Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Half Cleveland's "Live @ the Wi-Fi Cafe"

A rock obscurantist's delight and proof positive (as if any more were needed) of my contention that Ohio is, indeed, the secret music capital of America, Half Cleveland is the current vehicle for ex-Tin Huey bandmates/writing partners Chris Butler (the former Waitresses mastermind whose Easy Life was your humble chronicler o' events' Record of Last Year) and Harvey Gold. Recorded in the actual internet café at a local college, Live @ the Wi-Fi Cafe finds our heroes "semi-plugged," playing acoustic guitars through pedals and amps in the company of Deborah Smith-Cahan (a veteran of Chi-Pig and Peter Laughner's Friction) on bass and Bob Ethington on stripped-down percussion rig, captured for posterity on Pro-Tools by Recording Arts & Sciences students.

Back in prehistory, Tin Huey were the proggiest of Ohio underground acts, whose contemporaries/familiars included Devo and Pere Ubu. Maturity has revealed these guys as masters of songcraft and consummate wiseasses, both qualities which come across well in the intimate, informal setting in which they're heard here. Half Cleveland prove that you don't need high volume to put across Big Rock dynamics; just canny and crafty musicianship. (Gold's keyboards are particularly meritorious in that regard.)

For evidence, check out "Cheap Mechanics," which previously served as the curtain-raiser for Huey's disinformation disc (released in '99 on Butler's Future Fossil label), or Gold's lament for an aging muso "Larry's In the Cutout Bin." Butler casts his jaded idealist's eye on the modern world in songs like "Workingman's Beer," "Physics," "New Enemy," and "Idiot Trail" (nice Who allusion at the end of that one), and it's a special treat to hear a couple of the Easy Life songs essayed live.

Use the link below to stream or download. Physical CDs are coming, Harvey sez. Watch this space.


Half Cleveland recently played a sold-out, cover-rich show (with the Bizarros) at The Club at Akron's Civic Theater that's well documented on Youtube. Here's my favorite from that performance:


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