Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bike Club

When I think of summer, I think of bicycles. I imagine that idyllic moment of a weekend day when morning is just about to blur into the afternoon, our clocks cross meridian and our muscles start waking up, sleep's out of our eyes and the way the sunlight's paled yellow slides onto the emerald green of the suburban shrubs, it gets you arching onto the balls of your feet. Toes wanna pedal...



Even if it was for three summers and a handful of years ago, I still have a solid sentimentality, like  perfectly preserved crystallized amber, for the bike club... Defying The Law Bicycle Club. We were a gang, really. We never got into any trouble, but we still probably looked like blissful yahoos... We weren't intimidating, per se, but you still gave us space if we rolled through...We never had destinations. The point of it all was: togetherness. There was something about the sweet, disjointed symphony of bike bells and horns, of clicking chains and the ker-chunk of gear changes....and then nothing else but the softness of 11 mph-speed winds blowing into your aviator sunglasses as you just shared the road with peaceful souls who wanted nothing more but a little fresh air and solace from white noise gadgetry. ...Maybe a bloody mary, too...

I'm just saying... Before Facebook helped manifest "Ferndale" or #FerndaleNormal into this kind of quaint image or live churning motif of charismatic quirk where we, most of the time, celebrate overarching vibe, tendencies or temperaments that make this town-which-we-inhabit special.... Way before that, nine years back, 20-some-odd friendlies just got out and formed a human mobile, a rolling coterie of through-being-cool- types who just wanted to do an exciting bit of nothingness...as a group.



And I love every member of the DTL club; even if I don't personally know them. That we formed a group, that we felt together, despite holding our own handlebars, we still felt clasped together. So, whatever happens this summer, I hope you find some great company...cuz that's what it's all about. Not that it has to be about anything...not that it has to go anywhere... That's the beauty of it...


Friday, May 27, 2016

Of Mice and Musicians' Sugar In The Raw (Interview)


Of Mice and Musicians

New album: Sugar In The Raw 

New single: "Summertime"

(Tune in to Assemble Sound's music blog today to stream the song). 



You can’t detach from these slick, sticky hooks, these swaying grooves… you find something interesting or new to latch onto every other verse and the flavors fly from hip-hop to funk, from psychedelia, to free-jazz, soul to R&B, rap to pop and back again.

What’s consistent is the substance, the sensibility, spirit… Seven comrades with signature expertise: be it lyricism or guitar, rhythm or rap, vibe or vocalization…

With Sugar In The Raw, Of Mice and Musicians lay the stress upon sincerity and wholeheartedness, making cool-ass music that hustles with humbleness, human beings with real passions, relatable struggles, and inspiring poetry.   Even if some of their arrangements and lyrics are elevating, their heads are never in the clouds… Live drums, pedal-wrung guitars, and mandolins, scratches and samples and metered-raps under belted croons. These guys go all over…

The band has been going for more than six years now, with a few membership shifts over the years. But this core membership has been together for four of those six years now. Still, it feels like, having spun through this record, that it’s really all been leading up to Sugar In The Raw… The band’s been able to grow together, like brothers, reworking their passion project ,edifying the overarching message and my ever diversifying the myriad genres in play…

I spoke with lyricist/emcee Benjamin Miles about the forthcoming release of Sugar In The Raw. The group includes Miles, with singer Joseph Pelione and rapper Tony Bags, along with guitarist Mike Lomerson, rhythm specialists Eric Walli, Nick Swanson and Jaheesh.



I think, above all, some of your greatest poetry is elicited during lyrical themes of, basically, keeping ones’ sanity amid a sea of dread, doom or veritable gloom…  I also find an encouraging resonance and poignancy with the fact that there are multiple voices in this band, voices in lyrical delivery and voices expressed through the instruments, that makes this “don’t lose hope” vibe even stronger because it’s not just coming from one person…if it were just one person, it would sound like preaching. But since you are a patchwork of individuals, it sounds like you’ve keyed into an outlook that you want to invite a listener to come view the world through…
While three of the seven of us joined and then grew to develop a friendship with the other respective members, three other members have known each other since elementary school; Nick and I have known each other since we were 4 years old.  Moreover, Tony and I have been rapping together since freshmen year in undergrad and, with the exception of Joe, everyone in the band is from Waterford, Clarkston, or White Lake.  Point being, we are all from the same cultural and socioeconomic background, we have similar perspectives on life and we generally understand each other (for better or worse).

Similarly, I think everyone in the band is generally doing this for the same reason.  Creating music together makes us all happy, or at the very least provides us each with a constructive way to deal with the things that make us sad.  We are not writing songs designed to be popular or relatable or marketable.  We are writing songs to ourselves trying to find meaning, purpose, clarity among likeminded confidants.  Naturally then, most of our music is reflective of that dynamic.  I would agree that we think of sharing our music as offering people an invitation into our collective perceptions and perspectives.




