BAND OF THE WEEK: Sweepyheads

At Postman Press, I have begun featuring a band of the week every Tuesday. This week, it’s Sweepyheads.

Sweepyheads (Photo Credit: Ashley Todd)

Last December, on my year-end list of the best local songs, I picked their single “I Am Not Me,” which is like “The Sweater Song” played by ‘The Bends’ Radiohead.
https://sweepyheads.bandcamp.com/track/i-am-not-me

They have designed a series of broom-faced characters that appear throughout their album art, on stickers all over town, and on perhaps the best band tee in Cleveland. They are very memorable and instantly-recognizable icons, like Milo is for the Descendents.

Their live shows are wild displays of energy and disillusion.

Catch them this Saturday at Grog Shop:
Heavenly Creatures / Forager / Strobobean / Sweepyheads

Be sure to stare at the wicked poster for this show for at least 7 minutes. Big ups to Amy Shoff on this design.

Cellophane Jane: Too Good Not To Join

Cellophane Jane
Facebook: FB.com/CellophaneJane
Instagram:@Cellophane_Jane
Spotify:Cellophane Jane
Bandcamp: CellophaneJane.Bandcamp.com

Upcoming show: 5/18 at 5 O’Clock Lounge w/ RADATTACK

I’ve been watching local bands in Cleveland play and grow for several years now. Only a few times have I been so thrilled that I asked to join the band. Only once has my request been accepted, and so here I am as the bassist for Cellophane Jane.

But I’m going to talk about me as little as possible. In fact, I am confidently the weakest link in this band, and I want to talk about those other guys instead.

The mastermind behind Cellophane Jane is Alex Moda. At age 26, hailing from Parma and living in Lakewood, he is young, local, talented, hard-working, and intelligent. He started Cellophane Jane as a solo project when his previous group, The Pistolettes, split up. He wasted no time, dropping the first CJ ‘mini-album’ the day the old band announced their breakup. After that, he proceeded to produce and produce and produce and- lo and behold, he ended up releasing FIVE short records, each at least 5 songs, in the course of his first year. In the battle of quantity versus quality, I will take the latter every time, except in a case like this; Moda delivers both. Every single one of these records has something unique to offer.

When Cellophane Jane started, it was purely a studio project. Eventually, Moda decided he wanted to take the show on the road. Unable to do that alone, he built a band by picking guys from his favorite local bands, previous groups he played in, and interesting characters he met along the way.

The first member he recruited was drummer Nathan Taylor. Nate and Alex go way back, having played together before as The Marauders, when they were teenagers. Taylor is an interesting drummer, not quite like any I’ve worked with before. He has a vast array of influences, and between songs at practice, he is always practicing rudiments he has learned in his classical training. He is loose and follows the energy of a moment, while also being level-headed and focused on keeping the beat.

The next guy Moda tagged for Cellophane Jane was Randall Hoyle. Moda met Hoyle at a Pistolettes gig, then connected him with the folks he would come to play with in his other band, Samfox. At their shows, Randall switches between his guitar and trumpet. He’s even preparing to be the new keyboard player for another local act, furthering his multi-instrumentalist reputation. As Cellophane Jane’s guitarist, Hoyle adds his own flavor to Moda’s original songs. The things he’s capable of doing on the fly are very impressive, and then the harmonized solos the guitar duo prepares are an even greater treat.

Cellophane Jane

The 4-piece lineup of Cellophane Jane that played our first shows. From left: Nate Taylor, Brandon Postman, Alex Moda, Randall Hoyle

I joined this trio when I signed on to play the bass, and we played a handful of shows as a 4-piece, including our 5-CD release party last July.

Right around that time, something awesome happened. Nate, our drummer, told us about a show he was playing in. It was a production of Green Day’s American Idiot musical at the Brecksville Theatre. The show’s music was directed by Mike Abbadini, a guy I’ve known as a friend-of-a-friend since I was just a preschooler, and as a great keyboard player since he appeared onstage with Essential Groove a few years ago. After they broke up, Abbadini used the musical to keep busy. After the musical ended, Abbadini decided to join Cellophane Jane to keep him busy. Moda used layers of keyboards all over the five records, and finally, for the first time, he found a versatile and capable player in Abbadini to fill that gap in the live setting.

