There is a beast stirring in Cincinnati, a trumpet sounding softly in the dark night. For too long, this city has gone without. No cohesion, no sense of purpose. A scene, never heard. Where some towns are known for moving, defining musical output, a culture in and of itself, our claims to fame have been fleeting, ethereal, elusive. Tonight, however, in Northside, you can open doors and listen to a city slowly, melodically – and methodically – finding its way.
At Northside Tavern, long a beacon of underground indie culture in our fair city, The Mitchells, State Song, and Sun Country offer 3 variations on a theme, 3 sides of the same coin. Sun Country sounds like mid-summer sunlight, radiant and lulling, enveloping, yet airy. State Song, though, calls back to mid- and late-90’s fuzz, never attaining any unwanted heaviness, treading the line ever so delicately between eclectic and straightforward.
If a band were to craft a statement of purpose, subtle and unsuspecting , The Mitchells have whispered a declaration, catching an entire city resolutely looking the other way. Their Bird Feather EP is a sharp lesson in understatement – refined, though never to the point of satire or pretension, restrained, yet bursting at the seams. Indie folk can be treacherous when mishandled, ironic without any sense of fun. It can easily, and quickly, lose its way, and in turn, lose the listener’s interest. Not so with The Mitchells. Yearning, earnest, never saccharine, their live show is an act of humble intensity. Stuttering, insistent drums, strings and piano that maneuver through each track nimbly without getting lost, twinkling, evocative guitar work, low level vocals that still hover above quietly moving musicianship.
Northside Tavern is the most sensible location for these bands to hold court, an homily to what is guaranteed to be a captive crowd. It isn’t gospel they’re preaching. It most assuredly is a revival.