Ohio Bands to Watch in 2024

By Ryan G

It’s that time of year again. Our annual Ohio list! Per usual, there’s a bit of a Columbus bias. Remember when someone last year read this and referred to Columbus as the Uranus of the Universe due our allegedly mediocre scene? I wonder if that guy will read this again. I hope he says hi. In any case, here are a bunch of acts we are stoked about in 2024. All acts handpicked by Ryan Getz unless denoted “-RM” which were chosen by Ray Cobra

A Band Called Dreamland – I experienced this act live for the first time at Music Columbus’ Better Together Incubator Showcase in late 2023. What impressed me the most was the stripped back high energy presence of drums, bass, and piano with minimal backtracks to carry the performance. Could this be the Gen Z Keane? We’ll see.

AJ Eustace – This emerging rock singer songwriter has been one of the most driven new artists on the scene in the past year from this guy’s point of view. His single “Midnight” made my list of 100 favorite songs from 2023 and he recently dropped a music video for it. Only 4 singles in, the songwriter seems to have ownership of a sound and is determined to make the most of this year. [Photo credit – Reel Ghost Media]

Ariadne – This artist just dropped a neo-soul EP with some experimental elements. I’m reminded a bit of when I discovered Kelela last year. If you’re looking for something sensual but slightly trippy Ariadne has you covered. Her new EP Defying Gravity Part 1 is out now. She’s been fairly prominent in the Ohio festival scene – here’s hoping people take even more notice this summer. [Photo Credit – Brand Outlaw]

Art Grad – Pressing play on the single “Directions” on Spotify makes my bread do a weird song association with Mac DeMarco’s “On the Level.” It’s the vaguely unsettling minor key melody with a slightly washed out, but still polished, feeling I guess. But in any case I’ve been seeing this name pop up a lot since this time last year so it was about time I saw what the hubbub was about!

Blucone – This band popped up out of nowhere and were a crowd favorite at Steadfast Festival 2023. My not-particularly-indie-inclined father proclaimed “they were the best, by far.” What is Blucone’s sound? Sultry R&B mixed with synthpop. “Reconvene” is a personal favorite track. And, they have a very unique take on “Take Me Out” that will certainly win you over.

Cash K. Allen – This teenage singer-songwriter from Toledo released one of my favorite EPs last year. I had to go back and read a review I did of a single by him. I didn’t want to repeat myself. LOL!!!! However, I’m going to. I mentioned how at 16 years of age, he writes as if he has 30 years of life experiences. He is just a great songwriter. That’s all that is. He has a gift. His writing brings to mind songwriters such as Tim Barry, Jason Isbell, Dave Hause, and Micah Schnabel.  I’m excited to see what he does next. -RM [Photo credit – Levi Hutmacher]

Cataracts – You know how sometimes you constantly see an artist’s name on social media and you’re like, what the heck? Well, Cataracts was that band for me for a while. People would not stop talking about them, which is an excellent thing. I just didn’t get it, until I saw them live. HOLY COW!!!!!! This Cincinnati emo band has it and I’m here for it. Christian Gehring is the epitome of what an emo front person should be. The passion is next level and the lyrics, oh the lyrics. Yeah, be prepared. You’re going to feel some stuff. -RM [Photo credit – Chandler Moyer]

Chroma Cloud – Jamie Sagle and Brian Skeel are a power duo if I’ve ever seen one in local music. Both are hustlers and on top that ridiculously nice. Skeel is known for his work with multiple synthy projects associated with the family of FiXT record labels. Sagle is a singer songwriter known for a more organic approach. Combined, they recently dropped the debut synthpop single “MINE” and aim for scene domination (and camaraderie) with their retrowave pop sound. [Photo by Heather Evans, Logo by Don Drapery]

Debris – Sometimes you just wanna some noisy walls of sound to shake you to your core while you zone out with an IPA in your hand. I’m fairly certain that I’ve used that descriptor multiple times before on Tuned Up, but I don’t care. Any band capable of taking me into that mindset is worthy of a compliment. And I haven’t even seen Debris live yet (let’s change that soon, please). This is quite the departure from my introduction to Evan Carr as a spoken word poet – he’s a badass drummer. Don’t underestimate him.

