Straw & The Scarecrow – “The Boogeyman”: The latest single from Columbus, Ohio duo Jeff Straw and Paige Vandiver was actually written four years ago, but per Jeff Straw is a tune more relevant in these currently divisive times. Straw goes on to state, “The song’s theme is focused on the distrust, discord, and disinformation that has been sown in our society in the last decade.” The tune is definitely a different pace from the band’s prior single “Letting Go” in that it is quite the upbeat toe tapper. A great deal of admiration and respect goes out to Straw and Vandiver for making a song with a seemingly negative theme sound cheery and wholesome. Their vocals really make “The Boogeyman” the terrific indiepop tune it is and required listening. The song’s lyrics are a must read and are published at the band’s Bandcamp site as they will make a person reflect on their behavior and attitude among this whirlwind of a health crisis, political bickering, social injustice and civil unrest.

Left Out – “Stay Away From My House”: The Columbus quartet has certain come up with one of the most appropriate song titles during the pandemic. The band has created such a charming pop single that will get people’s heads bobbing. The soothing bop serves as an edict to an ex that now is not the time to reconvene, something that is relatable to people of all backgrounds. It is a dynamic single and is the perfect preview to their upcoming record titled Learn to Walk. Consisting of Ceci Clark, Quinn Crotty, Louis Novy, and Nick Weber, Left Out should take a bow for creating a catchy throwback single that takes music lovers back to the days Sneaker Pimps and The Cardigans ruled the alternative and pop airwaves. The group shot a flamboyant video for the eclectic gem, which was directed by Max Kaplan. Everyone plays their role to precision and “Stay Away From My House” should blow up over the months to come as it is unlike anything else out there at this time.

Hoger – “Same Mistakes”: The prolific singer-songwriter has delivered a personal and powerful pop ballad showcasing vigorous vocals and relatable subject matter. The new single deals with the fatal attraction to someone with toxicity and eventually escaping said toxicity…only to be doomed to constantly repeat the pattern. Hoger is a breath of fresh air in the pop world as a person of color and has the songwriting skills and voice to back it up. This is not bad for a songwriter who only began his career as a performer last year. Hoger has written material for the likes of Cher Lloyd, Yellow Claw, Naaz, to name a few. The track record of talent is there, so it is just a matter of getting the sizzling song heard by the masses. Hoger is on his way to something great with over half a million streams of his tunes on Spotify. Other tunes worth hearing include “Show Me How to Love” and “Rain” and they should tide pop enthusiasts over until he drops his debut EP, which is sure to impress.

Vic Allen – “Healing”: The British pop country star emerges with her follow-up to this past summer’s release “I Can”. Per Allen, the song is about overcoming a great deal of adversity and is meant to serve as something to console people during their time of need. The ballad is well- structured with fantastic execution with Allen’s vocals and musical backup by the track’s Co-Producers Kaity Rae and Sue McMillan plus guitarist Adrian Hall, who mixed and mastered this gem. The tune is piano-heavy, with Kaity Rae playing it to the hilt. She also provides backing vocals, bass, and guitar work and makes a great team with McMillan and Hall helping bolster this already well-sung masterpiece. “Healing” comes when some people are in darkness and wonder if they will see light at the end of the tunnel. If life has someone down for the count, they are encouraged and empowered to fight back with an uplifting and inspiring song thanks to one of country’s up-and-comers.

Tranquility – “BLUE DREAM”: This Michigan indie rock darling was founded by Brett Kaminski a half-decade ago and has emerged into a quartet also featuring Beau Kaminski, Evan Villarreal, and Drew Yates. Per their Spotify bio, the group’s goal is to provide people with escapism from everyday life’s ills. Based on that ambition alone, the new tune from these blokes could not have come at a better time. “BLUE DREAM” is a non-traditional single in that it clocks in at over nine minutes and starts off with a psychedelic vibe. The first half of the song sounds and feels like a trippy dream meant to soothe the listener. At 4:45, the tune suddenly morphs from grooviness to Tranquility’s signature indie rock sound. The Kaminskis, Villarreal, and Yates play their parts perfectly making the song’s second half a banging wake-up call from the mellowness of the first half. There is no telling what the lads have up their sleeves for future singles, but those who enjoy “BLUE DREAM” should listen to previous releases such as “Promise”, “Tamarack”, “Spinning” among others for a taste of what these guys offer.

Madeline Finn – “Whippoorwill”: The one-time leader of bands Envoi and The Whiskey Hollow returns with a sincere and heartfelt ballad, further solidifying her success as a solo artist. Unlike previously released works, Cleveland native Finn slows it down a tad with the main focus being her vocals, which are absolutely vibrant and brilliant on the new single. The instruments provide a wonderful backdrop to Finn’s voice and it will be evident to the listener that “Whippoorwill” is written and performed beautifully. She pours everything she has into this song that will make one think and feel simultaneously. Although her time on the hit TV series “American Idol” was way more brief that it should have been, the hard work and talent is paying off and current Nashville resident Finn will go on to have a long and fantastic future in the industry.

Goldpark – “Morning Light”: This nearly four-minute single is the rocking debut track from the Nashville-based trio. The spine-tingling tune will give listeners vibes not felt since The Killers arrived on the scene. “Morning Light” has a radiant retro feel that will take listeners back to the delightful decade of the 80s where Genesis and Mr. Mister scored multiple Top 40 hits. Congratulations are in order to these gents who have scored a grand slam with their first ever song, which ought to catch on at terrestrial and Internet alternative stations everywhere. Furthermore, the song has crossover pop appeal to be garner some mainstream love. If future tunes are half as good as “Morning Light”, Goldpark will be a force to be reckoned with in the music scene for many a year. The slickly produced and professionally performed masterpiece shows that these guys are ready to take the industry by storm.

Spice Jar – “Want Me 2”: The Columbus alternative duo of Zack Elswick and Alonso Zavala are back again with a high-quality single picking up where this past summer’s thing of beauty “Nothing” left off. The new tune is indie rock done right with a bit more grit and ruggedness than its predecessor. This is to be expected and justified given the stressful year of 2020. The band deserves credit for making relationship-themed songs on their terms with their unique viewpoint and excellent execution. The aggression has paid off as of their three songs published to Spotify, “Want Me 2” has the most streams thus far. The word is out and this band is going to have a fabulous 2021 and beyond with more releases and perhaps live shows once most of the public is vaccinated.

Thy Witness – “Fortress”: Seth Magnetic and Vincenzo Bernardo return with their fifth ever single and what a banger it is. The song has already generated some terrestrial airplay on RadioU as of late for the Columbus metalcore duo. “Fortress” consists of super strong vocals, guitar and drum work, especially in the chorus. The tune starts off like a lamb with a smooth melody and calming vocals and then turns up the lion-like rage. For those seeking the meaning behind the song, there is a lyric video available in which the viewer can draw their own conclusion. Seth and Vincenzo have another successful tune on their hands and once concerts are greenlit on a grand scale, they will be one heck of a band to watch on stage. For people who are drawn to “Fortress”, it is likely they will fancy Thy Witness’ previously dropped gems “First Blood”, “Pens and Needles”, and more.  


