Sunday, August 23, 2015

Library Love - Aug 28 @ The Loving Touch

This is the third year in a row that I’ve co-hosted a Benefit Concert for the Ferndale Library. I’ve worked here five years and for all five of those years, the library has been struggling to raises its revenues back to pre-recession levels (i.e., pre-2008). When an economy drags it lowers the housing values and effects the property taxes that go to fund the library… It’s a long story that likely gets deeper into some more economics jargon, but I’d rather use this Benefit Concert as something more… Could our library use the support? Of course, but could our library, like all libraries everywhere, use a bit of help in terms of advocacy? Like, reminding as many folks as possible of the immeasurable worth of a library and the services it provides… It’s easy to overlook in a post-Internet age, like the Post Office or Telephone Booths… No, wait, like Museums and Theatres, Libraries are in danger of being ignored out of some alarming misconception that they’ve worn into an obsolescence now that we all have Wi-Fi, Netflix and Google image searches for our Picasso jpegs and Michealangelo memes…

Won't you join us?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

PMN Presents: A Night for James

A Night For James is Thursday, August 20 at the Performance Network Theatre (120 N. Huron St, Ann Arbor). General Admission – tickets available at:
Doors at 7 pm (Music begins at 7:30 pm)
Lineup and further information at:

Pictured, top-to-bottom:
Performance Network Theatre
Billy Harrington

Maybe you don’t know Billy Harrington yet but he’s likely had behind-the-scenes involvement in producing (or recording) some of your favorite local musical experiences of the last few years. Harrington also knows exactly why you, yes you, have probably always really dug the music of James Taylor.

“I work with many singer-songwriters,” Harrington said, “and I’ve found that they all love James Taylor.”

Harrington, a freelance musician and music director, knows what makes for the best live concerts and performances. “The best ones turn can the room into something else. They take you somewhere…It’s a vibe that takes you somewhere during the show. James Taylor’s music has done that to me ever since high school. I actually wore out his Greatest Hits album and had to buy another one.”

Harrington has organized a tribute show celebrating the music of James Taylor set for August 20, hosted at the Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor. “A Night For James: A Concert Tribute to James Taylor” will be Ann Arbor’s ode of one of the most iconic and influential singer-songwriters…ever! Can we say ever? Let’s say “…ever!” And it features several substantial talents from the local music scene, each of them uniquely inspired by Taylor’s signature style and immortal songs.

“When you hear him sing, you know it’s James!” said local singer-songwriter Chris Dupont. “I love that he’s got a huge range of things he can do, but that he always serves the tune and the lyric first.”

“I think the one thing that I love most is his soothing and expressive voice,” said singer-songwriter Olivia Millerschin. “He didn’t have to us a big, booming, riffing voice to prove his talent or keep people interested. He was a pioneer of not over-singing…with this crooning, sweet, melodic tone; it made what he sung all the more effective and beautiful. And, look at the staying power!”

The Private Music Network’s production of “A Night For James” is a testament to said “staying power.” Harrington is working to bring to life an evening of music that will feature the musical contributions of both Dupont and Millerschin, along with Drew Howard, Bob Mervak, Adam Plomaritas, Antwaun Stanley, Chrystal Starr. Aiding the night’s production is a range of crucial production personnel, sound designers and backing musicians. GW Staton (of the Black Cyrstal Café) helped curate the show and John Bommarito from Ann Arbor’s 107one will be the night’s MC.

But, really, for Harrington, this is not only a chance to gush about a singer who has had particularly palpable influence upon the Ann Arbor music scene, but also a chance to experiment. Harringotn hopes that by utilizing a unique venue such as the Performance Network, he can hopefully stoke enthusiasm for more theatre-esque performances featuring the talent of the local music scene.

Harrington appreciates Ann Arbor’s several unique venues, from large concert halls like Hill Auditorium and Michigan Theatre to smaller listening rooms like Staton’s Black Crystal Café or Crazy Wisdom. “Performance Network is the type that fits right between that and you can’t have enough venues like this in the city, because it allows people to put on full production shows not only in an intimate setting but also inside a manageable business model.”

Harrington admits that building a show dedicated to James Taylor from the ground-up inside a historically folk-favoring music scene like Ann Arbor could have easily succeeded in a larger venue, he specifically wanted to work with Jon Manfredi and Suzi Regan at Performance Network, expressing an urge to “finally put a show together in their space, with live full sound and multiple artists.”