Divine Timing – One of the most unsung yet prolific central Ohio projects of the post-pandemic era is undoutbedly Divine Timing. The collective, fronted by emcee and composer Terry Tertiary, is here to make you zone out and have a good time. As a person of faith, I can appreciate a band called Divine Timing – I’ve certainly been a blessed benefactor of that effect over the years. Add in a drummer who also manages one of the best coffee roasters in Ohio (Mission Coffee) and you have a winning combo.

Dogs Run Free – This Cleveland outfit exists somewhere between punk, shoegaze, and ambient rock. Listening to one of their songs is like when you have a distant thought nagging at you when you’re trying to fall asleep, and your eyes snap back open – but in a cathartic way. Odds are good you can experience this for yourself sometime while they’re on the road this spring.

Douggert – I almost called this artist the new Sam Rothstein in terms of his event curation and then I had to recant that in favor of saying he’s no new anyone. He’s simply Douggert and you WILL dance and make friends at his shows, gosh darn it. How do I classify his sound? House pop? Quirky dance music? I really don’t know. But I know he’s making waves and impressions. You can often find him at The Kee in downtown Columbus.

DripDaDon – This Zambian American artist knows how to get people hype. His vocals are urgent. At other moments his vocals are wistful, but nonetheless in your face. The music is consistently polished without being abrasive. I’d certainly attend a live set of this guy!

Electric Dream Machine – This band name screams glam and indulgent rock and roll. The sound in reality isn’t quite those things, but its nonetheless a timeless, fun sound. And, it’s fronted by Tucker formerly of The Forty – a band long time readers of Tuned Up might know from our defunct podcast’s theme music and a previous bands to watch list. If fun high energy rock with a side of bellbottoms is your poison – shimmy on up to an EDM show. [Photo credit – Laura Dark Photography]

Elevator Five – A new retrowave/lofi band from Ohio? Say no more. Stream this Dayton group, now. “Nightshift” is a good place to start. The collective dropped their debut album, Bluemirror, last year and I can’t wait to hear more. I recommend checking out their music video that released last year – it’s unassuming at first glance and has a clever twist at the end.

Exile & Eden – This is a project I discovered via Twitter (no, I won’t call it X) at some point last year. Eric McClanahan, more well-known as @ineverglow, has cultivated an online community of CCM supernerds (yeah, yeah, Christian music is a can of worms – don’t think about it too hard). One member of this community that I’ve seen show up in the mentions a lot is Exile & Eden. Turns out he’s a pretty solid indie alternative songwriter. Who’da thunk it! This is for the reverent and the pensive, but also just the pensive. Fans of CAAMP and ambient alternative rock will dig this.

Four Times Louder – Sometimes all you want to do is make yourself go deaf with obnoxiously loud riffs. Four Times Louder mixes that with big hooks. Listening to “Push Me” gives me the same stoner rock vibe I got when listening to “Kicking” by Torche for the first time. It’s angry and upbeat at the same time. Cleveland does, indeed, rock.

Freddie Losambe – It’s hard to put my figure on where exactly I first heard Freddie’s name. It was somewhere in that flurry of Audiofeed/Flood City/Take Hold/Bloodline Fest family of music. This experimental hip hop artist that has found an unlikely home in a community dominated by aging hardcore kids, has recently planted his feet in Columbus and is slowly winning over our own scene. This article is me officially putting you on notice. The songs of the 2023 record The Leaves Still Dance flow like pages from a diary, each thought complete and not overstaying its welcome.

Funeral Commercial – This Akron shoegaze band simply describes themselves as “gloomy, spooky” in their Instagram bio. An apt description, I think. A quick glance at their profile reveals a DIY ethos that would place them right at home at Dirty Dungaree’s in Columbus. Their gloom is a very loud easy listening sort of grating rock – which is an oxymoron.

Fury & Solace – I’ve seldom heard a band name more appropriate in my life. This post-rock/shoegaze hybrid from Cincinnati has a pedigree that reads like a who’s who of noteworthy underground acts – The Spirit and the Bride, The Rose Hill, Current Events, Orca, Canoes and more are represented in the lineup. Prepare to cry and get punched in the face seconds later.