Abbadini

Our newest member, keyboard player Mike Abbadini.

Now playing as a 5-piece, Cellophane Jane is working on new material for a full-length, full-band debut. In the meantime, we are playing some local shows, and plotting to tour around the Great Lakes arena.

Catch our upcoming shows. Click for Facebook event pages.

5/18 at 5 O’Clock Lounge w/ RADATTACK
6/27 at WRUW 91.1 Live From Cleveland (tune in on the radio)
6/29 at Love Fest on Chardon Square(also featuring The Lab Techs, and Alex’s other group, The Tom Katlees, plus a score of others)

Cleveland’s Best Venues For Local Music

For both Cleveland natives and touring acts, I hope this list helps you find the locale for your next big gig. These are my favorite spots in town to watch a show.


Beachland Ballroom

Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Website
Facebook

The Beachland is tops on this list because it actually contains two of the best venues in town. The Ballroom is a large room that has hosted such bands as They Might Be Giants, The White Stripes, and The Black Keys. As a local music fan, I prefer the Tavern. It’s the perfect spot for an album release party, with an interesting stage setup that lets you walk around the back and right sides, so you can get unique orientations to watch shows.


Coda

CODA Live Music Venue
Website
Facebook

Located on Professor Avenue in Tremont, CODA is just a few minutes from downtown, in a dark basement with low ceilings. It has one of the most memorable personalities of any local venue, with a huge mural onstage paying tribute to tons of classic rock and metal bands. Gary the bartender is a riot. And you can order food from upstairs at Dante’s right from the bar.


Happy Dog

Happy Dog
Website
Facebook

A Cleveland classic. Order a weird hot dog with whatever toppings you want, while local bands play on the stage. Make sure you’re early, because you’re gonna want the booth with the Elvis Costello photo- it’s the best seat in the house. RIP Euclid Tavern, formerly a Happy Dog property, and worthy of this list before it closed last year.


Grog Shop

Grog Shop
Website
Facebook

One of the more prestigious venues on the East side. The list of bands that has graced this stage is ridiculous: Elliot Smith, Oasis, The Flaming Lips, Built To Spill, Dinosaur Jr., Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Animal Collective, Mastodon, Bright Eyes, Mike Watt, Cloud Nothings- and on it goes. Say hi to Jeff the bartender and John the doorman, who looks oddly like J Mascis.


Winchester

The Winchester Music Tavern
Website
Facebook

Recent reupholstering has made the Winchester’s stage one of the biggest and best in town. There’s a cozy cove in the back corner where you and your pals can lounge on couches without missing any of the music. There is also a front bar which hosts smaller shows and open mic nights.


Five Oclock Lounge

Five O’Clock Lounge
Facebook

An eclectic hole in the wall on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. If you have good friends in the area, its small size makes it easy to pack. There’s a nice patio in the back, but mostly I spend time feeling the mad reverberations off the tight walls during huge rock shows.


Mahall's

Mahall’s
Website
Facebook

What an enigma. How is it pronounced? Depends which side of town you’re from! Mahall’s is an old-school 20-lane bowling alley on Madison Avenue. One of Lakewood’s most fun venues, it has a big stage upstairs in an oddly-leveled room, plus another stage in the basement that often hosts local rock acts. The bar, situated separately from both, is crowded but great, and features a counter where you can order burgers and fried chicken and french fries. Mahall’s always has something going on, and has been hosting higher and higher profile bands lately; in the past year, they’ve had both Best Coast and Deerhunter.


 

Honorable Mentions, also worth playing at:
The Foundry
Wilbert’s
The Agora
The Cove
Now That’s Class
Brothers Lounge
Negative Space

Favorite Music Videos

I love YouTube. It’s a powerful and young medium, and people are still posting brand new ideas there every day. Today, we’re going to take a spin around the best music videos available, and many of my personal favorites. Where image and emotion meet, the best reside.


Los Campesinos! – “You! Me! Dancing!”

No piece of media is so consistently able to make me cry every time. It follows civilization from meager beginnings into a neon future where no one is satisfied, and everyone fights to stay alive. It’s all bright lights and explosions, and then the final 1/3 is a painful commentary on human nature. Probably my favorite music video, if I had to pick just one.


