Ohio Bands to Watch – 2023 Edition

By Ryan G

Each year, it gets harder and harder for me to be concise when putting this list together – and this is an excellent problem to have. The depth of musicians worth listening to in the “heart of it all” grows by the year. This year, it seems to me in particular the Columbus DIY scene is in the midst of a bit of a renaissance period. People are hungry to create and connect. And its showing.

Below are quite a few artists we are excited about from our home state for this year – and it still seems like we are barely scratching the surface. Is there someone obvious we left out? Feel free to let us know in the comments or on our socials. Happy listening! Be sure to follow the playlist at the end of the article.

All artist picks are by Ryan Getz except for the ones denoted “RC” for Ray Cobra.

7HO3NIX – This artist you might know better as Gabrielle Solange (perhaps you saw her perform at Steadfast 2022). The former-Billboard charting artist is going through a reinvention that was a long time coming yet would seem inevitable if you know her story. The R&B/Alternative/Pop artist seeks to continue to evolve and reveal her story to you – one song and performance at a time. 2023 is looking promising. Her next single releases January 21st.

A-Go-Go – This band was a crowd pleaser at 2022 return of Steadfast Festival. Their down to earth brand of americana infused indie had people grooving. Someone’s grandparents even came to the show and were front and center in the pit, dancing. How wholesome. Wholesome music for all ages sounds like a winning combo to me.

Adam Paddock – This man hustles in a way that I haven’t seen in the indie scene in sometime. His enthusiasm and eagerness to collaborate is in your face. And this comes out in his songwriting, too. Indie pop rock is the name of the game here, but you won’t really understand his vibe until you listen. He’s able to tailor his sound for multiple types of audiences and will face the ultimate test this spring when he headlines the Newport Music Hall alongside Spirit of the Bear and Cousin Simple.

Adena Brook – Technically, this artist doesn’t have any tunes out just yet. However, in years past I’ve been familiar with her as her given name – Katie Davis. I don’t normally seek out country music, but I’ve always thought that Katie’s voice was one of the most distinctive in Columbus, and have enjoyed her pleasant, wholesome demeanor. Also, just before the state shutdown she KILLED it at Columbus Covers Columbus with her own twist on Angela Perley’s “4:30,” the title track for one of my favorite albums from 2019. With this rebrand, I’m really intrigued.

Aloe Vera – I first came to know them through another Columbus rapper, Kali Dreamer. When I meet people and they tell me they make music I am always intrigued, simply because of the unknown. That night when I got home, I listened to them right away and instantly was a fan. They have a sound that is their own and I dig it. Aloe also recently started a punk band, The Maple Crayon, so after you listen to their hip-hip work, give them a listen as well. -RC

Armand Rashad – It’s a gutsy move to title a song “I’m Legit”. There’s a fine line between confidence and ego, and fortunately Armand Rashad has got the flow to back it up. Shout out to Ohio Artist to Watch unknownphrazes (from our 2022 list) who turned us on to this guy. Perhaps a collab with Tuned Up favs Joey Aich, Chelsea Pastel or Chanelle Kazadi is in order.

Bade – This is a new band with attitude that emerged from the depths of the pandemic, and are here to kick ass and take names. The trio brings to the table a medley of aggressive sounds, with singing that sounds almost like a snarl at times. This is classic rock for the future, with some progressive elements.

Befriend Strange Creatures – I befriend strange creatures in my dreams every night. And I don’t even need mushrooms. My brain is just weird. Oh, wait – we’re talking about bands! Sorry, I got distracted. Well, if I were a botanist or zoologist interacting with some fantastical new flora or fauna I would want this band to be playing in the background while I do so.

Brave Face – This act is new to me. I caught them back in November and was blown away. That night felt like I was in a basement back in 2001-2003. I kept looking around to see if others were in awe as I was and there were a few. Overheard a few conversations about how good they were and things of the such. This is a band I plan to see more of in 2023. So, if early 2000s post-hardcore/emo is your poison, check this band out. -RC

C-Money Baby – I know very little about the hip hop scene in Ohio still, save for a handful of artists (I’m working on trying to change this). While perusing Instagram concert fliers, I came across C-Money Baby. Immediately, I was struck by the positive energy that seems to be present at his shows (via the clips I saw). The second thing that jumped out at me was the title of his album – Even Demons Pray. This brings to mind a Bible verse. “You believe in one God? Good. Even the demons believe… and shudder.” (James 2:19). Something that I will now ponder while bopping my head to this flow.

