Bands to Watch

Sixteen Local Bands to Keep an Eye Out For

By Kyle Melton, Tim Anderl and W.C. Ruffnel

In any given year, the Dayton indie scene seems to be boiling over with young talent just waiting to be discovered by local audiences and those beyond the boundaries of the Gem City. As we move into another new year, our humble music staff has compiled a short list of bands from the area we consider essential listening in 2012. While there is no shortage of bands that could potentially break out to larger audiences in 2012, here is a selection of bands picked by the DCP staff that should warrant special attention in the coming year:

Astro Fang
Formed: 2008
Style: Indie/Thrash/Rock
Members: Brian Baker/ Chris Mengerink / Christian Roerig / Bryan Saunders
Since morphing from Grizzzzy Bear into Astro Fang back in 2008, this quartet quickly became a local favorite with an unrepentant live show. Fusing breakneck riffage, prog-like arrangements and an gift for infectious melodic treats wrapped in dense layers of noise-thrash, it’s likely only a matter of time before the Fang gets its due notice outside of Dayton. With several releases due to hit streets this year, the band will hopefully be able to translate their energetic live presence to disc and hit the road to show the rest of the country what kids in Dayton already know so well.

Vanity Theft
Formed: 2005
Style: Indie pop rock
Members: Alicia Grodecki / Brittany Hill / Elyse Driskill
Upon the release of their 2006 debut, Vanity Theft quickly proved to be a formidable indie rock outfit with aspirations well beyond the small clubs of Dayton. They relocated to LA for a time in 2008-2009, further refining their sound with additional dance elements coming to the fore. Over the past several years, the quartet toured relentlessly from coast to coast, earning a loyal following the old-fashioned way. With an appearance at South by Southwest in March and an extended tour planned for the spring, their upcoming album should further bolster these ladies as one of Dayton’s leading exports.

Formed: June 2011
Style: Instrumental Rock/Jazz Fusion
Members: Paul Larkowski / Brett Nagafuchi / Edward Ricart
Emerging out of the ashes of beloved local quartet Kuan, noted guitarist Ricart relocated to Dayton last year to join forces with Larkowski and Nagafuchi to form Hyrrokin. Drawing heavily from Chicago’s post-rock scene and the avant-jazz fringe, this trio possesses exceptional chops, yet remains highly musical. With a self-released cassette, Astrionics, out late last year, the band toured across the country in support of the record over the past few months. For those fearless of the more remote aspects of what modern music can provide, Hyrrokin should satisfy even the most obscure of tastes. The band will be recording a full length this spring at Seizures Palace in NYC and has tours with Many Arms (Tzadik Records, Philly) and Geoglyphs (Boston) planned.

Roley Yuma
Formed: 2009
Style: Indie/Alt/Rock
Members: Randy Cornett / Kevin Hamilton / Aaron Hardy / Tyler McKinley
As you skim through the band’s debut Sun Tea, you’ll quickly notice a plethora of influences coursing through its veins, revealing an impeccable gift of skimming through the realm of alt/indie to create a distinctive sound. With guitar work ranging from jangly to droney, they create near-perfect backdrops for the exceptionally literate lyricism of Cornett, who weaves intriguing tales of modern living, complete with effortless abuse of pop culture references. As this quartet continues to hone its live show and puts out two new releases in 2012, keep an eye and ear out as they may quickly gain notice in Dayton and beyond.

Feathered Serpent
Formed: Sometime around 2008 or 2009
Style: Heavy/melodic/fuzzy
Members:  Ryan France / Ian Kaplan / Jeremiah Stikeleather
With an exceptional pedigree amongst this trio, Feathered Serpent burst onto the scene in early 2010. Fusing a fuzz-heavy sound with a hint of melodic fortitude, FS walks a fine line between shoegaze, post-rock, and vintage metal. Over the course of the past year, the band earned a stellar reputation locally on the strength of their skull-rattling sound. With their self-titled EP currently available (which was recorded at Cyberteknics with noted engineer Phil Mehaffey), look for 2012 to be a big breakout season for these veterans of the Dayton scene.

