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Columbus band snarls is bursting with promise on debut LP

Mike Thomas

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As the decade that birthed the fidget spinner and basically nothing else of note drew to a close, music blogs large and small dedicated astonishing amounts of digital ink to their inevitable “album/song/artist of the decade” rankings.

Usually restrained to a totally undaunting 100 items, these lists surveyed the topography of a ten year span that saw the legacy of rock music as we know it (straight, male, and horny) continue its gradual and unceremonious slide into irrelevance.

From relative newcomers like Courtney Barnett, Snail Mail, and Julien Baker, to established voices such as the Breeders, St. Vincent, and Sleater-Kinney, rock music in the 2010s was revitalized by female artists who enjoyed a larger portion of the spotlight in this decade than ever before.

Columbus-based alt-rockers snarls are firmly situated on this new wave, but the rapid success the group has enjoyed since forming in 2017 is entirely due to their own hard work and astonishing creative powers. Consisting of Chlo White on guitar and lead vocals, Riley Dean on bass and vocals, and sibling duo Mick and Max Martinez on guitar and drums respectively, snarls is the capital city’s contribution to the future of rock—and they won’t be contained to the 614 for long.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Originating in the local DIY scene, snarls got their start playing house shows, eventually moving on to established venues throughout the city. The group’s sound incorporates influences from ‘90s grunge, to the emo stylings of bands like American Football, to the pop sensibilities of Halsey and Kesha. The result, as White puts it, is music that coalesces into a “melting pot of teenage angst.”

In the summer of 2019, snarls was propelled to a new level of notoriety when the video for the group’s single, “Walk in the Woods”—a glittering anthem of unrequited love sung over chorused-out guitars and with a hook more infectious than meningitis—premiered on the music blog Stereogum. The track also made the cut for the site’s “100 Favorite Songs of 2019” roundup.

“We didn’t even have a tripod, the camera was set on like four books and the backdrops kept fucking falling,” White recalls of filming the video, which the group self-produced.

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“That song not only has given us more streaming, but has brought us so much press and cool shows,” Mick says of the track, which has accrued almost 40,000 streams on Spotify at the time of this writing. “I don’t think the Sleater-Kinney thing would ever have happened if that song wasn’t out. It’s crazy that just that one song alone has brought us so much opportunity.”

The Sleater-Kinney thing? That would be snarls opening for the legendary Pacific Northwest rockers at the Newport Music Hall on their recent tour stop in Columbus. While it was easily the biggest show in the young group’s career thus far in terms of profile and audience size, the members of snarls were up to the challenge.

“For me, it’s easy to switch between playing a house venue and playing the Newport,” Dean says confidently of the band’s milestone moment. “It’s still just a stage. It’s still just people watching me play my music. One’s just bigger.”

If the release of the group’s breakthrough single is any indication of snarls’ trajectory, it’s safe to assume big things are on the horizon. “Walk in the Woods” is just a taste of the group’s first full-length LP, titled Burst, which is planned for a Spring 2020 release. To help achieve their artistic vision for the album, snarls tapped Jon Fintel of Relay Recording to handle production duties.

“Jon has played a really important role,” Mick says of Fintel’s contributions to the recording process. “Not only does everything sound high-quality because of him, but even when we brought demos to him, it was like ‘let’s scrap this song because it doesn’t quite fit in, and I know that you guys can do something better.’ And then we wrote one of our favorite songs.”

For established fans, the description that snarls teases for their new release should come as no surprise: expect a long emotional arc cast across tracks that alternate between “perfect for dancing,” and others better suited to crying. For snarls, the completion of the recording provides a profound sense of accomplishment.

“I make a lot of art. I’m always making a photo, or doodling, or writing. But this is one of my—our—finer- crafted pieces of art that I am just really proud of, regardless of what happens with it, or if it goes anywhere,” says White. “If it just sits in a dark corner for the rest of my life, I’m still content. I’m just really proud of all the work that we collected in this little ten song record.”

Find snarls on all major streaming platforms. For tour dates, merch, and more, visit snarlsmusic.com

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Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox

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At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7PRvBxpBkI/

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit shortnorth.org.

