2018 Artist Spotlight: The Trek to Brite Winter

By Rachel Hunt

While Brite Winter is all about connecting local bands to subterranean thrill-seekers, part of our goal this year was to find national and regional groups ready for music lovers to discover in Cleveland. Out of 45 bands, these seven are traveling the farthest to get to the West Bank of the Flats from 200 to 10,000 miles away, bringing us all a little closer together in the process. To get you familiar with our out of town guests before February 24th, we've compiled what we like best about each band so you don't miss a beat.

Atlas Genius
Adelaide, Australia

Brothers Keith and Mike Jeffery have spent the last four years touring with their album Inanimate Objects following the breakout hit "Trojans", which earned them a gold record in 2013. They've traversed the globe playing their signature mix of contemporary funk for audiences at festivals from Lollapalooza to Bunbury. Their music has brought them into the living rooms of millions of Americans on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and ABC drama, Grey's Anatomy. The charming Aussies have been compared to Silversun Pickups or Young The Giant, but their new dynamic single "63 Days" shares similarities with athematic hits from the likes of Imagine Dragons and Walk The Moon.

Why we love them: The brothers have started a campaign around their new single that focuses on #63DAYSOFLOVE. You can start whenever you choose, maybe right now? You'll be more than halfway done by the time you see Atlas Genius live! Use your #63days to connect with family, friends, loved ones, neighbors or total strangers. Get involved by volunteering in your free time (we know of one great organization where you can do this, Brite Winter) and make sure you hashtag it.

Fruit & Flowers
Brooklyn, NY

Made up of one NYC native and three very far-flung transplants, Fruit & Flowers take all the best parts of college-radio-darlings and blend them up into a refreshing power-pop energy drink. They're self-labeled as "art punk/ surf noir" and that descriptor fits them like a glove. "Subway Surfer" from their newest release Drug Tax is built on a thumping rockabilly beat that sets the mood for this urban western, lit up by gang vocals and a heroine's cry to a modern day "city soldier" taking public transit. Their songs invigorate every day life with a playful sense of adventure making the mundane, extraordinary.

Why we love them: Rhythm guitarist Lyz has a soft spot in her heart (and on her pedal board) for EarthQuaker Devices, a boutique guitar pedal company based out of Akron, OH. With three out of four members of the band identifying as women, they pack a big punch of "girl power" into every set. They aren't messing around! The band has been voted "hardest working" based on their frequent gigging around NYC and touring throughout the USA.

The Dropout
Detroit, MI

You know that saying, big things come in small packages? Andrew Ficker, aka The Dropout is the whole kit and caboodle. Saxophonist, synth player, keyboardist, singer, producer: he does it all with only a drummer on stage for support. The Dropout's tracks inhabit this space between funky, traditional world-inspired music and bombastic EDM hooks. Their week-old single "Old Parts, New Beginning" is built up by dramatic vocals reminiscent of The Killers or Depeche Mode, framed by exhilarating samples mimicking steel drums and whistles. Ficker's signature saxophone plays an integral part as well.

Why we love them: Confetti-cannon, self-programmed light show and colorful smoke bombs are just some of the weapons in The Dropout's "party arsenal" that has showed up at their concerts. Whether they're filming a music video with intricate choreography in a junkyard or at Detroit venue El Club, they make sure to leave a mark on wherever they play.

Cincinnati, OH

This brand new synth-pop trio from the Queen City has been getting tons of attention with only two nostalgia-drenched tracks released online. "Are We In Love Yet?" could easily be found on an alternate soundtrack for The Breakfast Club. The track is catchy as all hell while remaining reverent of 80's pop sensibilities. Making it accessible to Millennials and familiar to an audience much older than Christian Gough, founder of the band. Moonbeau took home "Best Electronic" group at the 2017 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, congrats!

Why we love them: Besides their addictive singles, Gough and co-vocalist Claire Muenchen are also quite the fashionistas. They both work for retailer Urban Outfitters, who gave them the opportunity to play with other employee bands from all over the country at their desert gathering known simply as US@UO: Phoenix.

Hello Luna
Columbus, OH

Kenzie Coyne started the band Hello Luna with her mates Diego Villasmil, Michael Neumaier, and Eric Morgan in 2016. After taking over the heart of Columbus and selling out their EP release show for their newest release, the EP Ghost of You, the band has been actively seeking bigger waters to swim, including Cincinnati, Bowling Green and Indiana.

Why we love them: Their songs boarder on pop-punk but with a more mature edge. No one wanted to grow-up or grow out of listening to Paramore, but you can only hear "Misery Business" so many times without it seeming juvenile. Hello Luna trades in the emo tropes and scenester antics for subject matter that's more relatable to fans in 2018.

Columbus, OH

Montezuma is a collective of Columbus staples; five guys combining forces from their pasts in progressive psych outfits and metal bands to create atmospheric, bluesy math rock laced with soaring vocals and textured harmonies. They're a band teetering on the edge of Americana, but influenced by elements of jazz and urban living that gives them a unique sound; something less easily imitated than Mumford and Sons or The Lumineers.

Why we love them: You might think you know what you're getting next with this group, but their dynamic song structures will have you constantly surprised and entertained in the middle of a jam break or during their most melodic verse. They also know talent when it rolls through town; Montezuma has opened for indie heavy hitters like Band of Horses, Warpaint, and Surfer Blood.

The Halamays
Columbus, OH

Patrick and Katie Watkins are a husband and wife duo that started performing music together, bonded by attending college at BGSU together and being really into acoustic folk rock. Since then, they've lived in Chicago and Columbus, where they now reside as parents, completely rebranded themselves as an indie-pop band, and have recently put out a new body of songs. We get it-they sound charming and cute on paper, but are they actually better than any other married musicians making music these days? The answer is wholeheartedly, yes.

Why we love them: Their songs ricochet back and forth from reminding us of The Go-Go's to The Postal Service, but no matter what indie-pop look they decide to go with, it's all great. Recorded at home, their DIY product EP2 is impressively constructed despite its humble origins.