- Wanda Santos-Bray
- Frontman Billy Crooked at the Vacancies CD-release party at the Jigsaw Saloon.
Derek and Mandy Lashua, the former frontline for the Frans and Racermason, are returning to the scene with User Sets Mode+, a band that writes an edgier chapter in their history of pop bliss. Guitarist-songwriter Derek says the new band synthesizes the Frans' guitar hooks, Racermason's dynamic vibe, and Mandy's siren vocals.
"We're going for a lot of pressure and energy," says Derek. "A lot of fun, loud rock, with a punk edge and poppy feel to it. With the last few shows we played with Racer, it seemed the more we turned the volume up, the more fun we were having."
The Frans were a scene presence in the alt-rock era, from 1993 to 1998. From 2000 to 2005, Racermason's live-band trip-hop earned a dedicated following that was just jelling as the group fizzled. Derek says there aren't any plans to release the second Racermason album, which was finished, but scrapped just before a 2005 CD release show.
User Sets Mode+ formed in January. The husband-wife team is backed by veteran Youngstown bassist Justin Arroyo (Raul, My Sister the Sun) and Craig Ramsey, a versatile drummer whose résumé includes Bears, Kiddo, Ace & the Ragers, and the Lovekill. Lashua says they're planning to record an EP soon. One tense track, "Again," is available at www.myspace.com/usersetsmode.
USM has played a few shows, including the Florida Music Festival. The group makes its local live debut Saturday, June 9 at Akron's Lime Spider (207 South Main Street). The band has shows lined up across Northern Ohio over the summer. USM makes its Cleveland debut at the Beachland Tavern on Friday, July 6.
· Ramsey's Lovekill is on hiatus. After the band's well-received debut, 2006's These Moments Are Momentum, singer-guitarist Chris Rager left the indie-rock/post-hardcore group (he now plays hardcore in the Cheap Tragedies), bassist Carla Cherry had a baby, and guitarist Jonah Bayer relocated to New York City.
· Red's back from the dead: After 15 years of blistering guitar rawk, Red Giant took a year off. The Giant returns to the stage Saturday, July 9 at Parma's Jigsaw Saloon and Stage (5324 State Road). Spudmonsters drummer Eric Matthews has joined the new lineup, but guitarist Damien Perry says the shred will remain the same. "We plan on finishing the album we started," says Perry. "Expect Red Giant gigs more often than not. Red Giant is back, baby."
· WRUW 91.1 FM is accepting submissions from bands who want to play its 25th-annual Studio-A-Rama outdoor festival. Submission deadline is July 15. The fest's date will be announced. Visit WRUW.org for more details.
· Mutant Soldier Records is back in the game, with a seven-inch EP from Michigan's People Again, a noisy metal-punk hybrid. The 100 copies of the record are pressed on slime-green vinyl. The basement label is run by Greg Van Krol, who played guitar in Victory Flag, a defunct crossover-revivalist group. "I'm not playing in any bands," says Van Krol. "So I'm thinking I could stay involved by helping out other bands."
· Visit www.clevescene.com/blogs for daily updates, with news on Gauge, Copperfoot, and the Suede Brothers.