Talk about the ways you guys, as people, and also as a band, have changed over the years…
We all, for the most part, traveled through an entire phase of adulthood (sub-adulthood) being members of this band.  We are all a bit more mature, calm, and certainly have a bit more perspective on the world and ourselves.  I believe the band has changes in some of the same ways.  Our expectations are more realistic, and we are also taking greater joy in the times we get to perform together, as the majority of those evenings may be behind us.  Less vulgar metaphors, slightly less cursing, a better understanding of women and their value.  Stuff like that I suppose.  Frankly I like the old man version of OMAM more. There is nothing wrong with having a bit of class.


Tell us about the recording experience for Sugar In The Raw…
I met Garrett Koehler (Assemble Sound) when he was first making his rounds about the local scene, meeting people.  I had met Seth (Anderson, producer of Flint Eastwood,) through Passalacqua sometime earlier.  When they were initially getting the Church up and running, we were looking for somewhere to record, and someone to exec produce and add some perspective to things. The combo made sense.  I asked Seth if he was interested and Assemble agreed.  The musicians, drums, guitar, bass, keys, etc. at a place called the Aashrum Recording Studio in Ortonville. I did not get to go but the boys said is had this super zen type vibe and that recording there was an overall wonderful experience.

This was also the first time all the musicians got to record simultaneously in one room – which was a major plus in the way of efficiency and consistency. The vocals and extras, mixing and the like all took place at the Church. Super cool experience and Seth is the name. He added some signature sounds and really helped us fill out the tracks in meaningful ways.




I think one of your quintessential songs has always been “Any Day Above Ground is a Good Day…” Which, we’ve heard on past recordings, but it’s souped up here to optimal strengths. 
It was always a song we thought had great potential; it always felt very natural and relevant to what we were trying to do.  However, for the majority of its existence, it was characterized as unfinished.  We honestly never could figure out how to end it.  The benefit of playing together for a long time, luckily, is that songs have a tendency to get “tweaked” over the years because otherwise, playing them get boring.  I think we were in Nick’s basement trying to finish certain songs, outstanding adjustments, etc.  and randomly Nick went in with those dub/ska type drums.  Mike followed suit with the ska riff and everyone had a laugh about it, but them someone said, “…that was actually a nice change up.”

I am really glad we brought the song back and I can now feel good about it as a cohesive price of work.  It is by far our most purely upbeat and happy song and I think everyone can use more of that in their life.  When we were listening to mixes in post-production, I would always play ADAG in the morning on my way to work.  It would remind me to be grateful for all the things I have and to not complain so much.




What was a formative moment? What was something with OMAM that will always stay with you?
The first time we played together, way back in 2010, we sold out the Pikeroom, people got turned away, the fire marshal came and two toilets in the place got smashed off the wall.  Some of that was the result of us being so close to our home turf, but nonetheless, we knew people dug the vibe and that we should keep going.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Milo Show Episode 7: The Brain Awakens



Hey! It's episode # 7 of The Milo Show
featuring Troy Gregory / Jenny Junior & Jackie Rainsticks / Ancient Language & Mountain Club

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I'm not singing, I'm just talking to you: An Interview With Fred Thomas



An Interview with Fred Thomas

Fred Thomas is coming home…, again. This is the second (or third?) time Thomas has been back in town since relocating to Montreal nine months ago. He’s probably not going to like that I’m about to call him brilliant, …but, the brilliant singer/songwriter/producer/unconfirmed-mystic /possible-philosopher, is performing at the UFO Factory in Corktown on Thursday night, the kickoff concert for a tour taking him out and about around the Great Lakes & east coast. 

Thomas continues to serve as chief proprietor of the sweetly-sophisticated and charismatically-quirky chamber-pop outfit known as Saturday Looks Good To Me. But the songs currently stuck in most of our heads are things like “Bed Bugs” from 2015’s All Are Saved, a subdued showstopper of a solo eccentRock frayedFolk foray. 

Even if I can’t call him brilliant, I’m close to pinning down why I’m often struck by his varied sonic incarnations, be it skewed-pop or ambient splays; Thomas sounds like a sonic tactician, someone who’s thought of every way a song (or a sound) could go, and sub-indexed it into the many ways those processes could wind up boring and then throws it all out the window. All that’s left after that, then, is the quantifiably marvelous materials… However crude or uncured, it winds up sounding curiously cool. 

Fred makes mention of All Are Saved’s follow-up at the very end of this interview, but he and I are both hoping you’ll read the whole thing. Because not only does he tell you more about Stef Chura’s album (that he helped produce), but also the newest release from Hydropark. More than that, he shares thoughts about Minim, which is, more or less, directly related to whatever record he puts out next…


Thursday
UFO Factory
with Dominic Coppola, Stef Chura and Minihorse
INFO


     Fred, the first thing I’d like to hear from you is an imagining of what you would say if you were writing on the back of a post-card and sending it to us, back here in Detroit… What would you tell us of your new nest in Montreal, and the experience of working from there, now…?
          When I first got to Montreal it felt so European and romantically aimless, but I'm realizing that it's a place and culture completely removed from anything else, really. A beautifully alien experience for someone who grew up in the States.... Everyone is super friendly but also kind of blunt and sharp, but hard to really pay attention to the people around you cause the place itself is so limitless.