Call Me Rita – This spoken word project is the brainchild of local artist by way of California Vanessa Jean Speckman. She is backed by four of Columbus’s best musicians, Jason Winner, Todd May, Jay Gasper, and Micah Schnabel. If you genuinely want to grasp what she is about, see her live. The energy, honesty, and musicianship are uncanny. Her last single “Measure Twice, Cut Once” was mixed by the incredible Frank Turner, so there is that. Oh, also checkout her Esty shop, she has some great stuff. One of favorite shirts is by her. -RC

Cedars Brothers – This duo are in the process of establishing themselves as a staple to the central Ohio bar scene, which is a bit unusual for a band whose sound is folktronica. If you know me, you know I’m all about bringing unique sounds to unlikely environments. Cedars Brothers have this approach on lock, while remaining humble, collaborative, and approachable enough for the casual music lover.

Cherimondis J – This young lady has positioned herself to have a breakout year in 2023. Her brand of soulful R&B is next level. She is one of those artists that I remember the first time I heard her. I was out with a friend, and he asked if I had heard of her, and the excitement and look in his eyes was all I needed. Then he played her and yep, I was a fan. Her voice instantly drew me in. She released an album, Dove Archer last year and if that is any indication, wow. The song “Ice Cream” would do Prince proud if you know what I mean. That is all I am saying. Such a great song. -RC

Cloudflower – A few years ago, I would have told you that Del and the Wave was one of the most driven pop rock acts in Ohio. Sadly, life happens and that project had to come to an end. Fortunately for us, guitarist Jesse Barron decided he wasn’t done with the grind back and persuaded most of the original band to reform, this time with Jesse as the front man. Pop rock earworms galore and a very wholesome stage presence is the name of the game here. This band is here for your good old fashioned fun.

Coxey’s Army – Talk to Nate Rising for a few minutes and you won’t hear the gravelly, classic punk vocals his band presents. Indeed, Nate and company are wholesome people with drive who are community driven, and seek to uplift each listener and fan. Tuned Up band to watch alumnus Benjamin Marshall is a member of this project, in case you weren’t sold yet.

Crime Light – This band runs a chaotic gamut of sounds in its 8-minute-long debut release. The band has quickly become a staple at Dirty Dungaree’s the new unofficial hub of Columbus hardcore. Listening to this band might give you a headache – but whether it’s from repeated headbanging or collateral damage from the pit, or from the noisy quality itself depends on how open your mind is.

Curtail – This group is fuzzy emo at its finest. While this name is a new one to watch, the band’s members are hardly wet behind the ears. I recall seeing names from their old projects (Cherry Cola Champions, Annabel, Bethesda, to name a few) showing up on flyers for the old Tightwolf Records showcases in Columbus. These tunes are smart and catchy.

Danny Shipley Trio – I’ve known about this artist for only a few short weeks, but I’ve already been impressed by how polished and professional their americana-infused rock and roll is. Danny could hold his own at a country fair or at a jam band festival. Personal interactions have indicated to me a strong desire to collaborate and lift up others. Artists that understand that community is everything will find themselves well positioned to succeed.

Darkroom – This is another hardcore band that is making waves. And boy let me tell you they have hit the ground running. Since their inception, they have not slowed down and it does not look like they will anytime soon. They released their debut album in November of last year and it is a banger. It was one of my favorite albums of 2002. I am extremely excited to see what 2023 brings them. This is a name you are going to want to remember. -RC

Daywalker – What do you get when you hardcore and mix in a little nu-metal influence? Daywalker. As I sit here in my office typing this while its subzero temps outside, I have a sudden urge to two-step. Nice. All indications are that this band is gonna hit 2023 in the throat.

Distance Sprinter – Honestly, with an artist lists their influences as The War on Drugs and The Killers, and has a resume ranging from surf rock to post hardcore, how can you not be intrigued? Cincinnati’s Distance Sprinter has a sound that rides the line between sentimental and fun. I would love to see them on more large-scale events this year.

