New Year, New You, New Sounds : The music scene of 2013

The New Year brings a slate of exciting, new local music on the scene. There is a diversity of genres that will make you feel “nouveau” inside. Here are what some local musicians are planning for the upcoming year.

Demos Papadimas

Howland musician Demos Papadimas successfully intertwines the rootsy folk of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Old Crow Medicine Show with some Mediterranean influences. Papadimas recorded an EP during the fall of 2012 at Electric Wilburland Studios in Newfield, N.Y., where he has just recorded his upcoming full-length album, which will be released in February. Papadimas is considering using the title “Wandering Through The Wilderness,” which is one of the tracks on the album.

“My music also includes some Gypsy violin and Greek Bouzouki. I’ve given it some thought and although the album explores varied musical territory, including back porch Americana, Bob Dylan-esque ballads, Gypsy Tango, and Greek Rembetiko, it is still very much a songwriter’s album. The lyrics certainly take the spotlight, even though there are rich musical arrangements and diverse stylistic twists from track to track. I think this is the best I can summarize my style and the approach,” Papadimas said.

Papadimas, who opened for the Womack Family Band last month at Cleveland’s Brothers Lounge, said the upcoming album is an excellent showcase of his music.

“I feel like this record is definitely something I have been wanting to make for a while. The EP is more of a sampler, while this album has more in- depth songwriting. Some of the songs that are on the EP will be included on the full-length album , but will be recorded with different vocal takes and layers.”

Kitchen Knife Conspiracy

Girard-based metal outfit Kitchen Knife Conspiracy will release its next effort, “The Seven Deadly Sins,” in 2013. Drummer Fred Whitacre said is going to be a thematically connected album.

”We wanted it to be more cohesive and fit the general concept. This album is going to be about the seven deadly sins, with each sin being represented by a short instrumental. Then, that instrumental will be followed by one or two full-on Kitchen Knife Conspiracy tunes. So far we’re very happy with the direction of the new material,” he said.

The band includes Ian Pethtel on vocals, Fred Whitacre on drums, Jeremy Cibella on guitars, Kevin Lewis on guitars and Johnny Kihm on bass. Whitacre said that KKC is sticking to their top musical influences on their new album, which include Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Six Feet Under, but also sprinkling hints of thrash, in the vein of early Anthrax and Exodus.

“Without question, there’s some black metal influence, which has been only spotted in our past material once or twice, for a brief moment,” Whitacre said.

It is the band’s first album with Pethtel on lead vocals.

“With Ian Pethtel being our vocalist for around two years now, it’s time we released something with him at the helm,” Whitacre said. ”He’s a huge fan of playing live shows, so we’re going to do a big slew of them once the disc is finished. In February, we are planning a festival in Allentown, Pa., which will choose a couple of bands for a huge, national death metal tour. That would be a big step for us, as far as getting our music into more ears.”

The Zou

Youngstown’s beloved indie rock band The Zou is exploring theatrical progressive textures and songwriting on its two 2013 EP releases, “The Zou Kills Part 1” and “The Zou Kills Part 2.” Vocalist guitarist and keyboardist Khaled Tabbara said the EPs are a musical departure from the band’s previous releases.

“I feel these are collectively a departure from our old sound, because we include a little of 8-bit material that guitarist Jesse Martin has written,” Tabbara said. “He is a composer and has written musical scores for video games. So we have a video game influence in our new sound. Also, our new sound is a little more progressive with more of a Queen and ’70’s rock opera influence.”

The Zou – Murad G. Shorrab, vocals and bass guitar; Jake Kamal Sabeh, drums and digital percussion; Bernadette Lim, keyboards and vocals; Jesse Martin, lead guitar; and Tabbara – will make a final appearance at Cedars Lounge, the site of many Zou shows over the years, on Jan. 11 with Third Class and The Buffalo Ryders before the club is forced to vacate its current location.

