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 – “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.