Chelsea Ravenn – “You Make Me Hot”: The Columbus, Ohio singer-songwriter returns with her follow-up to the well-received single “Steady Butterflies”. Although Chelsea dropped the new bop on October 29, she actually penned it two years ago. This a must listen for any pop lovers as it is a major departure from its piano-laden predecessor. Longtime fans will be positively surprised by the track’s tempo and tone and it is sure to attract a brand new audience for Ravenn. The tune was produced by highly regarded multi-instrumentalist Jakob Mooney, who also performed drums and bass on the song, with guitar work conducted by Clay Hughes. “You Make Me Hot” is every bit as good as what the Top 40 stations are playing and with a proper record deal, it would perform quite well on the charts. Those who fancy the likes of BLACKPINK, Selena Gomez, and Billie Eilish should get a kick and more out of Chelsea’s latest gem and be drawn to her next sizzing song.

Rooftops – “Falling”: Central Ohio musician Bryan Ream of Threat Level Midnight, Frankie Soleil, and Jacob Lones fame scores with ease on his solo project debut. Released three days ago, “Falling” will remind alternative rock lovers of respected groups Two Door Cinema Club, Arctic Monkeys, and Vampire Weekend. Ream takes his experience in bands and as an engineer to craft a remarkable first single. If submitted to independently and locally owned rock outlet CD 102.5 and other Internet radio stations, “Falling” will be heavy on the spins and streams. In less than 36 hours, the song has over 1,000 Spotify plays. Folks may not have known what to expect from Ream, but after just one listen it is crystal clear that the sky is the limit for Rooftops and when it comes to the next single or album release, expectations will be justifiably high to match the quality of Ream’s first banger.

Cream Camino – “Riders on the River”: The Ohio rock trio released this ravishing single back on Halloween to much fanfare thanks to their recently live stream concert the night before. “Riders on the River” is as rock n’ roll as it gets and combines vivid vocals, dynamic drum work, and gritty guitar play. Members Jeff Manning (vocals, guitar), Jarrod Pinkerton (bass), and Jon Gunder (drums). The song has a sense of familiarity, but obtains the utmost originality that will leave listeners with extreme curiosity on what else the lads have to offer. At their most recent show, the band premiered an animated video for the song with the animation and editing handled by Pinkerton.  In addition to their outstanding originals such as “Captured” and “In the Caves Again”, Cream Camino is known for cunning covers at their concerts from artists ranging from Adele to Chris Isaak. Any music that these three perform is going to be polished and pristine, which shows their dedication to the craft.

Lisa Gain & The Rusty Silos – “Get That Tree Up (On the Roof)”: The Central Ohio group dropped this Christmas tune eight days ago to get folks in the holiday mood. It is a bluesy tune, but unlike songs of that genre is positive in nature. “Get That Tree Up” is part of that signature folk sound Gain and the gang is known for, as evidenced by their acclaimed self-titled LP from earlier this year. Fans of this song will notice it stands out among the modern Christmas songs from Jon Bon Jovi, Wham! and Mariah Carey, but they should love its spirit all the same The song and the band’s spirit are sure to lighten listeners spirits with high class musicianship and escapism from the year’s ills during the holiday season. Leave it to a dynamic bunch to liven things up and boost morale for everyone in these trying and divided times.

ANSON – “Runaway”: The L.A.-based musical act led by Anson Li has a smashing new song out as of October 23. This pop-punk banger is a terrific teaser for the band’s upcoming album, which is sure to be just as superb as this latest single is. Although there is a mix of Jimmy Eat World and Papa Roach from a musical standpoint, Li’s vocals stand out and gives “Runaway” the power to stand on its own merit. Everyone associated with the song should be proud of a job well done as it does the genre justice. It is a familiar commodity with an appropriate amount of originality to provide a head banding rock tune late in the year.  The song is equally as sizzling as some ANSON’s most popular Spotify songs “Hailey” and “Hot Girl Bummer” and could surpass one or both of those tracks with time. The song is off to a great start, showing that the hybrid of 2000s rock nostalgia with a modern twist is working quite well for them.

First Responder – “Route 23”: The 2:30 ditty was dropped by the Columbus alternative outfit on October 28. Comprised of Sierra “PJ” Mollenkopf (lead vocals, guitar), Cameron Carr (guitar), Zayn Dweik (drums), and Collin Geddis (bass), the band has been building its reputation as indie rock darlings for the past four years. “Route 23” is terrifically performed by the group with every note serving as the perfect backdrop to Mollenkopf’s vocals. The single is a sneak peek to the group’s upcoming album titled Earth Angel that will commence with a performance at CD 102.5’s The Big Room. The band subscribes to the DIY indie rock model as guitarist Carr served as the album’s producer and handled the mixing and mastering to boot. First Responder garners respect from the local music aficionados not only for the magnificent music they put out, but for keeping themselves productive in a year that includes a health crisis, civil unrest, political divisiveness, among other things. If the rest of Earth Angel is on par with the new single, Sierra, Cameron, Zayn, and Collin will have themselves a great deal of momentum going into the new year.

Confusions – “I’ve Seen”: This marks the Columbus outfit’s new single fresh off their announcement of signing to the record label Earth Libraries. Released just one weeks ago, the song’s subject matter is timely coming off the heels of Election Week. The band considers “I’ve Seen” to be a protest song as a call to action for change in the nation’s direction. The tune also has an accompanying powerful music video compiled and edited by Brian Rogers. Principle members of Confusions are Ben Turner and Jake Summers, but they have worked with bassist Alex Cirado and trumpeter Kevin Cardoso in some capacity. The song contains a ton of vigor and spunk which reinforces that Turner and Summers have a bright and long-lasting future as an experimental indie rock duo. The song is brilliantly performed with the vocals a precise match with the music these lads have created. Once concerts are a go again, this is one band not to miss live on stage as their in-person performances are on par with their latest recorded material.

Leila – “Go on Young Soul”: On this track from the album Glass Highways, the Pennsylvania-born singer-songwriter has created her own call for the youth of America to make a difference with this politically inspired single. She states, “There’s no escaping the mania of 2020, but there is desperate hope amongst millennials to improve it by casting our ballots.” Now based in Los Angeles, pianist Leila’s musical background is a mix of jazz and soul with a reputation of memorable vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. Leila does not mess around on this song as it clocks in at over five minutes and the ballad combines simple, yet compelling piano play with her polished and haunting vocals. She stands out as an atypical pop artist with songwriting influences such as Chopin and Debussy providing a classiness that is unheard of in much mainstream music these days. “Go on Young Soul” will grip you from the first note until the last and influences the new generation to make society a better place than it is today. Leila also released a video for the single that is well produced and is the perfect visual for the song. Other tunes from Glass Highways worthy of streaming include “Gone for Long” and “Missing You”.

AIRPORTS – “Loser”: Australian singer-songwriter-producer Aaron Lee has crossed multiple genres over his many years in the business. His latest offering under the moniker AIRPORTS is a well-constructed pop bop that will have music lovers reminiscing about pop outfit Savage Garden. On this new tune, the subject matter and approach are very different from anything that Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones released as a duo decades ago Lee has a unique and ever-changing world view and the new song, though very radio friendly, is reflective of his sarcastic gaze. The tune has gained traction as of late with mentions at outlets Live Nation’s ‘Ones To Watch’ and Flaunt Magazine along with airplay on Triple J and George FM. “Loser” is the polar opposite of its title as the song is well worthy of airplay and accolades. Known for his work with J-Pop act ARASHI, the song is very slickly produced and performed making listeners long for more. Those curious for more of Lee’s talent should look no further than AIRPORTS’ previous 2020 releases “Don’t Sleep Anymore” and “U Feel It 2”.


