Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ohio Weather Band's Debut Album.

The Ohio Weather Band.  The Ohio Weather Band.
Self-Produced, 2014.  The Ohio Weather Band:

Think we used their name up above enough times?  I guess we’ve established what we’re reviewing.  These guys are from Alliance, a place that always struck me as part college, part blue collar rustbelt town.  I think they’re from the second part, but I could be wrong.  They describe themselves as blues and Americana, band and they’ll probably be compared to the Black Keys, just like every other band that’s even vaguely similar.  But I’d like to try a different Black comparison--The Black Crowes.  Just like that band, they’re out of sync with time.  Their music harks (note use of cool, archaic word) back to older styles of bands like the Stones, Humble Pie, and Rod Stewart.  They combine a mix of blues and classic rock vibe with some other things, including folk, psychedelia, and maybe their own unique stuff.  The result is a damned fine album.

At first glance, I thought they were going to start off with the old Standells tune, which would be really cool, and they should do that song, but this “Dirty Water” is their own.  That’s okay, because it’s a down-and-dirty blues rock workout.  This is the first song that reminded me of the Black Crowes.  They’re not as Southern, and Corey King’s voice is higher than Chris Robinson’s.  Come to think of it, King reminds me a little of Dan Miraldi--a little less rockabilly and more blues, but in the same range, and both Northeast Ohio boys.  King is a really good singer, and that can make or break a roots band like this.  “Whole Damn Town” reminds me of a blues version of the Who’s “Join Together,” but slowed down.  Similar chord changes, and an excellent listen.  I hear a little country rock in “The Wear on These Bones,” but “Feathers and Tar” takes me back to “Whole Damn Town,” although it revs up a bit more.  We get a real guitar solo in “Feathers and Tar,” and it sounds great.  Actually, the whole song does.  It’s got a good groove, although the music sounds happier than the lyrics, which are about love and death.  Actually, most of their songs are lyrically kind of downers, but I guess it comes with the territory of Northeast Ohio.  Hey, sing all the songs you want about failed love, drinkin’ too much, and crappy lives, as long as the music works, and theirs does.  “Backpack with Whiskey” is more hardass rock, with some good guitar work.

They move into ballads with “Bears & Bees,” a song about being a target: “That I am honey in a world of bears and bees.”  Nice harmonica.  “The Good Life” brings us back around with a blues shuffle, and “R. Mutt” is a hard rock tune about a death in their town.  It sounds a little Neil Youngish, with a beat that reminds me of “Ohio.”  “Darkest Blues” is misnamed, since it’s more of a folky ballad with some pretty deep lyrics about lost love.  It features what I think are King’s least adventuresome vocals, but he follows it up with some of his strongest singing on “She is the Devil” (although I don’t care for the lyrics--he’s blaming the girl, but I think he’s the problem).  “White Chariot” finishes off the album on a somber note, with another ballad contemplating our mortality.  A bummer, but a pretty one.

Hey, I didn’t mention the rest of the band.  They do a great job, and they get to shine on the faster, more hard-rocking numbers.  The Ohio Weather Band is probably a good name for the band--changeable, sometimes gloomy, but with serious points of brightness in terms of talent.  This is a really fine first effort, and I’m glad I got to hear them.  

Personnel:  Corey King (guitar, vocals, harmonica),  Derek Strata (bass, vocals), Ray Lumpp (keys, vocals), Pete Childerson (drums, percussion).
Tracks:  Dirty Water, Whole Damn Town, The Wear on These Bones, Feathers and Tar, Fortune Teller, Backpack with Whiskey, Bears & Bees, The Good Life, R. Mutt, Darkest Blues, She is the Devil, White Chariot.

Ron Yoyek

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