Those marvelous melodic maestros in Librarians With Hickeys are back at it with a song that speaks the truth about how much we tire of the cold! Bring on the Summer, indeed! This fun music video for “Can’t Wait ‘Till Summer” evokes The Psychedelic Furs, English Beat, and Let’s Active. The band has a gift for borrowing from their influences and creating a sound that is fresh. If you, like us, are a sucker for shimmering, ringing guitars then you need to explore this band’s discography. ‘CWTS’ is the group’s latest single from the terrific album “Handclaps & Tambourines” available and streaming everywhere from the fine folks at Big Stir Records!
Tons of new music. Some indie classics. We love radio day. Today we are spotlighting music from Nicholas Johnson, Kim Ware, Bottlecap Mountain, and Nick Kizirnis!
The set list includes songs from our good pal Nicholas Johnson, High on Stress (from Minneapolis, MN), Kim Ware, Librarians with Hickeys (Ohio by way of Big Stir Records), BAILEN, ODESZA, Panic Pocket, Connections (from Columbus, Ohio), POPSICKO (seriously Big Stir records roster is an impressive lineup of great indie powerpop), Iguana Death Cult, Unkown Mortal Orchestra, ALIENS, The Band of Heathens, Bottlecap Mountain, James, Genevieve Artadi, The Speedways, The 1984 Draft (Dayton, Ohio), M83, The Housemartins, Daughter, Nick Kizirnis (Dayton, Ohio), Phoenix, Beach Bunny, The Connells, Greg Dulli, Achilles Tenderloin, Steady Holiday, Let’s Active, Nicole Yun, The Tisburys and The Replacements.
We will be chatting about some exciting shows on the horizon from Nicholas Johnson, The Pinkerton Raid, Age Nowhere, Bottlecap Mountain, and more happening in our hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
Dre Babinski’s solo project Steady Holiday has a new album, her fourth, Newfound Oxygen coming out on February 17, 2023. She has been making captivating ethereal and yet down-to-earth shimmering chamber pop since her 2016 debut, Under The Influence. 2018’s Nobody’s Watching explored socio-political unrest with a fragile vulnerability that is equal parts wide-eyed concern and personal reflection.
The first single from Newfound Oxygen, The Balance, has a sound that imagines a deeply personal and yet communal emotion mixing The National, Fleetwood Mac, and Camera Obscura in a melody that calls on classic pop music signatures. Cannot wait for the whole album.
The new year begins with all of the vibrancy of a guitar on overload! And that is because the latest full-length album from the power-pop-punk of the Joe Anderl-led The 1984 Draft arrives this week on January 19th! The Dayton quartet’s latest record will remind you that music does still matter and perhaps it means even more today. The new album combines the urgency of The Smoking Popes with the intensity of Bob Mould’s post-Husker Du project, Sugar, thrown headlong into the pure and direct heartbreak of The Replacements. The Draft plays every song like their lives depend on it.
The new record comes our way courtesy of the fine music-loving folks at Dayton, Ohio-based Poptek Records with assistance from Sell the Heart Records and Engineer Records (in the UK and EU). You can order the 12″ vinyl now or get a copy at the big record-release show in Dayton on January 20 at the legendary Yellow Cab Tavern. And we highly recommend that you go to the concert!
And speaking of that show, The Draft has invited friends and sonic heroes like Josh Caterer (Smoking Popes), Paige Beller, Shane Sweeney (Two Cow Garage), Josh Goldman (The Raging Nathans), Narrow/Arrow, Abiyah, and Josh Arnold to play the record release celebration. Best friends forever, indeed!
Time is running out to make your plans! But today is your lucky day because we are here to help! You can scoop up your advance tickets now and save $5 off the admission to the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton by grabbing that ticket a few days before the big show. Be a friend of The Draft and get a ticket now.
The members are neither smug nor brothers, and the caddish name poorly fits these serious, veteran musicians. Furthermore, Smug Brothers could very well be your favorite rock band, especially if you love the pop virility of the Beatles, the lyrical bafflement of Guided by Voices, and the beautiful shambles of Big Star—but you may never know, because you may never see them or hear them.
