Oso Good Start

By Mike Breen

Covington-based rockers Oso Bear celebrate the release of theirdebut, a self-titled, six-song EP, this Saturday at The Mad Hatter.Opening the show are Mad Anthony, Swear Jar, The Zach Burns Bandand The JC Four.

At varying times, Oso Bear’s sound resembles early IndieRock, pre-trendy Grunge, Classic Rock, Southern Rock, Punk andGarage Rock, but, in the end, it’s only Rock & Roll… and I like it. The band has the swagger and spirit of theStones, The Replacements and New York Dolls, but its more moderninfluences creep into the songwriting and keep things from gettingtoo retro or one-dimensional. There’s some great guitarinterplay between Chris Bowling and Ben Cochran, who each havedistinct styles that they manage to make sound perfectly in-syncwhen combined. And Bowling has a great Rock & Roll voice— it’s not a precise instrument, but it has a dirtysoulfulness that fits the group’s dynamics well.

While there’s often a loose, reckless vibe to OsoBear’s approach, it belies a persistent creativity in therhythms, riffs and song structures. “Cocaine Smile”begins with a peppy, chiming intro before falling into a rollickingstrut, with Keith Richards-like riffage and a great, yearningchorus, while “Darling Girl” mixes Hard Rock breakdownswith a breakneck, Punk-meets-Roots Rock whirl.

Overall, Oso Bear introduces the foursome as a powerful Rock& Roll force in the local music scene and instantly conjuresimages of an amazing, sweaty, energized live show. Like apre-superstar King of Leon transported to the mid-’80sMinneapolis Indie scene, Oso Bear tempers Rock & Roll abandonwith well-crafted songs and melodies, ending up with a sound thatis both charismatically fun and creatively satisfying.(www.myspace.com/osobearmusic)

More Local Notes

• This Sunday at Molly Malone’s in Covington,several area performers team up for a benefit to help local musiclover Steve Cresap, who has Cerebral Palsy and is in need of a new“enclosed” cart to help him get around in inclementweather. The show runs 3 p.m.-1 a.m. and will include performancesby Sonny Moorman, The Graveblankets, Tickled Pink, The Bluebirds,Larry Goshorn & Kenny Cowden, Bob Cushing, The Garry GorrellQuartet and Lucky Spaulding. Admission is a $10 donation; those whocan’t make it can donate throughwww.myspace.com/itsabenefit.

• Puz, the debut full-length from Juan Cosby, the solo,Electronica guise of local musician Nick Mitchell, gets“release partied” this Friday at East End Café.For the show, Cosby/Mitchell will be joined by Andy Schrock, DJKubby, Pharaoh Loosey and Mitchell’s “main” band,Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar, which recently welcomed guitaristJohn Gentry Jr. (Super-Massive, Heavy Weather, Ray’s MusicExchange, Naked Redheads) to the fold. The $5 cover charge alsogets you a copy of the new album. (www.myspace.com/juancosby)

• Downtown didn’t just get a new Mexican restaurantwhen Taqueria Mercado recently opened in the old Javier’sspot on Walnut Street — it also got a new live music venue.Along with plenty of local Latin and Salsa music, the restaurantwill also feature other types of local sounds. This weekend is thelive music kick-off: Latin band Uno Mas plays Friday (8 p.m.) andSaturday at 9:30 p.m., local Rockabilly/Hillbilly band StarDevilsplays its first area show since returning from dates in the U.K.Future bookings include The Kentucky Struts (Oct. 23), Ryan Mallot& Kelly Thomas (Oct. 29), Zumba (Nov. 13) and Super-Massive(Nov. 20).

• Indie Rock foursome The Western is the “Artist inResidence” at the Southgate House’s Juney’sLounge for October (meaning they play there for free everyWednesday this month at 9 p.m.). The group will be joined byseveral local artists for each show. Rob Barnes of Slow Claw playsthis Wednesday, Charlie Hustle joins the band Oct. 20 and Jeff andMisty Perholtz of The Newbees play Oct. 27. (www.facebook.com/thewestern)

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com