CD Review: The Ohio City Singers “Snow Days”

Posted: December 22, 2012 in Music
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The entire Snow Days release from The Ohio City Singers was composed by Cleveland’s own singer-songwriters Chris Allen and Doug McKean, which helps give the album a consistent feel throughout the entire length of the release. Other members of the band add their influences into the music, as well. And with Don Dixon producing the album, Snow Days has a very professional sound to it. And with everyone on the release knowing and having performed with everyone else, the loose feel of the music makes the resulting album come across as listening to a bunch of friends getting together to record an album…..which is precisely what happened:

If you take a look at the list of musicians that makes up The Ohio City Singers, you basically find every single important person that makes up the inner circle of musicians that can literally be found playing out somewhere at sometime during any weekend of the year. Taken alone or in some limitless combination of groups, Chris Allen, Doug McKean, Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charanghat, Tom Prebish, Doug McKean, Matt Sobol, Nick Stipanovich, on again/off again Clevelander Don Dixon and singer Kelly Wright make today’s Cleveland music venues come alive with their music. Or, put another way, The Ohio City Singers ARE the Cleveland Music Scene. And since each musician in the ensemble also sings lead in their respective bands, the lead vocalist changes depending on the song, which adds variety to the sound of the music from The Ohio City Singers.

Snow Days from The Ohio City Singers begins with a slightly unusual track, especially for a holiday release. “The O.C.S. Fight Song” is a track that introduces the band members in a way that would remind many of being at a high school sports event (or rally). “The ‘Ohio City Singers’ Fight Song” allows each member of the band to warm up their voices before heading off into the actual release. Being somewhat a fight song and NOT holiday related, the track gives the listener something just a little different at the very beginning of the album.

It is with the title track of the release that Snow Days really takes on the festive feeling meant for a holiday release. But in the case of the song “Snow Days,” the “festive feeling” has more to do with the excitement that comes with being off of school or work because of bad weather. Special guest (and Cleveland local hero) Michael Stanley shows up to do what he does best- be the voice on the radio. And while not truly a “holiday” song, “Snow Days” would fit alongside songs like “Sleigh Ride” or “Jingle Bells” as a song to include in the holiday season even though it never mentions the holiday of “Christmas”. “Make Believe” is one track on the album that will truly touch your heart. This song is about seeing the way children see and discovering the magic of the holidays as seen through the eyes of those younger than you.

Each song on Snow Days gives you some perspective on the holiday season. One song that many can relate to is the song “I Haven’t Said Goodbye to Christmas”. This song is one of the tracks on the album that you might find yourself listening to and thinking the same thing as the singer.

One of the most unusual and most fun tracks on the album is the track “Up and Away”. As several of the members of The Ohio City Singers also spend a lot of their time as the internationally-known Pogues cover band The Boys from the County Hell, it really doesn’t seem all that weird that some of that style would rub off on the music of this group. With that said, “Up and Away” sounds like something that The Pogues would have written for a Christmas album of their own. The Pogues-influenced song about being Santa requesting a special little boy to help him on his Christmas Eve journey is one of the best songs on Snow Days.

Throughout the Snow Days release from The Ohio City Singers, you will find songs that are fun, touching, magical and just plain good. The writing of Chris Allen and Doug McKean and the playing of all of the band members add up to one of the best Christmas albums from 2011 you may not have heard of. For this Christmas in July, do yourself a favor and check out the music of this talented band of Cleveland musicians and singers.

While Christmas is only a few days away, there is still time to check out this releases and download it for your 2012 holiday listening.

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