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The American Jobs

The American Jobs do not make party music, though one could imagine the band's work being the Muzak piped through the Klingon-HiFi at an off-season Siberian opium den. What they do is dense, but not pretentiously complex. It’s at times obtuse, but slowly beats itself back into shape. Challenging? Sure, but let it dig under [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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The American Jobs do not make party music, though one could imagine the band’s work being the Muzak piped through the Klingon-HiFi at an off-season Siberian opium den.

What they do is dense, but not pretentiously complex. It’s at times obtuse, but slowly beats itself back into shape. Challenging? Sure, but let it dig under the skin and it becomes a deeply feverish type of “soul” music. The quartet are nearly six months removed from releasing their debut album, Carne Lavare, but it’s taken that much time to finally “get it,” to uncoil its layered intrigue and allow for an ultimately transformative experience.

Pretty heady for High Street—but The American Jobs have zero contemporaries in this city. With wobbly grooves, skeletal post-punk physique, and the constant moan of Brad Hershfeldt’s saxophone hanging in the air like a vengeful ghost, the band creates a “dark lounge” or “sophisticated tribalism,” which triggers multiple senses and levels of emotion simultaneously. How the band arrived at such a sound could be linked to the path followed by the cadre of Youngstown ex-pats to Columbus, wherein they started confounding musical endeavors, including Cum Daemon, Sword Heaven, and bassist Aaron Klamut’s short-lived but conceptually satisfying Jam Division (which played reggae versions of Joy Division songs). According to singer and band magus Nathan Reynolds, one theory is that The American Jobs hailed from Northeastern Ohio, and many from there have Eastern European roots, and “a good deal of Eastern Europeans are weird. Maybe it’s a secret power?”

“It seems to me that the fetishization of music in the last 10 years has prevented a fair amount of bands from paying attention to the experience they are actually having,” Reynolds said of The American Jobs’ organic germination. “It seems that rather than consulting themselves or ‘the unknown’ in times of writing, the vast majority of acts take to the endless culture demiurge of the Internet for instructions to become whatever they think is the best part of the genre they align themselves with. We are what we vomit out.”

The “purging” on Carne Lavare was fed with a binge of The Cure and Roxy Music, chunks of Leonard Cohen and Throbbing Gristle stuffed in the creases, and the shadow of Jodorowsky and David Lynch looming overhead as artistic inspiration. Still, they resemble none of the above. The album plays instead like the afterbirth of the once nascent and thriving Columbus noise scene, except moodier, more structured, less cluttered and visceral. Taking themselves too seriously or not seriously at all—an ambiguity that permeates every bit of The American Jobs modus operandi. It’s even found in the album’s title.

Carne Lavare is loaded in translation, literally meaning “to lift, or take away, the flesh, or meat,” it’s both sinister and playful. According to Reynolds, many scholars believe it to be the base of the word “carnival,” another term that has many meanings, be it a week-long lawless bacchanal or the celebration of an expiatory figure.

“It’s a title that has a lot of room to work with,” Reynolds said. “ For me, there appears to exist an impulse release on a grand undefined level. I can already think of two more meanings. I like parties, mysticism, low-brow sexual references, and the reoccurrence and persistence of bizarre cultural dogmas. Plus, who hasn’t fantasized about their death being a gift for all?”

That last part makes perfect sense, as The American Jobs’ live shows are a site to behold. The “static” nature of their record can’t appropriately capture the burning smudge sticks of mugwort, the cheap beer out of a martini glass, the guttural gibberish and physical flailing. Be it performance art, tragic comedy, or near liturgy, each night is its own adventure. Again, I asked Reynolds about the balance in these ceremonies. How much is real and how much is faked?

“I’m not really sure that you can separate absurdity from ritual. Each of us commits to certain rituals daily. These rituals carry with them real outcomes for our lives; whether we do the 9 to 5 thing to summon a middle class existence, or drink our daily coffee to evoke extra vitality. When you see through [the] veil and realize it is all an illusion, you inherently need absurdity to keep you pushing. Just because you can peek through to the other side doesn’t mean you have lost any of your desires.”

And thus the enigma of The American Jobs is explained—esoteric, metaphysical, philosophical, primal, and sophisticated, or, just another day at the office.

For music and more information about The American Jobs visit theamericanjobs.bandcamp.com.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?

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A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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Arts & Culture

(614) Music Club: Sarob

Julian Foglietti

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Every week (614) Music Club teams up with your favorite local artists to build a playlist of what they’re listening to, and what’s inspiring them. This week’s playlist is brought to you by the R&B artist Sarob.


Photo by: Wyze

Tell me about some of the songs you’ve selected.

"The first one is Sobeautiful by Musiq Soulchild. So every week with my vocal coach, I have to learn a song. And I've been trying to figure out how to do vocal gliding. Which is not a strong point for me, and I remember hearing that song and being like, OK, this is it. The song is just beautifully written and composed, so when you add the technique to it, it’s just great. The other song was Workin On It by Dwele, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. Workin On It uses this J Dilla beat that just feels really timeless."

Have the past few months changed the direction or mood of the music you're creating. 

"So I have been making stuff here and there, and then I'll go into something creative for like two days. I'll just be making like a bunch of songs and then I'll stop for two weeks, not even want to look at a microphone or anything. I mean, it's a lot more inward, so I’m learning how to better communicate the things I'm experiencing, and set the scenes for people and talk about what is going on. Also not having my band has been a challenge. I’m more of a thinker, I play the keyboard, and I can build a song, but I’m not the most gifted musician so having to build a lot of it on my own is tricky."

Do you have any plans or releases coming up? 

"Yeah, so I had a song Pleasures U Like that was made for my last album, but it didn’t quite fit the story of the album. So I just forgot about it until recently and I finished the vocals just before the lockdown, and now I’m releasing it on Bandcamp as part of a fundraiser for The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. All of the proceeds from the song are going to go to support their Pandemic Emergency Fund, and it just felt like a good way to do something that would impact everything going on."

Sarob's Playlist

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