     How are you acclimating, creativity-wise? Or, in general? What’s the day to day been like? What’s the creative process been like? …We miss you! Do you miss us?
          Day to day life in Montreal is fantastic, though yes, I do miss my friends a lot. There are a lot of really wonderful and creative folks in Montreal as well, but by no means am I trying to super-impose myself onto a new (much larger) town in the same way that I incrementally built a life in Michigan over the last many, many years. My French is awful and without a fluent mastery of French and English it's hard to find work, so I work on music, walk around and work remotely most days. The coffee is good to fantastic but the beer in Quebec is disgusting.





     You’ve got a couple new things, music-wise, to talk about. One of them is Hydropark, an interesting Neu-ish sort of wavy-electro-Kraut-ish-noise-pop swirly slide. How does this music, and the recording experience of the latest batch of tunes, distinguish from any other or prior projects…?
          Hydropark started in the spring of 2013 as a jammy synth thing with myself, Chuck Sipperley and Chad Pratt on drums. I would record our practices/jams and put out tapes of the best parts. In the fall of that year my friend Jason Lymangrover was living at my house and sat in with us on bass. It worked perfectly and we stuck to that lineup since. The album we just released took two years to compose, record, mix and master, just because so much of what we made came from these high energy jams we would then strive to re-create/remember.


     What draws you to this kind of soundscape?
          I love synth compositions, krautrock and the kosmiche sounds of all the bands that inspired Hydropark and it's a lot of fun to collaborate with really good friends on an update to that kind of jumpy instrumental stuff. Also it's another band I've been in where it sounds like everyone is just as high as possible and that's always funny to me since I have been substance free with the exception of alcohol for my entire life.


     How would you describe Minim, the collection of 30 one-minute-long songs that you just recently released online? Beyond what it is…What did you find an experiment like that provided you, inspiration-wise?
          Our first place in Montreal was what they call a "3 1/2", an extremely generous terminology for a studio apartment in a building downtown with 16 units. A fine place, but super thin walls and not a lot of space to set up for recording or making of noise. Most days I would just work on headphones on electronic or synth based stuff, quickly accruing a huge wealth of sketches, beats, ambient textures, etc. So, at the end of the fall I had hours and hours of this stuff, some of which was great but a lot was awful and certainly no one would willfully sit through the entire running time of. I decided to just take a minute from each of the better ones and throw them together, much like a slideshow or postcard series that ends before it can really get too boring, or too good or overstay its welcome in any way.



     I’m surprised more artists don’t do more things like Minim. I mean, I know everyone experiments, drafts things out, and jams… But this is sort of like a public diary, or, a melodious kind of thinking-out-loud sort of escapade.
          I feel like every artist needs an outside editor, so this was an exercise in some ways for me to just slash and burn my ideas in a random fashion, not getting too precious about how any of these sketches needed to unfold or be presented. In the end, it was better to apply a random limit than think too hard about carefully editing or arranging.





     Stef Chura is on the lineup for your upcoming UFO Factory show. You worked with her on the album that she’s building up towards releasing later this year.
          Yeah, I worked with Stef last year, recording and playing bass and some other stuff. She's a very precise and hyper-detail oriented songwriter. I know she's been working on her record a lot since I moved and touring, basically going for it and I'm sure it's going to be an enormous thing when the world finally can hear it.



     And, I saw that the songs you recorded as a solo artist for Daytrotter wentup recently.
          Yeah, I went by Daytrotter on the last day of a long tour just over a year ago and promptly forgot about it. Saturday Looks Good To Me had gone a few years earlier, but that was really my only other time being part of things. It was a great experience, but they do so very many sessions that it takes them a year to process one and they can't possibly put the amount of care and creative thought into each session that they did earlier on. I remember reading 1,000 word free flowing essays about Bon Iver or whoever when they started but I think they're working a little more under the gun these days.



     Future plans? What has the last year’s worth of experiences and experimentation  equipped you with, wisdom wise, or outlook wise…?  

          I have a new album finished called "Changer". It's coming out on Polyvinyl at the start of next year and it encapsulates the huge life changes that have been happening for me since the start of last summer. These changes are reflected musically in a bigger shift towards headphone-derived electronics as I was mentioning above, but there's also a heavy lyrical approach that expands on what I started trying to say on "All Are Saved". Direct statements attempting to shed any sort of fears or posturing and just cut into the center of the apple. I'm touring for the rest of May and then all of July both solo and with Hydropark for a few shows. Failed Flowers also has our first vinyl release on the way and we're planning to do some shows locally and around the Midwest as well. One crazy summer!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rattlesnake Shake (Tribute to Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac)



Iconic status is a tricky consequence for bands, almost all of the time… When I bring up Pink Floyd and I wanna talk about Piper at the Gates of Dawn, most people will just think of Dark Side of The Moon. Or, if I wanna talk about R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe,” others will just think of “Everybody Hurts…” Or, can we talk about Pearl Jam’s later records, or are they just the 2nd best “grunge” band that did that “Jeremy” song…?

