Matheson Kamin’s Complete List of 2017 Cleveland Reviews

Throughout the 2017 year, I was able to do reviews of many different bands and solo artists from the Cleveland area. And while many of the reviews of those artists made their way here onto the Rust Belt Chronicles website, a few of them did not. Whether the band or artist is based in the Cleveland area OR originally came from Cleveland only to relocate to another location, they deserve to have their music acknowledged one more time before the year comes to an end. And because of that, I present once again to the readers of the Rust Belt Chronicles the thirteen albums and three holiday releases from Cleveland artists that I reviewed in 2017:

1 CD Review: Group S/T Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Taylor Lamborn is a pop-rock performer who is making a name for herself in the Greater Cleveland area. As a solo performing and recording artist in the area, Lamborn has been getting plenty of attention as she performs regularly. But about one year ago, Lamborn took a different path in the career as she also joined forces with three other musicians to create a band that features original music with a solid Rock ‘n’ Roll sound. Along with Taylor Lamborn on vocals, the rest of the relatively new ensemble consists of Luke Pernici on keys, guitar and vocals; Joe Botta on bass and vocals; and Dom Williams on drums and vocals. Together, this musical ensemble came to be known simply as Group. While the band’s moniker may leave much to be desired, Group’s music stands out as the band is a solid ensemble that creates some of the strongest Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Greater Cleveland area. Throughout the five tracks that make up the new EP from Cleveland’s Group, the band shows its versatility from one track to the next. And because they change their style from track-to-track, they leave no time for the listener to get bored. The five-song release from Group is a strong debut and only hints at what the band is capable of. Read the entire review HERE.

2 CD Review: Kiss Me Deadly “What You Do in the Dark” Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jen Poland teamed up with two other musicians, bassist/guitarist Evan Lieberman and drummer Madelyn Hayes, to create a Rock and Roll outfit called Kiss Me Deadly. Taking their various influences, the band is currently creating a style that is rather timeless. It’s timeless because the ensemble’s sound makes use of straight-out Rock and Roll that existed that the very same time as Disco and New Wave music that was not played on Top 40 Radio but College Radio. The style that Kiss Me Deadly creates would be right at home on College radio formats during the late seventies/early eighties. The unique blend of music in Kiss Me Deadly’s style sounds as fresh today as it would have back in the late seventies/early eighties. Making use of their unique sound, Kiss Me Deadly created a full-length release that shows off the band’s sound. The band’s current release is called What You Do in the Dark. The trio of Jen Poland, Evan Lieberman and Madelyn Hayes makes the band of Kiss Me Deadly a strong musical outfit that stays close to the true feeling of Rock and Roll. Drawing from many different influences, the band’s music will satisfy both Modern Rock lovers and fans of older Rock and Roll, as well. Read the entire review HERE

3 CD Review: Howard Simon “Visitors” San Francisco Bay area singer-songwriter Howard Simon has a backstory that many musicians would find familiar. Having started out playing and writing music as a youngster while living in Cleveland, Howard Simon would find himself being influenced by the many locations that he would call home in only a very short amount of time. Soon, Simon’s life would get in the way and he would focus on many other more pressing things. It wasn’t until several decades later that Howard Simon was able to focus on his music once again. At that point, he started creating music that was influenced by the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Laura Nyro and others. And in 2014, Howard Simon released his first album entitled The View from this Horizon. Now, a few years later, Simon returns with his newest album entitled Visitors. Throughout the fourteen tracks that make up the Visitors release from Howard Simon, the listener experiences some Jazz, a little Rock and Roll, and a lot of Folk that blend together to create an interesting mix of sounds. The result is an album that is rather laidback in nature but still keep the listener’s interest throughout the entire length of the release. Read the entire review HERE