Blak Monday

If you like traditional industrial with the quintessential dose of Goth, Blak Monday is your ticket. Blak Monday is the industrial project of Rick Polo, formerly of the Youngstown band Relic. Polo said that Blak Monday is influenced by the likes of Depeche Mode and early Nine Inch Nails.

The band includes Polo on bass and guitars, Matt Skillman on guitars and synth and Anthony Rapone on drums and percussion. The band is recording a new EP in 2013, and he will continue his stint as a radio personality on Youngstown State University’s Rookery Radio program, The Raw Alternative, which airs from 9 to 11 p.m. Wednesdays.

“I first plan to finish up the Blak Monday EP that we are mixing and mastering,” Polo said. ”These songs are going to come as a shock to typical rock audiences in the area. The music is pretty groovy, yet minor key and dark with experimental dance beats that clash with a wall of distorted guitars. It’s going to be a fun time! We’re hoping to have it finished and begin playing some live shows by late winter and early spring.”

The Automations

Michael Andrecic, guitarist with Youngstown’s The Automations, already is working on new music for 2013. Andrecic, who played in such bands as Zhopa Mira, Harlequin’s Voice and The Pleb, is joined by Kyle Donahue on guitar and vocals, Christopher Kochera on drums, Fiona Sabo on keyboard, vocals and guitar and Sam Malaska on bass and sampler.

”The Automations, as we work right now, will always be putting out new music. Perhaps not in EP format, but as of right now, we just recorded everything in Kyle Donahue’s and Fiona Sabo’s basement,” Andrecic said. ”Kyle has some nice recording equipment and the songs have high enough quality to them. We’re constantly working on a new song together to put out for everyone to hear. In today’s music environment, I like that you could come back to our website every couple of months and hear a new song. Things may change, but that is how the band runs as of today.”

The band’s recordings can be heard on its SoundCloud page.

Cereal Banter

The experimental duo Cereal Banter released its sophomore effort, “Sunblur,” in late Novermber digitally. It will be released on CD this year, and Joseph Joseph and Molly Pamela also are at work on ”Sunblur” the movie.

“The ‘Sunblur ‘ movie is a weirdo rockumentary about the story and mission of Cereal Banter,” Joseph said. ”It will feature the music from our latest album, ‘Sunblur.’ We are working with The Studio On Mars and we’ve been writing and shooting since October 2012. We plan to start editing the film in January of 2013. The movie will premiere in Cleveland sometime in the spring.”

The duo also will continue to tour.

“We have plans to play at the venue Death By Audio in Brooklyn, N.Y. in January. Death By Audio is a venue that welcomes experimental, noisy, improv-enthused musicians. We will probably do a regional tour with stops in experimental-music meccas such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Montreal. We are also continuing to open for like-minded musicians and labels that come through Cleveland.”

The Nervous Jerks

Youngstown’s The Nervous Jerks really capture the essence of the Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C., indie scene, circa early ’90s. The band’s sound teeters between the pop structure of Superchunk and the artistic ramshackle groove of Polvo. Nervous Jerks frontman and guitarist Matt Leicht said that the band is doing something different in 2013, which is a double album of classic covers. Leicht also plays drums in the Youngstown shoegaze outfit, November Loop.

“There are 20 songs on the album, almost all of the basic tracks are done,” he said. ”I even discussed bringing in some people to sing. The bands we covered include Bruce Springsteen, Brian Eno, Flaming Lips, The Band, The Who, Sonic Youth, my other band, November Loop and a bunch more.”

Leicht said he wanted to do a record of covers, because he wanted to take a break from his own material and change his perspective.

“It seems to have worked, because the creative output has been abundant lately. At first, it was going to be a few random songs , but then, the focus became bands and songs that meant something to me. It’s been a lot of fun doing this , mostly because I never record covers or bother learning other people’s material. The idea was always to do fairly straightforward versions, but to make them all sound like The Nervous Jerks, which is kind of loud, a little bit too fast, and usually noisy. For the most part, it has worked out, but the vocals will be the key.”