Same situation with Fleetwood Mac. You can already see the Rumors cover in your head and maybe “Go Your Own Way” is starting to play in your head… But there are others with a wider perspective than me, others with keen appreciation for varied patchwork of blues music across the decades (and from across the pond), others who were more turned on by the fierier, fiercer, bristly blues sides showcased by Fleetwood Mac’s seminal years.

“It's funny when someone asks who writes all the music,” reflects guitarist Brett Lucas, after Rattlesnake Shake sets. “I can see a blank stare on their face when I say it's all Fleetwood Mac songs!”

Lucas, with Danny Methric, Tony DeNardo and Todd Glass, have been performing Fleetwood Mac covers for more than a decade. Their repertoire consiststs exclusively of the “Peter Green era…” (1967-1971). It started when the revered blues-rock guitarist Green, based over in England, left John Mayall & the Bluesbreakres in 67; by that point, Green had already infiltrated Mick Fleetwood and John McVie into that band and wrere already developign songs on the side. McVie would officially join Green and Fleetwood a little later, but we can say that 1968’s Fleetwood Mac came out on the Blue Horizon label and the rest is history; combusitbly cool, no frills blues badassery.

Not to get too much more history-teacher on you, but Green-era Fleetwood was so substantially sutured into the noble blues tract that they came to the US in 1969 to record for Chess Records, collaborating with Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon. But…suffice it to say, the Green era came to a close after a handful of records that are revered by blues-mavens like The Muggs (Methric, Denardo, Glass) and journeymen blues specialists like Lucas (who backed Thornetta Davis when this group formed and currently backs Betty LaVette. And Methric, of course, you’ll recall for his slithery blues solos scintillating the tremulous landscapes of bands like The Paybacks. So these four dudes undoubtedly dig blues, but particularly Peter Green’s brand of British blues.

Rattlesnake Shake  pay tribute to the blues band, the particularly psychedelic-tinged blues rock band  that was Fleetwood Mac, from 1967-1970.


Rattlesnake Shake Saturday, May 21
The Loving Touch
w/Party Zeppelin 8pm
$7more info

Brett Lucas:
Back when we booked that first gig at the Cadieux Café, (in 2000), we heard that people were calling there asking in disbelief if we really were playing the early Mac and not the Rumors era Mac.  It felt like a big compliment to hear that!  It's like we scratched the surface and found this fan base that really appreciate their music.  Though the early Fleetwood Mac's music is very appreciated, it is still unknown by many.  There's the older generation that listened to them when they were young.  Many of them like to share their stories of seeing the original band back in the late 60's at the Grande Ballroom.  Always great to hear those stories!  Then there's a younger generation of Blues fans that have recently discovered the Mac.  I also think there are some people that come to see us that don't know or don't even care that we play all Fleetwood Mac songs!  That's a big compliment too because they're coming to see us just because they like the way we sound as a band.  It does kind of feel something like a secret hand shake or club when you meet someone else that is a fan of early Fleetwood Mac. 

Tony Muggs:
I always preempt whatever conversation with a 'fun fact' when speaking about the Mac. I'll say, "Do you know who wrote Black Magic Woman?" and the reply 100% of the time is, "yeah, Santana."  I then say, "No my friend. In fact, the Fleetwood Mac wrote that song and it was by Peter Green and before the women had joined the group." And a little puff of cloudy smoke arises from the back of their heads.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eANGHVQS9Q


What about that stigma that inevitably gets applied to being a “covers band…” It’s not l ike you guys are doing “Sweet Home Alabama” or some shit. Yours is a notably fresher spin on the whole enterprise…

Brett Lucas:
We haven't really had many problems, if any, with that kind of stigma about being a tribute/cover band.  One thing that we have done that might be the reason for this is that we've allowed improvisation within certain songs.  This allows each of us to express ourselves individually and as a band.  I think people react to that.  Plus we don't dress up in any costumes!  We approach every show as a blues band would.  Some nights are different than others.  One night we might play a slow blues more sweeter than usual or jam louder or longer in spots.  I think that exciting for the audience that comes to see us.  But, I do have to say that with regards to all tribute/cover bands, that it takes a lot of work for any band to pull off great renditions of another bands songs.  Those bands that sound good doing that should be given credit

Tony Muggs:
It's all subjective really but I do think the more that time goes on, people will start realizing the value of those popular classic bands that musicians are feeling a need to emulate. 




What draws you specifically to this era of the Mac? What is it about this batch of songs that possesses you and what do you find most fulfilling about bringing them to (new) life?

Brett Lucas:
For me I'm drawn to Fleetwood Mac's music because I feel like they were being true to themselves.  Yes, they were an English band playing mostly American Blues, but they were truly brilliant at what they did.  They didn't just take from the Blues like other bands of the time, they actually played it authentically.  Sure you can hear their English roots come out in their own original songs too but their knowledge of American music was astounding to me.  Plus it is rewarding to present this largely unknown music to an audience.  

Tony Muggs:Passing the torch, in a sense, is what drives me to play the blues.  The blues is the foundation all forms of popular music. Country, rock, funk, jazz, pop.......you can tell some of the contemporary bands don't have a foundation and subsequently aren't that good.  Sadly, this does not mean they aren't on radio.


