Thursday, April 17, 2014

Record Store Day (FOUND SOUNDs)

Two years ago nearly to the day...
FOUND SOUND in Ferndale wasn't open yet...
Co-Manager Chris Butterfield was walking me around the basement of their current space at 234 W. Nine Mile Rd. Boxes and boxes, rows and rows, like the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark... A blur of cardboard containers packed with sheaths of vinyl. Everything was here - to the most obscure guitar instrumentalists from Indonesia to Michael Jackson's Thriller, some shredded copies of The White Album along with that one rare import version of Safe As Milk.

(Here's a new jam from Scott Masson, while you're here... He's performing inside Found Sound this weekend..... below)

The records were just waiting... Renovations were going on upstairs. The store was readying itself. Well, Chris, along with Ray Hayosh, were readying themselves. It was an exciting time - a new vinyl record shop was going to open in downtown Ferndale - just after receiving the news that our very last retailer The Record Collector was going to be closing soon.

Chris looked anxious though. He couldn't be sure, back then, just two years prior, whether this record store, or any record store, would pick up, take off, survive, sustain, thrive, flourish... in this economy, with this fickle type of fan frazzled by the degrading whims of Facebook-isms.

But lo and behold... Call it the local love, the store has survived! There's probably substantial scientific studies out there to verify my theory, but if you're interested in what I think...then I'll tell you that it's likely we get so dried out, so parched, so suffocated by the airlessness, the ubiquity, the vacuous, soundless, blase splay of the Internet's sleek dystopia, that we want to hold onto something, hear cracks and scratches and slide through grooves, we want to watch the sound as it comes from the spinning disc and resonates into our rooms, warming it up. We want to shake hands with the guy or girl at the register after we buy that one record.

And on Record Store Day - Found Sound will be packed. I can already guarantee it. It's like St. Patrick's Day at any bar or New Year's Eve in Times Square... It's tailgaters outside of Ford Field or the electric crowds of Tiger's Opening Day - you just know that the support, the fans, the listeners, the local love...will be there.

Better get there early... The shelves will be scoured. We're all gonna show some love for Record Stores...

“Actually it’s like 10 Christmases in one,” says Chris Butterfield -- Read more from The Detroit News

See and hear some live music inside FOUND SOUND on April 19th - the day of days--for music collectors

Monday, April 14, 2014

Electric Lion Soundwave Experiment -

Headphones are a necessity, for here...transcendence is the hopeful effect(/affect). Speaking of effects - there's plenty of fuzz, echo, muff, loop, delay and varied further distortions of tone - but measured meticulously like a pensive diarist's slow, steady pen-strokes, making sure never to scribble, blot or smudge any of the ink as it pours upon the page.

     Imagine a summer storm at twilight. There's a dim radiance, glowing purple through the massing clouds at the horizon and the winds are kicking up into light, humid gales as dark cumulonimbi build ahead of you... You're walking next to your singers and their words, their heartfelt expressions, muffle against the wind...
          And the air feels electric. The sun's going away but you want to stay... There's all sorts of rumblings around you, filling up your ears, grass whips and thunder, only momentarily distant as it hovers towards you, is thrumming softly...
               Everything feels serene, almost meditative, yet simultaneously on the verge of some ominous tremor, a crescendo of mud and cosmic-slop, a shower of acid rain and stardust, a splitting of the Earth beneath you or a disorienting funnel gravitating you upward in a swirl toward the celestial neverneverlands gaping borderless above you.

At least, that's where my brain can go...when I listen to "Landshark" by Electric Lion Soundwave Experiment (from Falling On The Sword That God Gave Us).

You're tired of shoegaze but you want shoegaze? You want druggy-sounding music that aims for cerebral lyrics to stew over while you're ostensibly "dropping-out"? You want a sumptuous sonic trip that actually takes you somewhere, as opposed to lulled gazes into the corners of your paint-chipped basement?

It's here... Muffled by the FX... Whispered at times, hauntingly belted at others... Resonating. Resonating.

Blowout 17 Schedule

The Metro Times has announced the final schedule (line-up / times / venues) for the 17th annual Blowout Music Festival - (happening in Detroit, Hamtramck and Ferndale - 4 days, dozens of venues, hundreds of bands...a big deal for the Detroit scene, as always).