4 CD Review: Rachel Brown “Look Who’s Back” Rachel Brown is one of the hardest working musicians in the entire city of Cleveland, OH. When she isn’t teaching music as a musical instructor to young children, she continuously performs all over town performing her blend of music to an ever-increasing fanbase. The reason for that growing following is that Rachel adds a flavor to the Cleveland music scene that no one else can. Her blend of Country/Jazz/Blues styles is truly unique to the area. After releasing two previous albums, enough time has passed that Rachel Brown has just created yet another release. Brown’s 2017 album is entitled Look Who’s Back. As with her previous releases of Just Look My Way and Once Again, Rachel Brown’s 2017 album of Look Who’s Back never stays in one musical frame of mind for very long. And just like the previous albums, the ever-changing musical styles found in the songs on the album make for one enjoyable musical ride. Read the entire review HERE

5 CD Review: Swap Meet “Trailer Hitch” Cleveland’s Swap Meet is a very unique musical ensemble when comparing it to the rest of the music scene in the area. While much of the musical atmosphere within Cleveland is made up of Rock and Roll of many sorts or Heavy Metal, Swap Meet sets itself apart from the crowd by creating a rather different sound and style. Together, this ensemble is currently making the Greater Cleveland area a lot more musical with their style that takes Folk, Jazz, Swing, and Bluegrass music and blends the styles together to create a sound unlike anything else in the city. The band currently has one CD of all original material out. That CD is entitled Trailer Hitch. The Trailer Hitch EP from Swap Meet may only contain six songs, but those six songs come with a lot of variety. They give the listener a wide variety of sounds from the band in a short amount of time. The release indicates a good starting point for a band that’s only been together for a short amount of time. And with a city so full of Rock and Roll and other heavy sounds, it’s good to have something lighter to listen to once in a while. Trailer Hitch from Swap Meet is a great album for those times when you’re looking for a change of pace. Read the entire review HERE

6 CD Review: Mutts “Stick Together” Singer-songwriter and piano player Mike Maimone found his voice as a musician while living in his home state of Ohio. While he was in the Buckeye State, Maimone honed his craft as musician and writer releasing one album under his own name. In late 2008, Maimone put out his only solo album entitled Open Mic Nights, Empty Bottle Mornings. Within one year after the release of that album, however, Maimone found himself making a new home for himself in the city of Chicago. In that city, Maimone would befriend other Chicagoans and together, they would form the three-piece band called Mutts, a band that has been described as “if Tom Waits fronted a garage band”. Mutts, a band that consists of Mike Maimone on vocals, piano, organ; Bob Buckstaff on guitar and Chris Pagnani on drums is currently celebrating the release of their newest EP. That five-song release is entitled Stick Together. The newest release from Chicago-based band Mutts called Stick Together shows off the group’s ability to create fun songs that ultimately have a meaning to them. The result is a Rock and Roll release that starts strong, ends strong, and could be a lot longer. Read the entire review HERE

7 CD Review: Pere Ubu “20 Years In a Montana Missile Silo” In the more than forty years that the band Pere Ubu has been a musical project, the only real constant to the band’s musical direction is founding member David Thomas. And while Thomas has spent a lot of the four decades also focusing on other projects, Pere Ubu and its music has always been a large part of Thomas’ musical life. Long-time fans of the band have come to expect this from the group. And this is still the case for the band. In fact, the band has taken on a different feel to their sound once again as they changed the way they created their newest album from the way the last two albums were created. But no matter what way of creating their music the band uses, you can always be guaranteed of something fresh and different from the majority of the releases being created in the music industry today. Pere Ubu is currently celebrating their newest album of music. The new release from Pere Ubu is called 20 Years In a Montana Missile Silo. 20 Years In a Montana Missile Silo from Pere Ubu finds the band in fine form. The twelve tracks that make up the release are nicely varied and help to make an album that long-time fans of the band will be proud to own. Read the entire review HERE

8 CD Review: Stratospheerius “Guilty of Innocence” When looking for musicians that have the talent to put on a good show, you don’t have to look any further than seven-string violinist Joe Deninzon. Having graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Violin Performance and Jazz Violin from Indiana University and a Master’s in Jazz/Commercial violin from Manhattan School of Music, Deninzon splits his time between teaching violin and performing in his band called Stratospheerius. Just recently, Deninzon and the band created a new album of music. For this album, Stratospheerius consists of: Joe Deninzon – Electric Violin, Lead Vocals & Mandolin; Aurelien Budynek – Guitar & Backup Vocals; Jamie Bishop – Bass & Backup Vocals and Lucianna Padmore – Drums. Together, the band is currently celebrating the release of this album. The new release from Stratospheerius is entitled Guilty of Innocence. Guilty of Innocence from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius finds the band in fine form as they create a new album of music. While the album comes with plenty of Progressive Rock tracks, it’s the other songs containing other styles that help to make the release even more entertaining. If you happen to be a fan of Progressive Rock, the new album of Guilty of Innocence album from Joe Deninzon and the band Stratospheerius is one album you need to check out. Read the entire review HERE

