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Feelin' the Lovedrug 

A SoCal label signs Canton's answer to Coldplay.

H.I.M. frontman Ville Hermani Vallo, blowing smoke at - the Odeon, April 22. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • H.I.M. frontman Ville Hermani Vallo, blowing smoke at the Odeon, April 22.

Canton's Lovedrug sold out the Lime Spider three times in the last year and was just cracking the Cleveland market when something bigger happened: The lush, driving-rock quartet has signed to the Militia Group, a California pop-punk label whose roster features the Beautiful Mistake and Copeland, and recently added Cleveland's Brandtson.

"They have really strong melodies," says the band's manager, Timothy Eddings. "And that's what makes it accessible. It's not emo at all."

The band's blissed-out sound has drawn comparisons to Coldplay, Modest Mouse, and Radiohead. It chose Militia over development deals with majors.

"The Militia Group are young, hard-working, and talented," says Eddings. "And they really seemed to have a great plan to help the band get to a major, on their terms."

Lovedrug singer-guitarist-pianist Michael Shepard and bassist Adam Ladd cultivated a modest following in indie-rock circles with Kerith Ravine, which disbanded in 2000. Lovedrug formed in 2002 and recorded the LP Pretend You're Alive nearly a year ago. Produced by Tim Patalan (Sponge) and mastered by Grammy-winner Gavin Lurssen (Tom Waits), the album is set for a July 27 release.

"The songwriting is superb," says Militia Group co-owner Rory Felton. "They aren't afraid to write huge radio hits and seven-minute piano ballads on the same record."

· Red Giant and its song "Time Machine" have been featured on the MTV show Subterranean during coverage of the South by Southwest music festival. Look for an album from the Cleveland stoner rockers this summer on Small Stone Records.

· Roberto Ocasio's untimely passing wasn't the end of the Cleveland bandleader's legacy. His band, the Latin Jazz Project, is carrying on with performances, plans to record, and fund-raising efforts for the new Roberto Ocasio Foundation for music education.

Ocasio, a musician since age 10, had turned 49 just before his fatal automobile accident on January 31. A May 8 luncheon at Windows on the River (2000 Sycamore St., the Flats) will see his induction into the Cleveland Educators and Alumni Achievers Hall of Fame.

"He dedicated so much of his life to music," says Bev Montie, manager of the Latin Jazz Project. "We're so devastated, but we're trying to continue the best we can. And there's so much music still to get out there."

Roberto Ocasio's Latin Jazz Project plays Wilbert's (812 Huron Rd. E.) on Saturday, May 1.

· The Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles Six-Pack Weekend II just got heavier: Metal Church will headline the June 2-5 festivities at the Odeon, rounding out a bill that also just added thrashers Flotsam & Jetsam, Jason Newsted's pre-Metallica wolf pack. "We've probably got the best lineup we've ever had, and no one knows about it," says Kurdt Vanderhoof, guitarist for Metal Church. "We're going to change that."

· WMMS's history-making Coffee Break concerts took place at increasingly large venues, but started with in-studio performances. Now the Buzzard is getting back to basics with the Buzzard Lounge, a new performance studio located at the station's Independence headquarters. The Lounge opened last week with a performance from Seven Mary Three.

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