HotChaCha frontwoman Jovana Batkovic didn't set out to be a rock & roll singer. Born in Sarajevo, she moved to the U.S. in 1997, received a theater degree from Kent State, and completed a masters program in social work at Cleveland State University. She liked the theater, but she also thought it was limiting. "You had to work with the script, and you were always doing the same thing," she says. "After a three-week run, I'd be like, This is fucking boring." When Batkovic's friend, guitarist Mandy Aramouni, asked her to join her band, Batkovic jumped at the chance, even though she had never really played in one before. The all-girl lineup immediately signed with the local label Exit Stencil and released its debut album in 2008. The band just unveiled a new EP, Fantastic Static, which features a handful of prickly punk songs written over the past couple of years. "We wanted to be a little heavier and less poppy," says Batkovic, who looks like Karen O but wails like Courtney Love. "Since [drummer] Roseanna [Safos] joined the band, we started working on lots of new stuff. We didn't want to change our style, but you automatically grow when someone new comes into a band. I've gotten to the point where I'm not afraid to sing for more than 30 seconds." HotChaCha perform with Starfucker and Octopus Project at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Grog Shop. Tickets are $10, $8 in advance; learn more about them at myspace.com/hotchachahotchacha.
Twangy Berea singer-songwriter Mike Joyce (myspace.com/michaeljoyce08) has just completed work on his new album, The Alder Growing There, which is being mastered at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studios. He recently signed on with a Nashville agent and is now shopping the album with hopes of landing a major-label deal. So far, he's gotten some great feedback. "I am excited to perform, market, and distribute this material," says Joyce, who will take his band Four Corners on the road this fall.
The organization All Faiths Pantry (bnks.org) provides "vital nutritional assistance to our neighbors with little income or mobility." And like most do-gooders, they're always in need of funding. So several local artists are getting together at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Beachland Ballroom for a benefit concert. Reggae fan and promoter Packy Malley will host the event. Revolution Brass Band, Umojah Nation, Ernie Krivda's Jazz Workshop, Mifune, Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band, and Lubriphonic are all scheduled to perform. Tickets are $15, $10 in advance.
Thrash-metal band Solipsist (myspace.com/solipsistohio) celebrates the release of its new CD, The Human Equation, with a show at 7 p.m. Saturday at Peabody's. Cannibal Red, Dagger Rebellion, Ruled by Reason, Passings Unmourned, Onehitkill, and Here Lies Another open. Tickets are $6, but if you go to peabodys.com and print out a copy of the concert flier, you get in for free. Sweet deal.
John Cellura, owner of the West Side record shop Bent Crayon, doesn't promote many shows. But when he does, you can bet it's something special. This Friday he's bringing German minimalist techno DJ Thomas Brinkmann to town for a 10 p.m. gig at Touch Supper Club. Tickets are $8 if you get there before 11, $10 if you want to be fashionably late. Go to touchohiocity.com for more info. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.