Artist: Blind Engineer

Title: Human Capital

Format: LP

Release Year: 2020

Members: Robert Loss (lead vocals, guitar, organ, piano), Jesse Charles (guitar, organ), Eric Nassau (bass, backing vocals), and Bill Heingartner (drums, backing vocals)

Released last month, the Columbus, Ohio band’s 12-track album features polished gems from the group, serving as evidence that several band members’ friendships and veteran musicianship have paid off. Blind Engineer mean business on this powerful and prolific rock record. According to their Bandcamp, Human Capital is a very personal LP with songs ranging from topics relevant to the current state of the nation. The hard work and passion are proven in the prolific musicianship from the record’s beginning to end.

The record’s opener “Radio Face” is a classic rock rager that will take genre enthusiasts back 40 years and is super sharp with Robert Loss’ vocals complimented perfectly by each member’s musical parts. One stream of “Up For Air” will have people thinking Bruce Springsteen is performing lead vocals. Blind Engineer certainly perceives The Boss as a major influence and the lads do him proud on the album. The third track “Midtown” is the type of tune one plays on a midnight drive. Reinforcing the outstanding old school rock tuneage is “Lower Than Low”, whose arrangement and harmonies throughout will make it a crowd favorite once concerts resume on a larger scale.

The band slows it down a tad on their fifth track “Turnstile” and the ballad was a brilliant idea to show Blind Engineer’s range of performing an array of songs. It is the type of track that will make one want to hold their partner tight with one arm and wave their lighter in the other. Their ode the Buckeye State titled “Ohio Kicks” is also a ballad that shows off some pretty good piano playing and would also make Springsteen proud as it is one of the album’s best songs to display Robert Loss’ vocals. The seventh song “Uptight” sees the band speed it up once again and it has so much potential at independent station 102.5 FM, the town’s go-to station for showcasing quality local and independent label acts. The opening guitar on “Ain’t It Sometimes Enough” is a thing of beauty and the same can be said about the tune as it is one of Human Capital’s more rocking tracks. It serves as another contender of radio airplay with dynamic drumming combined with gritty guitar play and Robert’s vivid vocals.

The ninth song “Whiplash” reinforces the signature throwback rock the record is known for. The song comes off as something from the Jakob Dylan or Bruce Cockburn collection. That means, it is amazingly awesome and deserving of raiding the airwaves. The guitars on “Transistor” are excellent throughout and Loss’ voice plus Heingartner’s drum work make for a finely performed banger that will make this song a popular one at future live shows. The same praise can be applied to the eleventh song “Guided By Missiles”, which is another track with potential for radio play based off all four lads coming together succinctly to make another surefire crowd favorite. The final track happens to be the LP’s longest at 5:13, but throughout “There Must Be Something Else” the tune’s quality is top notch which reinforces the overall quality of the album.

Loss, Nassau, Heingartner, and Charles should be super proud of their first ever full-length as it is high class songwriting and execution from start to finish. Since 2013, Blind Engineer has released EPs and singles and those seeking more marvelous material ought to give their classics a stream or two. Human Capital’s production is pristine and the musical execution is magnificent. To rock fans who want a sound that reminds them of great artists from decades prior should look no further than this record with punch, attitude, and emotion.


Hello Luna – “Wait So Long”: The Columbus, Ohio quartet responsible for hits “Sound and Sorrow” and “Sympathize” returns with yet another remarkable tune. Back to a four-piece, members Kenzie Coyne (vocals, guitar), Michael Neumaier (drums), Eric Morgan (guitar), and newest member Mitchell Horn (bass) click on all cylinders to come up with a track that ought to be an Alternative radio staple much like their previous fare. Coyne’s dove-like vocals, her and Morgan’s guitar work, Neumaier’s drumming, and Horn’s bass play are an excellent match making “Wait So Long” reminiscent as “Stitching Holes”, which is the song that started it all for the band. The song strongly reinforces the band’s strong work ethic, brilliant songwriting, and prolific performing. Hello Luna is making tremendous songs on their terms and although they are not chasing a record deal, they are more than deserving of one.

Meagan Hillyer feat. Moistrus – “Never Stop”: The Central Ohio singer-songwriter dropped her first ever Spotify single just three days ago and it is a winner right out of the gate. Hillyer combines pop, funk, and soul to come up with her own unique style to stand out from the pack of other soloists. This collaborative effort with Moistrus on the Tribal Trap label packs power with badass beats combined with Hillyer’s fabulous vocals making it a formidable single on the Pop and Hip-Hop charts. This definitely leads to a curiosity factor of what else Hillyer has up her sleeve. Hillyer is an industry veteran at age 27 and based on the result of this most recent release, it is evident she has a full tank left for ages. When live events can commence on a large scale, it is in quality music lovers’ best interest to see this terrific talent grace the stage as they will not be disappointed.  

The (?!?!) – “WHAT’S UP?”: Released on October 18, the alternative pop artist known as The Punctuation’s new single is a fun and funky ditty that reflects what a lot of people are experiencing this year. With an edited version suitable for mainstream radio, the track has tons of potential at R&B and Top 40 stations with its amazing harmonies, bombastic beats, and on-point vocals. What makes “WHAT’S UP?” so brilliant are the relatable lyrics about overcoming adversity and having nowhere to go but up. “The bottom is a place down a lonesome lane / in Hell, USA but it’s also in your brain / God forbid you find yourself stuck there / On a one-way ticket on a bus from nowhere.” Now calling Arizona home, Ben Brown has himself a head bobbing tune that will make listeners interested in what he has in store going forward. Plans are to release a record next year, but until then those who love this new jam should give previously released gems “Sex, Drugs, & Violence!” and “Panic Pandemic” several spins.

The Wet Darlings – “Radiation”: On this well-written prolific piece, the much beloved Columbus four-piece demonstrates they are ready to make their long-awaited comeback. “Radiation” is the follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed album Beautiful Things. The new song has received much love over the past few weeks and after just a few seconds, listeners will know why. Jenny Lute (vocals), Aaron Bishara (drums), and brothers Joe and Bill Patterson (bass and guitar, respectively) slow down the pace compared to prior hits “Bicycle” and “Used To Be Better”, but the quality is still top notch. Lute’s haunting vocals are on point with the music serving as the perfect background to provide a ravishing tune. It is the perfect tease to what the local scene hopes is an equally impressive album, which will be their first in half a decade.