Ebri Yahloe – This is experimental hip hop that makes me mad at myself for not having a proper sound system at my home to give this artist justice. Ebri is one of those artists that I feel could collaborate with someone in just about any genre and add something valuable. Who wants to be a gothic or synthwave artist combining forces with a chill hip hop artist? I’d pay to hear that live.

Embleton – Years ago, I attended an Emery show at Skully’s Music Diner where the opening acts were Oh, Sleeper, Hawkboy, and last but not least an indie outfit from up north called A Minor Bird. We were blessed with a release, from one of the members of this band, titled Heavy On Me, last year; a collection of earnest indie folk. Congrats to Embleton on the recent addition to Alive Festival 2023. Fans of Bon Iver, Oliver Hazard, and the like will find much to enjoy here.

Flicker // Fade – I will admit this is an odd choice for this list but we are going to include them. Flicker Fade is an emo cover band. I caught their first show in October, and it was one of the funniest sets I saw all year. The energy was next level. They put all they had into every single song, and they had fun doing it. They are comprised of local musicians from different bands, so I guess we can call them a supergroup. Their secret weapon is vocalist Courtney Ball, if that name is familiar, it’s because she was the vocalist in Burning Bright. A band I miss dearly, so to see her and Aaron Dill on stage again is awesome. They recently posted they are in studio, so that is cool. I am very curious as to what they are recording. Is it a cover album or originals? Time will tell. Until then, go catch them live. I promise you will have a great night. -RC

Gool – This is going to be an extremely niche observation, but I feel like Gool is what would happen if you combined Fontaines DC with chill warm indie act Left Out. The DIY scene in Columbus is in the midst of what seems to be a renaissance; Gool seemed to me to be an obvious choice for inclusion in this list, amongst many worthy contenders. “Strawberry Cough” makes me want to get out some incense and just crank this loudly in my office.

Hooked Like Helen – This pop duo has an affinity for power piano ballads, and you might recognize a song or two from them (they’ve had a premiere on Radio Disney and a placement on the Netflix series CHEER). As for me, I actually discovered them on TikTok. I’m a little shocked that hasn’t been the case with more artists on this list, but maybe I just haven’t been looking carefully enough. Bands – shout out where you’re from on TikTok! In any case, HLH displays a mastery of the fine line between wholesomeness and attitude.

Houseghost. – I saw a post on Instagram about spooky punk, and if you know me, then you know I had to check it out. The first song, their cover of “Funeral Home” by Daniel Johnston was all it took. Mentions of coffins and funerals, yep, spooky punk. I am a fan. Then I heard “Born on Halloween,” now I’m really a fan. Their sound is as if The Misfits and Tsunami Bomb met. This Dayton band was started by siblings Nick and Kayla Hamby in 2018. And in that time have released two full lengths with the last one, Another Realm, last month. If any of this tickles your fancy, I would check them out. I am about to order their last album, as the first pressing sold out and they just released a second one. -RC

HU-MID: Turns out, math rock mixed with no-holds-barred hardcore can be really satisfying. Who knew? This Toledo act is here to melt your mind and they don’t need reverb or substances for fun guys (see what I did there?) to do so. Time to spin kick like its 3099 and you need to be programmed by AI to follow the time signatures along.

Imber Solis – I feel like I’ve been transported back in time when I press play on any Imber Solis tune. This medley of jazz, soul and pop feels classy and timeless. There’s a hint of attitude in her vocals too. I’d bring my grandparents to a Imber Solis show, but who’s to say that Gen Z won’t like it too? There’s certainly a hunger for authenticity with this generation; if Fleetwood Mac can make a comeback on TikTok, so can this sound. And, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Solis is pushing to make this sound trendier than it is.

In Flow – This group is quickly becoming a staple of the Athens, OH house show scene. People should be asking “Ohio or Georgia?” when folks bring up a band being from Athens. Right now, the Athens, GA music scene is synonymous with acts like R.E.M. Why can’t it be Ohio? The powerpop act In Flow seems to be asking this question.

