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An overview of WRUW's 28th annual Studio-A-Rama

The 28th edition of WRUW's annual, free, all-day concert Studio-A-Rama takes place on Saturday, September 5, in the courtyard behind Case Western Reserve University's Mather Building (11220 Bellflower Rd.), where the station's studios are located. Guided by Voices, Enon, the Sadies and Naked Raygun have headlined in previous years. The lineup this year features headliners Mission of Burma, with eight local and regional bands getting things started.

The show kicks off at 2 p.m. with the noisy, meandering experimentalism of Chief Bromide, followed by slapdash garage-punks Neon Tongues (3 p.m.), psychedelic goth-rockers Flowers in Flames (4 p.m.), Uno Lady's solo voice manipulations (5 p.m.), catchy indie pop by Columbus' the Kyle Sowashes (6 p.m.), rock 'n' rollers Mike St. Jude and the Valentines (7 p.m.), raw Nirvana-style pop-rock trio Kid Tested (8 p.m.) and Megachurch, whose music includes two bass players, a drummer, tape loops and sound bites (9 p.m.). Mission of Burma are slotted from 10 p.m.-midnight. If you can't make it down to the show, the entire event, starting around 2 p.m., will be simulcast on the station. —Anastasia Pantsios

CHIEF BROMIDE

myspace.com/chiefbromide

Featuring former members of local bands Kong Sauce, Rather Honey, Volcanoes Awake, Black Wolf and Humphry Clinker, Chief Bromide (formerly Bella Sylva) play the kind of shoegazer alt-rock that was popular in the '90s. "Bella Sylva was a very moody indie band, and I wanted to do a crazy psychedelic thing," says singer-guitarist Matt Valerino. "I didn't plan for it to expand into six people, but it did." A sinewy guitar lead runs through the droney "Plastic Bag Girl," making the tune sound like a mash-up between Dinosaur Jr and the Stone Roses. "Imitations" has a Breeders quality to it, as soaring female vocals overcome its lo-fi limitations. These guys brag they used "a Yamaha keyboard, a circuit bent Casio, a circuit bent toy echophone, copious loopers, a viola, a piano, regular guitars, a flute, a lap steel guitar, a few organs, a bass, lots of delay and crybaby wahwah, an ebow, an old Roland sampler, a maraca, some cymbals and some drums" in making their debut, Chief Bromide Land, which Valerino says is about "shitty Cleveland life." With its collection of dollar- and thrift-store toys, the band packs enough weird instruments to bring the oddball album to life. "We just wanted to put together a far-out, wacky record," says Valerino. "I've already written the next one. It should be a step up. I'll have big, Flaming Lips singalong choruses." — Jeff Niesel

NEON TONGUES

myspace.com/neontongues

Led by reclusive musician Adam Upp (who also swings a six-string and sings for Cleveland post-punk new-wave rockers TV Oh Dees), Neon Tongues is a raucous local garage-rock band. Since Upp never replied to our request for an interview, we don't know much more than that. But tunes like "John Bullman," "Painted Brain" and "Button Maker" sound like lost outtakes by the Shadows of Knight, with a mixture of British invasion, Chess blues classics and awkward '90s emo. Neon Tongues sound like they're searching for a bygone era when stripped-down rock 'n' roll with punk inflections ruled the underground. — Keith Gribbins

FLOWERS IN FLAMES

myspace.com/flowersinflames

"We have taken an '80s post-punk foundation and given it a bloody cutting edge for today's audience," says Flowers in Flames frontman Dave Chavez, who adds that the band's self-titled CD is "stark, glam, gothic and glamorous." Critics all over the world have agreed with his glowing self-assessment. Italian magazine Herz Und Geist wrote, "Non ne resterete delusi!" about the disc (which sounds to us like it must be totally positive). British writer Mick Mercer included the band in his book Music to Die For: The Last Great Guide to the Underground Scene, a goth-noir encyclopedia. Closer to home, The Big Takeover's Jack Rabid described it as "a post-punk mélange of dark psychedelia and goth rock pulsing with tribal rhythms and dripping with reverb. [Songs] have the spastic creeping specs of Christian Death and the rich, textured guitars of the Chameleons." Todd Tobias (ex-Guided by Voices) mixed the album, which was released in October 2008. The group formed in 2006, uniting ex-members of Full Wave Rectifier and Germ Free Adolescents. Since then, they've played infrequent shows at the Hi-Fi and Phantasy. Chavez recommends the band to fans of "Ladytron, Editors, Black Angels, Interpol, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and Bowie." — D.X. Ferris