Take a nap, Schrödinger’s cat. This here is a real paradox.“We’ve been doing this for 20 years,” says Smug Brothers singer and guitarist Kyle Melton, “and no one knows who we are.”One of the reasons for this is the fact that due to real-life responsibilities and a shifting lineup on Spinal Tap proportions, the band rarely performs live.
“You have to tour to make any kind of headway [in the music business],” explains drummer Don Thrasher. “You can’t just play Dayton, Cincinnati, and a few other places and get famous. Any group that has ‘made’ it has had to hit the road and play anywhere they can.”
And then, when the group does perform live, there’s an exciting yet mystifying dimension of difference between the live sound and the recorded material.“A lot of bands today are really, really good at replicating their studio sound in a live setting,” Melton says. “That eludes us. We thrive in a more controlled environment.”
Not surprising for a group that began, way back in 2004, as a one-off studio project between Melton and Dayton musician and producer Darryl Robbins (Peopleperson, TV Queens). It was only with the addition of drummer Don Thrasher, in early 2008, that the Smug Brothers became, to paraphrase Pinocchio, a real band.
Since then, Melton and Thrasher have held down a steady center among a revolving cast of additional musicians—the current lineup includes Kyle Sowash, from Columbus indie-rock stalwarts The Kyle Sowashes, on bass—and have released a series of ever-improving singles, EPs, and LPs. The band’s most recent album, Application of the Twig, is the season of spring distilled into a porch party soundtrack. Brisk and refreshing.
“While we’re not well-known,” says Thrasher, “we make well-done records. We provide a good listening experience for people who like short, catchy songs.” Melton agrees. “A lot of care and consideration goes into our albums. They are singular experiences that you will never see duplicated live.”
All of which brings the Smug Brothers’ quandary full circle. To get a better sense of the elusive Smug Brothers sound, please visit smugbrothers.bandcamp.com! Do it!
Every year we ask some of our music friends to share some of their thoughts on some of the albums/singles that were released in the past year.
Our good friend, fellow Connells fan, thoughtful social media user, and one of the most ardent new music fans Rob Perry agreed to share his thoughts about new music from the past year.
2022, for me, has been a year in that I got to get back out into the live music scene a bit and enjoy a lot of great music released by my favorite artists and some new ones, too. I saw wildly enthusiastic live shows by Superchunk and Built To Spill (both with new albums this year) and more subdued ones like Waxahatchee and Sharon Silva.
As far as this year’s album releases go, here are five of my favorites. All are records that I find easy to put on the turntable and enjoy from front to back.
Archers of Loaf – Reason in Decline … their first new album in over two decades was highly anticipated by long-time fans. But this record doesn’t have the signature noisy gnarl of the early releases. This is a band, seemingly now with a different sense of purpose. When I listen to this album I hear impeccably crafted songs, still distorted but looking more positively at our ever-changing world.
Tess Parks – And Those Who Were Seen Dancing … Here’s another record that’s been a long time coming. When released, it had been almost 10 years since Park’s last album “Blood Hot”. On this one, her ethereal vocals, mixed with sonic influences of Oasis, Patti Smith, and Primal Scream provide a nicely wrapped feeling of 90s nostalgia. Drop the needle on this and let your psyche explore it all.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Endless Rooms … This is the group’s third long play and it highlights their consistency and creative growth. What I love about this band and album is the incredible combination of songwriting skill layered intricately into their three-guitar interplay. There seems to be an ego-free vibe among the six-stringers Joe Russo, Joe White, and Fran Keaney. While this release doesn’t use the same template as the band’s debut “Hope Downs” it does expand on the definition of what a great Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever record can be.
Yumi Zouma – Present Tense… The New Zealand quartet’s fourth album is a subtle shift from their previous records. While it’s still shimmering Dream Pop, this release hints at moving a bit towards mid-80s Fleetwood Mac or Hall & Oates. The band has done a great job of weaving a variety of textures into the songs on this record. “Present Tense” has a little something for almost everyone and listening will most certainly augment your mood.
Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa … In February, one of my favorite bands “finally” released their latest record after five long years. As their music always seems to be evolving, I wasn’t sure what the signature album sound might be. For me, the edgy-riffed “The Hardest Cut” definitely sets the tone but all of the tunes have a roughhewn and sparsely produced feel. The record sounds like it could have been recorded live in your living room. As usual from Britt Daniel, there’s excellent songwriting and a nice mix of tempo.
Matt Derda & The High Watts are making some of the most compelling music in a year full of great music! The video is their official music video for ‘Life You Didn’t Know.’ This is the latest single from the Chicago band’s upcoming EP ‘You Didn’t Know?‘ which came out on 11/12/2022.
‘You Didn’t Know?’ from Matt Derda & The High Watts is a picture postcard from a pure sonic territory that reflects the intersection of indie rock, power pop, and alt-country. The semi-title track ‘Life You Didn’t Know’ feels like a driving Replacements song from ‘Pleased to Meet Me’ written by Uncle Tupelo era Jeff Tweedy. Derda’s lead vocal is always spot-on. This is a mighty trio that tackles the feel of each song as if their lives depended upon it.
New music from Dayton-based rapper and songwriter Tino is out. This is good news for anyone interested in passionate music that speaks to our souls. Tino’s flow and syncopation are otherworldly. He is able to make a song that speaks to the human spirit and uplift the listener.
Do not miss his new music. And if you are in the Dayton area today you can catch his show tonight at Yellow Cab Tavern as he shares his latest music.
Our friend Paul Monin of Age Nowhere and Neo American Pioneers has a solo single ‘No One Cares.’ The video is an interesting take on the ideas in the lyrics. It also has a silly appearance from YTAA’s own Dr. J. Paul has written a song that asks the listener to stop and look around themselves and ask what matters and what we are focusing our attention upon. You can get more information from: https://linktr.ee/pauljmonnin.
Dayton musician, songwriter, guitarist and producer Rich Reuter joined D. J on Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative on March 22, 2022 in Dayton, Ohio on WUDR Flyer Radio at The University of Dayton. He played live and chatted about his recent music, new EP ‘Endless Parade‘, his work on Nicholas Johnson’s Back Upstate record and his work on his next full length ‘The Captain II’. You can discover his music at bandcamp. We discussed his approach to songwriting, production and performing the music.
On Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative this coming Tuesday — March 8th — we have a terrific electro indie pop artist, Serin Oh! We were fortunate to see her perform at the Dayton Battle of the Bands contest and were truly impressed with her stage presence, amazing voice and clever arrangements. It is fair to say that she had that audience raptured with her songs and effortless vocal delivery. She even persuaded the crowd to chant Korean to one of her songs. It was a fun, engaging and dynamic performance.
We immediately were struck by the thought that her music adds an important element to the thriving Dayton Music Scene! Born in Suwon, South Korea, Serin moved to Ohio with her family at the age of six. Growing up in church, she was surrounded by gospel music in her formative years. During her time at the prestigious Berklee College of Music she discovered her love for jazz and R&B, whilst also rediscovering her Korean roots through the lens of K-Pop.
Serin has started a musical journey in her effort to search for a sound that would allow her to express the duality and contradictions of her identity through her music. Serin’s goals extend beyond music to using music culture to create opportunities for other musicians and creatives who are often not part of music culture. She hopes to uplift ‘third culture kids’ in the creative world through her music, especially fellow ‘third culture kids and secret outcasts.’ Using music to forge connection is a welcome approach!
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Serin Oh to Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative! You can find out more about her and her music through her social media, Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages!
Tod Weidner is an institution in his home town of Dayton, Ohio. Tod is a visionary songwriter making music that drives a listener to tap their toes without realizing the impactful lyric until one has been hooked. Tod has led the incredible band Shrug for decades. The admiration for Tod’s music has been well earned from a songcraft that brims with a direct and honest rock and roll that veers across rock, indie, folk and more. Tod’s gift for writing catchy songs that open an honest dialogue is one of the most important characteristics of his music! While Tod has relocated to the Bay Area, his music continues the sonic journeys he started in Dayton.
Dr. J: What can you share with us about when and how you started writing music?
Lyrically speaking, I’ve been hugely influenced by my dad. He was a high school English and Literature teacher for over 30 years, and he passed on to me a love of words and how to put them together.