Click here for all the details

And stay tuned here, for more information.

Friday, April 11, 2014

You Wake Up And... (Album Review / Life Review)

Scott Masson - Pink Oil 

And you wake up one day, hey, you’re 30.

What’s the big deal? It’s un-nameable, intangible; it’s some phantom perception foisted upon you from the eerie echoes of media detritus, dry crumbles of bad movies and petty magazines and dastard marketing mechanisms zapped into your brain now tumbling out of your ears and onto your pillow case as you wake up on this day, the day that you’re 30… And you feel some kind of excision… Youth, right? What was that, anyway…if just the time were you were excused for being foolish, patronized for being capricious and condescended for being romantically thoughtless in your waltzes onto alcohol-stained floors where you would be slowly and unknowingly fostering your own nostalgia-projects to later to look back upon, like on this day, the day that you’re 30…

…But I’m really here to write about a new album that’s coming out, made by a man who lives down the street from me. Beauty forged in a basement. Bewildering blends of varying emotions –all of them invigorating if at times turbulent – driving rhythms charging smooth, creamy new-wave-feeling synthesizer swoons that tide against samples of regal strings, moody pop melodies come down like warm sunrays and settle so easy upon the ears, true earworms that can bewitch you into carefree movement, your hips, your feet, your shoulders just loosen and your head just starts bobbing but then…what’s with that vocoder crinkling up the pitch, what’s with that Tin Pan Alley-inspired jazz ditty that cuts in between the verses, what the hell is with that Whitney Huston sample?

This album speaks to the delirium and the peace I feel today, the day I turn 30. I’m happy in a strange way that helps me understand the difference between sureness and smug self-satisfaction and I’m upset in a fresh way that doesn’t feel negative or panicky.

There’s a song on Scott Masson’s new album called “Blue Valley Fog.” Just let that title evoke its daydreamy phantasmagoria in your brain before I go into it. The bass buzzes with such instigation, churning along with punchy beats bidding you to run before the hook on those cymbals rears you into the rhythm and it becomes this sublime dance-pop comet streaming a radiant tail of icy space-stuff shimmering through the quieter bridge… “Everyday I fall apart… diving through the loudest silence…”

You wake up and you’re 30 and you start thinking about life because that’s how the culture has conditioned you to thusly react… But what’s life? Precisely. You wake up and you’re 30 and you have no fucking idea what to think of life which is why you can’t get back to sleep.

And you’ve been a music journalist for 10 years now and stagger at reflections upon your anthropological documentation of melodramatic, cool, crazy, tireless, uncertain-yet-certain, surrealist-inclined creative-types and their recorded creations cut in 3 or 4-minute increments varyingly following or defying a style or a formula or a tradition known as… What? Rock? Rap? Dance? Pop? What do you call all this noise? What do you call life? You don’t know why, truly, precisely, scientifically, chemically, evidently…why…you still love music –just like you don’t know why,  still, you still search for some kind of enlightenment in this strange show called Life.  

But you know singers and musicians and writers and producers who have been dancing their way through the same tempestuous ballet…

…and WAIT A MNINUTE. Track 8 (“Grimsby’s Silver Circus”) just started playing in my headphones and an eerie pipe organ grinded its wispy way from my left ear bud panned into the right and now I’m tromping my way through a murky opening verse set to a slow waltz and drums and guitars boom above, sounding gigantic, while the melody swirls around like cotton-candy and then things get really crazy… More of an oompa-rag beat and jingling pianos shuffle under a carnival barker invites you to join “a world of magical splendor and horrrrrible chaos…hurry hurry hurry!”

Splendor…chaos. It’s that sense that I’m feeling today, that this record: Pink Oil –is encouraging me to embrace. I’m finding a kinship to the surety of its strangeness.

But yes, this is mostly a pop record; there’s measured pours of purple goth and fogged shoegaze, there’s charms of dreamy new-wave with those inviting dance-if-you-feel-like-it grooves, but there’s also straight-up blazing guitars and revving drums leaving one no other recourse but to bang one’s head or just stomp one’s foot.