UNO LADY

myspace.com/unolady

Layers upon layers of beautiful singing — sometimes comforting, sometimes unnerving — intertwine like DNA, drenched in fuzz and reverb, to form songs that feel as though the actual act of Christa Ebert's singing is an event that takes place entirely outside of time. Ebert adopted the name and working method of Uno Lady in the fall of 2007 because, in her own summation, "Harmony comes naturally to me, instruments do not." On the songs where there is instrumentation, it's thin and synthetic, more like a translucent skin than a skeleton. As such, her performances are sparse affairs, featuring Ebert perched behind a lit-up podium and a laptop, snaking mysterious words through a thicket of her own pre-recorded backing vocals. The effect is stunning, and until her cassette-only debut comes out later this month, her MySpace page is a fine place to hear the stuff if you can't make it to Studio-A. — Ron Kretsch

THE KYLE SOWASHES

myspace.com/kylesowash

Equally inspired by Raspberries power-pop and Guided by Voices indie rock, the Kyle Sowashes are a Columbus band that specializes in delivering infectious pop hooks. "We're all pretty deeply rooted in mid-'90s indie rock," says singer-guitarist Kyle Sowash. "But we also like the Beatles and the Monkees and that sort of stuff." "Oh the Shame" aspires to be a Weezer-esque ballad, and its nerdy vocals and off-kilter guitars nearly do the trick. The same goes for the autobiographical "In the Mail," which has even more aw-shucks appeal. "Closed Captioned" is a bit harsher, though the gritty guitar work and song-ending jam bring the track to a climactic close. Led by Sowash, who initially formed the group in 2005 as a solo project, the band now has a stable lineup and has released two albums. They've toured as far west as Albuquerque and as far south as New Orleans. The guys are now fine-tuning songs for a new album they hope to start recording next year. — Jeff Niesel

MIKE ST. JUDE

AND THE VALENTINES

myspace.com/mikestjude

Those who think Studio-A is too heavy on amorphous, noisy underground bands will find the straightforward rock of Mike St. Jude and the Valentines a welcome oasis of musical normality. They compare themselves to groups like the Kinks, the Faces and the early Stones, and their tunes are drenched in the roots-rock vibe that the latter two pioneered. The quintet have released a pair of albums: 2006's Fallout Patterns of the Hoodshot Blues and last year's Here's to Your Black and Blue Heart. They're packed with snappy pop-rock songs that are easy to like. The bluesy pop romp "Enjoy a Toast" harks back to bands like the Faces, with more than a bit of raw-throated, mic-swinging Rod Stewart quality in the vocals. "Sleepwalking" is an exuberant but aggressively melodic mid-tempo rocker, and "Tongue Tied"'s pulsing organ, portentious guitar strums and anthemic yet wistful melody evoke a more intimate and modest version of Bruce Springsteen. Uplifting layered harmonies are the icing on these sharp, infectious tunes. The band stumbles a bit on ballads, which tend to go on longer than the mostly under-three-minute rockers. But when they rock out, you can almost smell the sweat and hear the audience singing along. — Pantsios

KID TESTED

myspace.com/kidtestedmusic

This Cleveland trio specialize in the sonic science of aggressive punk-rock. The band's auditory assaults are loud, fast and experimental. For seven years, Kid Tested have expanded the limits of their explosive sound, finally formulating their highly unstable debut album Pop Era Laundry in 2009. It's a 13-song set of volcanic, unchecked power. Songs like "Oh Well" and "Armageddon in a Shoebox" are disruptive post-punk rejects, weaned on razor-thin production, waves of noise and a furious fusion of melodies (from punk to grunge to sludge). It's buzz-saw garage-rock that slows down only to replace broken guitar strings, shotgun beers and blast out again, grinding sub-metallic riffs with high/low dynamics, not unlike the Stooges, Hüsker Dü or Nirvana. These three thrashers (bassist Domonnic Richardi, drummer Dan Garrity and singer-guitarist Shawn Mishak) will no doubt preview some new songs from their upcoming Lost on Purpose album. Live, it can only be categorized as amazing and terrible all at once. "The atmosphere of our live set is like shitting, coming and sneezing at the same time and sometimes involves bunny ears, Mexican wrestling masks and/or a synthetic rooster," says Mishak. — Gribbins

