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Single Reviews

Seven Sizzlin’ Singles To Help You Shovel Snow

Okay, but seriously. I had a different title in mind before several inches of ice and snow fell on my driveway yesterday. Just the same, we’re back with a handful of newer singles from Ohio artists. Please drive safely out on the roads, and let this playlist of upbeat, rocking tunes carry you through your day!

We kick things off with a brand new track released this morning from Rooftops, the project of former Threat Level Midnight and current Frankie Soleil guitarist Bryan Ream. Ream has been tinkering with his solo sound for the last two years and has finally put together enough material to record his debut EP, Happy On The Outside, due February 18th. “Now I Know” is the lead single and features slamming drums and an edgier sound than Ream usually presents. The song is a sure-fire Hot Topic throwback, with definite influences from Hawthorne Heights, Yellowcard and Taking Back Sunday, which pairs perfectly with Ream’s signature locks.

Cleveland’s Grumpy Plum has built a new lineup around singer/guitarist Tallulah Swasey, and they’re kicking off the new chapter of the band with a dagger of a new single titled “I Don’t Care”. The song dials in at a brief 1:23 but is filled with enough bitter and acerbic wit from Swasey that you’d swear it was longer. The song is quite obviously about a failed relationship, with a brilliantly brutal line “I don’t think you ever loved me like you love your Gameboy; if you want the honest truth, I think you’re pretty lame boy” and ending with the chorus line “See if I care – fuck, maybe I care?”. Swasey never holds back with her lyrics and “I Don’t Care” is another shining example of her ability to stay tongue-in-cheek while driving a stake into the heart of those who have wronged her.

The last time we heard from The Manatee Room, the trio had just dropped their first single “Pastel” in July of 2020.  The band quickly racked up over 1k streams on Spotify and then promptly disappeared from all of their socials for a year and a half, only to suddenly reappear just short of Christmas with a new song titled “Expensive Taste”. With not having played live in well over a year, and only having one song online, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new song. I was met with a slow building catchy guitar riff that was legitimately stuck in my head for several days. “Expensive Taste” is just as unsuspecting as “Pastel”, and both tell a tale of lost and/or unrequited love. Singer Kallan Imhoff has definitely cornered the market on tugging heart-strings. Seriously, it’s such a catchy song, just hit play.

With all that’s going on in the world, it’s hard for me to believe that Columbus funk-rock sextet Thomas and the Work-Men (aka TWM) has had the time to continually get together and release this much music. Perhaps it’s because they have six moving parts that work in perfect harmony, but the band just keeps playing great live shows and churning out new upbeat ditties. It seems like every single one of their songs has a different instrument taking center stage, which I believe to be a testament to their cohesion as unit. Their newest single “Guilt Trip” starts with such a simple acoustic guitar and whispered vocals, that it’s almost a shock when Luke Mullins’ saxophone comes in right before the chorus. It’s a song that would do early Chicago proud, and a worthy addition to both their live and studio catalogue. It kind of makes you feel like you’re sitting poolside rather than watching flakes fall from the sky.

From a personal standpoint, it’s been exciting watching Columbus rockers Forever Unknown grow from a group of shy high-schoolers to high energy college age ass-kickers. “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is the culmination of honing their craft over the last three years and finding a recording engineer (Jakob Mooney) who can pull the best sound possible out of them. The song has a full-on pop-punk feel right from the first click of the sticks from new drummer Gavin Hanners, while singer Micah Stromsoe-DeLorenzo brings a mature attitude that reminded my colleague Jay Green from Bravado Press of Joan Jett. I’ve heard a handful of the newer songs live, and I have to tell you that their current lineup is going to rock your face off very, very soon. As for “Manic Pixie”, the energy doesn’t cease from top to bottom, and Micah takes a machete to every man who might think to put her on a pedestal only to better themselves. I included a live video of the song because there really is no better way to absorb their energy.

When Zonezero dropped their first EP back in 2020, they promised a throttling return to nu-metal for the world, and they have not disappointed for a single minute. It’s a shame COVID has robbed them from playing more shows, because they have a stage energy that is second to none and a sound that rivals more seasoned acts like Sevendust and Spineshank. All they do is release rippers, and “Halo” is another one where the lyrics are just as in your face as the music. Singer Jordan Sloan leaves it all on the table at the chorus- “Show me you can believe in angels with broken wings – I see you in the mirror, you suffocate me with your halo”, and if you’re not slamming the repeat button after hearing this one, you must not have a pulse. I feel like putting their entire catalogue would make shoveling snow a lot easier.

Lastly, born from the ashes of Spyglass Empire and Columbus legends 30ot6, Ekkohawk has been releasing music and playing shows for the last four years, building up a steady fanbase and released seven singles to date. The most recent, “Neon Skies” has a groovier feel to it than the previous numbers, and Brent Billet’s unmistakable wail carries the song higher with each verse. You can tell the quartet has been rocking together for a while when they craft hooks and riffs like this. The chanting at the end of the song ensures that you’ll have the phrase “neon skies” etched in your mind.

I don’t usually try to build these single reviews around a singular theme, but when you spend `12 hours watching sleet fall before driving in it, it’s hard to put your mind in another location. Hopefully this septenary of slappers brought a little sunshine into your day. As always, #SupportLocalMusic!

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