• Feature

Royal Recommends: Week 4

Royal Holland got tired of people not knowing or seemingly not caring about music from amazing musicians who don't have the marketing power to make you want to get their music. Often times the music being posted is free, it only costs a small amount of your time, and could change the way you look at creativity. Support the ones close to you and they will sprout wings. 

Check out the Soundcloud Playlist that features a track from each artist featured. If you like what you hear, go give a few bucks to the artist and buy their music!  

Joshua Powell
Joshua Powell and the Great Train Robbery
And welcome to the first post in this thing to highlight a band that isn't from Cincinnati. This won't happen often, but when you see a band that is as good as and works as hard as and that plays in town as often as Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery, then sometimes you make an exception. 

I remember the first time I met Joshua, the first thing I noticed was that he's taller than me (That doesn't happen often) the second I noticed was his kind demeanor. This spills over into his live performance as well. He's an imposing, yet gentle presence that often explodes with a whirling dervish energy that isn't often seen. His charisma and demeanor on stage is both compelling and welcoming. However, it is the man's voice that really steals the show. It's amazingly smooth and inhumanly high at times, Powell contorting his face in ways completely alien in order to hit and hold notes not many human beings have ever dreamed to. Other times it is powerful and commanding.

Not that his band is anything to be scoffed at. I played a show with them in Columbus and I swear if they aren't humongous in a year or so, I'll be totally surprised. The band sounds phenomenal, and just sound better and better every time I see them. Adam Shuntich is a force on lead guitar, adding so much dynamic and interest in that way, but he's also a phenomenal back up signer and he navigates Powell's lead vocal routes so well, you are a bit surprised it's not a vocal effect or something. 

Ryan Corlew is a reserved presence behind the crew, and yet his time keeping and flourish on the kit are phenomenally sublime and a perfect glue that holds the group together. I am continuously impressed with how easy he makes it look, and he steers the ship impressively well.

The latest addition to the crew is bassist Sal Brian Suriano, and I don't how exactly to say this, but seeing him on stage with these fellas just seems like you're witnessing the birth of this amazing and final band line-up. The one that they talk about on MTV's behind the music in a few years. These folks are rock stars, but they are also humble and kind. hard working human beings who care tremendously for others. 

Having said all that, they are also on tour. All the time. Trust me folks, this is hard on the pocket book, and they could definitely use your support. I'll be helping them come back to Cincinnati as often as humanly possible and I beg that you come out for a show sometime. Until then, you can purchase their phenomenal third full length musical release Alyosha from their band camp page right now for $10. A small price to pay for world-class music.

Jody Stapleton
Jody Stapleton
I saw Jody Stapleton at the The Comet recently. If you've not listened to Jody Stapleton before (and previous incarnations, Jody Stapleton and the Generals, and prior, Cash Flagg and The Stapletons) then you are truly missing out on one of the finest singer-songwriters in town. His heartfelt lyrics about loss and redemption are beautiful and poignant and his golden husky pipes are just the right vessel to deliver them.  

Not to mention that his musical presentation has matured beautifully through various projects, aging into a more sophisticated and yet simpler delivery. It's folk music with rock and country undertones. It's got style and substance, and it's also just raw enough to add that touch of the gritty natural soul that flows freely from Stapleton. 

Here's what you do to rectify this disconnect. 

Head over to band camp and stream his previous album Wolf Angel.  It's a great LP, and “Paralyzed By The Sea” is my recommended track. The delivery on this song is so heart-breaking and smooth, and the lyrics are easy to relate to. We all feel fragile and paralyzed sometimes. Jody just paints it like the beautiful thing it is. 

Jess Lamb
Jess Lamb
I've had the privilege of going to see Jess perform at Japps Since 1879, on a few occasions, and even got to sing a few tunes one night to give her a break from belting out the soulful, hard hitting blues-vocal-line-infused, heartfelt covers and originals that have never ceased to blow me away. 