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Undercover: Unique music festival showcases Columbus music talent this weekend

Mike Thomas

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Since beginning in 2018, Columbus Covers Columbus (CCC) has grown into a signature event in the thriving local music scene. Now in its third year, this unique festival is centered on the concept of local musicians playing sets comprised entirely of music from other local acts.

CCC is the brainchild of Columbus music promoter Tony Casa, who wanted to create a showcase for a supportive community of local artists to share their mutual admiration for each other's music.

As entertaining as the event is for spectators, CCC doubles as a valuable networking opportunity for local entertainers and creatives.

"There are great local merchants, games, and tons of networking opportunities for everyone in the community," says Casa. "This isn’t just a great show, it’s like a proper festival—but in the winter."

Since its inception, the event has expanded to include stand-up comedy, poetry readings, burlesque performances, live podcast recordings, and more, all in the spirit of promoting and celebrating the Columbus creative community.

CCC will take place from January 17-19 at Classics Victory Live at 543 S High St. The event is 18+, with tickets available at the door for $10. For more info including a full list of artists and vendors, visit Columbus Covers Columbus on Facebook.

Cover photo by Catherine Lindsay photography.

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Gallery Space: Kyla Rafert

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The characters in Kyla Rafert‘s unique and searing brand of painting always seem to stare not back at their audiences, but through them.

Set against intricate, patterned backdrops that blend painting and printmaking, her work often depicts women donning ornate period clothing in large, still rooms. While at first these scenes might appear beautiful and even nostalgic, closer attention inverts these ideas. Often, stark and lifelike animals will populate her canvases, bestowing a quiet surreality, as her paintings work to beautify and befuddle, all in the same deft brush stroke.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614) sat down with Rafert, who lives with her family on a homestead south of Columbus in Amanda, Ohio, to talk about her work.

(614): I think what viewers initially notice in your paintings are your ornately-rendered backgrounds. There’s so much detail present in them; can you explain how they’re created?

The patterns on the walls and floors I screen print directly into the painting, so they are literally part printmaking. Their dresses, figures, and objects, as well as patterned rugs, are hand-drawn. I print patterns on the walls and floor last.

When I started this style painting, I was looking into dollhouse wallpaper, and then it occurred to me that with my training, I could custom-mix inks and screen print patterns to match everything.

The patterns all take an incredible amount of time, but it’s meditative for me. I’m actually a very anxious person, and it gives me time where I don’t have to think about anything.

There’s a distinct visual effect that these heavily patterned backgrounds create. What does that do for each piece?

The background of my paintings are intended to be realistic in the technical sense, but the spaces I’m creating aren’t.

Sometimes it takes people a moment to realize that even though there’s patterns everywhere, the rooms are almost completely empty. There aren’t windows and doors, and a viewer can see just how barren these rooms are, and just how alone and vulnerable it makes the characters seem.

Going along with that, I think there’s this duality that’s ongoing in your work, especially with the characters, where what a viewer initially sees is sort of turned on its head.

The line that I intend to run through all my work is this sort of love-hate relationship with beauty. Viewers initially see these intricate patterns and beautiful figures, but there’s almost a voodoo-doll thing going on with the characters in my work. They’re these beautiful women—and I specifically want them to seem wealthy—you realize they’re almost trapped in these spaces; it’s the whole sticking the needle in the doll thing.

I think it also has to do with the fact that I’m able to make these beautiful things as an artist, but a lot of times there’s this tension between people wanting something that just looks nice and something that’s interesting.

Perspective seems to matter a lot in your work, for a number of reasons. How do you see it factoring into your paintings?

It’s like my characters, they’re always standing on a stage. The views are always a full-frontal perspective, and that makes the spaces appear very orchestrated.

This also means there’s nowhere to hide. The people in my paintings always have these very at poses as well, with their arms at their sides. I think my intention was to create something that looks on paper, at first, very realistic, but just doesn’t make sense as a real physical space.

While your paintings have a definite timelessness to them, the characters often seem plucked out of a specific time period. What’s your inspiration for that?

It’s interesting to me because my sister is a creative writer, my dad is a historian, and my mom is a therapist. The more I think about it, the more I see pieces of all this in my own work.

There’s history, there’s narrative, and psychology in all of these that I can see.

Visit kyla-zoe.com for more information or view of her work on Instagram at kyla.zoe.rafert.

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