9 CD Review: Thor Platter “Take This” Cleveland may not have been Thor Platter’s destination of choice, but it seems that he and the city have become rather good friends since Platter came to the area. After moving here from Buffalo, New York, Thor Platter has been a regular performer in the Cleveland music scene. This is good for Thor because it has given him someplace to stretch as a singer-songwriter and it has been good for Cleveland because the city gained another talented artist to bolster the creativity in the area. As a singer-songwriter, Thor Platter has created a total of four CDs of music. Having already released Long Road Ahead and Looking for Sunshine, Thor Platter has just added another release to his discography. The new album of music from Thor Platter is entitled Take Time. There are plenty of musical moments on the new Take Time album from Thor Platter that are worth mentioning. The album is solid from beginning to end and it shows off the talent of the singer-songwriter as well as the talents of Paul Kovac and Paul Lewis who back him up. With the help of producer David Mayfield, the trio has made an album in Take Time that starts out strong and never lets you down. Read the entire review HERE

10 CD Review: Granicus “Better Days” It was in the city of Cleveland that Granicus founder and drummer Joe Battaglia brought together a band of four other individual musicians in order to create a Hard Rock band to rival the likes of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer and other bands that were around at the same time. Today’s version of Granicus consists of drummer and band founder Joe Battaglia, vocalist Gerry Schultz, guitarists Artie Cashin & hPr, and bassist Bobby Stephens. It is this newest lineup of the band that has recorded the latest release under the Granicus moniker, the 2016 album entitled Better Days. Better Days from Granicus is a very solid release from a band that has had an extremely interesting history as a group. While it was not created by the same exact group that ended up getting signed to RCA back in the seventies, this version of the band has done a nice job creating a solid group of songs that create an album that live up to what had come before. Drummer and founder of the band Joe Battaglia should be proud of what has been accomplished on Better Days. Read the entire review HERE

11 CD Review: Alexis Antes “13” Going back to the early nineties, singer-songwriter Alexis Antes has always been (and continues to be) a staple of the Greater Cleveland Music Scene. Whether as part of the very popular folk-rock band Odd Girl Out that had amassed a very strong following in the area when they were together or by herself as a solo act, Alexis Antes is one musical act in the Cleveland area that has continued to entertain music fans all over the area. While in Odd Girl Out, Alexis Antes was mainly second guitar and background vocals as Anne E. DeChant and Victoria Fliegel were the main writers and singers of the band’s material at the time. After the band went their separate ways, Alexis Antes started developing her own style and began writing her own material. Over the years, Antes’ two releases, 1998’s Stronger and 2003’s All Come Down, have given Antes much of the material she has played in concert. Just recently, however, Antes has added to her musical library with a new CD of music. Alexis Antes’ new album is entitled 13. The thirteen tracks that make up the 13 release combine to create a release that will satisfy fans of pop music as well as Folk. 13 from Alexis Antes is yet another album from the Cleveland Music Scene veteran that is music to your ears. Read the entire review HERE

12 CD Review: Daniel Welsh “Extra Stout” Eastern Ohio-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Welsh began the musical portion of his life at the age of eleven when he began learning the drums. Only a few years later, Welsh would find himself performing onstage. By the time Welsh reached the age of 23, he had already showcased for Warner Brothers Records. Since then, he has performed as a signed/unsigned artist all over the Ohio area. That constant performing helped him with his writing as well as his musical technique which now includes the ability to play several different instruments. Today, Welsh has already started to compile a short list of musical releases. The latest release from Daniel Welsh is entitled Extra Stout. Extra Stout from Daniel Welsh is a solid release from beginning to end. Throughout the six tracks that make up the EP, not one song is a disappointment. In fact, each of the tracks on the release have a very commercial feel to them. While this is an independent release, the EP from Welsh feels as strong as anything a major label could put out. And with Welsh’s former affiliation with Warner Brothers Records, there may be a very good reason for that. If you are a fan of Rock and Roll music that has a timeless feel to it, Extra Stout from Daniel Welsh is a release you need to check out. Read the entire review HERE