Dupont said that he hopes this creates a possibility for more cool events to be hosted at Performance Network in the future. “Honestly, I’d love to do more Ann Arbor shows that are theatre-style,” 

Dupont said. Each musician involved has been rehearsing diligently all month long to make this a top-notch performance. “We’re looking to create a smooth, high production ‘night-out’ kinda feel,” Dupont added.

James Taylor’s music has a transcendently calming power to it; those breezy acoustic guitars and that soft, lullaby-ish voice with its unique tinge of wary wisdom wound to it. “I felt really honored to be asked to join the show,” Dupont said, reiterating that love for Taylor’s music. “But I love being part of any project that (Harrington)’s doing. He’s a master of feel, and every gig with him just sounds great and feels easy to play.”

Millerschin met Harrington through another gig that she was performing with Dupont. “Of course I said yes; it’s some of my favorite artists performing tributes to another one of my favorite artists!”
Harrington has considerable experience in event organizing and musical production, and Staton has helped him organize an excellent lineup of local talent, so this seems like it should be a surefire crowd pleaser. Plus, it’s James Taylor! How sweet it is!

A Night For James is Thursday, August 20 at the Performance Network Theatre (120 N. Huron St, Ann Arbor). General Admission – tickets available at:
Doors at 7 pm (Music begins at 7:30 pm)
Lineup and further information at:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Krysta Youngs - (New Single) Xanax (A Love Song)

Krysta Youngs is remarkably accomplished pop song writer, performer and collaborator, despite her youth (and despite her humble roots, back here in Michigan). Her special blends of leftfield pop, electronica and dance-rock are perfect for those pensive, resolving drives into the night, when one's just left the club with a head and heart full of twisted emotions, be they vitriolic or be they bemused.

The songs Youngs has been working on since she moved out to L.A. have been featured on MTV's The Real World, ESPN and more. She's also written for (or with) such high tier pop icons like Christina Aguilera. The arrangement for her new single, with softened indie-folk-rock riffs and lighter cinematic chimes and swoons sutured under booming beats supplementing her voice soaring with this bravado that's got both a bright side and a dark side.

Tell me more about your Michigan roots and what it was like growing up here? How did your time here influence your music? I was born and raised in Flint, MI.  When I was eight I moved to Grand Blanc and met the fabulous Tunde Olaniran, one of the highlights of my life. Being raised in Michigan definitely had an impact on me and my music.  Flint and Grand Blanc have that small town vibe and I'm a big dreamer so making music and listening to music helped bridge the gap between my location and my goals.

What do you consider your most formative moment, musically, creatively...I can remember watching MTV for the first time and just being glued to the TV.  I decided right then and there that I was going to perform on the MTV Video Music Awards.  When I was four I used to dance on my kitchen table wearing a tutu and singing into a toy microphone.  My future was apparently already written.      

The new music video for Xanax (A Love Song) debuts tonight at midnight
click here:

LA seems like an entire other galaxy compared to Flint. Tell us about your experience there, the key lessons/insights you've learned

If you live in LA you're literally one degree of separation from anyone or anything in the music industry. It makes you feel like anything is possible and I honestly believe that it is.

Tell us about this summer's single, "Xanax (A Love Song)" and how this song and in what/any way has your recent writing/singing shown an evolution in your approach, style, craft, compared to a few years earlier?
Xanax (A Love Song) is 100% honest, authentic and autobiographical.  Since moving to LA, 3 years ago, I've mainly been writing songs for other artists.  This song, like the new EP has no rules, no boundaries, no expectations and was created from a childlike love for music.   

What's next? 
     I'm traveling to Nashville, TN in the fall to start working on an album with my good friend Julia Sinclair.  She co-wrote most of my EP "Prescriptions" with me and we have a really cool musical connection.  I'm looking forward to   making more magic with her.

White Bee + Characteristics

Two of the most eclectic sounding bands of the last five years are joining their exquisite forces for a dual-release party this Friday night at Elijah's in Hamtramck.

Characteristics, with their nightmare-chic post-techno punk...
& White Bee, with their blend of a rock beat under funk chords and soulful vocals...
Each have a new set of material (both releasing via cassette)

Characteristics Synthaside and White Bee's 5 'Til The Time 

Like Suicide of the 70's or Detroit's own Marco Polio & The New Vaccines, the inventive, dissonance-loving minds behind Characteristics are gracefully welding a hypnotic arrangement of beats, sometimes just cerebral head-nods and body sways, other times accelerated into rave-tempos, onto a blinding (or is it ear-bending) girder of caustic noise and shifted feedback. But it isn't merely some esoteric hell-raising racket, it's an enlivening, bracing form of punk, albeit fused imperatively to the synthesizer. I love how the vocals sound like they're truly trying to shout into to your ear over the splendid ruckus, as if the vocalist were right beside you, yelling over the amps. Listen closely, though, and you'll hear it...they're often keen to suture a sweet melody underneath and throughout the fuzz. 


