the end of the day, though, we're a rock 'n' roll band and there won't be anything bizarre on the next record. There will still be some signature First In Space tunes, and we just want to bring out some of our other influences on this record and see what happens. We try and push ourselves a bit."
2013 saw the duo of Molly Pamela and Joseph Joseph release its epic single "Sties of Pigs Flying with Flowers, Fields of Green Watered By Showers" and the documentary and accompanying album, "Sunblur."
This year the band is working on a musical score for a yet-to-be announced film.
"That's a new challenge for us, writing alongside a third party vision and we continue to perform about once a month," Joseph said. "We just digitally released 'Sties of Pigs Flying with Flowers, Fields of Green Watered By Showers' and we're currently waiting for the waves of bewildered reviews to pour in. This was our big 'don't categorize us' statement. We like this direction of meandering in long-form, free-form, tripped out bliss ... The album and film, 'Sunblur,' was a way for us to start a new chapter. That album was a full-rock band sound with guitars and bass. The film was the story of how we've come to be. Now that it's chronicled, we jumped ahead to where we need to be. The film can be seen on the video sharing website, Vimeo."
After a year of great acclaim the band has great things in store for 2014. Joseph said he hopes the band continues to open for great acclaimed acts in 2014.
"The movie score probably won't be realized until Spring. If we like the material enough, we'll adapt it for our live shows. We plan to release "Sties of Pigs..." as a 12-inch soon. We'll probably record some new sounds for the B-side at a studio in Pittsburgh. We've gone deeper and we'll continue to go deeper. We still enjoy hooky melodies, but we want to continue to challenge the listener's patience. Long compositions are a thrill but I'm sure we'll revert back to some Deerhoof-style noise puzzles. We're not jazz and we're not rock, so I can't even predict what's next," Joseph said.
Johnny Locomotive and The Engineers
Jon Locketti, vocalist and guitarist of Johnny Locomotive and The Engineers, is proud of the band's late 2013 release, "Not Yet Perfect." He said the band, which also includes Edward "Pokey" Pokrivnak and Eric Tharp, will continue its momentum into the new year.
"I plan to post a link for a free download of our album on our Facebook page," Locketti said. "That, coupled with our recent saturation, should create some type of a following, I imagine. The band just came together in February 2013, so I can't exactly speak about 'over the years,' but I can say that I've certainly matured since I first picked up a guitar. I'm finally finding a comfort level with my voice, that I'm happy with.
"First of all, the structure of Johnny Locomotive and The Engineers is based upon an agreement between myself and my bandmates. We gather approximately once every six months, learn a new set of songs, record those songs and play one show locally. Not a very daunting task for any one of us and not exactly a normal band structure. We played a show in November and released a full-length album and performed at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown (UUYO). Now, I'm in the stage where I'm writing new songs so that we can do the same in the spring.
"Thus far, my only concrete plans for the next full length album are that we'll be recording and practicing at UUYO, which is a wonderful church on the north side. I want to capture the acoustics of that space."
The Spastic Hearts
The Spastic Hearts released their self-titled debut in late 2012, which is filled with power-pop guitar hooks and a Midwest melodic '80s pop punk energy. The band's sound resembles the vibrancy of Youngstown's early '90s staples Stranger Than Fiction mixed with the charm of Irish pop punk legends The Undertones. The band includes Jay Dorbish on vocals and guitar, Mikey Reynolds on lead guitar and vocals, Angie Morgan on bass and vocals and Casey Annico on drums.
Dorbish said that the band is working on a new full-length album as well as two split 7-inch singles at Youngstown's Ampreon Recorder. In 2013 the Spastic Hearts toured overseas with dates in France, Italy and Monaco. The band also picked up some U.S. dates, playing in Chicago, and the East Coast.