Indré – This pop rock group from Akron is starting to tour regionally and I’m honestly surprised I’ve only heard about them recently. “Golden Hour,” a feel-good single from last year and “Shadow Shadow,” the band’s most recent single, in particular demonstrate their aptitude to pen feel-good down to earth anthems. The band’s M.O. seems to be to reach for the stars and have a blast doing it.

Ink – Ink is thunderous punk. I can’t imagine what their house shows are like. I’m having serious FOMO right now. This is the type of band that will show up in the middle of a rich suburb’s city park to play, and take bets on how long it takes ’til the cops show up. Isn’t that the kind of unhinged energy you need in your life?

Izzi Sleep: Seth Peacock is one half the garage rock duo Rat Motel, and Izzi Sleep is his solo moniker. On paper his sound as a solo artist is hard to describe. It’s definitely eccentric. It’s within the same sphere of DIY-influenced garage rock in terms of attitude but the output is a bit more measured. I’m eager to see how this evolves.

Jady – Going from completely not on my radar for the 2022 artists to watch list to multiple radio singles, a bangin’ full length, and plans to tour regionally is quite a feat. Such is the case for the vibey indie pop artist Jady, who also plays bass for Jay Joseph (who made our list last year). His debut record The Haze is chock full of bangers. I’m eager to see this guy’s identity develop further.

Kim Beyer – Kim is a pop artist with a punk attitude. And even in her serious moments there’s an undercurrent of fun. This makes Kim approachable in a variety of environments – both musically and personally. She’s always eager to help and support her scene. I suspect there’s much more to come in 2023. Plus, with Matt Langston of The Jellyrox/Eleventyseven at the helm for production, how can you not be intrigued?

Kris N. – Poptek Records is a humble little label located somewhere near Dayton, who have quietly released some gems over the years. Kris N. is a dream-pop tinged shoegaze project with vocals reminiscent of Starflyer 59. You can be sure that any output will only be the band’s best; one of the men behind the band is label owner Andy Ingram.

Luna Falling – I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi influenced act. After the massive success of Starset, it was only a matter of time before another act followed in their footsteps – not to mimic, but rather to be inspired by and carve out their own story. Luna Falling is the story of an AI that has become sentient, who is spiraling out of control (per the band’s Instagram). This story is told via cinematic hard rock meshed with a little metalcore.

Manor Gates

Manor Gates – Manor Gates is new to the Columbus scene. They have played a few shows, dropped an EP, and made fans out of a lot of people. Their sound falls between emo, good emo, classic emo, and math rock. The riffs these guys are putting out will melt your soul and add in the lyrics of Griffen Holt, and you have a recipe for awesomeness. As much as I enjoy the lyrics, it is the riffs and hooks that pull me in. Their EP, Nothing Changes Except What Has To was one of my favorites of 2022. It stayed in my rotation once it was released. If you miss emo from the early 2000s, give them a listen. -RC

Mezclado – By this end of this list, you’ll probably be saying “Gosh Tuned Up, there are too many punk bands from Columbus on here.” But I’m inclined to include this one because you get an unlikely trifecta of punk, psychedelic, and Latin influences. Add in the prowess of Many Manos on drums (who has been giving our own Cassy Kolesar lessons) and you have gold. Be sure to listen to this album drinking a nice lager in some orange/gold ambient lighting.

Mild-Mannered – I was waiting for an alternative rock band with a thrilling earworm of a riff to catch my attention and Mild-Mannered did just that with the release of their latest single “Waiting.” Wait no more! It shouldn’t be a surprise that this band specializes in massive riffs when that’s what most of their Instagram feed consists of. Here’s hoping for more riffs and an over-the-top live show in 2023.

Minnows – There isn’t any music online from this supergroup of sorts yet, but it’s safe to say their album Foreign Moon is one to watch. Featuring members of Six Gallery, The Saturday Giant, Winter Makes Sailors, and more – this shoegaze act is here to get loud. They encourage you to wear your earplugs to their next headlining show (alongside The Cordial Sins).

Off Home Road – This is synthwave for emo fans. Emowave? Did I just make up a genre? Whatever the case, I think Myles Clayborne is onto something. That name sound familiar? It should. He’s been in a number of other bands that have made this list. But synthwave is bound to get a nod from me – large resume or not. There’s some good old fashioned pop punk here too for the those who are a bit more timid of the retrowave realm.