Faith In Failure – “Leave Me Behind”: Ten days ago, Columbus-based heavy modern rock quintet dropped a rager that rips from start to finish. It is four and a half minutes of the band going pedal to the metal, or perhaps in this case metal to the pedal. Every member plays their role to the hilt, making for a surefire smash on Rock radio. In fact, “Leave Me Behind” recently made it all the way to fifth place of Cincinnati station 96Rock’s fan voting contest with a spot at the Bunbury Music Festival at stake. Approximately one year ago, the band played one of the biggest shows of their careers at PromoWest owned venue A&R Music Bar with other local heavy hitters A Decade Apart, Noise Auction, The Lost Boys Collective, and deadbeat. Their stage presence along with raucous recorded material means a long and successful future in this business. People who are blown away by this metalcore act’s latest offering ought to check out prior tunes “Sleepless” and “Vampire” to get the full effect of what FIF is capable of.

Summer School – “Feelin’ Myself”: Released October 23, the Love Groove recording artist has himself a very slickly produced and performed poppy bop. The vocals and melody are tremendous, making for a very catchy track for the fall. The song is most definitely worthy of inclusion on Hip-Hop and Pop stations as listeners will not help but to tap their toes and sing along to the chorus. With 2020 being a morale drainer, leave it to Summer School to provide a song with a sense of escapism with flair and passion. It is well worth for listeners to stream songs of yesteryear like “Kim” and “God” (in which the vocals are similar to that of Tears For Fears’ Roland Orzabal).

Northern Remains – “Antipathy (Carry Me Home)”: Two weeks back, the metalcore outfit released this rampaging banger to much praise. The screaming is perfectly placed and the chorus is wonderfully song alongside each member playing their part to precision, making for a can’t miss radio smash. People cannot help but root for the Reynoldsburg, Ohio group to succeed as the band has had to overcome multiple lineup changes and even tragedy to get to where they are now. The new single is not necessarily reflective of where the band has been, but where they are going. What Northern Remains has generated thus far makes them a band on the rise in the local scene and once live shows happen again, expect them to captivate audiences from the first note to the last.

Hollin Kings – “Hold On”: This Cleveland area quartet’s latest offering is good old-fashioned rock n’ roll brilliance and is a breath of fresh air from anything heard in recent memory. The guys combine their love of classic rock and modern rock to come up with something in between that defines their signature sound. The group started as a cover band and continued to do that to earn money and eventually transitioned into creating and recording their own material, which is most definitely up to code as heard on previously released tunes “Echoes of the Past” and “Dead and “Gone. On “Hold On”, the singing is sharp and the drum and guitars are striking throughout the banger. In conjunction with Black Squirrel Radio, the band will be performing as part of a live stream on Wednesday, October 28 at The Kent Stage. Those curious of what these blokes bring to the stage ought to tune in and they should most certainly live up to the praise they have received thus far.

Cassidy – “The Devil”: From Berlin, Germany by way of Calgary, Alberta, this talented singer-songwriter introduced the world to this poppy ballad 13 days ago. The song was written a few years back and details the trials and tribulations of heartache, which should be relatable subject matter for pop aficionados. Her vocals hit the target throughout and gel quite well with the piano and drum work. Cassidy’s soulful voice is distinct that she does not sound like any other pop divas currently ruling the airwaves. The song has enough kick to compete at Top 40 radio and fingers crossed that “The Devil” finds an audience as its performance and performer are heavenly. For more evidence of the Canadian-German crooner’s bright future, singles “Lying” and “Sex and Wine” are recommended streaming.


Artist: Linden Hollow

Title: Light The Lanterns

Format: LP

Release Year: 2020

Members: Emily Ng (bass, singing saw, viola), Paige Vandiver (drums, percussion, vocals), and Rebecca McCusker (piano, guitar, vocals)

Producers: Linden Hollow, Jeff Straw, and Cory Scott

Released a matter of days ago, Columbus, Ohio-based folk/indie rock trio Linden Hollow dropped their latest full-length as a follow-up to 2017’s Luna. Three years is a long time between releases, but the three-piece sought to make the new album special. It is, in fact, incredibly special given that the funding came from the Greater Columbus Arts Council which is available to select acts in town. Furthermore, making the LP great is the mixing done by veteran Engineer and local musician Jeff Straw (of Straw & The Scarecrow, Sussman Can’t Sleep, and The Devil Doves fame) along with Cory Scott.  

The first song off the album is “Maybe You Can Stay” and is driven by pristine piano work and its spot-on vocal work, with the latter being a commonality throughout the record. The title track is actually listed second and gives off Tori Amos vibes with sharp vocals and splendid piano play. It is a strong song to set the tone of the album. The third track titled “Never Worn These Boots” stands out with superb guitar work, on-point singing, and dynamic drum play making for a pretty rocking semi-ballad ready for Alternative rock radio.  

“Cape Cod Girls” is four minutes and ten seconds of strong storytelling with the vocals and guitars matching blending together brilliantly. The fifth song titled “Twenty Five” the most up-tempo on the record so far and would do quite well on the Alternative rock charts given all the parts harmoniously come together to make for a toe-tapper. The seventh track, “Wild Roses”, takes the pace down a bit, but it is a fantastic tune that will drum up memories of pianist Vanessa Carlton with the perfect placement of the keys, strings, and vocals. It makes for the perfect easy listening song to escape from the world, even if for just under three minutes.

The eighth song “Trains” is a different tempo than “Wild Roses”, yet is well-crafted continuation of the indie folk goodness throughout the album Closing out the LP is the clever track “Salem” and its haunting presentation makes it another candidate for radio airplay at Alternative stations worldwide. Linden Hollow has a masterpiece on their hands that delivers from the first note to the last.

Overall, Light The Lanterns is an absolute gem from the standpoints of songwriting, musical execution, and the production. Ng, Vandiver, and McCusker should be proud of the final product and mixers and co-Producers Straw and Scott should also be happy with a job well done. Linden Hollow is a must-see band live and in living color to bring their songs to life on stage and perhaps one day, they will be able to join a bill with similar home state acts The Katawicks, Xioma, and The Castros. Until concerts commence on a regular basis post-pandemic, the new record is worthy of listening to over and over.


We Are The Movies – “Bury Me”: The elite Columbus, Ohio pop punk band returns with a vengeance on this sizzling single featuring City Lights and Beartooth vocalist Oshie Bichar. Released on October 9, every individual part on the song is performed precisely, making for a surefire hit on the Rock Charts. Tim Waters’ crisp vocals are an excellent match with the crunch of guitar play from Dan McMillan and bassist Stephen Goldstein in the background. The smashing drum work by Bryan Overholt brings everything together making “Bury Me” a song worthy of infinite admiration and accolades. Amid a crisis, WATM’s message of hope and overcoming adversity is a welcome one as lives are at stake. Those interested in learning more about the song’s purpose may watch the lyric video posted to YouTube recently. Once live shows resume on a grand scale, expect “Bury Me” to be an instant crowd fave as the quartet who Alternative Press named a 2020 Band to Watch has a reputation of audience participation. Those who fall in love with this tune will likely enjoy the band’s prior recordings like “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying”, “Living for the Weekend”, among others.

Van Isaacson – “Strangers”: The Wisconsin-born singer-songwriter gives every ounce of heart and soul on his latest song which dropped three days ago. Mixed by Sam Roller and mastered by Cameron Drow, “Strangers” is a mid-tempo song ready to take the Hot AC chart by storm. “Strangers” is about a relationship that was not meant to be long-term, but later in life out of nowhere both parties briefly reconvene. Isaacson took his talents to Chicago and later migrated to Nashville to get to the next level. With his latest being a well-crafted and well-executed pop-rock masterpiece, he is definitely headed in the right direction. Independent singer-songwriter enthusiasts might find commonalities with his approach and style in two other up-and-comers Nick D’Andrea and A.J. Gatio. His prior 2020 release “Space Between” is further evidence that Van Isaacson has a bright future in this industry.