The Devil Wears Prada
Formed: 2005
Style: Heavy metal / Hardcore
Members: Mike Hranica / Chris Rubey / Jeremy DePoyster / Andy Trick / Daniel Williams / James Baney
A fury of swinging guitar headstocks and microphones, these Christian soldiers walk on water within the Warped Tour set. MTV, Fuse, Christian and independent album charts, Alternative Press magazine, Ferret Records and headbangers worldwide have taken notice of the band’s no holds barred stage show, and ferocious output. Already scheduled for a 2012 run with Slayer and Anthrax, The Devil Wears Prada are destined for a ground-breaking year as one of Dayton’s most notable, and road ready-tested heavy music exports.

Formed: 2009
Style: Math rock / Noise / Hardcore
Members: Matt Mihalus / Matthew Reis / Paul Larkowski / Mike Salyer
Highly disciplined and masterful in DIY and experimental music, Footbinder has an obvious and unwavering fetish for destruction. Pulverizing expectations for math rock and noise with their acidic approach, in recent years the quartet laid the groundwork for their agonizing aural agenda with a couple of cassette releases. In 2012, the band will focus on writing and recording split-releases on their own Factotum Tapes imprint with like-minded basement-dwellers and cathartic subterraneans, a frenzied and barn- burning full-length, and taking their breakneck live show to the road for performances sure to delight deviants and deface outdated punk archetypes.

Neon Warship
Formed: July 2010
Style: Rock / Classic Rock / Heavy Metal
Members: Kevin Schindel / Matt Tackett / Jay Bird
Classic rock and metal inspired power trio Neon Warship made tsunami sized waves locally in 2011 with their bombastic EP debut (recorded with local power producer and knob turner Brian Whitten) and arena-ready stage show. Featuring members of Twelve Tribes, Waking Kills The Dream, Mouth of the Architect and Bringers of Disease, these Dayton dudes are no strangers to the stage or studio, and we’re anticipating national attention and a record deal aren’t far off the Warship’s bow in 2012.

Oh Condor
Formed: 2001 as 8-bit Revival; changed name to Oh Condor in 2011.
Style: Alternative / Indie / Rock
Members: Shane Weber / Tim Krug / Jayson Hartings / Alan Baker
With over a decade of consistent and ear-pleasing ‘90s nodding and alternative-rock inspired records under their belts, Oh Condor are already spreading wings and wrapping a cassette EP for Dayton’s Gas Daddy Go records with a February 25 street date. Mission minded, and possessing serious and studied chops, Oh Condor will soar in 2012 whether they’re widely celebrated or not. If this isn’t the year this band tickles ears and hearts with their high-energy, guitar-centric approach, perhaps a pulse check is in order…you might already be extinct.

Ruckus Roboticus
Formed: 1998
Style: Dance / Electronic / Hip-Hop / Funk
Members: Dan Haug
Kettering-based beatsmith Dan Haug, aka Ruckus Roboticus, concocts a fusion of hip-hop, electronic music and funk that has him in league with heavies like Kid Koala and Cut Chemist. When he’s not winning the award for “Best DJ Mix” from Rock Star Games, Scion and Solid Steel Radio, or gaining support from national and international radio (NPR, BBC Radio 1, WFMU, KCRW), the prolific crate digger is holed up in his studio planning his next fun and funky banger. The 2012 release of a handful of singles, and full-length Phantom of the Disco, are poised to capture the hearts and imaginations of even the most discerning booty shakers.

The Story Changes
Formed: 2004
Style: Pop/Rock
Members: Mark McMillon / Poppy
Two-piece, rock and roll tour de force, The Story Changes, relentless road warriors for the better part of a decade, spent 2011 producing the This Is Your Moment EP, performing a Woodward Skate Park and Punk Rock Hotel, and covering Alkaline Trio and Braid with their contributions for compilations celebrating the emo luminaries. Though guitarist/singer McMillon is pulling double-duty with Dayton emo heavies, Hawthorne Heights, he’s also keeping busy with a video blog for Guitar World magazine and he and TSC drummer Poppy are writing for a new EP or full-length with hopes of hitting the studio before year’s end.