I mean the covers are great. Don't get me wrong. She does the justice and then some, but then get her singing one of her original tunes and fluctuating her voice from something pristine, clear and beautiful, then dragging it down through the gutter which Janis' pipes must still be haunting, where a quiet rattle builds into a growling explosion that moves you and sways you until you can't quite stand it. I'm telling you. It’s something you should get into. 

I've seen Jess perform with a small back-up band at Japp's, with a fuller band at larger venues and even as a two piece in a basement. Every. Single. Time. has left me impressed by the artistry and the way the songs are presented. 

Not to mention that Jess is a force for community and camaraderie amongst musicians here in town, which is a very noble cause that I wish more of us were disposed to. What a glorious scene we might have someday if we all acted like this. Who knows, we may have American Idol pounding down our doors instead of vice-versa, and Jess Lamb might decide who gets the boot. 

You can have a listen to her 'Free' EP HERE, and then sling her $4 bucks to own it.

Then, why not take Piano lessons from her (worldwide via Skype) and gear up for that new world order. Watch this video for more info and her performance with Harry Conick Jr.

Jetlab sure is an interesting project, rife with talented songwriters and performers who've been doing this here music thing in this city for the long haul, belting out numerous projects that have been under-rated and fallen by the wayside for far too long. 

It's built on the dual writing talents of Nick Barrows and Elle Crash (with additional work by Dave Welsh and Brian Smith to round out the sound) and the result is something truly nuanced and eclectic. You hear such a wide range of influences from Sonic Youth, to old school funk/soul music (especially in Elle's vocal delivery which is sublime), playful touches the likes of Tom Tom Club, and even a hint of the 90's acoustic skewed acts that are all of our guilty pleasure. 

I often listen to the song “What” off of their self-titled debut album and it's throwing me for all the loops, (with even an R.E.M.-ish rap-ish breakdown right in the middle) it's really quite delightful. It's also my recommended track. so go ahead and take a listen, and buy that thing. I don't mind if you stop reading this to do it... really, I don't.

I believe the band has just finished mixing up their new album (again recorded with the venerable Mike Montgomery of Candyland Recording Studio) at the end of '16, so you can bet there will be a shiny new release on its way to us in the not so distant future. You can be glad for this, 2017 isn’t going to suck as much as some of us have dreaded it might! 

The JetLab techs are hard at work, optimizing their musical outputs to maximize your aural enjoyment. Take a listen HERE to what they've compiled for you and stay tuned for further transmissions from their HQ.

Jeremy Pinnell
Jeremy Pinnell
I can't think of a better way to end it than by speaking to you a little bit about Jeremy Pinnell. 

I don't really know Jeremy, (I did get to know his father in law pretty well at the dog park, Miss hanging with you Tom!) but he's always been real pleasant to me when I've seen him around. He's on the phenomenal local label SofaBurn Records (who has a really stellar line up which you should check out on a regular basis) and is one of the hardest working musicians in the city. Not only does he get out on the road here at home and abroad on a consistent basis, but he's also a new dad and can be seen driving a tractor a lot on his instagram feed (He's got a real good one actually, and I don't usually link to them here, but I'm making an exception). 

But we're not here to talk about any of that really. 

What we're here to talk about is this dude's music. This music is country as country comes. There's a delicate balance that must be struck for this to be true. Pinnell does a wonderful balancing act in his delivery. His voice is both smooth and rough. You hear the weariness come through in the way it wavers and rasps at just the right times. The lyrics being delivered by this signature vocal instrument are heart breaking at best, decimating at worst, but, yet as with the best country songs, listening to them brings you some peace. I guess it's nice to know you're not the only one struggling, or that perhaps your lot isn't as bad as you had thought it was. 

I really love His OH/KY Album. It's a lovely country album, without a whole lot of surprises, but definitely, a very solid release. My recommended track is “Loose Women” a waltz about searching for love, but never quite finding it. However, do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing, then buy the damn thing for $10 bucks HERE. If you can't afford that, why not buy one of them for a buck? Trust me every little bit helps keep this guy on the road.

You can also now buy a double vinyl edition of the record from Sofaburn (or Shake It Records for those of you who want to pound some pavement) that includes a record of acoustic versions of the tunes HERE.