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Album Reviews

SoHi Set the Tone on Debut EP

Artist – SoHi
Album / Label – SoHi / Unsigned
Rating – 6.5 / 10

Generally speaking, when I hear a band is from Southern Ohio, I immediately assume they’re going to be a groove-forward rock and roll act. It seems to be the general aesthetic from the region; hard working, blue collar citizens who know how to rock heavy. SoHi are a band looking to embody that spirit and then some.

Born from the ashes of Dorothy (no, not the nationally signed act named after their lead singer), SoHi came together from a desire to continue the mission that the previous band had started. Singer/guitarist Steve Abele has been in countless ass-kicking groups in his tenure on this planet, and he brought guitarist Dennis Osborne and drummer Jeromy Rupert with him for his new endeavor. Bassist Kent Jolley fills out the fearsome foursome.

The band went to wunder-producer Joe Viers at Sonic Lounge studios to properly capture their vision, and spat out a six song EP clocking in at just 18 minutes. I knew Abele from his time in Pets or Meat, but had no idea what to really expect from his latest venture, outside of a lot of attitude and heavy tones. Despite only being active for a handful of months, the band has almost 2000 followers on Facebook, meaning they must be doing something right.

SoHi (Image courtesy of band)

The album opens with the first single, Sock Monkey, featuring heavy layered guitars with a slappy drum and bass building around it. Lyrically, the song seems to be talking about, well, masturbation… but one thing Abele has always been known for is his ability to play with words and and meanings. It would even seem that the band’s name is a double entendre in itself.

“It’s up to the individual for interpretation,” he says. “Most people would think it goes one direction, but there’s always another possible angle.”

Another thing SoHi seem to be going for is having catchy lyrics to stick inside your brain. On this one, it’s “I’m in love with my sock monkey, la la la la la…” It may seem silly, but after hearing the song, you’ll find yourself humming along with it, as well.

On Bring The Cool, you really get a taste of Rupert’s drums, as the guitarists slow the tempo down a little. You may have noticed by now that Abele doesn’t have a typical rocker voice, residing somewhere between a nasally wail and a gruff growl.  It definitely separates the band from anyone else making similar sounding rock music.

They ramp things back up with the comically titled Makey Wit the Bang Bang, but again you’re met with the thunderous dual riff coming from Abele and Osborne. The song is sexually charged, sans apology, as Abele belts out “I am not Mr. Right, I’m Mr. Right Now…” The guitar and bass combination on this one is about as heavy as anything else you’ll hear on the record.

The Equestrians opens up with horses neighing, because why not? The lyrics again seem dictated towards sexual conquest, with a chorus lyric like “tonight we ride, arching backs and hips collide, the turns are tight…” You’ve also got another heavy dose of crunching guitars, which seems to be the theme of the band throughout the EP, with riffs that continue to creep into the back of your head.

Latte is one of the shorter songs on the record, at just under two and a half minutes. It feels like something of a filler song at the end of the day, but it is one song that really allows Jolley’s bass to shine. The final track on the record will be familiar to many, it being a cover of Little River Band’s hit single “Cool Change.” Abele says that he and his bandmates listen to a lot of music from the 1970s and thought it would be a great song to cover.

“Dennis and I have always loved them and thought it would be great to rock it up a bit,” he explained.

The band actually does a great job in achieving that mission. If you’re not expecting it, it’s quite the treat to listen all the way through, and a huge departure from the soft, easy yacht sailing sound of the Little River Band. I can imagine that it gets a pretty big reception from the crowd any time they play it.

The most interesting thing about listening to the EP top to bottom is that there really isn’t a ton that jumps off the page at you. It’s just a solid, straight-forward rock record that isn’t pulling any punches or taking any breaks. The band says that they strive to only play the notes or beats that are needed, which is about all that you’re going to get on the album. Their modus operandi is definitely their energetic live set, and I think at this point in their careers, the group is happy to be known for that.

If you’re interested in that live set, they’ll be performing next at Craft & Vinyl with Letters of Transit and Red Planet.

Track Listing
1. Sock Monkey
2. Bring The Cool
3. Makey Wit the Bang Bang
4. The Equestrians
5. Latte
6. Cool Change (Little River Band cover)

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