White Bee, meanwhile, are on the entire other side of the spectrum; demonstrating a fine sense for space in their compositions for their sublime range of tones to breath, from the breezy bristle of that funky guitars, to the energizing splash of those cymbals over the snapping snares, to the understated swagger and slap of the bass to shining, soulfully trembled wail and trilling croon of those lead vocals. There's the warming, major key syrup of R&B as well as the more angular kartwheels of indie-rock through the riffs and rhythms; I sense their aiming for something that warms the heart yet also moves the feet...something more energized than your usual grooviness, a blend of psychedelia and soul. 
Get there, get the tape, and enjoy a track like "Casper Car;" bob-n-weave rhythms set to Sea & Cake-recalling guitars and a percolation of what sound like synthesized steel-drums at the periphery.

White Bee / Characteristics - Double Cassette Release Party
Aug 21 @ Elijah's (9536 Jos Campau, Hamtramck) INFO--

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Odd Hours: An Interview with Natasha Beste

Natasha Beste talks about "experiencing everything." She's talking about  music, about singing, about performing with her whole body, about looking at everything, really seeing it, seeing you, getting you into the song, into the experience of the music, being in it, feeling it, maximizing it...

There's a comparably hair-raising, heart-racing charge of arousal, (...provocation? electrocution? therapeutic jolt?) inherent to Odd Hours signature blend of full moon madness rock music scorched by the white hot burn marks of electronica, post-industrial and an enticingly danceable metal mosh. Fittingly, their new EP is titled for hormones involving focus and stress, concentration and pressure.

"There is some negative frustration and energy," Beste said, that gets released or exorcised during the songwriting and performance processes of Odd Hours. "It goes through and it gets released and I can relive it over and over on stage but...still, it becomes a theatrical thing that I can now own. So, if it is negative, it's my negative thing that's not fake, but something that is mine and that I can do whatever I want with, at that point."

This is Odd Hours third EP. They recently released a video for the single "SWTS"

"Lots of the songs (on norepenephrine + dopamine) still have the same themes of power," Beste said. Indeed, over the years, Beste and her main collaborator, guitarist Timothy Jagielo, have established a reputation for a beautiful volatility, like fighters who are arching over the turnstiles or dancers pirouetting their kicks right above the foreheads of the front row in attendance. Not that this was punk, per se, it had much more nuance, much more atmospheric dressing and much more synth than any post-punk elbow-flailed catharsis kartwheel. Sometimes it was more supernatural than punk...sometimes it was just sexier than punk.

"This album," Beste said, "unlike the last one, has a little more sexiness to it, exploring things like desire or lust and I didn't realize it, actually, until we started mixing it. But, it's about me doing things that are....kinda bad." She pauses here to reiterate how hard she works to justify how hard she plays; Beste works full time as a teacher and videographer (notably with Gold House Media), while Jagielo puts in a full week's worth of work in the world of photojournalism. As Beste puts it: "I'm working so hard 90% of the time that...I need to go crazy and wild sometimes."

Going crazy and wild, at least inside a song, was the impetus for Odd Hours in the first place, Jagielo and Beste had both had experience in other bands, with other genres, but when they met and struck up a conversation about what they both longed for in a band, a half-directed reckless abandon that conjured the raw fuck-all of post-punk into the sleek, metallic allure of a much darker new-wave dance-rock... "(Jagielo) is my dream partner to work with. He gets my language... But then, we really couldn't do anything without Clint (Stuart-bass) and Randy (Hanley Jr-drums)."

But going back to the sexiness... "You'd think (the behavior described in these songs) would seem destructive when you're younger, but I am so organized these days that I can put all that destructive behavior in there and still bounce back the next morning. So... (these songs)'s are about having fun and feeling confident and being an adult woman and feeling good about myself and my body and about being around other people."

We've said "power" or "sexiness" or "reckless abandon" or whatever... But with Odd Hours, it really comes down to confidence. That's the number one reason, Beste said, that this band can do anything. "I used to be terrified to share anything with anyone. I was terrified to even own anything or say that I had done something. I'd back off and make excuses for myself. Now... I don't want to look back on anything, any show, any song, when I'm 80 and have any regrets over holding anything back over sensitivities..."

