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With Unique Sound, Covington Band Common Center is Set to Release New Album

When watching the band Common Center jam out at Covington's Wunderbar last weekend, a famous western film came to mind. 

Seven uniquely skilled musicians were assembled from various corners of the region in order to pull off their mission of composing a smash debut album. They are their own Magnificent Seven here in Covington with each member putting forth his or her own sound, seamlessly blending into a style of rock that is hard to pinpoint.

For the most part, musicians shy away from describing their own sound. No one wants to be placed in a generic corner of the music world that can be easily dismissed. Sometimes, a band is clearly in a genre, but that is not the case with Common Center. Because they have seven pieces in the band, their sound is full and thoroughly layered.

When pressed, band manager and keyboardist Lewis Connell uses words like psychedelic and gypsy and rock to describe the band’s sound, but after hearing their music, it’s easy to see why it’s hard for anyone to label.

Common Center's debut LP, Gypsy River, is scheduled to be released on November 21.

The band gave itself plenty of time for the release so that nothing felt rushed or thrown together. Their songs are all original with well-thought out lyrical content written by singer and guitarist Liam Hall. He and drummer Austin Garrison founded the band. Hall and Connell found themselves talking music one night before they were bandmates and ended their conversation silently nodding to each other in agreement that a fuller band must be formed. Soon came Northside native Sasha Suskind on saxophone and other wind instruments, Jessica Graff with her violin and almost operatic singing ability, Ian Smith as a percussionist and spirited backup vocalist, and Dennis DeZarn with a bass background that transcends many genres. 

Once formed and fully operational, the local powerhouse band put their talents to work by combining on an EP called Live at the Warehouse, composed in the summer of 2014. The upcoming album will feature new takes on four of the five tracks featured on the EP.

“We have songs from our regular live roster as well as brand new creations that just recently started getting stage time,” Connell said. “We are not holding back on studio hours or cutting any corners on quality. What we are releasing will truly be something we are proud of.”

The music is at times laid back and melodic and other times powerful and straight forward, but refuses to be too much of one or the other. Even songs with a more driving, heavier sound have bright touches of strings and softer vocals. It’s not a coincidence that the band members all feel at ease about the album they have collectively recorded. It can be a challenge getting seven adults together on a regular basis for recording sessions and live performances, but when talking with them, it’s easy to see how confident and driven the group is as a whole.

“We are always working on creating new, ever-evolving material as well as building a loyal, loving family,” Connell said.

While Gypsy River does not come out until closer to Thanksgiving, fans and, perhaps, curious music lovers can benefit greatly by ordering the album in advance. Common Center is using a website called PledgeMusic.com as their way to distribute sales before the release of the album. There, customers can choose among various tiers of price points, each with unique perks along with the album once it’s ready.

Fans can get extras like access to behind-the-scenes pictures and videos, a signed copy of the album or poster, band t-shirts, handwritten lyric sheets and even a thank you call from the band members. Prices for the early purchases range from $10 to $100 based on the extras that are offered for buying the album ahead of time.

The pre-order campaign ends October 4, and 10 percent of all the proceeds go to Melodic Connections, a non-profit organization that provides music therapy to children around the Greater Cincinnati area.

Common Center is a Covington band that is truly unique in a lot of ways. For those interested in hearing the seven-piece creation before the album drops can see them October 9 at the Adjust Your Eyes Festival in Cincinnati, at Wunderbar in Covington on October 17, or at Next Chapter in Cincinnati on November 5. To pre-order Gypsy River, fans can find the various release options at PledgeMusic.com or find more details on the band’s Facebook page

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Photo by Brian Glass (provided)