Going back to the delicate manner of re-interpretation, or giving revitalizing, signature styles to another artists work, talk about the key approach for a “covers” band, per se…

Brett Lucas:
Sure, for me it's all about history.  I think to really have the right approach when covering a band or artist, a person has to know the kind of gear they used or even existed at that time, what other music was on the radio throughout that bands career, the political environment, and also what influences those musicians had that made them sound like they do.  Even though it might sound like a band originated a sound or style it was usually came from some various influences.  Executing the vocal ranges and vocal harmonies of their songs might be something to thing about too!

Tony Muggs:
It depends on the band. Van Halen or Van Hagar? That kind of mindset you know? Do you cover a specific album or perform 2 songs off every full length release?  With the Mac, we specify that it's a "Peter Green" Fleetwood Mac tribute as to not confuse potential fans.


Okay… Favorite or quintessential song from this era of the Mac? Your personal favorite…?

Brett Lucas:
My favorite song by Fleetwood Mac would have to be World in Harmony.  It's such a beautiful duel guitar instrumental.  It was written by Danny Kirwan but hearing how Peter Green and Danny Kirwan compliment each other is wonderful.  My favorite Mac song to play though would have to be the song bands namesake The Rattlesnake Shake.  The whole band opens up while playing it.  Danny Methric and I get to interweave our guitar lines together and as a band we reach an certain high intensity with that song.  Todd and Tony lay down a groove that almost puts me in a trance.  We always put it at the end of the show for that reason!

Tony Muggs:
Geez, that's like trying to make me choose a favorite Beatles album or song. What's great about Peter Green's songwriting with the Mac is the array of emotions that you get. Some songs are just so gritty and powerful. Others are sad and introspective. Others seem to be searching for Madge....

Finally…, favorite memories, craziest moments, most inspiring shows, from performing as Rattlesnake Shake?

Brett Lucas:
Well that first show was at the Cadieux Cafe because it was almost our last.  Tony had a stoke back then and we all didn't know if he would ever play music again.  We put the band on hiatus while he went through a lot of rehabilitation and rest.  Playing that first show with Tony after his stroke is the most inspiring moment with this band for me.

Tony Muggs:
We had the opportunity to play with an original member of the Mac, Mr. Jeremy Spencer at the Park Bar on January 8, 2010.  Pretty darn cool.



______________________________________
Rattlesnake ShakeSaturday, May 21The Loving Touchw/Party Zeppelin8pm$7more info

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Libby DeCamp (Interview)



The way Libby talks about music it’s as though it had personage, sentience, benevolence, even…it’s almost corporeal, a friend she grew up with… Actually, maybe it was more like a beautiful specter, a guardian angel-type entity. I could go on, because Libby’s songs are just that hauntingly evocative.

Libby DeCamp comes from the village of Romeo, way up Van Dyke; sutured into a family of musicians, singers and, well, lots of drummers actually. But Libby plays the banjo. The noble, quirky instrument called to her, almost… In fact, not to get too supernatural, but Libby says she’s felt a lifelong draw to music, she “…grew up close with it…and made a best friend of it, pretty early on.”

But back to that banjo… “Banjo…there’s always just been something about it, for me. Sometimes people laugh when you say ‘banjo…’ All these people…naming their dogs ‘Banjo’ because it’s a funny sounding word… But I just felt like it was the right thing when I played it. I always keep coming back to it, whether it’s just it’s just a frequency I like to hear, or whatever it is… I just feel I’m able to connect with those older era’s that I’ve been drawn to with the banjo, that’s why I love it so much.”


For much of her albeit young life, she’s felt an ineffable draw to the old world, to a time long before the information age, before highways or jets, before televisions… Libby harkens back to a time of storytelling, of busking, of almanacs and field recordings, to when jazz elements like trombone and upright bass began to interlace with country twangs from acoustic guitars, banjos and the honeyed harmonies and warbled intonations of the vocalist.

Libby’s music is for waltzing and for toe-tapping blushes of chivalry, for revelatory moments of pause and deep sighs of the soul. Minimal and melodious, plucked upon a skeletal lattice of banjo and a splendid, trilling vocal, with enticingly trudge-and-shuffle drums and slaloming bass plucks. The simple swell of songs like “Black Suit Man” are indicative of capacity for delightfully dark-ish, gothic Americana-crossed with gypsy-jazz incantations. But then she can bring it all down to a dreamy lullaby like “Charlie…” The hub of these cross sections is her sense for minimalism, giving space for a melody to breathe and providing just a candle-light’s worth of radiance.  


“Arrangement-wise,” says Libby, “it is a little more hemmed-in, more focused, with fewer instruments, maybe, but the most intention possible. I want to emphasize the direct storytelling aspect of (the music), whilst still creating an interesting sonic landscape.” The banjo, she acknowledges, is her most clarion connection to the old world, to traditional folk, to “old-time music…” But she’s always been very passionate about creative writing. “The roots of American folk, in general, really…particularly with writers like John Steinbeck, who’s one of my biggest inspirations out of all the creative fields.”