But that confidence wasn't always there... She recalls a recent walk she took with an old friend, catching up on things... "I realized how much I always felt left out or treated like I was unimportant in school," Beste said. "People thought I was talented but I never really got invited or included in things. I was always embarrassed of what people would think of me and I never fit in just one group. I was not enough of one thing or too much of a lot of things to be labeled into one group so I was floating... "

But she had a revelation last week when she went to the Marilyn Manson concert. "...I'm a grown adult," she said. "I don't have to be scared of people older or younger than me...I can be myself, whatever that is, and I need to go for what I really want. And what I want is for others to have fun and not miss out on life because they feel embarrassed or unsure of themselves. There's lots of flaky people in Detroit. There's lots of rude and unprofessional people too. But, there are also really cool, creative, enthusiastic, fun people. I just have to find them and I think with this line up (Jagielo, Stuart, Hanley), I did..."

With this ensemble sounding as tight as it is on this EP and with its songs,the arching guitars, the subtlest of synth & vocal harmonies, the crunchy metal feedback, the propulsive rhythms, it sounds as though Odd Hours are fully alive within these songs.

And that's what it's always been... Odd Hours is adrenaline. But it is also focus. It is completely losing yourself inside of a moment that you never want to forget. It is... "...being 100,000 percent into a moment..."

The norepenephrine + dopamine EP Release Show is Fri. Sept 4 at Small's in Hamtramck
This is a dual-release show that also features new work by The Philter (...more on that, later!)
Odd Hours
The Philter
DJ Shan Beaste
Julian Paaige 

Microphone Phelps The Attic EP Release Show

These words are the oracle
Welcome to the Attic

Earlier this summer, Detroit rapper Microphone Phelps put out a magnificent batch of songs that included "The Haunting." Now, that's exactly the word I wanted to use to describe his newest single, "The Attic," and it got me thinking what was so haunting about the MC's signature expressions and rhymed confessions..

His words are so percussive, they grab you by the collar, they grasp both your shoulders, they shake you, shunt you forward, you bob and weave to the convulsive conveyance of sinuously wrapped words. It's a trend I've found in several of Mic Phelps songs over the last five years, verses that lead into choruses and soon accelerate into these blurring bridges, where the delivery of the raps starts to feel like a clenched muscle, starts to accelerate without sacrificing any graceful articulation yet still startle or stimulate the listener with the fervor. 

On last month's "The Haunting," he raps that he spills blood on every track and with "The Attic" that's becoming ever more evident. Where as "The Haunting" was a restatement of purpose, a forceful mission statement, a poignant poring over of motivational sources, "The Attic" takes you to the laboratory where Phelps was formed, its a place of regeneration for the rhymer, a source of confidence-restoration, building toward "eliminating limitations," 

There's a sense of "haunting" vibes in some of his tracks because some of his tracks, particularly the lyrics of the writer himself, effectively evoke the sense of high stakes; success in perspective, self-fulfillment in measurements, day to day, song to song, verse to verse, ever-climbing (like stairs to the attic). 

The Attic EP release show is Saturday, Aug 15 at Tony V's 
ft. Microphone Phelps
Krvspy (...who, by the way, produced The Attic)
Ro Spit
and Macs The Realest
with DJ Dash


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tunde Olaniran's Transgressor

Flint-based force of nature Tunde Olaniran’s latest full length feels like a climactic sequence in a way because there have been several EP’s and several more mind-blowing live performances and music videos leading up to it… And you’re damn glad for having heard those, too, because not only were they sensational demonstrations of the preternatural and iconoclastic talents of this R&B-ballad-belting, raw/regal-techno rap stylist, but there’d be no other way one could feel properly prepared for Transgressor.

I know I’m inviting satirizing derision for sounding so hyperbolic, but I don’t care. I’ve heard the whole thing and I’m guessing you haven’t yet. Maybe you’re too cynical for Transgressor. You can check out before the next paragraph, then…

Every 45 seconds or so I stop writing this review and start dancing, or at least just moving a bit. It’s hard not too from a stand-up desk…your feet just start shuffling away from the work of the writing...anyhow...

With lyrics and music that are part memoir, part exorcism, part documentary, part social commentary, Transgressor channels a squall of energies: empowering energy, contemplative energy, self-celebratory energy and an energy that nearly becomes angry, but always keeps cool.

Tunde Olaniran comes to the mic with incomparable presence and a graceful defiance. There’s fineness and ferocity to his voice; the low guttural raps, the mid-range croon, the pained and impassioned falsetto. The tones, textures and percussive arrangements are a dizzying montage: primal garage disco, 22nd-century dance/rap, silky smooth/punk-gritted R&B and elemental electronica. …. 

