Eat Sugar doesn’t have a guitarist, but that's not a choice the band made to get attention - the music sounds right without one.

The quartet, which initially emerged through the Cincinnati club scene in the late 2000s, is hardly lacking in attitude. Aidan Bogosian's voice croons, yelps, taunts, and seduces over an rousing post-punk wall of noise created by keyboardist Mike McBride, keyboardist/bassist Jim Reynolds, and drummer Greg Poneris. Eat Sugar is raw without being sloppy, pop without being simple-minded, and most importantly, electronic without being electro.

"I can't imagine not writing songs, and prior to this band, I've never been in the position of having music that I contributed to become so fully realized. That's not something I take lightly, and keeping it in mind helps me put the numerous absurdities that come with making music in perspective."
Aidan Bogosian, Eat Sugar

Though its members take pride in the fact that they don’t use the instrument that has dominated rock since the 1950s, Eat Sugar is a rock band at its core. Shortened from “Eat Sugar Spend Money,” a 2005 art exhibit on gluttony at Cleveland’s Newsense Gallery, the band's name highlights its penchant for fun, direct, and immediately engaging music. On stage, they don’t use laptops, loops, or samples -- yet they still dare audiences not to dance. In the studio, they record live as a unit in order to capture the manic energy of their performances. The band plays with such crunch and swagger that Spin noted, when bestowing band-of-the-day honors on them, that "Eat Sugar's hot-blooded, punk-laced hooks are well-suited for fans of Shitdisco, LCD Soundsystem, and fellow Ohio alt-rockers Brainiac." That's fine company, indeed.

As the latest in a long series of Ohio bands whose development was shaped by geography, Eat Sugar delivers a novel version of rock and roll without coastal pretension. "We’re best appreciated in dank, Midwestern rock clubs," says Aidan. "Smack dab in the Midwest is a great place for a band to figure out its sound. You are many miles away from the siren-song pull of trends in 'Meccas' like New York and LA."

It’s also here that they teamed up with the producer who helps bring their music to life.

The group met John Schmersal at a local venue called the Gypsy Hut, where they shared a bill with Enon, Schmersal’s well-loved, offbeat pop project on Touch and Go Records. As a former member of Brainaic, Schmersal is a legend in Ohio alterna-rock circles. Yet his status didn’t deter Eat Sugar from asking him to be their producer, a relationship that created the well-received It’s Not Our Responsibility E.P. in 2009 and their 2011 full-length debut, ¡Levántense!, for Mush Records.

Schmersal, who the band affectionately calls "the Quincy Jones of Indie Rock," worked like a classic rock producer, not only laying down tracks but giving advice and guidance. At the beginning of the process, the band sent him demos of all of their material, and used his input to refine the compositions. The songs were all road-tested when the band finally hit the studio, where they worked closely with Schmersal to further embellish arrangements, fatten tones, and bring the beats to the forefront. To record with the band, Schmersal moved elements from his Philadelphia-based Notausgang Studio to a home studio in Greg’s house and used a tried-and-true formula that is becoming less common in the age of digital recording. Rather than building upon basic tracks with endless overdubs, Schmersal set things up so that the band could play together at the same time. With this arrangement, the guys laid down blistering renditions of all ten of their full-length's songs in a frenetic nine days. Their in-the-moment excitement is palpable and infectious.

The sheer professionalism of the album belies the fact that it is, indeed, Eat Sugar’s first full-length. It may be a debut, but ¡Levantense! is the creation of a band that is already comfortable with true collaboration. Eat Sugar writes its material by committee, giving each song a chance to develop naturally out of the influences and impulses of its members. This process creates a dynamic that takes the band’s songs to places that surprise even its individual members. Through cooperation and experimentation, the group refines ideas until it reaches agreement on the best possible version of every song. Jim is amazed when he thinks about where that spirit has taken the band since its founding. "When we were working on the material for our first EP," he muses, "I could not have predicted the songs that are on ¡Levántense! Each of us has different influences and ideas about music. The give-and-take between those ideas keeps the songwriting moving forward."

Because of that dynamic, ¡Levántense! has enough nuance and depth to withstand repeated listens. Yet the most immediately striking element of the disc is the sheer force at which it hits. On display throughout is a limber ensemble that throttles and grooves - from the first popping drums of opener "Standing Still" to the last cascading melodies of closer "Troubled Dreams" Often ferocious, occasionally smooth, and always impossible to sit still with, Eat Sugar’s electronic music is imbibed with the spirit of rock and roll.