Do bands that only release music digitally have “Streaming Release Parties”? Not something I’ve really thought about until realizing that this weekend there are back-to-back honest-to-goodness CD Release Parties, something that hasn’t really been the norm for the last few years. While digital music is convenient, there’s something to be said for bands who still cater to those of us with CD players in our cars. And the new releases by Bava Choco and Sophmore are EXACTLY the kind of music I want to be listening to while on the road.

You’d be excused if neither of these names are familiar – neither band falls into the traditional college-aged kids playing every opportunity they have even if it means a Tuesday night 1am slot at The Summit. (Yikes, if you knew how hard I had to think about a live music venue in Columbus that hosted local bands late into the night/early morning on a weeknight, you’d say, “Yep, dude lives in the ‘burbs and is out of touch”). But, I digress. Bava Choco and Sophmore are both made up of Columbus music veterans who used to do the Tuesday night gig thing back when clubs like High Five, Bernie’s, and Ravari Room were still around. These days, band members have full-time jobs, mortgages, kids and few dreams of signing a record deal with Geffen and going out on the road 250 days a year so these shows are somewhat rare and special.

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You may have read about these releases on some year end “Best of” lists like Popmatters, All Music, Blurt and more which makes this deal all the more incredible.

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E (photo by Ben Stas) E performs at Big Room Bar on Sunday, December 4. Primitives and Mortimur open.

E (photo by Ben Stas)
E performs at Big Room Bar on Sunday, December 4. Primitives and Mortimur open.

There was no college radio station – at least not like I expected – at OSU when I went there in the late ’80s/early ’90s so discovering so-called “college rock” was something I had to do on my own. This typically meant spending time searching through the bins at the basement-level Used Kids location, listening to whatever Ron or Bela or Dan or Jerry was playing and, before I got to actually know these guys, sheepishly trying to identify the artist without having to ask. Truthfully, not sure how Come’s 11:11 cassette ended up in my collection – Did I hear it at Used Kids? Did I read about it? Did I buy it because it was on Matador Records? – but it did and while, admittedly, it wasn’t as grungy as the SubPop and SubPop-related stuff I was listening to in ’92, it was the type of music I had hoped to hear on a college radio station – lo-fi, noisy, dissonant,  scarred and bruised, lacking glossy, sing-a-long choruses.

Thalia Zedek was making noise before Come (Live Skull, Uzi) and has continued to make noise long after that band’s demise. While Zedek may not be a well-known name in the mainstream alt-rock world, her influence on decades of musicians whose start was in a basement or a garage or a dimly-lit practice space is indisputable. In 2016 alone, Zedek has released two albums – one under her own name (Thalia Zedek Band), the sublime Eve (the heartbreaking strings on ‘Illumination’ add wonderful flavor), and the angsty, self-titled album E, Zedek’s latest project, a collaboration with Jason Sanford (Neptune) and Gavin McCarthy (Karate).

Zedek will return to Columbus on Sunday night with E after having performed with her solo band at the Big Room Bar in October. You may want to bring ear plugs to this one!