Its primal energy is rallying…does one dance to “Namesake” or does one pump one’s fist? Maybe at those quieter bridges you could even stop, take a breath and think it over as a smoothly and swiftly synched chorus like this waves its way over you:
And maybe there’s a lesson I’ve been given or some wisdom from the stories that I need to tell
Everybody’s hoping and scraping and wishing they could be something inside themselves
If I can be me / then you can be yourself / might not be easy / it’s like we’re never satisfied

On “Namesake,” Olaniran sings about being the puzzle piece that never fit, growing up as a teenager overseas in the UK. He spent much of his youth abroad, between Nigeria, Germany and England, before finally settling in Flint. On this song, possibly the most vibrant of the potent bunch, Olaniran’s reaching back to younger, unsure, awkward days, when a very quiet ambition crackled diffidently inside of him, it’s a pressure-release song, shutting off the frustration over ever “sounding fictitious.”

“Namesake,” paired with equally compelling implorations to break boundaries to self-expression like “Transgressor,” “Let Me Go,” and “KYBM,” details Olaniran’s own epic leveling-up, a lifelong slow-burning strength-building, with confidence bolstering experience as he came into adulthood, finally “reaching up for those high notes.” His music, like much of Transgressor just as with his dynamic live performances, are the fruition of his aim to pass on that same encouragement to an audience. You can still dance, if you like. But listen closely, “…you…” yes, you… “…can be yourself.”

We haven’t thoroughly touched on the lyrics yet and that is where the activist and educator sides of Olanrian can shine, using an erudite vocabulary and a keen poet’s sense for prose to treat topics as weighty and relevant as systematized oppression, social anxiety and identity empowerment. On “Trangressor” an adrenaline-pumping blend of orchestral strings, metallic drums and racing synthesizers, he sings about the serious stakes of climbing walls both real and perceived and not fearing “the warrior” or the transgressor as a title one risks adopting by their actions. 

We should also mention that he can be varyingly topical, satirical or even geek-culturally playful with his lyrics, stitching in lines about Paladins, hydras and Nancy Drew.
I had a complex / then I burned through it / …he a phoenix…I knew it
 Visionary witch in full bloom / my big hair and these slick moves / no height needed, just sick tunes
So wavy, where’s my trident? / keep it wetter than a hundred hydra heads

“Where he come from? Left field” These lyrics, from “Up & Down,” swagger and smoothly shoulder-check their way into the listener, set to this shimmying beat and a cartoonishly honky bass blurting a slinky hook. It’s another example of the variance in mood and imagery fluctuating throughout Transgressor.

If you took the instrumental arrangements that Olaniran worked out with producer Jon Zott for a song like “Everyone’s Missing” then you’d have a sensational dance track by itself, with percussive bass plucks over these haunting chimes as a stir of sequenced beats and cymbals shear underneath. But this song, like the majority of Transgressor’s entries, finds Olaniran slamming some exceptionally difficult questions onto the social feed, melodically wailed from a weary heart and a wearier mind out into the echoing ether of a concrete wilderness of confusion and mixed media messages. 

I’m tired of vigils / been blowing the whistles / straight homicide / then he gets acquittal (“Everyone’s Missing”) Later, on the anxious and energizing techno-hip-hop hybrid “Run To The Gun,” he’s nearly combustible when he hits: “…We don’t know where to go / run with no map to show / the dark fed into the fiction / the mercy was a sharp blade / but from here we see a new fight / old roads repaved / it’s more than just a rendition / new rules new waves / wasn’t always on my eyesight / came at it sorta sideways but now  I see it so plain…”

When Olaniran isn’t writing lyrics, singing or producing he’s designing the costumes and programming the choreography for his live show and backup dancers. Beyond that, he also works as an educator, specializing in gender, sexual equality, sexual health and awareness. The tireless community activist also works as the state-wide Manager of Outreach for Planned Parenthood in Michigan. Beyond music, though, his lyrics are also influenced by progressive, socially-conscious sci-fi pioneers like Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler. Lately, you can also add “author” to Olaniran’s resume with the recent collaborative anthology Octavia’s Brood.

With Transgressor, Tunde Olaniran is telling the first-person narrative of a true original that’s already seen the world but still has questions; it’s an atypical performer and stylist treating prototypical stereotypes like an exterminator, a lover of pop music who understands the vitality of punk’s reckless abandon, a rapper who can channel unavoidable flares of aggression into something exceedingly more cerebral… “Keep the truth spilling” he sings in KYBM, “…keep your body moving.”