Static Res – “Forgot It Was Wednesday”:  This hip-hop/R&B soloist born in Maryland dropped his latest tune last month and the title alone is one that the masses can relate to given the current state of the world. The beats and guitar play are on point, making this a track totally worthy of play on hip-hop stations everywhere. Static Res’ vocals are spot on, performed in a casual demeanor that will resonate with listeners. There is an accompanying video for the tune, which was directed by wxy, slicky produced by Chris Manocchio, and engineered by Jimmy DeRosa. The vid’s vibe matches the laid-back style of the single, making for an in-sync work of beauty. The YouTube comments alone demonstrate that Static Res is a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop scene for years to come.

Tourist Trap – “Good Times”: The Columbus alternative rock four-piece delivers an absolute bop that will liven the mood in these dark days. They have the credibility under their belt as openers for well-known rock outfits like The Sun and Franz Ferdinand. That attribute along with the output from their most recent ditty are proof alone that Tourist Trap is for real. “Good Times” is the epitome of indie rock goodness with splendid vocals, strong drum work, and delightful guitar play for three and a half minutes. Once in-person concerts start up big time, it is foreseeable they will be part of a bill along with other Ohio-based indie rock wonders A Cure For Love and Guest House. They are also Founders of Gnarbeque, an arts and music festival that raises money for local charities.

Raquel Lily – “Heartstrings”: One week ago, the three-year veteran of the industry released this pop ballad. Lily has not only musical talent, but intellect and intelligence to go with it given her days at UC Davis where her musical career began as she earned a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior. “Heartstrings” is brilliantly performed with bluesy, soulful vocals unlike anyone else out there in the pop game. Lily has a knack for the DIY approach to music by singing, playing guitar, writing, and producing her own works and serves as her own manager for live performances. If this single is heard by the right people in the business, Raquel Lily will be all over national television and radio in no time. She is also and avid podcaster as co-host of a program on the platform Twitch. The work ethic, the smarts, and the outstanding output are there for her to make leaps and bounds as an artist and more.

500 – “It’s for You”: The Columbus indie pop duo has a new instrumental out and it is as soothing as it is artistic. The gents behind the band have clearly put everything the have into the final product, serving as evidence they should be making succulent sounds for a long time. The simple guitar and drum dynamic works here making for a perfect tune to covet rest and relaxation, something sought by many in the times we currently live in. Carson DiSalvo (guitar) and Miles Miller (drums) should be proud of their accomplishments thus far in releasing two full-length records earlier this year along with numerous splendid singles. Local bands Low Tide and Bummers would be excellent on a bill with these lads and one day when live music is the norm again, perhaps that dream will come true. If life has got one down, the surf rock sounds by the fellas of 500 are just the remedy.

RAGS AND RICHES – “Tension of the Season”: The Lexington, KY two-man group is back with their fantastic follow-up to the equally fantastic “Summer Nights”. This song’s tempo is dialed down a bit, but the happening harmonies plus vivacious vocals make for another surefire single from these bluegrass boys. The Whitt brothers (Tanner and Peyton) dropped a video for the semi-ballad directed by Christian Campbell with the current public health crisis as the song and vid’s theme. The output is a song promoting hope and diplomacy without the divisive politicking seen and heard elsewhere. These guys show not just talent, but empathy and compassion for their fellow living beings. Their well-performed, passionate plea for peace is precisely what society and the airwaves need in these trying times.

Starbenders – “Can’t Cheat Time”: The Sumerian Records artist from the ATL returns with a banger that has lead singer/guitarist Kimi Shelter’s pipes on full blast. Shelter along with bandmates bassist Aaron Lecesne, guitarist Kriss Tokaji, and drummer Emily Moon play their individual roles perfectly and deliver awesome alternative rock goodness. It is what Starbenders has been known for since the band’s inception six years ago. The group has the musical chops down cold along with their visual appearance, making for a total package unlike any other out there among indie label artists. Their latest offering continues the pattern of rock n’ roll done right with proper production value and maximum effort evident from beginning to end. The video for the tune is an ode to small businesses in Atlanta, which are more impacted by the pandemic than corporations. The praise Starbenders has received for “Can’t Cheat Time” in such a short period after its release shows the quartet deserves the success they have acquired thus far and the momentum shall take them to the next level.

Chey Rose – “Number One”: Clocking in at approximately two and a half minutes, this pop bop is about the desire for meaningful romantic companionship. More specifically, it is a callout to wanting a partner who makes their partner a priority. Rose’s vocals are an absolute match across the board with the song’s melody and should be a big time jam for a long time to come. This Nashville-based artist by way of Columbus creates songs familiar to people of her generation dealing with love and the fallout from it. Will “Number One” make it to that same position on the Top 40 Chart? Only time will tell, but its production and execution are terrific and this song will resonate with people who feel the same about commitment


Courtney From Work – “Lunch Money”: On September 25, the Columbus, Ohio alternative rockers released an absolute banger which reinforces their reputation as a hard workers in town. The song is about the act of manifesting the life one wants and gives off vibes of Good Charlotte’s hit “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. If CFW’s members have even a fraction of the Madden brothers’ success, they will have done very well for themselves. Everything about the song just clicks from the vocals, the drums, guitars, right down to the lyrics many in the working class can relate to. “Lunch Money” is a well performed and well produced tune and that has come to be expected from anything behind-the-scenes mastermind Jakob Mooney is involved in. Mooney also had a hand in the video that shows the making of the song. The track is pop punk delight in a down year for a lot of people and its execution will help Courtney From Work build its credibility in the local scene and beyond. Once things get back to normal in the industry, expect the quartet to continue its momentum forward and build its brand on their quest for stardom.

Metaphortune – “Fairy Circle”: Ohio-based indie rock soloist Ken Miller makes a comeback with this single from the upcoming album Perennial Fae, due out on October 13. Ahead of the record’s debut, Metaphortune released a video for the song filmed at the Three Creeks Metro Park. Both the song and vid are things of sheer beauty, which is expected of Metaphortune whose song from yesteryear “Windswept” is as fresh as when it was first released. Miller crafts relevant songs of substance pouring his heart and soul into everything he displays. Metaphortune’s voice on “Fairy Circle” is reminiscent of Abandoned Pools frontman Tommy Walter’s and gels well with the song from beginning to end. Miller is a talented individual as an avid subscriber to the DIY culture as he wrote, performed, recorded, produced, mixed, shot, and edited everything associated with the video himself. The single and the upcoming record have a huge chance to bolster the small-town wonder to another level and if lovers of the genre have a chance to see Metaphortune live on stage, they will witness something special.