OG Vern – He is new to me, as I got into the Columbus hip-hop scene last year. I first caught him at Poser Fest, and I really enjoyed his set. He looked like he was having so much fun, and it was the infectious fun. That genuine fun. Lol. The thing that sticks out about him is his flow, it is so chill and laidback. He is an artist I can put on after a long day at work and just get lost in my head. -RC

Oliver Hazard – The rise of Oliver Hazard since we published our last list is truly something to behold. Like their brethren in CAAMP, the trio embraces a down to earth folk, but sans a lot of the rock elements in newer CAAMP records. Make no mistake though, this band stands on their own and then some. They pay homage to their hometown of Waterville each year with the aptly named Oliver Hazard Day. In 2023 they will embark on their first national tour (alongside the 502s) with just under 800k monthly listeners on Spotify. Not too shabby.

Ongface – Will Ong has been around the block. My initial interactions with Will were as a part of the defunct math-emo outfit SRVVLST. Today, Will is at the helm of a very unique project – a vaporwave audiovisual experience called Ongface. Drum solos, grooves, nostalgic visuals, and a vibey instrumentals sound like a recipe for success to me.

Orefice Roth – The sound of this act I found to be immediately compelling. Pedal steel that sounds like it’s been baked in the sun all day? Count me in. This ain’t your typical Americana. Elements of psychedelia rain down, with strategically placed crescendos here and there. I’d like to see this act share a bill with Indiana’s Joshua Powell.

Radderall – When I listened to this dream pop act, I went into the experience wanting to like them, thinking I didn’t like them, and them being intrigued enough to keep listening. They certainly are not for everyone. But I have to imagine that their live performance is just as compelling as their recorded form. The vocal style is grating, calling out elements of post punk (Fontaines DC and New Order). I’ll be paying attention.

The Reedy Weeps – For the past couple of years, one of the most steadfast supporters of local music I’ve observed on the web has to be Alex Brannon of The Reedy Weeps. The band backs up these hopes sounding as good as they support others with a spectrum of sounds running the gamut of punk. They aren’t just pop punk. They aren’t just folk punk. They’re a down to earth experience here for any fans that chooses to hang out with them.

RHY! – Rhy is a man with a plan. His flow is a little less rough around the edges and heavier on the autotune, but his vision is layered and his execution is polished and professional. Just take the short film for his EP he released. I’ve heard of artists releasing a trilogy of music videos that all tell one story, but all of them in one film is a gutsy move. Check out his latest single “Vomit!” and then watch the film titled NOWHERE TO GO.

S.M.I.L.E. – The Cleveland-Columbus hardcore band pipeline is quickly becoming a real thing. With the rise to prominence of Turnstile (their bass player is from Columbus and journalist Nardwuar the Human Serviette called out the influence of Columbus DIY institution the Legion of Doom house in a recent interview), its not hard to wonder who’s next and hope they hail from the Buckeye State. S.M.I.L.E. are certainly polished enough to position themselves as a worthy candidate. The endorsement of Eric from the irreverent Cleveland act Heart Attack Man is icing on the cake.

Sadhu – There are a few things that have been constant with Yours Truly and this site. One of them is a love of vibey music. Another is an affinity for hip hop that leans into the chill/downtempo lane. Sadhu accomplishes both of these things and is the latest artist I’ve discovered to scratch that itch. Once again, thanks to unknownphrazes for curating a show that forced me to check this artist out!

Salt – This Columbus hardcore band is new to the scene, but their members have been making music for years. They are one the newer hXc bands that are putting Columbus on the map. As of this writing, they have played one show and from what I hear, it was legendary. I for one will not miss their next show, and you should not either. By the time this is posted they will have released their debut EP on 1/06. -RC

Samarra – I first caught on to these folks through our longtime pals in Ritual Eulogy. The pair recently embarked on a regional tour, bringing face melting brutality to every room they played. Plus, they made a playlist of Rammstein covers on Spotitfy; you gotta love that.