It becomes about so much more than just dancing…

Transgressor release show is Saturday, Aug 8
Elizabeth Theatre (Park Bar) 2040 Park Ave, Detroit
featuring Tunde Olaniran
Detroit-based electro-soul duo Little Animal, R&B powerhouse Bevlove, and LA-based rapper Ris Irawniq AndersonMother Cyborg, who runs a regular DJ night at Temple Bar, will provide two DJ sets. 

Mountain Club Album Release Show, Aug 21

Mountain Club are a trio of local musicians who have logged a lot of time (several years, in fact) playing with a slew of past bands and projects. Singer/guitarist Ross Kurtis and bassist (and beard specialist) Brent Mosser have been playing music together for nearly 20 years by now. They wrote together, performed together, toured together, grew up together...

The last two years, Mosser & Kurtis have been writing something new as a two piece (with Mosser on drums). When they found Evan Starr last year, it started falling into place. They finished up six songs and decided this was it: a new band, a new adventure. They called themselves Mountain Club and started gigging around Detroit late last Winter.

Time Waits For No One... What an apt title for a trio of players savvy about the scene and how all this banding and rocking stuff works. Akin to a group like Destroy This Place (or even PONYSHOW,) Mountain Club's knows their way around the indie-rock courts by now, so that gives their sound a refreshed, upbeat vigor, a cool kind of confidence like a steadier, surer hand upon the handlebars of the bike as it jumps the next riff-ridged dirt hill and sticks its landing into the next crescendo. This is the tight dynamics that come with a group that has honed their sensibilities for inherent spontaneity of their post-rock inclinations.

Mountain Club know how to get some massive punch from a minimalist make-up; reverberating riffs match the drums in the verses as the bass sets a driving groove in "Ocean Floor," the first single from Time Waits For No One. Kurtis' voice has a nice melodic whip to it and it's effective when it rises to the ebullient choruses, like a surfer upon the crest of some combustible guitar surges.

Take a listen:

Mountain Club Facebook 
& their main site

Mountain Club's album release show is Friday, Aug 21 and it, like Time, waits for no one!!
It'll be at The Loving Touch (22634 Woodward Ave, Ferndale)
It features Javelins, Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms, Monument Monument and Hawk & Son And it starts at 7 pm
A new single, "Knocking On Pavement," is at once both spacious and clustered, spacey and atmospheric yet jittery and ready to explode... You can hear more from their main site. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

800beloved - Some Kind Of Distortion

the sound discovered when I found what love could do / but I'm tired from the past and too frightened by the future...

How to amplify a that it lasts? 

We long ago grew too cynical to admit (or perhaps it'd be oversharing?) at how much emotion could be stoked inside us by a song...

Here I am, hesitant, to admit that I wanted to try writing about the beauty of a song like "The Maul" with my eyes closed.

Emotions distort. For better and for worse, for pleasure and for dismay; the roil up and your brain's dopamine tsunamis and you don't know if which way is up anymore or whether you're in love or just crazy. That's the kind of distortion, flowing like electricity through its veins, that embodies 800beloved songs.

What I always admired about singer/songwriter Sean Lynch's approach to the songs of 800beloved was that they were nostalgia tours that took you away from the safe shores, they were pop music safaris that showed you the cliffs, they were sweet bubblegum heart-swooners that raked a coarse tread of minor keys and dissonance underneath it. These were the propulsive songs that made you feel (really feel) the beat that your heart skipped...

And so, you put your headphones on and listen closely enough to the subtle symphony of eerie drones ever-percolating at the uninpinging frames of these otherwise hook-heavy pop riffers (like "Cicadas") and you start to let the swell of tones and wavy shift of textures take you away and maybe you close your eyes... ...cuz you're feeling that distortion.

Lynch's songs on Distortion soar (and burrow) further, deeper, with more sincerity, and, perhaps,  even with more scientific curiosity, then some gothy-shoegazed Corganian reading of being in love with one's sadness, so to speak...and that's because Lynch isn't just singing but he's also producing.

Lynch isn't interested in provoking one emotion, but several and sometimes all at once, as demonstrated by his meticulous layering of tones (as on the darkly effervescent "Enduring Black"), subtle arrangement of sequenced beats (as in the drifting and detached slow dance industrial wallop of "Dent On The Hill").

There's something about the metallic/foamy fuzz of those guitar tones, the chugging strums and percussion accelerated just a nervy-step faster than a calm walker's pace.