MEGACHURCH

myspace.com/megachurchofcleveland

Megachurch worship the bass guitar and the groove. The group burst onto the Cleveland scene this spring with a sudden barrage of gigs, out of the ashes of regional indie-rockers Machine Go Boom. They're led by Machine Go Boom's Mickey Machine and anchored by Machine drummer Dan Price (continuing the combustible theme, he also played in Cleveland's This Is Exploding), who recruited Brian Hill to fulfill Machine's longtime musical fantasy: a two-bass group. "I used to play in a proggy kind of band," says Machine. "We had two basses briefly, but it didn't go anywhere. I always wanted to go back to it. It's just a lot of fun to play bass." The unconventional group's driving indie rock doesn't sound anything like extra-bass precedents Ned's Atomic Dustbin or Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom." Their themes — though not music — are closer to Cleveland iconoclasts Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival. With no vocalist, they fill their giant grooves with samples of preachers delivering fevered sermons in several languages. Between songs, Hill serves up snippets of classic Kiss stage banter. Singers have volunteered for the band, but Machine likes it the way it is: "We've talked about it, and there's really not a need for a vocalist. We can say everything we want to say with samples." Of their Studio-A-Rama set, Machine says, "We'll just kind of do what we do. We'll dress up and play some silly shit." — Ferris

MISSION OF BURMA

missionofburma.com

Mission of Burma is one of those post-punk bands everyone names as an influence these days, even though no one really gave a shit about them when they were first around. They sprung from Boston's vibrant pop/punk/new-wave scene in the late '70s, with a jagged, jangly and American take on the same jagged, jangly punk Wire and Gang of Four were playing overseas. They released two great records in the early '80s: the Signals, Calls and Marches EP in 1981 and the following year's Vs., their only full-length until a reunion album five years ago. Even though they were totally ignored by most music fans, those records helped spur the Amerindie movement. Bands like Hüsker Dü and the Minutemen borrowed both the noisy guitar blasts and the staccato rhythms that often drove their songs, and R.E.M. played Burma's "Academy Fight Song" in concert for years (Moby also covered one of their tunes, the snarling "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"). All that loud cacophony caught up with them: Guitarist Roger Miller's hearing problems led to the band's breakup not long after the release of Vs. Twenty years later, Miller, bassist Clint Conley and drummer Peter Prescott got back together (with Shellac's Bob Weston) and have since released a pair of albums, 2004's ONoffON and 2006's Obliterati, with a new one — The Sound, the Speed, the Light — coming out on October 6. After all these years, they're still capable of shattering eardrums. — Michael Gallucci

Hear new music from Megauchurch and Uno Lady on our new online streaming jukebox: clevescene.com/kicking_and_streaming

Mission of Burma is one of those post-punk bands everyone names as an influence these days, even though no one really gave a shit about them when they were first around. They sprung from Boston's vibrant pop/punk/new-wave scene in the late '70s, with a jagged, jangly and American take on the same jagged, jangly punk Wire and Gang of Four were playing overseas. They released two great records in the early '80s: the Signals, Calls and Marches EP in 1981 and the following year's Vs., their only full-length until a reunion album five years ago. Even though they were totally ignored by most music fans, those records helped spur the Amerindie movement. Bands like Hüsker Dü and the Minutemen borrowed both the noisy guitar blasts and the staccato rhythms that often drove their songs, and R.E.M. played Burma's "Academy Fight Song" in concert for years (Moby also covered one of their tunes, the snarling "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"). All that loud cacophony caught up with them: Guitarist Roger Miller's hearing problems led to the band's breakup not long after the release of Vs. Twenty years later, Miller, bassist Clint Conley and drummer Peter Prescott got back together (with Shellac's Bob Weston) and have since released a pair of albums, 2004's ONoffON and 2006's Obliterati, with a new one — The Sound, the Speed, the Light — coming out on October 6. After all these years, they're still capable of shattering eardrums. — Michael Gallucci

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