Albertooth Lincoln
Formed: 2009
Style: Progressive-punk-rock-throat-punch
Members: James Lampe, Jacob Gandert, Mike “Mike” Werthmann, Josh Gandert, Matt Connor
One of the most jam-packed action-adventure groups currently going on at this particular moment of this particular cross-section in this particular area, Abertooth Lincoln has continued to engage and delight everyone from the incredulous to the devout with a hyper-energetic blend of metallic punk, fuzzed-up prog and pop-inflected grindcore. Not only do they give to their fans and show-attendees with copious amounts of riffage, Abertooth Lincoln also help out the community: James Lampe and the gang have started a charity group, Aberway, and are wont to give proceeds from shows to different causes or charities.

The Motel Beds
Formed: 2001
Style: Mid-Fi Rock ‘N’ Roll
Members: Ian Kaplan, Paul John “Peejay” Paslosky, D. Robbins, Tommy Cooper, Tod Weidner
Over the past two years, the Motel Beds have been known as the rock band from Dayton — releasing albums with a Guided By Voices-like fervor (which means they release them often). Their past two releases, Sunfriend Dreams and Tango Boys, have further cemented the group as one with real national rock and roll buzz band presence. Collaborations with the Breeders’ Kelley Deal and appearances at the illustrious CMJ Festival have set the stage for a much-coveted spot at South by Southwest coming up in March. Vocal hooks soar courtesy of Paslosky over indie-rock rock and surf guitar heroics, whilst the rhythm section accurately punches you in the neck quicker than Newt Gingrich’s political career flies off the radar.

Formed: 2011
Style: Danceable Indie Rock
Members: Daniel Madero, Mike Patak, Brian Stone, Andrew Chenault
Grenades!? made quite the name for themselves in 2011 with their excitement-filled performances and a string of demos that caught the attention of most in the “local scene.” When I told them of their inclusion in this article, Madero was nice enough to send me an email: “We think we are a band to watch because we bring a level of excitement to our live shows and an anthemic quality to our songwriting. We’re accessible without being acquiescent. We’re fun without being phony. We’re genuine without being generic. Thanks again for thinking so highly of us.” How charming!

Sleep Fleet
Formed:  2009
Style: Indie Punk Rock
Members: Corey Montgomery, Nicholas Walter Shope, Andre’ Vanderpool, Shane Natalie
At risk of sounding pretentious, Sleep Fleet are a punk rock band for people who don’t like punk rock: Loud, feedback-driven guitars, catchy choruses, gigantic amplification and dreamy hair for days are all part of the allure and appeal of one of Dayton’s rising cultural forces. Samples of their upcoming album, Morris Drive (apparently named after an adorable feline, Morris) have left their fans chomping at the bit. So much so that I recently caught the group and people were singing along to songs that were released that fucking day. How’s that for devotion? Criteria for band to watch 2012: Met and exceeded.

Rad Company
Formed: 2007
Style: Punk Fucking Rock
Members: Josh Goldman, Randall Buhr, Josher Lumpkin, Dereck Brown
Considering the amount of records, tapes and discs these guys have put out, it would seem they spent most of their time recording – which is probably true, but the band has embarked on no less than 5 tours in the past 3 years, and lead singer Josh Goldman has recently begun pressing recordings under his and girlfriend Brandi Smith’s Rad Girlfriend records. Rad Company creates frenetic pop-punk that recalls listening to Screeching Weasel on a skateboard through a boombox. Two part vocal harmonies, guitar leads and fast-as-shark drumming all equate to one hell of a booze-soaked party.

Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at and read his blog at thebuddhaden/net.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at

Reach DCP freelance writer W.C. Ruffnel at

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