Indeed, "Some Kind Of Distortion" is the kind of song you squeezed onto a mixtape that was then hastily stuffed into the locker of the girl you had a crush on before you ran away red-faced, but "Dent On The Hill" or even "Die Slow" are the songs for the countless dark nights of your soul that followed through the answerless-days of your late 20's. There's dread in getting older just as there's dread in having a school yard crush but you're never quite sure what that feeling is, just as you're never quite sure what exactly Lynch has done to attain that certain tone or pitch or sound...or noise... It's distorted.

But then a song like "The Maul" comes on and you feel a sigh erupt and you just want to close your eyes. Lynch's voice, up until this point on the record has been a cool, melodic groan or this effectively hummy, high baritone that compliments the thrumming tone of his guitars. But on "The Maul," the echo lays on heavy and the edges fray, like the colors bleeding away from a polaroid picture or the certain way he or she said that sweet little nothing and how its warped over time like memory's game of telephone in your brain.

"I've / I've come TO..." Lynch's words reverberate through the bridge, as if he (and you) are regaining (some kind of) consciousness (after some kind of distortion).

Your head swims. It's distortion. It's like the music can take you some place, some place else...assuming you aren't too cynical. If you haven't succumb to cynicism, then this is the kind of pop music to dive into...

Learn more

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ghouls & Bombshells’ Dual Release Party

When the throwback-pop specialists Blaire Alise & The Bombshells and their fellow Detroiters the spectacular spasmodic garage rattlers the Pretty Ghouls decided throw a party in Ann Arbor for their respective new albums, they knew they had to invite a pair of distinct and dynamic groups to elevate the evening. The Current was excited to see they chose the horrorshow fuzz-pop trio Prude Boys and Ann Arbor’s own blues-wrung psyche-rock outfit Buffalo Coven Party to complete the lineup at the Blind Pig (August 15). We checked in with all four bands to discuss their latest works and the importance of bridging the music scenes of Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Milo: What’s new? What are you working on? How are things coming along?
Blaire Alise (of THE BOMBSHELLS):
Another Day is a new four song 45” and I just signed a deal with a music publisher in Nashville called Carlin, who represent catalogs of James Brown, AC/DC and my favorite singer, Little Willie John! I’m honored to be part of such an impressive catalog! I’m going to be recording new songs for them very soon.
Matthew Snyder (of BUFFALO COVEN PARTY): Well, Jeff, the year has had a lot of changes, Aurora Adams left our band to have a baby. And guitarists Jad Dino Raad left the band to move to Ferndale for work. But we are soldiering ahead, currently with a new vocalist, Ariana Hedrick, and just keeping the music to a three piece (with Dan Gosnell). We’re working on new tunes that go back to the BCP roots, having departed our bluesy-psych style for more of a garage-y surf-y psych feel. We plan to have new songs ready by the end of the month but, we are musicians…so, we’ll see how those best laid plans work out.

Milo: Ghouls…Blaire…tell us about your new stuff.
Mz. Mockery (PRETTY GHOULS):
To me, this 45 represents our growth; these songs time-stamp our progress as a band. I never really came into this expecting anything beyond loud crazy fun and I guess it’s still loud crazy fun, but we keep growing.
Li’l Queenie (GHOULS): “Outlaw Blues” (a Bob Dylan cover) is my favorite. It’s one of the first we practiced, with just TJ and I and the mic hanging from the ceiling because we had no stands yet. Our (version) is insanity. I love it.
Blaire Alise: I recorded with Jim Diamond at good ol’ Ghetto Recorders, which is great because we're always on the same wave length and can communicate through telepathy.  This time, I played all of the instruments except for drums (the Bombshells were busy that day).  The songs definitely have a different vibe than my first album.  As I've been writing more and more, I've been coming into my own as a songwriter and I feel like I'm getting in touch with my own sound.

Milo: Prude Boys, you’ve been releasing special cassettes as a series. Tell us about that and the experience of finding inventive new ways to release music.
Quennton Thornbury:
I mean, really…these days, the prospect of being a big name seems out of reach and, also, undesirable, ya know? And lots of bands get that these days so it’s less D.I.Y. and more D.I.T(ogether). The cassettes were just the cheapest way we could put out music, physically, and you just really have to have stuff out there. It's funny how small of a scene independent music is because we all have to support each other. We’re definitely looking at working with a local label to put out the tracks we recorded recently. We just finished four songs with our friend and musical engineer Ben Collins.

Milo: This show really bridges the scenes together, talk about how that adds to the celebration.
Dan Gosnell (BCP):
We played our first show with Prude Boys, actually, and I feel like they just keep getting better and better. Pretty Ghouls really leave it all on the stage. Blaire Alise is just so solid. This is going to be killer.
Blaire Alise: Ann Arbor and Detroit can almost feel like two different states, sometimes. We wanted to make sure everyone, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Hamtramck, were included in all the record release fun! On the surface, we (Pretty Ghouls / Bombshells) seem like such different bands, too. But we come from the same source of inspirations; we just do different things with it. It oddly works!

