Ear to the tracks

Beat the heat with these cool new albums

By Justin Kreitzer
Photo: Max Sollich of Dolfish


After enduring a long stretch of rainy, spring-like weather, we have finally reached the dog days of summer here in Dayton. So grab an ice cold drink and put on these refreshing new albums and chill out with the back-porch bluegrass of The Tillers, the quirky folk-rock of Dolfish and the ‘90s nostalgia-inducing alternative rock of The Digital Noise Academy.

Album: Hand On The Plow

Artist:  The Tillers

Release Date: July 5, 2013

Label: Muddy Roots Music Recordings

Website: the-tillers.com/home/

Cincinnati traditional Americana trio The Tillers recently released their new album, Hand On The Plow, through Muddy Roots Music Recordings. They create a timeless blend of old time bluegrass, country, blues and folk with an underlying punk spirit, and are led by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Mike Oberst along with brothers, Sean and Aaron Geil. Their fifth studio album was produced by Brian Olive, who captured their close-knit live energy perfectly while allowing them the space to stretch and add additional instrumentation for a fuller sound.

The album opens with the jaunty banjo and insistent acoustic guitars of “Old Westside” and features their descriptive folksy narratives. The introspective “The Road Neverending” follows with Sean on lead vocals and recent live favorite and standout track, “Shanty Boat” is given a proper studio recording with its super-catchy bobbing rhythm and vocal cadence. The swampy blues of “I Gotta Move” is slightly darker with a Tom Waits vibe and a blistering harmonica solo by guest Col. J.D. Wilkes, adding a new dimension to their sound. “Willy Dear” is a dusty, Woody Guthrie-like tune with soaring harmonies and a bittersweet melody. Another standout track, “Tecumseh On The Battlefield” is highlighted by a locomotive-like rhythm and some lively fiddle playing. “Can’t Be True” drips with heart-aching emotion that shines through in both the music and the lyrics. Elsewhere, “500 Miles” sadly is not a cover of the ’90s song of the same name by The Proclaimers, but is equally as catchy with flickering banjo figures and a sing-along chorus. The eleven-track album closes out with the regret-soaked “Weary Soul” which is driven by shuffling wire-brush percussion.

Through non-stop touring, The Tillers have made quite a name for themselves throughout the region with their “must see” live show. Their new album, Hand On The Plow, however, rests the spotlight on their great songwriting and should give them the widespread recognition they deserve.

Album: Dolfish Live

Artist:  Dolfish

Release Date: July 2, 2013

Label: self-released

Website: dolfish.bandcamp.com/album/dolfish-live

Dolfish is the recording moniker for Cleveland indie folk singer-songwriter Max Sollisch who recently self-released his first live recording, Dolfish Live. The album comes hot on the heels of his debut album I’d Rather Disappear Than Stay The Same, released last fall via Afternoon Records and following a successful overseas tour with Bob Nastanovich of Pavement.

The expansive 72-minute recording features every Dolfish song ever written, including four new songs, as well as his unique reinterpretations of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made For Walking” and Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End.”  Dolfish and his unique voice and lyrical style have been compared to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and, fittingly, Daniel Johnston.

Standouts on the album include a new, electrified slide guitar-enhanced arrangement of “Perspective Is A Funny Thing” and new song “Wake Up Or Live Life Alone,” about an awkward office romance. It also includes introductions and explanations of the songs, showcasing his off-kilter sense of humor. The album was recorded in May at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza in Worthington, Ohio, except for the hidden track, which is a trippy, tremolo-heavy version of the emotionally churning “Grown Ups” that was recorded during a performance at Iowa State University and references ’90s sitcom “Boy Meets World.”

Dolfish Live is available digitally through the Dolfish Bandcamp page and also as a CD, limited to only 100 hand-signed and hand-screened copies.


Album: Synemy

Artist:  The Digital Noise Academy

Label:  self-released

Release Date: June 11, 2013

Website: digitalnoiseacademy.com

The Digital Noise Academy, also known as DNA, is a collaborative project between six musicians and producers including Ken Andrews and Jordon Zadorozny formerly of ’90s alternative bands Failure and Blinker The Star, along with Sharky Laguana of Creeper Lagoon, Charlotte Martin, Fernando Sanchez and former Beck bassist and M83 producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen. Together, they combine electronica and power-pop leaning alt-rock along with their collective experiences into a totally unique and modern sound that is experimental while also true to each musician’s distinct musical DNA.

“Stop Running” opens the album with churning early Smashing Pumpkins-like swirls of guitars and a propulsive rhythm. Charlotte Martin – who has lent her voice to electronica tracks by The Crystal Method and Tiesto – is put to great use on the synth-driven standout single, “Melting Inside,” with its danceable beat and bubbly vocal melodies. The title track opens with soft, cascading guitars before launching into a soaring chorus with cosmic synths and sci-fi imagery. Two other standout tracks on the 10-song album are “Thursday Night Party,” reminiscent of cult favorites Failure with its chugging guitar rhythm; and Zadorozy’s sparkling vocals and the squelching electronics of “Circulation,” that recalls Andrew’s solo project, ON.

Having found success throughout their careers, the six musicians of The Digital Noise Academy have hit the right notes once again on their new album, Synemy.


Reach DCP freelance writer By Justin Kreitzer at Justin Kreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.



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Justin Kreitzer
Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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