Radio Lark

Led by film director and musician Chris Rutushin, Youngstown’s Radio Lark will spend the beginning of 2013 shooting a video for the song “Astrid Kirchherr,” which Rutushin wrote paying homage to the German artist and photographer who was instrumental in the early career of the Beatles and shot promotional photographs of the band all throughout the 1960s.

“Astrid Kircherr was a gorgeous muse,” Rutushin said. ”I plan on shooting the video for the song in black and white. I want to shoot a scene at Cedars just like the Kaiserkeller bar in Hamburg, Germany, where Kircherr and (Stu) Sutcliffe both met. This song is one of those songs where I was just sitting around, strumming chords and reading about Astrid Kirchherr. Since I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Beatles and I always wondered who this Astrid Kirchherr was. She took those famous early photos of the Beatles in Hamburg, Germany, and she encouraged Sutcliffe to get back into painting.”

Sexis Sixes

The retro pop outfit Rachel’s Secret Stache has been getting attention and airplay on Akron’s 91.3 FM, The Summit, with it soulful hit, “Bloody Knees,” from the band’s 2009 debut, “The Brown Bag.” Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Rachel Roberts said the band is now renamed Sexis Sixes and will release a brand new record in February called “Retroflections.”

“We titled the album, ‘Retroflections,’ because we have a sophisticated pop sound on the album,” she said. ”The album has a 1960s throwback feel, along with some funky beats.”

The band, Ryan Beke, piano, lead guitar and vocals; Joe Golden, bass; Anne Lillis, drums; and Roberts – has played shows with fellow Akronites Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Devo and The Black Keys.

“Retroflections” opens with the songs “Nothing New” and the Chaka Khan-esque “Dream Lover.”

“The first track, ‘Nothing New,’ is like you are waking up from a dream and ‘Dream Lover’ is that moment when you are really happy about the dream you had, but you ask yourself, ‘Where did this dream go?'” Roberts said.

Sexis Sixes is planning an East Coast tour in the summer and a West Coast trek in the fall.

Aurora del Sole

The neo-psychedelic collective Aurora del Sole will be completing its debut, “What Ever Happened To The Sunshine Boys?” in 2013.

“The album will be released around February or March,” bass and synth player Bill Wharry said. ”Additionally, we are also in the beginning stages of recording material for an EP that should be finished by late 2013,” Wharry said.

Aurora del Sole – Frank Nolasco, guitar; Eric Madsen, trombone, sleigh bells and synth; Matt Wolfe, vocals, keyboard and drums; Matt Likens, guitar; Matt Meehan, guitar and synth; Ray Carlson, drums and trombone; and Wharry – draw on a range of acts that range from the Beach Boys and the Beatles to the Flaming Lips. “What Ever Happened To The Sunshine Boys?” intertwines such genres as ragtime, garage rock, space rock, game show music, Romantic and Baroque-era classical music, sunshine pop and electronic music.

“It’s not rare to hear several genres of music placed within a single track on our album,” Wharry said. ”Our live performance has also progressed considerably in the past year, since we started playing live. Everyone seems comfortable experimenting with different parts, sounds, and instruments in a particular song. It keeps things interesting and fun.”

The band will share the stage with acclaimed East Coast psychedelic acts Bear In Heaven and Hooray For Earth on Jan. 17 at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights.


After playing a few area shows in 2012, this Youngstown project featuring Max Cleburn on vocals, Kenny Halbert (of Batt Lion) on guitar, Sam Bowlin, on bass, and Jonathan Butterly on drums is planning on recording and releasing some of its music in 2013 on Halbert’s Lions Care Recordings.

According to Butterly, the band draws on very diverse musical influences, including the drum machine beats of Big Black, with some Butthole Surfers, Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. Butterly said the band also draws in some thrash, noise and hardcore influences as well.

“Our music is fast hardcore, thrash, noise with some rockers and doom metal breakdowns,” he said. ”Now that we have more time to work on songs, the future of our sound is uncertain. I like to describe our music as Puncture Wound mixed with Wound Up and Pentagram.”