Glümwalker – What happens when a former scenester listens to a lot of dream pop and Tame Impala? You get Glümwalker. I won’t lie – I’m a sucker for music like this. Especially since I started blogging and discovered dream pop for the first time 10 years ago. Codee Carle is a name Ohio has heard over the years one way or another whether they know it or not – particularly if people frequent the hard rock local scene. Glümwalker is Carle leaving behind his old identity and diving headfirst into the vibes.

GOROH – This band’s Spotify bio closes with “Bring the ****ing violence.” Indeed. With a Knocked Loose meets metal sound, even more anguished vocals, and producer Saud Ahmed (of The Crimson Armada fame) at the helm it seems brutality might be an understatement for what can be expected. [Photo credit – Chandler Moyer]

Huge Euge – I’m not super into nerdcore but maybe I should be. Here’s a sampling of pop culture references name dropped in Huge Euge songs: Creepy Crawlers. GUTS. Hulk Hogan. Tony the Tiger. Hula Hoops. You have FOMO yet? Huge Euge is sometimes political, sometimes silly, often both. Sometimes the most punk thing you can do is be a nerdcore artist that frequents punk shows, which is exactly what Huge Euge tends to do! [Photo credit – Mitchell Multimedia]

Jack Lutz – Holy moly, what a fun artist! Jack Lutz, formerly of The Rapid Jags, has been releasing a string of singles that live a realm somewhere between glam rock, pop, straight up attitude. Last August, he supported Wheatus at the Basement and I’d be honestly shocked if that didn’t go well. The Gen Z TikTok boost effect for a classic song in Teenage Dirtbag is exactly the type of energy I’m getting from this project. [Photo credit – Pitt Films and Kelly Hough]

JayBee Lamahj – This is smart hip hop. “Emerald City Bluus” is whole vibe. I feel like sitting on my back porch and putting this artist on while I do something productive. This is music that can be on your deep focus playlist, or hip hop that is for *your* deep focus, period.

JUSTYFI – If hip hop with creative hooks is your poison, then JUSTYFI is your man. “Dopamine” is a smooth track that lives up to its name. This is a name that’s been floating around my peripheral awareness for awhile, but putting together this list finally convinced me to really dive into JUSTYFI’s material, and I’m sold. So is Jocef Michael, a seasoned local veteran whose taste I trust.

Lakehorse – Ben Ahlteen is Ohio’s go-to psych-rock person. One of them, anyway. But Ben has been consistently performing incredibly well-put together compositions over the years. Lakehorse is the latest iteration of his career, and it takes on a more easy-listening direction than, say, DOMES of years past. Ahlteen’s role as one of the primary organizers and hosts of Ohio Psych Fest (which has at this point transcended the genre) also lands Lakehorse a spot on this list. Make no mistake though – this definitely a collaborative project – the members bring in their experience with projects like the High Definitions, Keating, and Seastate.

Lauren Brabson – This Barberton based songwriter (a town I mainly know from seeing road signs on the way to visit family in Kent) has given me another reason to dive into the Akron area for new jams. Brabson brings to the table a versatile sound that’s sometimes earthy, sometimes, dreamy, and sometimes funky. There’s a little country and a little folk and a little funk in her.

Leaving Off – This pop-punk unit from Dayton is a supergroup. As they have members that were/are in other prominent bands such as Better Anyway, Life In Idle, Weathervein So you know it’s going to be good, and it is. If you are into the pop-punk sounds of The Story So Far, Knuckle Puck, Real Friends, and such, then you’ll love Leaving Off. They take me back to 22015-2018 and my nights at Donatos Basement. If you don’t believe me, just listen to their 2023 EP, What You’re Missing. And they are dropping a split with Dayton local legends Knavery on 3/29. -RM

Levi Brown & The Smokin Section – If you want to have a good night, go see Levi Brown & The Smokin Section. They are funk fusion at its best. Every time I have seen them live, it has been a party. And one can’t help but dance and smile during their set. They also serve as the house band for Bertha Hill Music, most notably backing up rapper OG Vern. -RM [Photo credit – @mdillyphoto]

Lisa Curtis – This atmospheric pop artist from Hilliard, OH is set to join Summon Luke, Jady, and Adam Paddock at the 2nd annual Columbus Against the World show (of which we are a sponsor!) at the Newport Music Hall April 5th! Like many, she found initial success on TikTok. Somehow I missed it – shame on me, but that’s why curators like Adam Paddock exist. I had no idea we had a central Ohio artist with multiple singles exceeding 1M plays on Spotify, thanks to some nice playlist placement.