The Counterfeiters – “No Laws, Just Claws”: Per their Bandcamp bio, this Columbus-based quartet cites Rage, The Clash, and Against Me! as influences in creating their own unique brand of punk. The result is the ingenious single released a few days back. Musically, the song is brilliant throughout with strong guitars, superb drum play, and excellent vocals to match. The tune is an ode to a popular adult beverage that is loved by a bevy of local bands and provides that brand some additional advertising. Could an endorsement deal be around the corner? The band certainly deserves it as even non-drinkers will appreciate the job well done by The Counterfeiters. Punk enthusiasts will love the arrangement of “No Laws, Just Claws” and if not for the product placement, the song would be an absolute fit to rock radio playlists everywhere. Those curious about the band’s overall body of work ought to check out their album Nothingness is Nothing New that dropped earlier this summer.

Jake Summers – “The Stranger”: The Central Ohio musician extraordinaire returns with another artistic solo single. Summers, known mostly for his involvement in bands Happy Family, T-Shirt, Low Tide, and The Confusions, continues to explore and expose his creativity to the indie scene and is exactly what the doctor ordered. He writes and records songs reflective of unique thoughts and feelings at the time and with 2020 being such a tumultuous year for many, creating works of art serves as a coping mechanism for many. Furthermore, despite the shutdown of most live entertainment, musicians want to continue creating as a form of escapism from society’s ills and to prevent stagnation and complacency. Kudos goes out to multi-instrumentalist Summers for working hard throughout the pandemic and providing music lovers with some wonderful works of art such as “The Stranger”, whose arrangement throughout is perfect for the upcoming Halloween celebration. People curious for more from the mind of Jake should give “Plant Boy”, “Bygones”, and “Sun Yet Traveled” a listen.

Elevator Secretary – “White Lies”: According to the outfit’s Spotify bio, “Elevator Secretary is a genreless collective based out of Columbus, Ohio pushing auditory boundaries.” The output on “White Lies” is a hip-hop bop that will keep listeners hooked from start to finish. Little is known about the person(s) behind Elevator Secretary, but that type of marketing helps in building interest in the artist and the music that is to come. The team behind artist Who Is Fancy did something similar and the debut single “Goodbye” was a Top 40 hit. Elevator Secretary is on the way to having a hit as the song is as good as any rap tune on radio today. A single titled ‘On My Own” dropped previously and is worth checking out to get the full effect of what Elevator Secretary is all about. Everyone involved in the making of what has premiered so far should be proud as the curiosity factor is high in terms of what other high quality material they have up their sleeves.

Through The Tallwoods – “Girl”: The Raleigh emo/punk trio released this tune approximately a month ago and have themselves a surefire Alternative chart hit. The group formed in 2019 and are modern day storytellers who write deep songs relevant to trials and tribulations. Through The Tallwoods is edgier than Dashboard Confessional, but deeper than Blink-182 making for one hell of a sound as evident on “Girl”. Each part is spot on, with kudos going to the fabulous vocals which are complimented beautifully by the raging guitar work and heavy hitting drumming. Curious ears should give their 2019 album growth. some plays for more alternative rock goodness.

Thy Witness – “Kita Dayin”: The Columbus metalcore act is the brainchild of Seth Magnetic and Vincenzo Bernardo with a few singles under their belt this year. The latest is “Kita Dayin” and is a total rager that will bolster the band’s profile. The vocals are fierce, the drums are on point, and the guitars are an excellent fit making for a solid Rock chart entry. Local metal fans who love the likes of A Decade Apart, New Haven, and Like Serpents, Like Doves will enjoy what Thy Witness brings to the table. Seth and Vincenzo have teamed up since 2017 and with the songs they have released thus far, they have nowhere to go but up. For more excellence, rock aficionados should stream “Mirror : Mirror” and “First Blood” and there will be no disappointment.

Palette Knife – “Ponderosa Snake House”: The Columbus three-piece think of themselves as an Emo/Indie/Punk outfit and no matter how one wants to classify them, they are a fabulous trio. Their latest single is a warm-up to a full-length record, due out the day before Halloween. Given the splendid vocals that would make Tom DeLonge proud, the excellent guitar work, and dynamic drums it is safe to say the album will be a treat. The band made a video for the single, which has a RPG theme. Much like other bands in the genre, while they take the music seriously the band members do not necessarily take themselves as seriously. The vid enables the band to show their fun-loving side and it seems like they genuinely enjoyed their time making it. This song alone should get Palette Knife some much deserved radio play and “Ponderosa Snake House” is a perfect tune to promote the record. Should the other tunes be similar, these guys have a fantastic future ahead of them.

Afterlife – “Wasting Time”: The West Palm Beach band dropped this single a few weeks ago and already has Spotify streams in the six-digit range. “So much for the American dream” is repeated often throughout the song, which resonates with jaded listeners experiencing various levels of turmoil over the past six months. The music industry has been in disarray, but these Floridians are turning the music world upside down in their own way. The metal quartet speaks the truth and will not buy into the smoke and mirrors that conventionalists want people to believe. Afterlife is a breath of fresh air and their rebellious spirit will garner them some much earned attention and praise in the current state of the universe. The Hopeless Records artist should be proud of creating this single as it is certainly one that the masses can relate to.


Miller and The Hunks – “Time and Place”: The lineup may have changed from years ago, but the high-quality songwriting and musicianship remain the same for the alternative rock outfit. Mastermind Colin Miller is back brand new hunks Alex Headings (guitar) and Leo Zayas (drums) in a brand new environment. An Ohio native, Miller has elected to take the brand and the band to a new level by relocating to Nashville. The change of scenery has paid off with the new single, which is business as usual given the splendid work singer/songwriter/keyboardist Miller is known for. “Time and Place” has a bit of a 1980s vibe into and then goes warp speed into the modern indie rock fare that has helped Miller and The Hunks become popular in the midwest. Imagine Wall Of Voodoo fused with The Strokes and that comprises their newest single. Those seeking prior masterpieces from the band should give “Gravity”, “I Want Out”, and “Waste Your Time” a listen or two.

Frankie Soleil – “Insane”: The Columbus singer-songwriter keeps the early 2000s pop rock spirit alive with this inspiring bop. Produced and recorded at the highly regarded studio Mooney Recordings, the song exhibits Soleil’s high-caliber vocals reminding folks of other wailers such as Skye Sweetnam, Katy Rose, and Lesley Roy. “Insane” is how many people must be feeling during these trying times. The guitar and drum work are superb throughout the three-minute ditty and when Frankie plays live, she is joined by guitarist Bryan Ream and drummer Mark Fullen, who were in alternative rock sextet Threat Level Midnight together. Everyone involved in the creation of “Insane” should take a bow as it is a fabulous song to take us into the Fall and closer to the end of this trying year. Those craving more jams from the band ought to check out “You & Me” and “Control” as those will give listeners an opportunity to know what the group is capable of.

Captain Kidd – “Unforgettable”: The pop duo is back after releasing the jam “No Good” earlier this summer. According to their Instagram feed, the song’s premise is, “How some things are worth holding onto even if requires a sacrifice.”  The electric-driven tune contains world class vocals combined with slickly produced beats. The fellas’ transition from an alternative rock four-piece to a streamlined Top 40 staple is legit and the direction they are heading in has legs to be promising. “Unforgettable” oozes mass potential to be a hit on the charts along with the likes of Calvin Harris, Harry Styles, and the like. Expect a breakthrough sooner versus later from Captain Kidd, as their effort on “Unforgettable” and other recently released gems demonstrates they are in for the long haul. It is only a matter a time before the rest of the music world catches onto what the lads have displayed.