The way she tells it, since she was a teenager, she’s been seeking the great American historical aesthetic, to resurrect the soul of its folk music and particularly embody the aspects about it that she considers the most valuable, its intention. To sing, to write, to play with intent, to be fully present… Libby’s not naïve. As I said, she’s had music as an invisible/imaginary friend her whole life, and she’s grown to appreciate its potency.

 “I try to be as cognizant as I can of why we’re here,” says Libby, referring casually to, just, ya know, the tremendous scope of human existence… “And what can we be doing to continually connect with other people? And be present with everything that’s happening to and with other people that we’re connected to…I mean, not just people, even, but animals too…and our surrounding environment.”

Originally, Libby had been in a folk duo prior to essentially going solo as Libby DeCamp. The previous project was in its early stages of expanding into a four-piece with Brandon and Adam Schreiber (from  Jack &The Bear) serving as rhythm section, when a falling-out led to the band fizzling away. 

The Schreiber brothers stuck with Libby, though, and the trio started performing just a little more than a year ago. Early in the summer of 2015, Libby was at a house party hosted by said-Schreibers, where she met singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Olivia Mainville, who leads the AquaticTroupe over in Grand Rapids. Before she knew it, she went out on a tour with Olivia; she’s been in the Troupe ever since!

“I’m thankful we all found each other,” Libby said, referring to Mainville, the Schreibers, and others in their close-knit collective of songwriters and music-makers, such as ISLA (formerly known as Air Is The Arche). “There’s lots of musicians out there you can connect with, but I feel that we all specifically resonate with each other on a matter of purpose…”

“When I perform music (for an audience), I can still feel pretty shaky, sometimes… Because for so many years, (performing) music was just an experience that I had kind of as a treat just for myself; a way to connect with myself, also, as if it were a little religion. So that makes it almost feel…I dunno, embarrassing, to play for people. But the goal of it all is to reach other people and hopefully they can connect with it…”

Because…

“Because it’s so worth it to do this,” she says… “Because I feel a need to be close with music and to say what needs to be said.” She doesn’t mean that last part lightly, you can anticipate Guthrie-an esque social commentary across her lyrics, with even more pointedly topical, yet old-world-tinged verses to come on future recordings.

Libby will sing what needs to be said… “As much as I can do that, even if it means doing the opposite of what’s comfortable for me. I’ve got to…So, I hope to get better every day and play honest music with as much purpose as I can…give it as much integrity as I can while still making a career out of it… The goal is to emphasize the messages of it all, as much as I can.”


Libby DeCamp performs Saturday
at the Cadieux Cafe
4300 Cadieux Rd - Grosse Pointe
INFO
http://www.libbydecamp.com/  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Escaping Pavement - New Album (The Night Owl) + New Single ("Fuel The Fire")

Escaping Pavement's album, The Night Owl is now available for pre-order on iTunes. Any pre-orders instantly grants a download of 'Fuel the Fire," which we're premiering below....

Escaping Pavement make sparseness stunning. The acoustic guitar and mandolin crackle together like a mesmerizing bonfire, and the voices of Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz blend together like the azure purple and tawny oranges of vibrant sunset…

Their arrangements never need to be any overly showy folk-rock fling; the pureness of the scant instruments at play, the stringed hollow wood and the two human voices, have enough heart in their harmony to carry each song.



The Ferndale based duo thrive on this close, introspective folk sound, but somehow augment an otherwise intimate occasion and make it tacitly tremendous. Maybe you’re hiking and you come to a clearing and a doe patters right into your path and startles you and the wilderness around you freezes for unmeasurable moments? You know… That’s what Escaping Pavement can do with a song; not to retro-anthropomorphize them into a woodland creature, or anything; but that is part of the idea behind their enchantments… escaping the crowds, clamor and commotion of the city and reconnecting with something organic, getting dirt back under your fingernails and relying exclusively on the bare instrumental necessities for your desired wow-factor.    

Now, that’s not to say these two can’t get fired up. “Fuel The Fire” features a kinetic percussive pick upon the mandolin and baritone guitar, fretting along at a furious rate to the point where you could almost run to it…The vocal refrain has just the right amount of twang upon it to give it that Americana charm; but it’s also one of the most demonstrative moments for their complimenting harmonies. They can also bring in a showstopping cover, as with “Girl From The North Country,” dressing in a bit more tinny frills from the banjo and mandolin, while also putting a syrup-thick surge into the vocal intonation.

But here we go... The premier of "Fuel The Fire," from Escaping Pavement's forthcoming album. 



Their new album, TheNight Owl, which comes out June 4th, opens with what could potentially be Escaping Pavement’s theme song, with “Wanderers.” The guitars flourish in with steady pulses and the purring voices hover like a haze in the opening, but it the soundscape starts to take on a fullness, the voices acquire a radiance and the synced strums start to kick along in the chorus, enough to spur you up out of your chair “We ride with the wind on our own….” Get out of the city. Escape pavement…. Let the twangs’ resonating echo fill the quiet spaces in between and find peace between the finer pieces. 




Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Future Schlock - May 15

LXL / TART / Jaws That Bite / DJ RX78
Sunday night @ Marble....