Oh…and the vocals? Rich, like the dark green of late Spring’s suburban lawns speckled with dew glistening against the sunrise, inviting like the breeze of a summer night coaxing you out for one last bike ride just before midnight when most of the city’s turning in and shutting the hell-up already and you can have the street to yourself. The man knows what’s catchy – but it’s not contrived; he knows which melodies just hum like sugary ecstasy but it’s not insipid… There’s a time and a place for a good ol’ “Ooh Ooh OOOOooohh” to loop around your guitar riffs and he knows just when to sneak it in…with subtlety. And wait, did he just croon into the faded sample of a baroque sonata …

But yeah, the album’s all over the place. You fall into scenes of shining cities, strutting through parking lots and floating through memories and shuffling through tweets in the span of three verses. 

You’re “Making The Rounds…” a perfect closer and appropriately spanning nearly 8 minutes. “I turn the page / I change my ways / and started to come back around…” If you listen closely, you’ll hear his confession of basement breakdowns and party freakouts… but it isn’t quiet, you hear his heart poured out as though the you’re capsized under a cresting wave carrying a full ensemble of an orchestra’s instruments roaring their varying timbres in a musical squall. Or something like that. Scott Masson’s donning a wardrobe’s worth of musical tropes – it’s a crazy costume party, derby hats, spats on the shoes, torn denim, mouse-spray and boas, ray ban sunglasses and maybe some flannel… cravats? Glowsticks? Yes…but through it all… heart.

You’ve heard all this before…like you’ve never heard before………

What is the ode, the melody, the anthem, of a sensitive and sentimental heart beating its way through a ruthless and all-too-short life of #EverythingAllTheTime-isms. What’s expected of you? To be as strange and as sure of yourself as you could ever be… to put the puzzle pieces together in a way that’s not overtly defiant or childishly sarcastic…

You wake up and your 30 and you listen to a perfectly wonderful and emotional pop record that splashes together a lot of disparate musical elements in a staggeringly meticulous balance (it closes out with a techno-beat but fades before the rave sets on…) and then…the puzzle starts to make sense… Not to you, reader, but, to me…and to Scott Masson.

So that’s that…

…for now. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

4.10.14-- Dean Wareham in Ferndale

A longtime favorite of mine... Luna - Galaxie 500 - the nucleus of indie-psych n' folk, shoegaze and C-86-sweetened dream-pop - Dean Wareham! Here in Ferndale, MI at the Magic Bag!

"Bring back the magic and light the match / There is a spark that I'm hoping to catch... Now that we're here, I'm ready to leave...this whole wide world behind..."
Ahhhh, sigh
A song about the twilight of the psychedelic years, intriguing to be sure... But also packing a video fitting for our area - feels like we're at some retro-charmed Auto Show of yesteryear, under the stars!

The Dancer Disappears from Dean Wareham on Vimeo.

Dean Wareham -a proper solo album with 9 new songs produced with (My Morning Jacket's) Jim James, comes out on Double Feature and Sonic Cathedral. There's an interview with The Detroit News'' Adam Graham that you should read, here.

Info about the show

Sunday, March 30, 2014

So, about #CoOwnaz

Anthems champion common causes. They stoke solidarity. They're rallying cries, they're mission statements put to melodies and marching beats - They form the line and they push things forward.

Anthems energize not a singular singer, but a collective -

A dozen rappers around the Detroit area working with a handful of different producers, each eking their way through their upper 20's and some flirting with 30, churning through the day jobs to get back to the pen and the paper and the laptop and the sampler... and the mic...

This album embodies an adhoc community of next-gen MCs who came of age in an age of cynicism, seeking new places and fresh projects in an era of endemic been-there-done-thats. Nostalgia for the delicious junk from the 80's blends with subtle winks of their literary sensibilities while also distinguishing itself in their arcs toward the more audacious - the otherworldly, the underworldly...Like the quirkiest, coolest, loudest, quietest, dorks and diffident creative types seated at each respective table inside the hip-hop cafeteria, each trying to figure out how to make it on their own, started sitting at the same table and swapping their snack-packs and ecto-kooler boxes and began putting their heads together.

They built their own language and their own icons (a tall cylindrical candle, a tall, long-haired, bearded bon vivant and a hashtag-able phrase mangled into slangy accentuation).

#CoOwnaz... with their Big $$$ Candle and the tireless promoter of each MCs respective pursuits - Mr. Claude Merriweather (the subject of this vivid collage).