Bill Wurtz – “i’m crazy/it’s raining”

You know Bill Wurtz. He’s actually pretty freaking famous now, as he produced the two ultra-popular YouTube videos “history of japan” and “history of the entire world, i guess”. Before his long-form blockbuster success, Wurtz had been working on Vine, and later grew to producing short jingles and music videos. He is a humble genius, and I think this is among his most emotional work. Also catch “outside” and “you’re free to do whatever you want to” and “how to be cool” and the hilarious “barf on me” and “harmonizing the weather lady” and, believe it or not, “La de da de da de da de day oh”.


Niights – “So Into You”

Probably the best music video to come out of our local scene. Niights play shoegazey-dream-pop-whatever-ya-call-it. For the video, they threw a party in lead singer Jenna Lorine’s bedroom, where she wonderfully abandons her inhibitions. I love this video so freaking much.


The White Stripes – “The Hardest Button To Button”

Interesting use of pixilation animation, where short bits of film are spliced together to create the illusion of continuous motion. It’s hard to pick just one White Stripes video. Honorable mentions go to the weirdo “Seven Nation Army” and of course the classic Lego stop motion “Fell In Love With A Girl”. But this one takes the nod, partially because of the Beck cameo.


My Chemical Romance – “Helena”

Even if you don’t like emo, or think MCR is a bastardized emo in makeup, this video is still worth your time. I hope my funeral is half this entertaining. I want dancers and singers, and I want to twirl down the aisle, dazzling my guests with one last go.


Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps”
Sinead O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Both of these videos are here for the same reason: they feature beautifully honest depictions of heartbreak. These gorgeous girls got dumped, and their tears are real. Few times has music video captured such raw emotion.


Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer”

An MTV classic, and for so many good reasons. The weird stop motion bits were incredibly forward-thinking for the time, and still weird enough to intrigue 33 years later. My favorite part is the ending, where he walks out in the starlight suit, and becomes one with the background. What a freaking cool shot. A lot of songs purely about sex are wastes, but not this one.


Radiohead – “Just”

I hope I never find out why he was laying down. So many honorable mentions here: “Karma Police,” “No Surprises,” “Burn The Witch,” and “Paranoid Android”.


Bob Dylan – “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

An early foray into music video. Still hilarious. The nonchalant Dylan drops those cards like he didn’t spend as much time on them as he must have. I attended the march on Trump’s inauguration day in Cleveland, and held up a big ‘SUCKCESS’ sign.


OK Go – “This Too Shall Pass” Marching Band Version

Yes, it’s the treadmill guys. That video was iconic. And then, what a happy surprise: OK Go continued to drop video after video, all of them memorable, unique, and great. My favorite is this one-shot, live-audio marching band version of “This Too Shall Pass”. The other version (The Rube Goldberg) has over 10,000x more plays, and it’s very good, but I always come back to this one. So many discordant elements come together to create an emotional performance. I mean, guys in ghillie suits? Purple band uniforms? Whose idea was this? Either way, the bridge is one of my favorites ever, and right at the climax, the kids chorus comes in, which is a super rewarding turn. It’s adorable, too, that they left in the couple seconds at the end where all the kids run in and bang on the band’s percussion with their flags. A very powerful song, delivered live, becomes one of the best videos I know. Huge honorable mentions to “Here It Goes Again” (the treadmills), “Obsession” (a wall of printers!), “I Won’t Let You Down” (an early trendsetter in single-shot drone video), and “Needing/Getting” (where the song is played using a Chevy Sonic and a ton of props). Thank god somebody gave these guys a budget.


blink-182 – “Feeling This”

I just talked about this video on my 30 Day Song Challenge post, and I can’t resist mentioning it again. I think it’s one of the most fun videos I know. They tear apart this penitentiary, and love overcomes hate. Huge honorable mention to “I Miss You,” from the same album, which helped to set the aesthetic for the mid-noughts emo movement that was to come.


Van Halen – “Dreams”

I get pumped as hell when I watch these Blue Angels! What incredible teamwork! Makes you wish David Lee Roth could have worked with them like this. Oh well- our boy Sammy picks up arguably his best song. “Right Now” is a close second, and arguably the better video.


Weezer – “Buddy Holly”

Just a classic. Funny and fun, and totally timeless.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

Alice In Wonderland has been parodied way too many times. It would require a very unique take on it to make it feel fresh. Tom Petty accomplishes that here, where he appears as the Mad Hatter. The disjointed rush of many of the camera movements adds a stress to the video that matches the song. And the grand finale, where she’s the cake, is hilarious. Where the hell did they find this weird set? An enigma.