Musically Speaking, I started playing guitarin my sophomore year of high school, in January of 1986. I grew up in a rural area of Ohio, about 25 miles geographically and a thousand light years philosophically from Dayton. Underground rock (“college rock” as it was known then) was a thing, but it hadn’t really reached our sheltered little school to any real extent. We just had the radio – AOR or Top 40. If I had been more familiar with punk and DIY indie bands of the day, it may have occurred to me that I could write my own music as soon as I had a couple chords under my belt but, as it was, those radio formats instilled a feeling that these artists were untouchable superhuman beings descended down from Mt. Olympus, so the best we mortals could do was to learn how to play their music and- maybe, if we were good enough- join a cover band.
At some point around 1990, I began to realize that I didn’t have to play covers of other people’s music. The early “gateway drug” bands that lured me from the flashy ‘80s hard rock into more organic, underground stuff were Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, Masters of Reality, Faith No More, and bands like that. I started coming up with riffs and developing them into truly dreadful early attempts at songs. Those bands led me to early R.E.M., Robin Hitchcock & The Egyptians, and other groups that had a little more “jangle” to their sound, and that was a turning point in my sense of songcraft. In 1993 I joined a short-lived Dayton band called Tim, which is where I first started contributing my own songs. After a year or so, I left Tim and started Shrug, and that’s where I really shifted into a higher gear. I was a sponge- I was devouring music as fast as I could find it, and learning about songwriting along the way.
Dr. J: What first led to your recording music? How do you approach production?
TW: When I was just starting out writing songs, my bandmate and I found this huge monstrosity of a stereo called a Sinclair Studio 100 at a close-out furniture store in Columbus. It was about the size of a window unit air conditioner, with a turntable, a tuner, and a dual cassette deck. The thing was, though, that it also had a setting where you could use it as a four-track recorder- the EQ sliders turned into faders, and you could record multitrack demos on it. My buddy and I each bought one, and I developed some extremely rudimentary recording chops, by trial and error. I haven’t listened to any of those cassettes I made for years and years; it would be somewhere between amusing and horrifying to hear them again.
How do I approach production? That’s a complicated question. It’s always evolving. My favorite way to do it is to get everyone in a room together and just play live. Let some happy accidents and mistakes happen- that’s where the good stuff lives. That’s not always doable, though. Sometimes space or noise limitations force you to build songs one or two instruments at a time, which gives you more control over the finished product and opens up the song to some interesting possibilities for experimentation.
There’s a time and a place for both approaches. Ideally, I like to let the song dictate the method. Having said that, I’ve been writing and recording demos alone on GarageBand lately, so building the song piece by piece is kind of the default mode for me at the moment, at least as far as pre-production goes.
The solo singles I’ve released so far and the ones in the immediate pipeline- aside from “The Boys of Summer” (which was done by myself at home) have been mostly recorded in a beautiful, big, spacious studio in Los Angeles, and I’ve been blessed to have some monster musicians on the sessions, so the lion’s share of the music gets tracked live, with vocals and some extra guitar overdubs added later. It’s a good mix of the two methods.
Dr. J: Boys of Summer is your most recent music, what led to the making of that song? What was the main influence on your recording this cover?
TW: It was serendipity- pure happenstance. I’ve always adored the original version, written by Mike Campbell and Don Henley. It’s such an evocative song about nostalgia, and it resonates with me more and more the older I get. I always thought it would be cool to cover it at some point.
So it happened that, this past New Year’s Day, 2022, I was at home, in my music room, with a few hours to kill, so I just started messing around with the song, kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t want to do a copy of the original; I never understand it when artists do that. What’s the point? I had an idea to keep it sparse- dark and skeletal, kind of turning the upbeat mood of the original into something that delivers the same sentiment in a more brooding way. Don Henley’s version is, in my eyes, sung by a successful alpha-type guy who’s reminiscing about an old flame. But he never really gets close to owning up to taking any blame in why the relationship ended. The narrator of my version of the song is a loser. He let the best thing that ever happened to him drift away, and he knows it.
