Although the stop and fix dried on it more than a year ago, this compilation is a decent snapshot of a music scene that always seems to be on the cusp of blowing up. It's a little embarrassing that The Afghan Whigs still pop immediately to most people's minds at the mention of Cincinnati modern rock, and it's telling that the biggest recent Cincinnati names (Anticon, The Greenhornes, The National) are escapees. Datawaslost, which began as a ragtag collective of musicians and lo-fi home recorders, has evolved into a well-respected label that has brought a little dignity back to the city. This compilation focuses exclusively on Cincinnati artists.
Although there's some scattered genre-dabble here, the bands on One Two Three stick mostly to indie rock and its close offshoots. The rowdiest cuts come from The Decisions, the miraculously full-sounding one-man Spectacular Fantastic, and Fairmount Girls, whose "Your Lips may Smear" is fun, exploding plastic garage slop with pointed lyrics like "don't run or tear your dress / your lips may smear / your face may melt away". Mallory's Spiritualized-infused psych rock ("The Way After") classes things up a bit, as does A Secret Safe's amazing "Magic Lamp", which nods to Holiday-era Magnetic Fields with its low-key layers of synths, harps and Lambchop-ian vocals. Label founder Michael Bond's band, Coltrane Motion, offers "Silverglow", a catchy Casio-driven guilty pleasure that's only a heartbeat away from what the Impossible Shapes are doing over in Bloomington.
So, then, One Two Three offers a welcome reminder that there are signs of life in the Cincinnati music scene. Is it the start of something big? Could the city's overdue recognition be right around the corner? Why don't you ask Bond and label co-founder Matt Dennewitz? You can look them up the next time you're in Chicago.