Placing select performers from this year's Bellwether (Aug. 9-10 in Waynesville, Ohio) on a bell curve running from throwaways to acts that inspire ambivalence to absolute must-sees

The Throwaways

Cake
Little-known fact: The famous “let them eat cake” saying was followed by the words “...but not see Cake.”

Cold War Kids
Remember back in 2006 when Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up to Dry” was taking over the airwaves and we had such high hopes for this California act? Oh, to be young and naive again.

STRFKR
HRD PSS.

Ambivalence

Beach House
If you need to fold laundry at the fest, or chill with a glass of wine and a completely non-disruptive soundtrack, then here’s the band for you. This is peak ambivalence, and the dead center of our bell curve.

Twin Shadow
Twin Shadow isn’t the worst shadow, but here’s a ranking of shadows we’d rather see:
5. 1994 Alec Baldwin film “The Shadow”
4. The shadow of E.T’s finger across Elliott’s face when he wants to phone home
3. Peter Pan’s shadow
2. Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow
1. DJ Shadow

We Are Scientists
We Are Not Impressed. (Also see Cold War Kids and the nostalgia for naivete).

Must-Sees

Black Moth Super Rainbow
The long-running psych-rock crew’s latest, the stripped-down, sublime Panic Blooms, from 2018, is ideally suited to this trying social and political era (see album standout “Bad Fuckin Times”).

Souther
Carly Fratianne, who lets her more experimental urges fly in the spooky, wondrous wyd, walks a comparatively straightforward line in blues-tinged rock band Souther. Not that the music isn’t without its thorns or unexpected detours, as evidenced by new single “Creature,” on which Fratianne sings of “the end of the world” atop galloping riffs before the whole thing dovetails into a menacing instrumental breakdown that sounds like collapse.

R. Ring
Dayton legend Kelley Deal (the Breeders) teams with Cincinnati rocker Mike Montgomery (Ampline). Wonderfulness ensues.

Caroline Rose
Last year in Alive, Joel Oliphint noted that Rose finally chose to embrace each aspect of her personality on 2018’s LONER, which meant, at times, highlighting her less serious side. “There are so many things that make up who a person is, and some days you feel serious, some days you feel funny, some days you feel really sad,” Rose said. “I had elements of humor in my music sometimes, but for the most part I don’t think I knew how to do it.” Songs like “Bikini” reveal her to be a quick study.

Pinback
Sure, it’s been seven years since Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith released an album as Pinback (2012’s Information Retrieved), but that’s no reason to skip this experimental indie-pop act. For the unfamiliar, check out 2001 album Blue Screen Life as an entry point into Pinback’s math-rock with heart.

Guided By Voices
What better time than now to raise a salty salute to these kings of Dayton and sing along at the top of your lungs to “Gold Star for Robot Boy.”