Sarah Cowan – This Granville, OH songwriter makes dark pop that is actually creepy. “JOKES ON ME” was legitimately unsettling to me the first time I heard it. Who the heck is producing this? This is MASSIVE. The fact that Sarah is legally blind should be something that is something that is empowering to her story and not a reason in and of itself to promote her music – Cowan’s music deserves to be uplifted, not patronized. It slaps bigtime.

Scarlet Street – There’s a label called We’re Trying Records who apparently is making some waves. One band on their roster, Scarlet Street, recently had a single premiered on The Alternative – one of the better music blogs out there (who are content to do their own thing and not follow the buzz train for clout). There’s something fresh about this band. Pop punk isn’t my normal poison, but there’s something compelling here.

Simon Molnar – I first encountered this artist at Used Kids Records, at a showcase for emerging indie label Supersport Records, curated by CAAMP’s Evan Westfall. There’s a bit of a “bedroom artist” sensibility here, but the music is also sophisticated in its own right. If you aren’t super into ska but still love a bunch of horns in your indie rock, here you go.

Sign Language – This 4-piece act from Cincinnati are everywhere these days and I love to see it. I’ve yet to see them live myself but I really dig what they are doing. Their social media presence is great, and I have heard nothing but good things about them. They straddle the line between shoegaze and emo. The dual vocals of Nick Ruholt and Sarah Tolley are amazing, they mesh so well together. They recently announced a tour with Virginia rockers House& Home, so their 2023 is off to a good start. I am looking forward to their next Columbus show. I will not miss it!!! -RC

smallboats – When I heard that this group was recording with Joe Amadio and James Harker’s Moonlight Studio (Spirit of the Bear and Ghost Soul fame), I instinctively knew I’d love what they do. The Youngstown act specializes in long indie-alt earworms reminiscent of Foals and any number of acts you might have heard on CD929 circa 2012. I haven’t quite figured out the meaning behind their astronaut mascot but that’s alright.

SOUR – Photo by Hannah Spiker

SOUR – Delayed Gratification records is (almost literally) on fire this year with their curation of brutally honest hardcore bands that are in it for the long haul but remain down to earth. SOUR is a supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Rejoice, En Love, Vatican, and fronted by Jeff Stuckel – primarily known up to this point as the spoken word artist Keyoung. I have yet to see SOUR live, but this feels like the inevitable destination for Stuckel, who incorporates his life experience and his poetry into his most heavy outlet yet. It’s a more seamless transition than you might expect.

Sparky & the Hills – Any band that includes Rhodes makes me think of the Decemberists, and that is a very, very good thing. Sparky & the Hills is no exception. They aren’t americana, but they carry some of that influence. They aren’t folk, but they carry some of that influence. They aren’t from the backcountry (as far as I know), but they sound like they could be. The album Take It Back was one I missed last year, but I intend to remedy that pronto.

Summore – Summore is a Zanesville based darkwave/electropop duo. They have been a group for a few years but in that time, they have made great waves. In their brief history they have played a festival in Boston, booked a tour on their own of the Southwest, and opened for the likes of Korine, The Final Sound, and Vazum. And their live show is out of this world. It is one you must see. -RC

Third Culture Kid – This indie outfit just wrapped up their first regional tour, serving as direct support for the boundary-shaking faith-based songwriter Semler. The attitude and authenticity in frontwoman Katie Larson is something that is going to carry the band far. Their debut LP Still Life carries a litany of sounds and influences. The way they run the gamut of sonic experience while retaining a sense of cohesiveness is reminiscent of my experience listening to Big Thief’s double album last year.

TRUSS – This group might seem familiar to you. Formerly known as TRVSS, the respelling of their name and their hustle in the past year makes them a no-brainer for this year’s list. Columbus’ Music in Motion editor Jesse Jester talks up this Cleveland act on a regular basis, and its easy to hear why. I can only imagine the power behind their live show. They recently headlined an all femme-led lineup at the esteemed House of Blues in Cleveland.

Unbyul – One of the foremost curators of regional talent these days has to be local promoter and hype man Douggert – therefore I have to credit him with my discovery of Unbyul. This pop artist has a futuristic aesthetic – sort of like Charli XCX with a bit of a cyberpunk twist. I hope to see this name on many more bills in the near future. Time to dance. There are some hints of Dua Lipa in there too.

