Emo to dance pop: Kent’s music rocks

Ben Breier

Kent State has always had a fairly diverse local music scene, from which bigger bands such as ‘80s rockers Devo and indie rock group The Party of Helicopters have emerged. There are several bands in the Kent area who are looking to be the next big thing to burst out of the Northeast Ohio music scene.

Left Stranded is a punk-rock outfit which is currently composed of junior marketing major Bob Reed (guitar and vocals), junior audio/visual major Eric Burt (vocals) and bassist Nate Rodden. Picture a successful melding of bands such as Matchbook Romance and Fall Out Boy, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Left Stranded is attempting to accomplish with their sound.

“Currently, we are looking to reform the band and become more musically oriented,” said Reed, who also spoke of Left Stranded’s efforts to avoid being straight forward with their music and focus more on the melodies and lyrics at hand. Reed also draws upon other non-traditional punk-rock bands for inspiration, such as Incubus and Tool. Yet, Left Stranded does this without directly implementing their sound.

“You can draw a lot of inspiration from bands without sounding like them,” said Reed.

Although no shows are set in stone for the band at the moment, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see something from these guys in the future. Left Stranded has played at Kent State’s own Rathskeller during the Battle of the Bands, in addition to playing at the Odeon (opening for All that Remains), Orange Street in Akron, and at Rollershot in Garretsville.

While Left Stranded provided a good showing at the Battle of the Bands, the group felt unprepared due to the fact that the band’s original bassist left the band two months prior to the performance. With the group currently putting together some acoustic material, things are looking up for Left Stranded. Songs by the band can be downloaded at purevolume.com/leftstranded.

For those looking for music to thrash to, look no further than When Words Fail You, a hardcore quintet consisting of junior electronic media production major Pat Wentz (drums), Troy Jacobs (vocals), Bob Achov (guitar), Jack Nofel (bass), and junior organic chemistry major Tim DeWitt (guitar). Wentz describes the band as being “post-hardcore and heavy punk like Underoath or Hawthorne Heights.”

The band has been together for seven months and is already working on a self-produced demo with a release date to be announced. According to Wentz, one of the things that When Words Fail You prides themselves on is being different than your typical rock band.

“Each song has a different style and meaning, none of our songs sound exactly the same,” said Wentz. The group takes a different perspective on the hardcore genre with every song that they do.

One of the things that the band has a distaste for is the current state of mainstream music, especially when pertaining to MTV.

“If you turn on MTV at any time, you’ll almost always see some rap video,” Wentz said. “Mainstream music is biased in terms of publicity. You just hear the same old shit, and you don’t get a taste of anything else out there.”

While the band wasn’t at last year’s Battle of the Bands, Wentz promised they’d be ready for this year’s competition with “an intense show with high activity.” When Words Fail You has an upcoming show at Peabody’s Battle of the Band finals (3 p.m. Sept. 4) and a tentative date set with a Rockstar Energy Drink’s Hi-Fi Festival, which sports eight bands.

Those searching for a throwback to great rock ‘n’ roll of the past would do well to keep their ears open for The Project, a rock ‘n’ roll jamband consisting of junior music education major Taylor Belling (guitar and vocals), sophomore exploratory major Jeff Gill (lead guitar), Ryan Furst (bassist) and Scott Gill (drummer). Like Wentz, Belling dislikes the majority of music floating around in the pop music scene.

“We went away from today’s shitty music scene and came up with something totally new,” Belling said. Not quite a jamband like Phish, but not retro rock ‘n’ roll either — what The Project manages to accomplish falls right in the middle of these two genres.

Belling, who said that the band sounds like “Primus meets the Allman Brothers,” also said that the project is essentially “a garage band that plays with very intense energy.”

The Project often covers songs written by older artists, such as Cream and the aforementioned Allman Brothers. Belling does this in order to draw modern-day awareness about the artists of the past.

“This is the music that changed the world,” said Belling.

Those interested in seeing The Project live can check them out at the ECC at 9:30 p.m. on Sept.1.

Contact general assignment reporter Ben Breier at [email protected].