You can hate on Ohio all you want, but you absolutely can’t deny how great the music scene is here—it is the birthplace of rock and roll, after all. The Black Keys, Walk The Moon, Cloud Nothings, and The National are just a few of the many groups born in the heart of the midwest. Want to see what up-and-coming music Ohio has to offer? You’re in luck, because I dug through Bandcamp to find the best local bands that Ohio has to offer. Here they are, from Cleveland to Cincy to everywhere in between.
A four-piece out of Sylvania, near Toledo, Woodpecker’s Pass offers delightfully homemade indie rock whose happy acoustic instrumentation juxtaposes with the self-loathing qualities of their lyrics. The vocals are reminiscent of The Front Bottoms, unrefined but earnest in their delivery. According to their Facebook, Woodpecker’s Pass is “music that you show a family member but quickly regret it,” and that pretty much sums up their unique combination of indie rock and pop punk. Their second EP, Blue Ruin, is out in June and is available for pre-order.
Pills is a relatively new group out of Cincinnati that is very active in the local DIY scene. (Member Ezra Saulnier is also the frontman of Cross Country, another Cincy band that got its start in the nearby college town of Oxford.) Their noisy lo-fi guitar instrumentations gives off strong 90’s shoegaze vibes, mixed with a bit of romantic dream pop—think My Bloody Valentine meets Dum Dum Girls. Check out their demos album from December and keep an eye out for some new singles.
Based in Yellow Springs, Scary Balance creates lo-fi “diary music” that fits alongside other femme DIY darlings like Adult Mom, Girlpool, or i tried to run away when i was 6. The bedroom-style recording quality adds to the raw emotional honesty in their lyrics. Catch them at a house show if you can, since their music seems to fit right at home in a tiny living room packed with sad college kids. Scary Balance released a four-track EP in April, and I’m looking forward to hearing a full-length in the future (hopefully).
A homegrown Clevelander, Holden Laurence is a talented solo artist whose releases span from delicate Americana folk to energetic power pop. (Laurence is also a member of The Modern Electric, an incomparable staple of the Cleveland music scene.) His most recent release, a full-length called Wild Empty Promises, serves up classic Killers vibes with its powerful mix of synths, guitars, and vocal melodies. Laurence has proven himself to be a skilled songwriter no matter the genre, so be sure to give a listen to everything in his catalog.
Bliss Nova is the project of Daniel and Joel Trzcinski, two brothers out of Toledo. Their synth pop is so groovy and so catchy that you can’t help but fall in love immediately. Their latest EP, Light & Shadow, is only three tracks long but promises that this duo is full of talent and capable of a lot more. (You can also catch their 2015 EP Do You Feel on Spotify.) Their brightly layered electronic vibes are highly recommended for your summer 2017 playlists.
The Building is a two-piece out of Youngstown whose folk sound is imbued with a feeling of nostalgia and ambience, as if each track is scoring a moment deep within your childhood memories. Imagine if the The Antlers collab-ed with Iron & Wine to get a sense of how The Building’s delicate folk sensibilities pair with orchestral instrumentations to create walls of harmony and, at times, noise. Reconciliation, the group’s third album, is available now on Bandcamp, and stands strong alongside their previous two releases.