6 PorchRokr Bands We Think You Should See
Words by Brittany Nader and photos by Shane Wynn
Gov Naim (Experimental)
Gov Naim is a multimedia brand and pseudonym for Akron-based performance artist Kay DePew. After finding a small VHS/camcorder mixer designed for dubbing wedding videos at a local thrift store, Gov began smashing together chunks of footage and sound to form a hellacious montage. Rapid shuffling and cycling through VHS becomes a visual collage and stimulating sonic film experience for onlookers. The audience is immersed in a total sensory experience created by the live mixing and manipulation of footage and sound. DePew is also a founding member of community art, music and DIY space, Hive Mind.
A staple at cafés, wine bars and other intimate spaces in the area, Pleuss’ understated sound evokes a certain mood, rich in warmth and inner reflection. But it’s her illustrative lyrics and chord progressions, which recall influences like Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Nick Drake, that differentiate the singer-songwriter from your standard background babel that gets lost in the whirring hustle of a public space. Pleuss has taken her original material and performance well beyond the Akron area, playing in Ireland, Peru, Canada, the U.K. and Ecuador, and has released two EPs and two full-length records. Pleuss is currently recording her next album and plans to tour upon its release.
White Buffalo Woman (Rock)
At the surface level, White Buffalo Woman may present itself as loud, howling blues-rock pasted together by rowdy boys in search of an outlet to let their guitars wail. Listen a little longer, and you’ll hear soulful melodies, smart composition and inspired psych intonations that have surely earned the band a seat at rock ‘n’ roll’s most respected table. Straight out of Minerva, Ohio, Evan Rutledge (vocals), Adam Murphy (guitar), Alex Leggett (bass), Devin Bezeredi (guitar) and Joe Wales (drums) create timeless tunes that have gotten a thumbs up from J. Geils Band vocalist Peter Wolf and airplay on SiriusXM’s “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” a collection of the coolest rock tunes, hosted by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt. Locally, White Buffalo Woman’s original track, “Find My Love,” has received heavy rotation on 91.3 The Summit.
Formerly called GoldenBear, Dillon Olmedo’s lo-fi, “basement pop” music project, Shuggie Shooter, draws inspiration from distant memories, school life, electronic soundscapes and the collaborators Olmedo credits with fleshing out the aural pieces he writes and records. The mildewy basement in which his candid, artful tunes were recorded add a bit of grit and grime to his tracks, yet as his craft as evolved, so has the polish and sophistication of the finished product. Shuggie Shooter recently released its newest nine-track album, “You Over Me,” rich in jangly guitars, honey-soaked bass lines and Pavement-esque vocal harmonies that marry the blithe with the melancholy. “Last Call For Boarding” is the clear standout on the release, with style and pop finesse meshing cleverly with a simplistic, almost childlike melody and sparse instrumentation.
It’s hard to believe hip-hop artist Floco Torres hasn’t been a lifelong Akron resident. His smooth flows and down-to-earth rhymes serve as the perfect soundtrack for the hardworking, resilient, midwestern spirit that coasts through the Rubber City. The music video that accompanies his song, “You!” is a visual love letter highlighting some of Akron’s most recognizable scenery, while Torres chimes contrasting lyrics reflecting upon a breakup, such as: “It’s a big world out there/I wanna see it all/and maybe I’ll come back to you.” Torres was a Jersey boy before living in Macon, Georgia and finally bringing his talents to this humble Ohio city last year. He released his “again” EP last month and has an upcoming tour in the works. Torres plays Live at Lock 4, along with Time Cat and G.S. Schray, September 21.
The Gage Brothers (Americana/Roots)
Three years ago, brothers Ben and Zach Gage spent a Sunday afternoon playing old folk tunes and developing sweet harmonies together. It was then that they decided to take their blend of bluegrass and roots music outside of the family home and perform original tunes throughout the country. In 2015, The Gage Brothers appointed Brendan O’Malley on mandolin and banjo player Chris Volpe to the group, creating a solid, four-piece Americana band rich in high-level instrumental musicianship. The band’s fusion of traditional and modern styles have broadened their appeal beyond Northeast Ohio venues, and they’ll bring the distinct sound to stages across Tennessee and North Carolina this month before heading back for some hometown gigs.