Genre-splicing at it's best...on display this Sunday at the Marble Bar.

Sohpisti-satire/dad-rap/coolness-with-commentary specialists LXL will be paired with glam-rock/daft-pop/electro-dance stylists Tart.

Jaws That Bite also brings a bit of wonderful weirdness and even some surreal psychedelia to the hip-hop milieu and DJ RX78...which, is a reference I get because my house is filled with Gundam models..., pleasingly fills a void for me that sufficiently bridges turntablism and breaks to triumphant/adventure-stoking Anime soundtracks and video game samples.

Another feature of the evening? The Rexatronic Project!

I know it's tough getting motivated to go out on a Sunday, but maybe listen to this track, and see how you feel...


Or how about this?


Or... Check out this music video, which dropped a month ago...


OR.....




Modern Knot Artists presentFUTURE SCHLOCKFeaturing...TART - LXL -Jaws That Bite - DJ RX78 - ---hosted bySTOOPZ & BREEZE---wsgDJ THORNSTRYKER---visual art byMark SarmelJames Easterly ---Interactive RPG: Art Lab

Marble Bar, 9pm, 21+ $5

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Everybody Forgives Everyone For Everything by Ancient Language

Saturday
May 14
Ancient Language Release Show
Everybody Forgives Everyone for Everythingfeaturing
James Linck, Phosphor Elephants, and Mega Powers  (Eddie Logix & Pig Pen)
8 PM
$5
More info


Over the last year, producer/songwriter/keyboardist/filmmaker Christopher Jarvis has worked to flourish his once bedroom-electro-odyssey into a full band with live instrumentation, blending synths with bass, guitar and saxophone. Ancient Language features bassist Zachary Jarvis, guitarist Matthew Hofman and saxophonist Matthew Beyer.

The 2nd single of their forthcoming EP, Everybody Forgives Everyone for Everything is a springtime swooner called "93 Million Miles" and it can be streamed here. If you'd like to see a live performance of this same song, you can open up Episode 7 of The Milo Show and jump to the 25:57 marker....

Jarvis has been steadily sharpening his savvy for sculpting an ever more diverse electro-trip, casting a wider, cinematic landscape for these instrumentals that supplement sublime introspection, and deeper dives into the self (or even the soul). That, or its' just idyllic music to groove to, to drive to, to just about dance to, or just to clear your head, at the end of the day, with snug headphones equipping your escapism. Thusly, the band multiplies the meditative magic of the whole shebang with some subtly psychedelic projected visuals, so don't miss it...

Phosphor Elephants, James Linck and Mega Powers will be augmenting the evening at the Marble Bar, this Saturday. Click here for more info.     



Monday, May 9, 2016

Go Tiger Go - Premier "Inhale" (+ interview)

I tell Paul Corsi that the Go Tiger Go song “Inhale” is ridiculously catchy. So catchy…

“Yeah,” he nods, “that’s the goal…Well, it's one goal...”



Corsi, who plays guitar and sings in this Detroit-based quartet along with Matt Puz (bass/vocals), Ryan Patten (drums) and Steve Delaney (guitar/vocals), says that there’s actually two goals. No, not goals… Two factors… Two main considerations… 

The intent of the group is essentially to defy preconceptions about power-pop, and inject it with a bit more grit, more substance, and more introspection… The intent, obviously, is to produce an insanely catchy recording that’s fun to listen to… But the other side of it is a keen appreciation for the live show; particularly the live show as experience.



Go Tiger Go want you to come up and talk to them after the show. They want you have a beer with you before the show. They want you leaving the show with their songs stuck in your head. But they want all those things for the right reasons; namely…that their authentic charisma was enough to charm you. Can you practice that? No. But these guys start off with two key ingredients: nice & humble. The third ingredient? They can write a damned catchy pop song.

Having a sound that’s got personality is “…the foundation of Go Tiger Go…” said Corsi, who started the band a little more than four years ago with another since-bygone lineup of players. Puz and Patten joined the band about three years ago, while Delaney came on board about six months ago. The song “Inhale” was written earlier in their run and has even developed its own dance. Rather, local music fans who come to Go Tiger Go fans invented one for the song, wriggled along to the infectious chorus as some hybrid of the twist and a baseball stadium “wave…”

The bands’ collective influences range from the Beatles to Rush, pure pop to meticulously arranged prog, with garnishes of garage, grunge and 90’s indie-rock. Corsi said that his favorite band from Detroit was always The Von Bondies, and particularly praised their Lack of Communication album as an ideal influence for GTG’s own manifestations of gritty buzzsaws & fist-pumping fun.

I ask if he’s just going for pop with way less sugar… And he says, “…well, at least without any artificial sweetener…”

Go Tiger Go are throwing an EP celebration show this Saturday at Small’s. The band’s had the three songs recorded a little while ago, but “releasing” them, digitally, is essentially their starting of a next chapter, essentially. Back to that charm thing? That being-nice thing? Corsi says he’s just giving the songs away because GTG haven’t “deserved” the right, so to speak, to charge their fans. It’s something they want to earn, wholly and sincerely…

More than once, Corsi repeats the phrase “I just want people to have a good time…” But, going back to that giving-away-their-music-for-free notion, Corsi actually has some extensive thoughts and arguments about that.

