I’m not really sure why I started this blog. I havent decided wether or not I’m going to let others view it.. I’m not too sure about anything these days. All I know is that i love music. I love playing music, writing music, listening to music… anything that has to do with music I love. Got it? good.
Anyway, I’d like to take some time now to talk about music from Ohio. Some of my favorite bands are from Ohio, including Guided By Voices. Guided By Voices were an indie band and pioneers of the lo-fi movement that flourished in the early to mid-nineties. Lead singer and chief songwriter Robert Pollard was 30 years old and teaching kids in an alternative learning program when they recorded their first LP “Devil Between My Toes”. Their are only a few tracks that I would really consider listening to on this album, “Captains Dead” and “Hey Hey, Spaceman”. GBV’s discography is lengthy and tiring, and it takes a truly devoted GBV fan to know and to have listened to every single GBV song. They continued to release albums through the late 80’s and early 90’s, but it wasn’t until 1992’s “Propeller” that they earned any widespread recognition. I guess if I had to describe their sound to someone who hasn’t heard them is this: catchy, albeit poorly recorded gloom pop post-punk garage. They recorded most of their albums using TASCAM 4-track recorders in their basements. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that they opted for a more polished, clean sound. It took me awhile for me to get into GBV. They definetly arent for everyone. With songs like “The Goldheart Mountain Top Queen Directory” and “14 Cheerleader Coldfront”, their lyrics are usually dark and sometimes melancholy. My cousin would play them for me and it took me some time to realize that the same band who was responsible for “Teenage FBI” was also responsible for “Gold Star for Robot Boy”. Once I got it though, man was I hooked. Some of the catchiest and yet most heart-wrenching songs you’ll hear in your life are on GBV’s earlier albums. Songs like “Club Molluska”, “Drinkers Peace”, and “Liars Tale” will give you the shivers, and leave you feeling haunted and nostalgic. Also worth a mention is Tobin Sprout, guitarist and songwrite for GBV who joined the band in 1987. If Robert Pollard is John Lennon, then Tobin Sprout is certainly Paul Mcartney. Not quite as prolific in his songwriting as Pollard (*Pollard has over 5000 songs credited to his name), Sprout has contributed songs like “Mincer Ray”, “Awful Bliss”, “Donkey School”, “A Good Flying Bird”, “To Remake the Young Flyer”and many others. He was also mostly responsible for recording their early albums.
Lets not forget about Ohio punk rock.
I wont waste much time talking about the Dead Boys. Most people who know punk know the Dead Boys. They were among the early American punk rock bands and were highly involved in the whole CBGB’s scene in 1977. Their debut “Young, Loud and Snotty” is a punk classic and it’s definitely worth a listen, but to me the Dead Boys were never really that great. If you want to listen to some really great punk rock from Ohio, check out the Electric Eels. Before punk was called punk, the Electric Eels recorded short, raunchy garage rock tunes. My favorite being their song “Agitated”. The band only played 5 live shows in their short-lived career, but that was enough to inspire Dead Boys lead singer Stiv Bators, who based his singing style on Electric Eels singer Dave Mcmanus.
Though most people would not consider Devo “punk rock”, they are also from Ohio. Their debut “Are We Not Men? We are Devo!” mixed punk rock with new wave. I’m not the biggest Devo fan so I won’t say much more.
Another great band from Ohio are the Mice. When I listen to the Mice, I hear a band that could have been huge, could have had a top 40 hit. In my opinion, they are one of the best American power-pop bands to have ever existed, yet no one knows them, not even my most music-obsessed friends. They only released two albums, one EP (For Almost Ever) and one LP (Scooter) in the mid 1980’s, that were eventually released together on one album (For Almost Ever Scooter). Their song “Not Proud Of the USA” would later be covered by the band Superchunk. If you are music pirate like I am, I would recommend downloading the whole album. Songs like “Downtown”, “Rescue You Too”, and “Bye Bye Kitty Kat” are pure power-pop with a twinge of Cheap Trick (also from Cleveland). Since I decided to check them out after reading about them in the book “Guided By Voices: A Breif History: 21 Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forest’s of Rock ‘n Roll”, they are my number 1 most recommended band.
Ohio is known for breeding indie-rock gods. I’ve already discussed Robert Pollard. Kim Deal, from the legendary alternative band the Pixies, and her sister Kelly Deal of the Breeders, are also from Ohio. In fact, they grew up not far from where Robert Pollard grew up. Everyone knows the Pixies are great, blah blah blah, amazing, blah blah blah, not to mention the Breeders, who had a hit song in the 90’s that still gets constant air-play on alternative rock stations.
So… All in all, Ohio has given us some great bands. Some well known (The Pretenders) and some very obscure (Rocket From the Tombs). I guess theres something about the boring Midwest that creates such great music. What else are you gonna be passionate about in Ohio? Certainly not the Cleveland Indians. Thanks for reading. untill next time!