Spirit Of The Bear – “Opaque”: The pop rock quintet is back with their follow-up to “Summer Snow” released earlier in the year. The song shows the dudes are ready to take the leap to the next level and breakthrough nationally. The vocals along with each members’ musical role are spot on, making “Opaque” a bona fide smash going into autumn. The single is a tad less tempo than “Summer Snow”, but that just shows that SOTB is capable of writing and performing a variety of quality music going all the way back to the slow jam “Why Can’t We Talk About It?” and the ingenious “Run My Mouth”. Three takeaways from viewing the accompanying video for “Opaque”: The band members’ unique personalities shine through; although they take the music quite seriously, the guys as human beings have quite the humorous side; they better obtain an endorsement deal based off the penchant for orange munchies Doritos and Cheetos as seen in the video. The band intends to release their self-titled album soon and wants it to be as special as possible. By making amazing music that resonates with audiences, they are well on their way to climbing the ladder to the top.

Leechwife – “Machine Friend”: Soloist Lilith Yoko Grace describes the music she usually makes as “microtonal electro sludge, trans-dimensional post punk”. On the other hand, this single from the upcoming album Nebulae and Debris is considered by Grace to be non-microtonal. This is a sign that much like other artists, she is broadening her horizons and challenging herself creatively and it is certainly paying off. If there is ever an artist who is all in when it comes to the term DIY, it would be Leechwife who not only handled the performance aspect, but also mixed and mastered “Machine Friend”. The production is fabulous as it captures the raw, electronic punk sound perfectly. Grace’s vocals fit the music like a glove and this song has a great deal of potential on indie rock radio stations that appreciate ambition and taking risks. Nothing that Grace creates is typical and it must be quite empowering and rewarding to create a danceable headbanger like this track on her terms.  

La Poré – “Blame”: This is the moniker used by ex-Captain Kidd drummer Nick Samson, who has made quite the name for himself lately as a synthpop artist. One week ago, the L.A. transplant released his latest gem, which is full of upbeat electronic goodness. On the song’s chorus, Samson displays some vocal chops similar to Swedish one-hit wonder Kim Cesarion and “Blame” is every bit as good as anything The Weeknd has released. The Ohioan made the right move to head west to further his endeavors as the output certainly is on par with most Top 40 radio fare and a breakthrough is bound to happen soon. The new tune will get people’s pulses racing, their heads bobbing, and their feet moving, which is everything Samson wanted to accomplish. “Blame” is a perfectly produced, arranged, and performed masterpiece destined to garner La Poré more attention and accolades in the months to come.

Lisa Gain & The Rusty Silos – “Somebody To Love”/”Glory Box”: The indie folk band, who released an LP earlier this year, is back with a two-song live EP titled Cover 2 Cover. The first is an impressive take on the Jefferson Airplane classic, which the band makes their own. The end result has singer/guitarist Lisa Gain’s vocals coming out just as splendid as Grace Slick’s. Gain along with guitarist Keith Colbert, drummer Bryan Rupejko, and bassist Efrum Imler wonderfully play their parts to respect the original. “Glory Box” is a tune that was first performed and recorded by Portishead and is one of Gain’s personal favorites. Again, she kills with her vocals being on par and each band member playing their roles to the hilt. When this drops on September 26, listeners will hear Gain’s shout out to lead guitarist Colbert, who has been a delightful addition to the group. The EP was recorded at the acclaimed Shrunken Head, where artist Nick Magoteaux also serves as an Engineer making acts sound good during concerts and on recordings.

SAUL – “King Of Misery”: Released late last month, the metal quartet pours their blood, sweat, and tears into this raging single, winning listeners over on terrestrial radio and streaming services nationwide. Founded in Iowa, charter members Blake Bedsaul (lead vocals), Zach Bedsaul (guitar, backing vocals), and bassist William McIlravy brought in major firepower at drums with Myles Jordan Clayborne (most recently behind the kit for Renegades). “King Of Misery” is a take no prisoners hard rock tune that proves SAUL is ready to take the country by storm and their current success is just the beginning. The track will be part of the band’s debut LP titled Rise As Equals, due out in the weeks to come. This Spinefarm recording artist is serious about making the most of their opportunity as demonstrated by “King Of Misery” and the hype surrounding them is real.

stop.drop.rewind – “Space Force”: The Valparaiso, Indiana trio comprised of Kris Lohn (bass), DJ Crenson (guitar), and Andy Sutton (drums) returns with a tongue-in-cheek song about the fictitious government program. SDR is an example of a band who take the crafting and performing parts of music seriously, but show they do not necessarily take themselves so seriously. “Space Force” displays strong work on all accounts (vocals, guitars, and drums) and even the humorous subject matter, the song is under three minutes of punk rock goodness. Lohn, Crenson, and Sutton exude charm and have themselves a track that Blink-182 would be proud of. As evidenced from the video the band dropped for it, “Space Force” is a fun ditty giving rock listeners a morale booster given the state of the nation.  


Artist: The Katawicks

Title: In the Pocket

Format: EP

Release Year: 2020

Members: Allison Justice and Matt Washburn

Formed in 2011, indie soul duo The Katawicks have been receiving nothing but praise while building their fan base. With their late August EP titled In the Pocket, Matt Washburn and Allison Justice should continue to attract fans all over the place. The new record is a sample of what the group has to offer as pre-Covid, they were known for their fabulous live shows. Until gigging is conducted on a regular basis, the three songs they dropped last week are more than enough to tide lovers of quality music over.

On “Out on the Water”, Justice’s peppy vocals are perfectly blended with the song’s up-tempo pace. Her voice is so spot on here that it is in the same echelon as popular artists Jewel, Natalie Imbruglia, and Merril Bainbridge. The song tackles depression and unrequited love, however, it has a great deal of potential of radio airplay due to its poppiness. Per the duo’s Facebook page, the song was written during a drunken bender in Music City, U.S.A. and despite the subject matter, it is one of their favorite songs to perform live.

The EP’s second song “Don’t Ask Me Why” is a few gears slower in tempo, but equally as entertaining as “Out on the Water”. The tune is more folk than pop and the band’s use of string instruments really stands out among the vocals. It is the type of song to listen to while either laying in a hammock or sipping a colorful adult beverage on the beach. It may be the shortest track on the record at approximately two and a half minutes, but it holds its own with the other two making for a well-rounded collection.

The Katawicks take it all the way back to the folk genre with the slowest tempo tune on the EP, the appropriately titled “Sunday Morning.” When people think of the early part of the weekend’s last day, they think of peace and harmony. Washburn and Justice provide the absolute perfect song to lemonade on the porch as the birds feast and the squirrels forage. It is a terrific song to cap off In the Pocket and the pair should be proud of the hard work and talent put into making it happen.
The album was possible due to The Katawicks winning a Battle of the Bands competition in Dayton back in February. The prize was a chance to work with reputable Engineer and Producer Patrick Himes of Reel Love Recording Studios and it paid off. Everyone who had a hand in the record should be proud and folk pop connoisseurs will be proud they had a chance to hear it.