UNKNWN811 – This is the artist on this list that I personally have the hardest time labeling. I also know this artist goes by a handful of other monikers and I don’t know whether or not I’d be doing them a disservice by shouting out the other names. So, I’ll let the music here speak for itself. It’s mysterious and takes me out of my office into an underground club – where everything is dark, save for some sparse neon lighting. It’s transcendent and aims to be groundbreaking and world-conquering.

Unseen Keys – This band seems bent on being an act to bring back the anthemic pop rock from our high school years, with a flavor for the future. Live, they killed with a rousing rendition of Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” at an autumn show. This same energy carries over to their own material, backed up with fervor and crisp production.

Villagerrr – Shout out to Seth Tew with Well Read for talking me into giving Villagerrr’s album a spin (it literally just dropped) – figuratively anyway. He went on a glorious rant about the DIY scene in Columbus on Instagram – I feel sorry for you if you missed it. ANYWAY – Villagerrr (spelled with three R’s – they have to change their name for legal reasons) is a fun slacker pop act that purposely leaves things just a bit unpolished. It’s a nice album for a Sunday afternoon with an Americano. Or a basement show. Take your pick.

Vision Swords – Everyone knows that behind every great prog band is a jazz musician. I actually completely made up that correlation, but this is certainly the case with Columbus based Vision Swords. The man behind the project, Alex Schrock, is primarily known around Columbus for leading a jazz trio that has performed in chic lounges like the Ginger Rabbit cocktail bar. But, time to get gnarly. What say you?

Well Read – This project is eccentric, happy-go-lucky, and pensive all at the same time. The moniker, fronted by Seth Tew, has established itself as one of the main characters in Columbus DIY in the past year. Playing basements, dives, and even a church formed unique line items on their resume. They aren’t afraid to follow up a post-hardcore band with a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel before diving into their trademark hybrid of shoegaze, synthwave, and lo-fi indie.

Year Twins – Folks in my Ohio music circles have been raving about Year Twins at least since we last published an Ohio Bands to Watch list. I’m not super inclined toward pop punk by default; in fact, I tend to get more bored by the genre than many of my peers. Year Twins, inject into the genre lots of tasty little licks and nuggets of enjoyment; on paper they’re a math influenced pop punk but that feels incomplete. I NEED to see them live!

Preview all of these artists on our playlist:

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  1. max tuber

    You guys forgot Dairy Family, Cellar Dwellar, Andy Sipe & The Squeeze, Lugsol, Fullsend, Max Lew & The Midwest Experience, and many many others. If you need someone to write articles accurate to what is happening in the Columbus DIY scene, please reach out as I am happy to help!

    • Ryan G

      Thanks for the feedback – we included Cellar Dwellar and Dairy Family last year. Will look into the others!

  2. Rastus

    Hopeless, just hopeless.

    • Ryan G

      How is it hopeless? haha

      • Rastus

        My comment is my critique of the Columbus music scene. I sampled every snippet in the preview, as well as a You Tube video for all acts that had one turn up in a search. I wanted to hear something good, but alas! I did not hear a single thing that intrigued me enough to want to hear more. I am open to a lot but my standards are high and I do not “grade on a curve;” there is no credit given for enthusiasm or a heart-warming backstory. The music has to be good or else I cannot be bothered. There is a whole universe of great music still awaiting my discovery, so no time to waste trying to rationalize dreck. Columbus 2023, as ever, is the Uranus of that universe.

      • Ryan G

        Sorry you didn’t find anything you liked, but parts of your comment are pretty over the top haha.

  3. Mark Soergel

    Hey there, great list, checking these out now. A little bit of (almost) self-promotion here. My son Owen Soergel is 20 and although he doesn’t play out live…or really promote himself too much, has released a ton of great DIY music all written, played, recorded himself in his room. It has a chill vibe with great guitar and effects. Kind of a mix of shoegaze, emo, post-rock, lo-fi, indie pop. It would be super cool if you checked him out, he has a ton of stuff on Spotify, YouTube and Bandcamp. This is his latest (and my personal favorite….but I think it is all great)


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