They Might Be Giants – “Ana Ng”

It’s really just John and John running around on a weird set, dancing badly, and chomping. They Might Be Giants are underrated masters of music video. See “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” “Dr. Worm,” “Experimental Film” (featuring Homestar Runner, on one of Ryan’s favorite songs), and “Older”.


Linkin Park – “Breaking The Habit”

Chester’s suicide ultimately puts a somber tone on the end of this one. He had been fighting it for so long, and this was an anthem of survival. Where does it stand now? It’s hard to tell. But I remember, when I heard he was gone, I walked out of band practice and watched this music video. Whatever its legacy turns out to be, it is one of the best.


‘Til Tuesday – “Voices Carry”

A call to be yourself and to take criticism sparingly. The outro scene in the theater is iconic.


The Presidents of the United States of America – “Bad Times”

He’s rushed to do so many things in so little time. The business meeting is the longest part of the whole video. He doesn’t even get to bite the burger before he’s handed the box. It’s a classic ‘day-in-the-life’ type video, but it resonates very well, and I don’t forget about it.


Usher – “Burn”

The burning palm trees are one of the most memorable images of my first year or two with pop music and television, during MTV’s last stand.


Hampton the Hamster – “The Hamsterdance Song”

Totally ending this list with my ultimate guilty pleasure.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Coparck – “A Good Year For The Robots”
Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”
Smashing Pumpkins – “Tonight, Tonight”
Foo Fighters – “Everlong”
Foo Fighters – “My Hero”
Alessia Cara – “Here”
Wheatus – “Teenage Dirtbag”
Beastie Boys – “Sabotage”
a-ha – “Take On Me”
Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain”
Nirvana – “In Bloom”
Weird Al Yankovic – “Everything You Know Is Wrong”
Daft Punk – “Around The World”
The Replacements – “Bastards of Young”
Gorillaz – “Dare”
The Format – “Dog Problems”
System of a Down – “Chop Suey!”
Hyuna – “Bubble Pop!”
Girls’ Generation – “GEE”
The Knife – “Heartbeats”
Vanessa Carlton – “A Thousand Miles”
Caravan Palace – “Lone Digger” (NSFW)
Aphex Twin – “Windowlicker” (Extremely NSFW)

 

Responding to Criticism

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I received this message from the contact form on the site yesterday. I want to respond to clear some things up.

In my monthly newsletter, I always include a list of upcoming shows that I’m excited about. I use this to plug friends and talents that I am happy for.

That said, there are HUNDREDS of local shows in Cleveland every month. To build a ‘complete’ list would be impossible, and to fit it into my newsletter’s 9-inch column  height is pure fantasy. So of course, the list will never be complete.

I wish you had left me a functioning email address to respond to. With no way to respond, now I’m left to wonder, what am I missing? What great shows am I not attending, apparently out of pure ignorance? If you had given me a hint, I would have an idea of how to change.

I don’t wonder about it too long, though, because I know how much work it takes to build the list as I do now. It requires hours of scrolling the Facebook Event pages of local venues and bands. Then, I need to keep a spreadsheet organized to get the information right. Then comes formatting it to fit the newsletter, and publishing it.

Certainly, there are shows I exclude from the list every month. There are bands I don’t know, people I don’t get along with, and groups that I judge not to be the right fit for my crowd. I don’t ‘hate’ a lot of bands, but absolutely there are some that I don’t care about, and so why would I try to get my fans interested in a show that I’m not interested in?

I will gladly react to constructive criticism. I describe my ‘religion’ as the search for Quality. It is exceedingly difficult to judge my own content for it. If you are able to describe what you want me to change, then I can begin to consider it, and pursue higher Quality more accurately.

And finally, if there is something you want to see in the newsletter that I haven’t written about, I always encourage reader submissions. I have other writers who are working on their own features, and soon I won’t be the only one adding content to the Postman Press. To get involved, email your idea to ProfPostman@Gmail.com with ‘SUBMISSION’ in the subject.

Either way, thank you for reading my newsletter, and I hope you’re enjoying the rest of my content. There is little I’m more proud of.