Two local bands release songs in 7-inch format

Vinyl record features kinetic Ultrasphinx, frenetic Bad Trouble

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Area bands Bad Trouble, from left , Josh Leskanic, Ffred Johnson, Eric Blankenhorn and Jeff Soper have teamed up to release a split 7" single with Ultrasphinx.

The history of pop music is paved with dead formats. From wax cylinders to 78 records to 8-track tapes to DAT tapes, the next music delivery system is always considered the best.

But only one outdated format has managed to survive the global shift to digital media. Vinyl remains beloved and is the only physical music format that has actually seen a rise in sales in the past several years.

It’s not just old fogies missing the days of being able to roll their recreational, inhalable, plant life on an album cover. Plenty of young bands want to make vinyl records, and plenty of young listeners want to own them.

Two local bands have taken that mix of nostalgia and a desire for a physical piece of music back to an even deader format, the 7-inch single. Barberton/Akron band Bad Trouble and Akron trio Ultrasphinx have teamed up for a 7-inch single that offers two songs each from the bands on local indie label Fone Records.

Both bands recorded their tunes at Studio Time in Akron but come from different musical places. Ultrasphinx — singer/guitarist Joe Dennis, bassist Aaron Rogers and drummer Ian Cummins — has been writing and gigging for about a year. Fans of Dennis’ previous band, Party of Helicopters, will immediately recognize his unusual sense of vocal melody and meter that somehow is still quite hummable.

Left Object is a midtempo song with a heavy thumping groove over which Dennis floats his detached, double-tracked vocals. They pick up the pace for the kinetic, crescendo-building Stoned Hearts, which sports a skipping beat, Dennis’ chugging riffs and a swirling, instrumental middle section that recalls Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth.

Ultrasphinx recently embarked on its first tour of the Midwest and the East Coast, which will include shows at the Stone Tavern in Kent on April 12, Annabell’s in Akron on April 18 and a show with Bad Trouble at the RCN Cave in Akron on May 4.

By contrast, Bad Trouble (which also released a split 7-inch with Wooly Bullies, also on Fone Records) mostly wants you to know it means business, and it only needs 94 seconds per song to prove it. The garage punk quartet’s fuzzed-up, down-strokin’, bar-chord bashin’ guitar chug comes straight from the nethers, like its influences the Stooges and the Dead Boys.

Singer/bassist Eric Blankenhorn shouts and sneers most of the nearly unintelligible vocals of Willis Reed, with some call and response from bandmates Josh Leskanic (drums), Fred Johnson (guitar) and Jeff Soper (guitar/vocals). The Man With the Grey Skin flirts with a vocal melody and features a chunky guitar solo, but it’s the band’s visceral, fist-pumping, back-to-punk-basics that will please fans of music that punches them in the eardrum.

Bad Trouble plans to continue releasing singles and has a four-song nonsplit single called Lack of Funs to be released in the summer.

Two bands with two very different sounds, but it all adds up to one enjoyable single. Now all you have to do is find that darn 45 adapter.

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Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmxabram.

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