 “Each show is like an interview, for us,” said Corsi, referring to an encounter during which they should be expected, in a way, to win-over an audience. “It’s about breaking that fourth wall between the audience and musician; you’re not just there listening, you (the audience) should be participating…


The band wants to get to work on the next EP and work with the most exceptional producer they can possibly find. The goal, the intent, this time… will be physical copies. But MEANWHILE, you can hear more songs here, and catch the band Saturday at Small’s… 

Go Tiger Go

w/ White Bee, YUM, and The Messenger BirdsSaturday, May 14 @ Small's 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Weekend Rundown


Friday

First Fridays
I love First Fridays. This is an opportunity for making maximal acquaintance with the culture(s) of ones community, namely Ypsilanti. This is a self-guided art & culture walk for all ages, with family friendly events hosted at more than 20 venues, from studios to coffee shops, cafes to bars and anything in between. Most of the main cultural programming starts around 5pm or 6pm and goes until about 10 pm (but places like Cultivate Coffee & Tap House and The Tap Room will be going later…) There will be lots of artwork on display, student musicians performing, fundraising events, ice-cream tasting, folk-music, dance instructions and much much more.

First Fridays is a grassroots organized event put together by volunteers dedicated to inviting community members into the downtown area to support local talent and businesses while having a fun time!

First Fridays May 2016
Hosted Across Multiple Venues in Ypsilanti
Starting as early as 9 am at some spots
Info: http://firstfridaysypsi.com/about/
Lineup/events info
_______

Megan Dooley and Dragon Wagon 
If you’re up for a road trip… Ann Arbor folk-rock outfit Dragon Wagon will be at The Magic Bag in Ferndale, bringing their slightly-celtic-kicked, rambunctious Americana charisma. Opening things up is the dazzling Megan Dooley from Kalamazoo, with takes on torch songs, vocal jazz showstoppers, blues and pianobar blues.


Dragon Wagon
w/ Megan Dooley
The Magic Bag (22920 Woodward Ave, Ferndale)
8 pm (Friday)
$10
More info

_______

Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe
This requires more road-tripping, but it’s only about a 25-minute jaunt over to Chelsea, assuming you’re driving sensibly… Olivia Mainville is a sensational singer/songwriter from Holland with a collective of agile jazz/folk musicians who forge an eclectic blend of jazz, folk and post-pop effervesce. Mainville and the Troupe are the real deal, professional and multifaceted musicians keen to create a sound all their own, something quirky, something cinematic, something tough and touching, playful and profound.  Take a listen


Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe
joined by Sedgewick
at the Chelsea Ale House (420 N. Main St., ste 100; Chelsea)
9 pm (Friday)
free
More info



_____________________


Saturday

J. Washburn Gardner and Billy Joe Hunt
For the brunch/lunch crowds’ eager for some sweet serenades, we’ve got something for you. Folk veterans J. Washburn Gardner and Billy Joe Hunt will be charming the Carrigan Café over in Saline with bittersweet odes, Americana grit and acoustic anthems. For deep introspections into the human experience, for goosebump-sprouting intonations, for powerful stuff that plucks the heartstrings and soothes the soul, this is the place to be…

J. Washburn Gardner and Billy Joe Hunt
Carrigan Café (101 S. Ann Arbor St., ste 107; Saline
11 am – 1 pm
More info
_______

Las Drogas / Ghost City Searchlight / Flatfoot / BUFFAY
This is quite the diverse lineup, ranging from garage grit to hip-hop, Americana to indie-pop, country twang to rap. Las Drogas blend a bit of psychobilly bluster into riffed-out garage stomps, while the Ghost City Searchlight ensemble weaves in some traditional folk and celctic flavors into some rock-tinged vibes. Flatfoot, meanwhile, go back to the seminal outlaw-country coolness of The Band, Cash and Flying Burrito Brothers, but mix in a bit of modern, Detroit-tinged rock energy and a bit of punk’s frayed edges. Buffay is the wild card here, no-holding-back bars of blunt poetics woven into show-stealing samples and irresistible beats.

Las Drogas / Ghost City Searchlight / Flatfoot / BUFFAY
Crossroads Pub (517 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti)
8 pm (Saturday)
$5
More info

_______
Let’s Go Crazy

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. Electric word: “…life…”

It means forever and that's a mighty long time. But I'm here to tell you, there's something else
The after world…A world of never ending happiness…(Where) you can always see the sun, day or night

I have yet to get over the passing of Prince Rodgers Nelson; a superhuman of the music world, nay, more like an element onto himself that just had not yet been cataloged upon the periodic table. There are still tributes pouring in, but perhaps the best way you could pay your tribute is to come dance with us… DJ Psycho of Detroit Techno Militia, Scotty D, and Dante LaSalle will be spinning at the Blind Pig.

Prince Dance Party
The Blind Pig (208 S. 1st St, Ann Arbor)
9 pm (Saturday)
free before 10pm ($5 after)
More info