Progression is a tricky thing, and something I’ve discussed before. If you’re a band that’s seen any modicum of success, adding the idea of expectations – both internal and external – to what is already a volatile and likely delicate situation can propel or reign in those changes. One thing that’s always remained so curious to me, as a fan and writer of music and music related things, is how really, a band is and should be a fluid organism. Stagnation and complacency are often criminally welcome by fans, simply so they don’t have to change along with the music they hold so dearly. And, not uncommonly, when a band stays the same for too long - especially these days - fans get bored, rebel, or worse, take to the internet and complain.
Much like a band, too, is a city’s music scene, it’s melodic bloodline. It’s a fluid thing. While a band may find the fans and the accolades they want, and in some cases actually deserve, it does come in waves. It comes and goes, waxes and wanes.
The Mitchells – undoubtedly one of the most prominent and vital groups of musicians calling Cincinnati home right now – are representative of this particular… phenomenon, we’ll call it. With a solid core of 4 impressively well-versed and talented musicians making up the band itself, The Mitchells have adopted a more fluid, accepting approach to both the recording process, and their live performances over the last year and that approach has led them to some interesting and exceptional places.
As they achieved significant success in the area through considerate placement of local shows and intriguing, often exciting choices about when to headline and when to support, The Mitchells also wrote and made plans to record their full-length debut. Their Bird Feather EP was an already immaculately conceived introduction to the band, as those who worship at the altar of emotive, delicate, and folksy indie rock would testify. With the completion of their first proper album, the band is gearing up to share, release, and promote a record vocalist Joseph Mitchell and company are proud of and excited for. And they have every right to be.
Though they’ve played a few shows here and there over the winter, tonight at Northside Tavern they’ll take the stage with friends and Cincinnati locals Shiny and the Spoon, as well as Cincinnati by way of Akron folksters The Ridges, for the first in what promises to be an engaging, celebratory series of shows that will focus on the new record, and their new approach.
Fans - and there are quite a few of them, mind you - will find comfort in the new tracks, as they exhibit all of the hallmarks The Mitchells have become known for: minimalistic instrumentation that never gets boring, engaging arrangements that somehow never become overwhelming, and emotive and melancholy lyricism that never strays in to areas too depressing to return to. The album will highlight some of the bands collaborations with local talent, and they plan to have their live shows reflect that adventurousness and creative energy. As intricate as their songs can be, there’s a free-spiritedness that always manages to come through, no matter the size of the venue or the crowd.
The Mitchells are not a band that’s starting over, trying to reinvent themselves. Nor are they a band that’s found comfort in complacency. Instead, Friday’s show is a kind of reintroduction, an evening for them to say hello to a town that they appreciate, and who has shown them a lot of love in return. More than anything, it’s the start of something that should be truly great to watch unfold, and even more fun to listen to.