I had no intention of doing anything with my version- it was just sort of something to do for a few hours. I sent it to my manager on a whim, because I knew he liked the original as much as I did. He really liked my version, and convinced me that we should release it. I have a song coming out soon that we really want all the pieces in place for, so releasing a version of a song that people are already familiar with makes a certain amount of sense from a business standpoint. We figured a cover would reach a few new ears to give us that much bigger of an audience when the “real next course” gets served up. How that goes remains to be seen, but the response to “The Boys of Summer” has been really great so far, so I’m already considering it a win.
I’m actually glad I recorded the song with no lofty goals for it to be released, because there’s a vulnerability in the vocal performance that probably wouldn’t have survived all the overthinking I would have done had I been trying for “a single”. “Quick, dirty, and instinctive” is the way to go sometimes.
Dr. J: The song ‘City of San Jose’ captures a remarkable constellation of musical influences. The song seems to have an almost 1970s feel. Is that a correct interpretation? If that is correct, did you intend to create a song that connects to that time period? If that is not correct, how would you describe the feeling of the song?
TW: No, I’d say that’s a very accurate assessment. Most of what I do is rooted in the music of the 60s and 70s, either directly or one generation removed, and most of my favorite artists were doing their best work back then.
Dr. J: How did the song ‘City of San Jose’ come together musically for you?
TW: The song is kind of a love letter to a section of the San Francisco Bay Trail near where I live. During the peak of Lockdown, it was a great place to get some exercise away from a lot of other people. I also came up with a lot of lyrics for this current batch of songs out there.
I used an alternate tuning on my guitar for that one- DADGAD, a tuning that a lot of British artists gravitated towards in the late 60s and 70s; people like Bert Jansch, John Martyn, and Nick Drake. Jimmy Page used DADGAD on a lot of Led Zeppelin tracks, as well. My original demo for the song was very much in the British Folk vein- a bit quieter, more pastoral. When we got in the studio to record the actual version it became much more upbeat, but I’m not mad about that at all. I like both approaches a lot, and the final version we did in the studio served as a good introduction to the world of “Tod Weidner as a solo artist.”
Dr. J: Where do you often derive inspiration to make music?
TW: Well, it’s a compulsion, really. Playing guitar is really the one thing in my life that never fails to make me feel better. If I’m depressed, anxious, or out of sorts, there’s nothing I like better than to just pick up the guitar and lose myself for an hour or two. It’s my form of meditation. More often than not, a kernel of an idea will pop up somewhere in the course of my aimless noodling. The “voice memos” app on my phone is overflowing with minute-long ideas that either eventually will or already have become full-fledged songs.
Lyrically, I’ve been really making an effort over the past few years to simplify. In the beginning, I delighted in using big flowery words in my songs just for their own sake. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, per se, I’ve been fascinated lately with the songcraft of people like John Prine, Johnny Cash, or Tom Petty: songwriters who can lay down a simple truth that everyone can relate to, but with a clever little spin on it that just makes it land like a bomb. There’s a deceptively fine art to that, and I’m always trying to get better at it. Fewer words, more impact.
Dr. J: How would you describe the music that you typically create? How has that process evolved or changed over time (especially as you think about your journey in the last few years)?
TW: My standard line about my music is “songs about Love, Loss, The Loss of Love, and The Love of Loss”. There tends to be a touch of yearning, or wistfulness, a bit of melancholy in most of my music- “Sad Bastard Music”, as some people call it. It’s not dark all the time, but I think most artists have a tendency to ruminate about things, at least the ones I gravitate to.
Moving to California from Ohio was already a big new chapter in my life in and of itself, but the prospect of starting a solo career with a new tribe of people also definitely represents a turning of the page. Dayton will always be home, and I thank my lucky stars that I got to learn how to be a musician and writer in such an amazingly fertile music scene as Dayton’s, but there comes a time when a nurturing, close-knit environment runs the risk of becoming an insular echo chamber-type situation. In all honesty, that’s what Dayton started feeling like toward the end of my time there. It was time to get somewhere new and try my stuff out on people who hadn’t known me for decades. It’s a healthy thing to do.
