2020 was a challenging and somber year for the music industry, but Cincinnati artists are looking ahead to bigger and better things in 2021. Several local acts—ranging from a husband-and-wife hip-hop duo to a rock quintet—kicked off the new year with new releases. Get to know these five up-and-coming artists and what they have in store for listeners.
On New Year’s Day, KNOTTS released their new EP, Good Glasses. Frontwoman Adalia Powell-Boehne says the acoustic guitar-laced project was conceived during the lonely months of lockdown, while she was missing her friends and family.
“I was inspired while talking to a friend on the phone who was struggling with an eating disorder,” Adalia explains. “I told her that I would ask God to give her ‘good glasses’ to see herself with. In many ways, this pandemic has allowed me to have ‘good glasses’ and see things more clearly in my life as well, and have a deeper gratitude for my health, my life as an artist, and my family.”
Sonically, Good Glasses finds Adalia returning to her folk roots—a new direction from KNOTTS’ last project, Is It Art Yet? Later this year, the band—which also includes keyboardist Antoine Franklin, guitarist Jordan Antoine Wilson, and drummer CJ Eliasen—hopes to release their full-length album, Ribbon Dancer.
Myles Ellington Twitty
If you’re a jazz fan—or just can’t bring yourself to put away your Christmas decorations—trumpeter Myles Ellington Twitty recently performed his own arrangement of “Jingle Bells” with his fellow University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music students.
“Being a performer, so often you’re playing other people’s music, which is fine and I love it, but it’s really exciting when you can see your vision come together with such a talented cast of musicians,” explains Myles, who will graduate from UC next year.
Besides this spirited performance, Myles also composes with his Myles Ellington Twitty (MET) Quartet, which plays frequently at Over-The-Rhine’s Nostalgia Wine & Jazz Bar. Keep up with him on his YouTube account for new music coming this year.
In The Pines
If laidback, psychedelic rock is more your thing, check out In The Pines’ new album, Slow Blink. The record follows three years after their debut effort, San Lorenzo.
“While San Lorenzo was an experiment in trying to find our sound, Slow Blink seems like proof of a little more maturity,” guitarist Michael Shular says. “When we wrote San Lorenzo, we were playing a lot of parties around the University campus, drinking 40s at home, and skateboarding around Clifton Heights. We took our songs seriously, but the idea of mapping out an album was still a relatively new creative challenge. With Slow Blink, we set aside time to plan the flow of the album and the themes explored in the songs a little more.”
The band—which consists of Shular, Charlie Horn, Graham Holthaus, Patrick Zopff, and Alex Dungan—all live under the same roof, so working together on the record amidst COVID-19 wasn’t too difficult. Fans of In The Pines can look forward to “at least one new album” this year.
Darity started off the new year on a hopeful note with her single, “Everything.” While the dream-pop offering seems to speak directly to the anxieties of 2020 and tentative optimism for 2021, Darity actually began writing “Everything” in 2017 while struggling with feelings of self-doubt.
“‘Everything’ isn’t specifically a song about COVID and all that’s going on in the world, but it’s where we’re all at,” she says. “My hope for ‘Everything’ is that it will find the people who need permission to be in whatever mess 2020 has left them in while singing an intention of hope and belief.”
The singer/songwriter added that “Everything” stands out as one of her “braver” songs because of its personal lyrics. “It’s unnerving but I hope to write more songs like that someday,” she notes.
Hip hop artist E. Renee collaborated with her husband, rapper Jay Wiz, on her latest single, “TakeOff.” Underscored by an undeniably catchy beat from producer Tone Jonez, the couple celebrates their burgeoning rap careers—and each other—with energetic, confident bars.
“With so much going on with the pandemic and protesting, I wanted to provide music that was upbeat and fun to help ease the weight someone could be going through mentally,” Renee says. “This song was an opportunity to do just that and remind people that we can still enjoy life despite our current circumstances.”