The Cincinnati music scene is a vibrant one. Diverse, entertaining, a bit difficult to understand at times, but bustling nonetheless. It really does take all kinds, and it’s all the better for it. You can be a fan on the periphery, or you can jump in face first and, well, find something to love no matter what.
Recently, I checked out Small Time Crimes, the new album from Cincinnati’s Working Class Villain. Available on Spotify, it’s… not what I expected after reading a description of their sound: “an americana, country, and folk band.” Not having had any experience with them prior to listening to this one, I didn’t necessarily know what to expect.
So imagine my surprise when a soul and funk laced album plays in place of Americana, Country, and/or Folk. Heavy on jam band shout outs - though admittedly both tighter and looser than that sort of description might indicate - it has the feel of a band that knows how to entertain a packed Saturday night bar. Contemporary folk music genre has to be known more for its storytelling, and this album is telling of that. The album itself features the juxtaposition of earnest and sincere lyricism that sometimes plays at odds with the more upbeat and noodly guitar rock, with vibrant percussion and keys rounding everything out.
That there are some demos included in the release is an interesting choice, as demos, by their very nature, indicate a kind of incomplete idea that’s been filled in just enough to provide some details. Granted, one band’s demos are another band’s commercial release, so again, it really does take all kinds. As it stands, Small Time Crimes is a fun listen, and their passion for what they’ve created is evident, which goes a long way. The first 3 tracks, “Ordinary World,” “Signal,” and “Wasted Memories” are easily the best tracks. There’s a confidence in the work done through the first 3 songs that shows up regularly that as the album progresses, but the rest of the 11 tracks included are strong enough to illustrate how much fun I can imagine they are in a live setting.
Cincinnati loves feel good music and while we are over 11 months into a still raging pandemic, Working Class Villain's Small Times Crimes is a welcome folk, jam band feel that we all need.