LoConti – I found a band that reminds of both Turnover and The War on Drugs from Cleveland. Brite Winter Fest knows how to pick ’em. If you’re looking for driving music for sunsets and whiskey cocktails, this is your band. Will Desert Daze please book this band?

MEOWBOYS – At one point in time I would have excluded side projects from this list. But now I’m older and wiser, and one of my favorite producers (Jeremy Steckel) has his stamp of approval on this project. Plus there’s the Motherfolk connection. This is no frills rock meant to be silly and serious at the same time. Actually, I don’t know what the mission of the band is – that’s just the vibe I get from listening.

Mind Canaries – How many times do you come across a band from Sandusky, OH? Rarely, I’ll bet. Yet, Mind Canaries have been making a name for themselves across the Buckeye State with their approachable, driving classic rock driven jams. Their recent EP Autumn demonstrates a proficiency at conveying chill and angst alike. Catch them at a dive near you.

Minuet – Columbus is having a post-hardcore revival at the moment and I’m so here for it. Minuet is one of the bands at the forefront of this movement. And they have achieved this in a year. During that time, they opened for Tiny Moving Parts (their first show), released a few songs, and played a handful of shows. With that momentum 2024 is shaping up to be a good year for them. Hopefully, an EP or full-length is coming our way. -RM [Photo credit – @jordansmellz]

Mud Whale – You know what – I don’t think there’s enough emo on this list. Mud Whale from Cleveland ought to fix that. Their execution is earnest and the vocals remind me a little of a more melodic Norma Jean. Other comparison, albeit a more obscure one, is Odd Folks of Denton, TX. They sound like veterans already and I believe they’re just getting started.

OG Vern – When I think of Columbus hip-hop, OG Vern is one of the first acts I think of. Simply because he was one of the first local artists that I got into it. I saw him at a festival in 2022 and I have been a fan since. This guy kills it. The way he flows is next level, he can’t be touched. And live, holy cow, he is mesmerizing. I typically don’t like on-stage banter, but he even makes that interesting. He will have you crying, the dude is hilarious. Last year his live show became better when he added a backing band, Levi Brown & The Smokin Section. I for one would like to hear a recording of them with him. -RM

Pretty Pretty Awful – This Cleveland pop goth punk artist floated my way via TikTok a couple of years ago. Pop punk describes an aspect of the band’s sound but is incomplete in capturing the essence of this project, which has an element of darkness, fun, and theater. “Mostly Ghostly” is a darn banger if I’ve ever heard one. More organ in punk, please. Kudos to Punkerton Records for this signing.

Ramblewood – The folk revival of the 2020s continues! Caamp, Oliver Hazard, and now Ramblewood are leading the Ohio pack. Prolific Columbus audio engineer Joe Amadio recently name dropped this act as one of his recent clients and I knew I had to get hip. The almighty algorithm appears to be smiling on Ramblewood, but fortunately he has the goods to back it up. Lots of people seem to agree. Imagine if Spirit of the Bear camped in a cabin with a banjo for a summer. Ramblewood is that vibe.

Resignation – Resignation was supposed to be on last year’s list and I forgot to include them. I went back and looked at my list and I just skipped right over them, Shame on me. But here we are a year later and I still think they are a band to know. Resignation is a post-hardcore/emo band based in Toledo and they are making waves at the moment. They dropped an incredible Texas is The Reason cover, an EP last year, and are gearing up to release a split next month. They were also included on The Alternative’s list of Top 20 bands reviving the emo revival. This is 100% a band to know. -RM

Saylor Rigsby – If I had a nickel for every time I listened to an artist and determined I couldn’t classify their genre… I’d have a lot of nickels. Saylor Rigsby has been a prolific artist this past year, dropping multiple LPs. The young Saylor is full of unfiltered emotion and expression, often expressed in an abrasive way. However, the end product is always polished. This stuff is the product of a laptop, a big imagination, and a dose of honesty.