"I'm in the studio and so far, the new material is sounding killer," Dorbish said. "I'm in the middle of vocals, but there is still a good amount to get done. We are looking at a spring release; however, that's always subject to change as we have all learned from every record we've done in the past. There is no title as of yet, but I'm sure we will come up with a cover first and soon after, a title or vice versa. Everyone thinks the new fresh stuff they are working on is always better than the last record. The songs on the self-titled album are ones I still love and many we will always play. I'm looking forward to getting new songs into the set and seeing how they go over with the kids."
The Guilty Pleasures
Tom Sailor, vocalist and guitarist of Youngstown acoustic act The Guilty Pleasures, said that the band is looking to add some original songs to the cover material it performs. And the band - Sailor, Johnny Catahline, Sonny Hrehovcik, Amy Young and Tim Gilliland - continuues to expand its covers repertoire.
"The Guilty Pleasures are learning new material on a pretty constant basis, as we do a lot of tribute nights on artists birthdays or in memory of them," Sailor said. "So if one of our shows lands on one of those dates, we try to gather a few songs together if they fit what we do. We have all been original artists all along, but one day I challenged myself about how many songs I could actually perform by some of my favorite artists growing up. The list was embarrassingly short, so I took it upon myself to set out and really learn the songs and artists that I would normally cite as my influences. Listening to records and singing along didn't cut it for me to list them as influences. I had to actually know how to play a large amount of their material to feel like I wasn't being a poser.
"Every month we play for a fantastic bunch of folks called the Mahoning Valley Old Layabouts, down at the Boxcar Lounge in Youngstown ."
Brandon Martin (aka DrGoo) is releasing a brand new full-length record on Feb. 3 called "The Prescription." The dubstep album will be released on the Youngstown-based independent label, Grimey Grooves.
Martin said his goal for 2014 is to get more out-of-town gigs.
"My favorite part of the album, 'The Prescription,' is the fact I am working with so many people on the project. I am working with area musicians such as Bernadette Lim, The Stranger, Joe Garwig, (Headrest) Grizzy The Grizzly and a few other people. It's the first dubstep project I've worked on with original vocals. I listened to a lot of ambient music and musicians on Soundcloud for ideas for sound design. I was also listening to a lot of pop music on the radio. I feel like some of the songs on the new album definitely sound poppy."
Sam Goodwill spent 2013 touring the East Coast and Midwest to gain exposure beyond northeast Ohio.
Sam Buonavolonta, vocalist, lead songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, said the band is currently writing material and booking shows for 2014. This past fall, the band recorded a session for Daytrotter, an indie music resource and website that features session recordings of popular indie acts. Buonavolonta said that the band - Buonavolonta; Bob Young, drums; and Richard Elmsworth, guitar, backing vocals and percussion - recorded the Daytrotter Session on its Midwest tour.
"It was an impressive studio and we were lucky enough to work with Pat Stolley who was Daytrotter's original engineer," Buonavolonta said. "In 2014 we're trying to do a bit more now, since we've got our footing as a live band. Right now our aim is to double our touring schedule while writing an EP's worth of songs. It's hard to be specific, but we'd like to release the new material by this time next year.
"Our first tour of the year will begin in Youngstown at Cedars on Friday, Feb 7. I've literally only written one song since the last record, called 'Bullets.' It's actually featured on our Daytrotter Session."
The Damian Knapp Band
Warren blues guitar player Damian Knapp is working on some new material for the upcoming year. Knapp has fronted such bands as Fester Presley and the Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute Testify, and his music has been played on WNCD-FM's "Tangled Up in Blues." His new band features Knapp on guitar and vocals with Larry Infante on drums and Paul Guzman, on bass.
"I recently formed a new version of the Damian Knapp Band, and the goal of any new project is to perform, work on new material, and get into the studio and produce some new art," Knapp said. "Also, last year, Larry Infante and I formed a drum/guitar duo, and it is exciting to experiment with that type of format. My solo acoustic acts, whether traditional blues or popular music, are always filled with summer gigs at wineries and patios across the region, and I'm really looking forward to being out there in the sun.
"The music profession is a world of peaks and valleys, and when the going gets tough, it's always best to keep plugging away. When you work hard and stay focused, good things usually happen."