EKKOHAWK – “Weapons”: The Central Ohio quartet’s latest single is some finely constructed and much needed pop rock escapism that will take folks back the awesomeness of the early 2000s Top 40 airwaves. In today’s uncertain and unfortunate reality, this well performed bop is excellent ear candy as summer winds down. Comprised of Brent Billet (vocals), Bob Blackburn (bass), Shawn Huff (drums), and Derrick Zajac (guitar), EKKOHAWK has been cranking out alternative jams for years and each tune is worthy of constant head bopping and significant radio airplay. Billet’s vocals are a hybrid of Fred Durst and Steve Harwell’s and gel with the musicianship of Blackburn, Huff, and Zajac. When live shows are a go again, do not miss the band in action as they bring the sizzle and steak to every performance. Until then, previously released singles “Autopilot”, “California Chrome”, and “Farewell to Arms” are recommended to be played on repeat.


Starbenders – “Cover Me”: This Atlanta alternative rock outfit has a great sense of style, but musically they have an equal amount of substance. Kimi Shelter (lead vocals, guitar), Aaron Lecesne (bass), Emily Moon (drums), and Kriss Tokaji (guitar, backing vocals) each hold up their end of the bargain, making them an example of a world class glam rock band. Back on July 29, the band released the official video for this masterpiece off the record titled Love Potions and the video’s quality is on par with the song. Although the group gives off a Fleetwood Mac vibe, the band makes it clear they want to blaze their own trail on their own terms. Shelter, Lecesne, Moon, and Tokaji are totally in sync with one another parts-wise and Shelter’s passion and vigor shines through on the vocals. Sumerian recording artist Starbenders has a surefire attention seeker with this tune, but for a bigger sample size of what these four bring to the table other check out some other tracks such as “London” and their take on Depeche Mode’s “Precious” with help from Remington Leith.


Katie Davis – “I’m Right Here”: Less than two weeks ago, the Columbus, Ohio-based country singer released a video for this song chock full of tenderness and sweetness. Davis sings and performs the song very well and she will get the listener to believe in the song and in her. “I’m Right Here” is about the dearly departed being with grieving loved ones in spirit. The song is quite relevant given the current pandemic in which many lives have been lost. Davis has proven that she has as much heart as she has talent and has a bright future in the local music scene and the industry as a whole. In addition to her new single, Davis’ 2015 EP Steal My Heart has terrific songs to hear such as “You Said” and “Someone’s Someone”.


Avanti – “The Path Less Traveled”: Based out of Cincinnati, the five-piece post-hardcore band touts the new single as the heaviest they have ever released. The individual parts are brilliantly played by each member and the scorching vocals are perfectly executed on the song. “The Path Less Traveled” has every chance of being a breakout as the rage exuded by the band is relatable to metal fans everywhere. The group released a fabulously produced and directed video for the tune that matches the song’s intensity to the letter. Avanti demonstrates they are fabulous storytellers that have the musical skills to match. In addition to a bright future, the quintet also has a big heart as they are known for providing their time and resources to non-profits in their area. The group likes to take the initiative and it is almost certain they will challenge themselves to come up with a track as heavy and as loud as “The Path Less Traveled”. Until that song is released, genre lovers will dig Avanti’s earlier fare like “Dirt” and “28 Days Later”.


Unlawful – “Through the Wire”: Earlier this summer, the folk-rock trio premiered this ditty to much praise. The band used to call Central Ohio home, but relocated to Murfreesboro, Tennessee (near Nashville) to take their careers to the next level. The change of scenery seems to have paid off with a toe-tapper of a song that is catchy enough to make one forget about the harsh realities facing society. The group even made a delightful video for the tune which features bandmates and life partners Devin and Jeromy Sahr sharing the awesome vocals. The guitar play by Jeromy Sahr mixed with the workings of cellist Kyle Chatfield makes for a fantastic song from beginning to end. “Through the Wire” is equally as high-quality as the band’s prior songs from yesteryear “Mercy”, “Set It On Fire”, among others.


Carrie Whatley – “One More Dance”: The Western Ohio singer-songwriter created this uplifting and sincere song in honor of her companionship’s one-year anniversary. It is a wonderfully written and performed acoustic work that will make the lovelorn hold their respective partners a little tighter. It takes a great deal of skill to focus on creating positive art in the midst of a contagious virus, civil unrest, and economic despair. All the credit in the world goes to folk artist Whatley for coming up with such an emotion inducing song in a time of escalated divisiveness. Her dedication to her significant other tells listeners her heart is huge and perhaps that is something worth spreading in these trying times. Whatley bares her soul with this greatly crafted track and the more this song is heard, the more love she will get in return from folk music fans.


Careful Gaze – “When I Leave”: Best known for the powerful 2019 song “Rainbows”, the Minneapolis post-hardcore band returns with a song that is just as significant and relevant and it should catch on with rock enthusiasts. Made up of Gabe Reasoner, Preston West, and Aslan Denbow, Careful Gaze’s latest banger contains excellent vocals from Reasoner as when he sings, people pay attention. The band has something important to say and with their storytelling and musical execution, they get their message across well. The song has an accompanying book that further expands on what the band conveys in the tune. Hats off to the group for being able to put out music and literature during this modern-day civil rights movement as being in the town that started it all had to be taxing. “When I Leave” demonstrates the lads create songs of depth that leave people with something to reflect upon.


Motherfolk – “F.U.S.”: The Cincinnati-based indie quintet is back with this song of sheer beauty which just dropped today. The group utilized Instagram’s IGTV to premiere the video for the tune, which is more comedic than the song itself. The three-minute ballad entails terrific singing and musicianship with F-bombs sprinkled throughout, which gives a hint as to what the title’s initials stand for. The band feels just like most people these days as it pertains to the cards this year has dealt. Even if they are tongue-in-cheek with their latest track and accompanying video, on all other songs Motherfolk takes themselves and the music seriously. Their work ethic led to them earning a spot at this year’s Steadfast Festival, but current events indefinitely postponed the gig. “F.U.S.” is meant to be comedy to cope with a stressful way of life, but their arsenal is full of tremendous works indie rock fans will love including “Salt Lake City”, “Hiccups”, and more.

big smile 3

Big Smile – “Killdozer”: Also from Cincinnati, the alternative rock band premiered their new single earlier this morning. Released on Anchor Eighty Four Records, the single exhibits familiar and popular pop punk greatness that with the new record deal should take the band to newer levels. Lead singer Scooter Smith, drummer Cameron Hayes, bassist John Morris, and guitarists Noah Jatczak and Ethan Saling have worked hard to obtain this deal and with the excellence of “Killdozer”, they mean serious business. All five members play their roles to the hilt, proving that Big Smile is ready for the big time. The band’s professionalism along with the song’s top-notch production values presents Big Smile as every bit as good as alternative rock mainstays Sum 41 and Thursday. If not for the postponement of live shows, these blokes would be able to bolster their profile with what they bring to the stage. Since what the band has to offer in the studio is on point, bet the house concertgoers will not be disappointed. Their back catalog of songs including “Pillbox Hill” and “Oscillate” are worth a listen to learn what they are all about.

Song and Album Reviews of Artists on the Rise

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