Sons of April – This Dayton duo formed in November 2020 – a period in which we were neck deep in the pandemic, and also right around the time musicians started to get really creative with their output. Coincidence? I think not. This is contemplative hip hop that takes some getting used to. I wasn’t sure if I was a fan on my first listen, but it only took me a few songs to warm up and go into that head bobbing place as I sit here in my living room writing this.

Swansea Skag – Bedroom pop from Mansfield? With over 80,000 monthly listeners on Spotify? How have I never heard of this guy? Actually… make that glitchy bedroom pop. Or, just hyperpop if you want. It’s hard to imagine this sound coming out of the area where I just had lunch with my grandpa in a Texas Roadhouse, but here we are. This is fun.

The Entire History of You – Here is another Columbus post-hardcore band that is making waves as part of this revival going on here in Columbus.  I really should come up with a name for this movement. LOL!!! But anyways TEHOY has had such a good first year. Yep, it’s another newer band. They played their first show last August and have been laying waste to crowds and venues since. They also recently just released their EP through Hiraeth Recordings. You should pick that up. They are also one you need to see live. -RM

The OG Players – I discovered this pair at a SoFar Sounds showcase in hidden event space, one chilly January evening last year. Eric Rollin of Mistar Anderson joins forces with singer and trombone player Elaine Mylius and drummer MAYH3M! to bring to the table a compelling brand of neo-soul. They made their performance look effortless on that night and there was no pretense – just three friends wanting to spread the love to a room of new pals.

The Smokey Honey Bluesband – What genre do you think this band is? I bet you wouldn’t have guessed shoegaze! This is legitimately one of the few acts I’ve found with this sound in recent months that’s been as immediately fun to listen to as this is! The Youngstown based act boasts an impressive resume that includes opening for Spirit of the Bear and Holy Fawn – two names I never guessed I’d see in a sentence together.

The Stereoflowers – When I stepped into Big Room Bar to watch this trio perform a showcase that SoFar Columbus curator Terry Tertiary put together for a little fest, I was NOT expecting a post punk performance. Fans of Idles and Protomartyr alike would dig what these guys do. Expect loudness and lots of determination from stage. These guys are assertive but not aggressive. It’s very approachable.

The Villaintinos – This is grunge meets Joan Jett inspired 80s rock in a very, very fun way. They have the approval of CD929’s own Tom Butler, who’s a lot more punk rock than I. There’s a bit of theater at play with this band’s sound too, I dare say. Listening to this act makes me think I’ve gone back in time 40 years to the Roxy in LA and that at any moment an A&R rep from Elektra Records might pop out of nowhere.

Vitruvian Soul – I discovered this act via a post by AJ Eustace a few short weeks ago. On paper, they sound like a combo of The 1975 and twenty one pilots, but that fact alone is hardly a selling point these days. It’s that they execute that sound *so* well and apparently put on one of the most engaging live shows in Columbus. The photos make me question how I missed hearing about them! I’m down with pop bands with a mysterious edge. I’ve always had a soft spot for that!

Wax Teeth – This instrumental project is neither math rock, nor post rock, nor prog rock, nor a jam band. It exists somewhere in the nexus of all four mixed with some noise and pure angst. Stand in the back of the venue with your IPA and zone out, or start a pit. Either would be acceptable at a Wax Teeth show.

Yacobucci – This pop artist recently relocated back home to Ohio after sometime away, and he’s here to make an impression. Imagine if you meshed nothing, nowhere with Neck Deep and perhaps a little Posty. This music for the outcasts (their words) is nostalgic, uplifting, and reminiscent of my high school days. I hear a little Matt Thiessen in those vocals!

89 Letters – Hey 89 Letters, 2002 called and they want their riffs back. This Dayton unit quickly brings to mind bands like Underoath, Haste The Day, As Cities Burn (1st album), and others. But you get the picture. They are heavy!!!!! It’s no surprise, with members having been in bands such as Hail to the King, Vehemian, Overbite, and others This is a band that wears their influences proudly.  89 Letters played their first show in June of last year and haven’t looked back. They also released a full-length, Godmother, in November. They have kept busy and I don’t expect that to change in 2024. -RM [Photo credit – Kyle WK McDowell]

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