Noah Stone, manager of Cincinnati-based band Sylmar, paints the picture of a “slimy, dreamy, canoe trip.” As he describes floating without a care in the world “until an unexpected class five rapid pummels you,” it’s easy to get lost in this vivid description and forget that what he’s actually describing is how Sylmar’s music makes listeners feel.
The indie-rock, stoner-jazz, dream-rock band has grown quite the following since its start in 2016 and has made a name for itself within Cincinnati’s music scene. With obvious rock influences, groovy melodies, and vocals that meticulously straddle the line of silky smooth and gritty and raw, it’s impossible to confine Sylmar to just one genre. To top off this eclectic sound, Stone adds that “like Korean cuisine, Sylmar is best enjoyed live.”
On July 27, fans can do just that at The Woodward Theater for Sylmar’s EP release show, its first extended release since 2016. “We’re gonna entertain in a new way that the majority of the crowd hasn’t seen before,” Sylmar’s frontman, Brian McCullough, says. “The show is definitely [going to be] rockin’, but it’s also intimate and we try to include the fans as much as possible.”
McCullough, along with guitarists Luke Glaser and Dan Sutter, bassist Chase Watkins, and drummer Ethan Kimberly have spent the past three years playing shows throughout the midwest while simultaneously writing and recording their new EP. “We’ve been workshopping [these songs] for a while and never quite took our normal writing approach,” Glaser says. “They were all more toned-down songs that we could never quite get in a group setting. I think individual songwriting abilities are showcased in this EP.”
Sylmar released “Nonnude,” the first single off the five-track EP, Telford, on June 28. “We are taking a different turn with our music on this record,” McCullough says. “But if anyone listens to “Nonnude,” they should expect something that’s more acoustic driven, somewhat playful, still has that jazzy feel that we have, but it’s a little bit more folk and less rock.”
The band is also taking a different approach with the release show itself. Prior to Sylmar headlining at The Woodward Theater at 10:15 p.m., five regional bands will play sets at both The Woodward and MOTR Pub. Two additional bands will close out the night at MOTR, after Sylmar’s set.
It’s not common to host a dual release show at two separate venues, but with Sylmar’s long-standing relationship with the owners of The Woodward and MOTR, the decision to do so was obvious. “MOTR is one of those venues that’s a true gem in Cincinnati … it’s high-quality music, and the staff there and at The Woodward always treat musicians fairly,” Glaser says.
Joining Sylmar on the lineup are Cincinnati bands This Pine Box, In The Pines, Audley x Ronin, and FLOCKS. Kentucky-based bands Joslyn & The Sweet Compression and Bendigo Fletcher and Cleveland-based band The Katy, will also be performing. “I think that every band is different, which is a huge positive for what we’re trying to display here,” McCullough says. “We’re just trying to get different flavors of the city.”
The release show at The Woodward is open to fans 18 and up. Those 21 and up can also enjoy additional bands at MOTR. Presale tickets are available online for $15 and include a physical copy of Telford. Stone says the CD is Sylmar’s way of saying thank you to fans, as well as a way to showcase a new side of a band whose live show and sound has “served as a place of comfortable chaos.”
“We really put this show together as a community event,” Stone says. “We’re just trying to put something special together for everyone to enjoy.”