13 CD Review: Voice of Addiction “The Lost Art of Empathy” Singer-songwriter and musician Ian Tomele grew up in the city of Cleveland, Ohio where many find living in the Rust Belt to be rather tough, although he now calls Chicago home. But living in the Blue Collar town of Cleveland helped to form Tomele’s view of the world and that view of the world would later help to influence the Punk Rock music of Voice of Addiction, a Chicago, Illinois-based band that released its debut self-titled release in 2004. Years have passed, but Tomele is still being influenced by the ways of the world. And his band of Voice of Addiction is still making a statement through their music; especially with their newest album entitled The Lost Art of Empathy. The Lost Art of Empathy from Voice of Addiction is a strong Punk Rock album. And while most of the release finds the band making use of their Punk Rock influences, the inclusion of Pop, Hardcore and other musical elements helps to give the album plenty of depth. As the band has been around for over a decade, the newest release from Voice of Addiction proves that the band still has plenty to say and the talent to continue making music that lets their voice be heard. Read the entire review HERE

14 CD Review: The Ohio City Singers “All Wrapped Up” Christmas #1 Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how fast time seems to pass. One minute, you’re having fun doing something you love. The next thing you know, an entire decade has come and gone. That is the situation that the Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Chris Allen finds himself in today as he and his Christmas-themed band The Ohio City Singers have just released a new digital release called All Wrapped Up. Like many compilation albums, the All Wrapped Up release from The Ohio City Singers contains only some of the best moments from the holiday music library from the band. The album does, however, work well to give the listener a good overview of the band’s sound and style. It also does a good job of showing off the writing talents and playing abilities of each of the members of the band. If you have yet to check out any of the releases from The Ohio City Singers, take this opportunity and begin your music collection from the band with their latest collection of All Wrapped Up. Read the entire review HERE

15 CD Review: Charity Lockhart “Under the Mistletoe” Christmas #2 Arizona-based Charity Lockhart may finally have found her place in the music industry out west, but it was in the small Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Garfield Heights where she first found her voice. While attending high school in that city and attending church in the community, Lockhart’s musical aspirations were being formed. Still being largely influenced by the Christian side of her life, Charity Lockhart has just released a new album that is perfect for the Christmas season. The new Christmas album from Charity Lockhart is entitled Under the Mistletoe. Under the Mistletoe from Charity Lockhart is a short but sweet six-song holiday EP. While the entire release fits easily inside of fifteen minutes, the six tracks are each strong enough to demand repeated listenings. The tracks included in the release are all worthy of becoming holiday classics as each track has a timeless quality to it. And while the tracks are very important to the release, it is Charity Lockhart that is the focus of the EP as it is her talents as a singer that bring the tracks to life. Read the entire review HERE 

16 Single Review: Maria Jacobs “Everyday is Christmas” Christmas #3 As a jazz singer, Maria Jacobs has created several albums of music that fall into that genre. However, she has also released an album of music that is perfect for this time of year under the title of Here Comes Winter. That album features tracks with themes that deal with the winter season. That 2014 release is the perfect soundtrack for a cold winter night. To add to the wintry feeling of that release, Maria Jacobs has returned this year with yet another track that is perfect for the winter season. This time, however, Jacobs ventures into the more festive/spiritual side of the season with her new single. The new song from Maria Jacobs is entitled “Everyday is Christmas”. The track of “Everyday is Christmas” from Maria Jacobs is the most current track to be released by the singer. However, Jacobs is staying busy as she is getting ready to release a new album of music to be released under the title of Lucky Girl. But until that new release is ready to be released, check out “Everyday is Christmas” from Maria Jacobs. Read the entire review HERE

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