My dear old friend, and now manager, Jack Piatt, has always championed my music, and through him, I’ve gotten to meet and work with people out here from very different backgrounds than mine. Which is also a healthy thing to do. Nomad, the gentleman who has produced my first five singles, has a resume that includes- among other things- a long stint as Babyface’s musical director. So he has a strong background in Soul and R&B, and that gives him a much different perspective than I have, coming from a more-or-less strict rock background. The “me” from 10 or 15 years ago would’ve been very skeptical of working with someone like that. But, as I said, this is a major new chapter of my life and career. I told myself, “Tod, you’ve been doing things a certain way for over 25 years. If you want to continue in the same bubble you’ve been operating in, you might as well just go back to Dayton and record the usual stuff with the same people at the same places.” If I want to get somewhere new, it’s a good idea to take some new outside advice, be open to change, and let go of some of my innate urges to control every aspect of the situation. I decided to start saying “yes”, instead of, “I dunno, that’s not how I usually do it.” And I have to say- it’s been working out really well so far. It’s refreshing, and exciting.
Dr. J: What is next for you musically? How would you describe your thoughts at this point for your next project?
TW: The next single is coming out sometime in February, and I think it’s going to really surprise people who are familiar with my back catalog. I’m very excited about this track, and the people I recorded it with. That’s all I want to say about it for now.
The plan is to release a digital single at a rate of about one a month, and eventually end up with enough songs for a full, physical album. I’m still old school enough that I like to hold a record or a CD in my hand and read liner notes and whatnot.
I came out of Lockdown with about 20 new songs, and I’m as proud of them as any I’ve ever written; I really believe it’s some of my best work, and I am dying to get on the road and play them for people.
Dr. J: What is your favorite song to perform live? What is your favorite song to perform in general? What makes that song a current favorite in your performances?
TW: I don’t know if I have a favorite song to perform. I have favorite types of songs, maybe. I love playing a song that lets me stretch out and go somewhere on the guitar because, at the end of the day, I still think of myself as a guitar player.
And I love a song that I can crawl inside and live in while I’m singing it. I just want to play something that moves people. That’s the objective: to play with sincerity and move people. There’s not much point in doing anything else.
Dr. J: What is one message you would hope that listeners find in the unique nature of your latest music?
TW: Well, as I said earlier, I tend to lean toward the darker end of the emotional spectrum with my songs, but lately- with this latest batch of songs, especially- I’ve been making more of a concerted effort to include a little ray of sunlight here and there in the songs. With the last several years of trauma and uncertainty, I think Hope is a valuable, rare commodity, and people need as much of it as they can get.
Music, and Art in general, serves multiple purposes: it can provide a feeling of escape for the listener, a chance to forget their troubles and go somewhere else for a few minutes. That’s a lovely thing.
But Music can also be a hand to hold in the dark. It can tell the listener, “You’re going through some painful times. I know how you feel, I feel that way, too. Let’s feel that way together.” That can be a beautiful thing, too- letting the listener know they’re not alone. I know Music has gotten me through some dark days and nights, and if my songs can help someone in that way, then I’ve done my part.
Dr. J: As a musician, how are you adapting to the challenges of the Coronavirus?
TW: Same as everyone, I suppose. It depends on the day. I miss playing shows, I know that. I hope that, sooner than later, I can get back to playing a gig without worrying about people going home sick. I’m also very aware of the privileged position from which I’m speaking.; my wife has been working from home, and we’re getting by alright. A lot of folks don’t have that luxury.
The silver lining for me, as a musician, has been the enforced down time. As I mentioned, it’s allowed me to really buckle down and work and produce a lot of songs I’m proud of. I’m thankful that I have songwriting as a way to work out my fear, dread, and anxiety. Again, a lot of people don’t have an outlet like that.
I guess it comes back to what I touched on in the previous question. As a singer/songwriter during this whole mess, I have a responsibility to reflect the times, relate to the listener, and provide them with some degree of solace. All things considered, it’s not a bad job to have.
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Tod for answering our questions and continuing to make some really excellent music! Click on the links throughout the article to visit his social media or to listen to various songs that were discussed! If any musicians or artists would like to participate in future ’11 Questions with…’ columns, please feel free to email us at email@example.com. All photos and images courtesy of Tod Weidner.