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Basic Black EP
Vanina Hanin / Standard Perfection
Format: 10" / Digital
Release Date: February 1, 2011
By Michael Snyder July 25, 2011

Based in Brooklyn and having roots in the Midwestern cities of Dayton, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, where he lived for eight years, singer and instrumentalist Jimmy Ohio has struck upon a compelling and memorable style on Basic Black.  Stripped down and often bluesy, Ohio and his sidemen use piano, raw guitar, scorching vocals, and solid, simple bass and drums to convey heartache, strife, and other bleak emotions.  Fittingly, these five tracks (only four on the digital release – the 10” vinyl offers a bonus track) were recorded in a former Baptist church in Jimmy’s once-hometown of Detroit, with some notable Motor City musicians backing him.

The simplicity of the compositions, love of rock’n’roll, and pure passion poured into the singing often give the music a classic feel.  “It’s Been a While” is a blistering, bluesy shuffle in 6/8 with fiercely delivered vocals.  The bent guitar notes and fiery riffs heard on this tune are courtesy of esteemed Detroit garage-rocker Dan Kroha (The Gories, The Demolition Doll Rods, The Readies).  Kroha’s contributions impress throughout and can recall Keith Richards and Ron Asheton. Another distinguished player on this EP is Tony Maimone, long-time bassist for Cleveland new wave/experimental stalwarts Pere Ubu. Maimone’s fuzz bass on the Stooges-referencing “Rock and Roll God” gives this braggadocious, stomping song plenty of drive and heft. Also hailing from Motown, Trevor Naud (Zoos of Berlin, PAS/CAL) provides simple, effective percussion that allows Jimmy room to stretch out vocally.  The tense “Hello and Goodbye” is built on a base of sparse piano chords, a simple backbeat employing the space between the notes.  This short, sharp song will get into your head, demanding repeat listens.  A high point of the EP, “Quiet Sound” is a poignant, understated missive about love, recalling the more “quiet sounds” of Big Star and The Rolling Stones along with the ballad “Damaged” by Primal Scream.

Formerly a member of the Detroit duos Misty and The Ultimate Lovers, Jimmy Ohio has forged his own style, although in spirit this might recall contemporary artists such as Akron, Ohio’s Black Keys or Richard Swift.  The 10” vinyl version of this release is recommended over the digital, not only just because 10” records are fun, but more so because the packaging of this release is brilliant, with minimalist design and a one-sided record with a totally black, smooth reverse.  Basic Black in size 10 is a necessary addition to the collection.

Visit: Jimmy Ohio | Vanina Hanin
Purchase: Insound | eMusic