What's interesting here is that you don't get any braggadocio raps about what these guys own and how cool it is because of how much money those things cost - but you also don't get melodramatic raps about how dark and disenchanting the day to day bump-and-grind-and-bullshit can be, weighing them down and keeping them from the good life and parties and bullshit. These are also not raps about parties and bullshit.

It's a dozen different narrators telling slightly different versions of a still-ongoing story.

Blowout (in the Library)

This is what Blowout in the Library looked like, last year.

Ferndale Public Library... on it's way (if it isn't there, already), to assuredly being The Rock n' Roll Library!

Let's do this again...

Stay tuned over at this other blog that I write...

Ought - More Than Any Other Day

This band's name begs bloggers like me to make a pun... But seriously:
Check out this up and coming band out of Montreal that we've got our eyes on...

Take a listen ...and stay tuned

The Paper Sound (Trajectories preview) "Empty Chest"

Local quartet The Paper Sound turn the next page - pumping out another record (their third) of guitar-swelling, space-rock-fused indie-folk. The album release show is April 18th at The Loving Touch in Ferndale. Ronny Tibbs & the 305's are also playing that show (along with Radio Burns). While The Paper Sound celebrate the release of their full-length album Trajectories while the 305's start their springtime with a new EP. 

(They'll also be playing at the Ferndale Library's First Stop Friday, this month).  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Marching Out (Detroit: The Album, new Human Eye video + New Bums)

Let's start off soft and sweet and then we can get strange and slimy...

First, one of this blogs' favorite voices in post-millennial psych-folk, Donovan Quinn (Skygreen Leopards) with that raspy, resplendent whisper delivery of his, has found a fine harmonic partner in the just-slightly lower hum of Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance), blending dreamy chimes and softly breezing acoustic guitars - taking you right out into the meditative fields and high arcing trees shading carpets of blossoming ghostflowers.

For your listening pleasure, this Friday (3/28/14) at Trinosophes, down in Eastern Market, at 1464 Gratiot. This new collaborative pair is calling themselves New Bums with Voices In A Rented Room available from Drag City Records (more info here).

And now, let's get strange...
Timmy Lampinen (i.e. Timmy Vulgar) is, let's say, unassumingly... one of the most visionary artists we have in this town; the Kresge Foundation recognized this two years ago, rightly so.

With The Clone Defects, Timmy's Organism, Timmy's Tacos and Reptile Forcefield - the constant creator has substantially fleshed out his own alternate universe haunted with snaky, slimy, strange cephalopods and mad molluscs, bum-rushing their way into a groovy, fuzz-heavy, darkly psychedelic room of Rock n roll, tentacles and mandibles all flailing in the air...

Human Eye has a new album out (4: Into Unknown on Goner Records). Now they have a new music video (below). 

Local filmmaker Nick Lloyd worked with the band to form this utterly dazzling video where the skies, city streets and buildings are imposed with fever-dream imagery, as well as the players own purple-tinted images. 

Take a look...

I'd like to invite you to a listening party

This was technically inspired by a late night conversation about how interesting it was, seeing metal legends Black Sabbath get back together last year and, (at their age, even, after the time spent apart, t'boot), get a whole album together in a considerably short period of time.

But it was also inspired, as it came together, by just how much talent (and range of musical styles) percolates from the players in this scene. Why not play a bit of "mix-and-match..." Take 40 local musicians, form them into 9 new groups and have them each write and record a song inside a short window of time. Schedules were balanced, songs were written, and each player, whether on keys, bass, drums or guitar, whether a vocalist or a producer, whether they were into new wave or post-punk or whatever, had to find a way to collaborate, essentially, on the fly.

This album shows the results of this experiment.

Pictured: Frank Woodman (of Caveman), George Morris (of The Gypsy Chorus) and Leann Banks -recording their song with their makeshift band
 Listening Party & Release of "Detroit" theAlbum 
6-9 pm at The StoreFront Gallery 477 W. Marshall in Ferndale
 1 Album called "DETROIT". 
Take a listen 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blowout XVII

Metro Times Blowout 17 tickets on sale now
Early pricing $20 through April 2.
Purchase your tickets for a weekend long music experience April 30 - May 3
in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale.
Kick off party April 30 at The Majestic