Milo: Ghouls, you bring a lot of…let’s say infectious intensity…to your live performance. Can you talk about your approach to your stage show?
Mz. Mockery (Ghouls):
Performing live is like creating a tornado.
Perfectly put…!
Mz. Mockery:
Yes. The energy of what you're creating is the vortex of these palpable and tangible winds swirling around you. I love when people are dancing and sweating so close you can taste them. It's kinda the best shit ever.
Li’l Queenie (Ghouls): I never thought I had the guts. Turns out I do. I have it easy, I usually feel as if most people are focusing on Asia and I'm free to space out or strut out depending on my mood.
T.J. Ghoul (Ghouls): I tend to zone out when we perform. I'm not very conscious of the crowd or what the girls are doing. I'm just conscious enough of the music that I stay with it and endure the speed and energy at which we play. Afterwards I usually have all sorts of questions for the girls like, "What was the crowd like? What did you guys do? Was it any good?" as if I wasn't even there.

Milo: Anyone wanna talk some more about merging these scenes together, what unites them, what distinguishes them, from your band’s perspective?
Caroline Myrick (Prude Boys):
We respect and love much of the music coming out of the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area, but it was just never really our niche. Detroit has really accepted us with open arms, and the people we've met and have worked with in the area have been insanely supportive and helpful. Hamtramck so quickly became a home for us, and our music has had such room and ability to grow here, that I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. We've lived a lot of places, but nothing has ever felt so right as being right here, surrounded by this city filled with our favorite people. It's fucking great. 
Quennton Thornbury (Prude Boys): Plus, we live off pierogies, Indian food, Timmy's Tacos, and cheap beer, so we probably wouldn't survive anywhere else.
Dan Gosnell (BCP): These past few months (Buffalo Coven Party) played Echo Fest, Hamtramk Music Festival, Metro Times Blowout , Fuzz Fest, and a handful of other shows along the way. It’s great to see Detroit, Hamtramck, Ferndale, and Ann Arbor sharing a scene and getting lots of bands together. It’s like getting together with all your friends.

How have your projects been changing or evolving, lately….or is there anything new that you’re particularly stoked to work on?
Gosnell (BCP):
Recently, we had the departure of a guitar player, a lot of the time is now exploring what we sound like with different people, and as just three piece. We have brought in Ariana Headrick on vocals, to round out our sound and she has been doing a fantastic job. EP and the future? It’s hard to say on exact time. I would love to say we have a double LP out tomorrow, but realistically I think we are just trying to write the best songs we can possibly write and find a place to record.
Caroline Myrick (Prude Boys): What we're focusing on right now is putting our new songs out on vinyl. We have so much material. There's no doubt we'll be putting more and more out once we have the resources, you know, like money.
Quentonn Thornbury (Prude Boys): Yea, definitely. We actually just got a new drummer too (Mac Starr) since Sadie went to be with her family in Alaska indefinitely. So I'm thinking we'll do some demos with him soon and finish the cassette series after we put out this EP of songs we recorded with Ben, just to keep momentum rolling. We come up with new songs just about every week and I think we're really growing as song writers and a band, so putting out songs that we recorded a year ago and have since scrapped seems useless right now.

How about you T.J.? How have the Ghouls grown?
T.J. Ghoul: Well…my mantra, when starting the band, was to strip rock and roll down to its most pure and minimalist form. I always talked about how the term "rock and roll" was used in old blues songs as code for "dancing and fucking". To me, that is the sole purpose of rock and roll music, to inspire people to dance and fuck. If you strive to do anything more than that with rock and roll music, then yer doing it wrong. That hasn't changed with me, that is still my intention with the band. The only difference now, after a couple years, is I think we are better at it. Matt Smith from Outrageous Cherry, who is one of my heroes, once told me, "When I first saw you guys it was just sheer insanity, like the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. But now you got melodic with the insanity, it's like Darby Crash recording for Motown!" I can dig that.

 Dual Release Show for The Pretty Ghouls and Blaire Alise & The BombshellsAug 15th at The Blind Pig – featuring Buffalo Coven Party and The Prude Boys 9:30 pm / $7 ($10 for ages under 21) Visit for more information.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

King Eddie

King Eddie's gone through it's two-year chrysalis stage so that they could burst out with their debut album, fully formed in all its multi-hued, genre-defiant dynamism. The Detroit-born music collective is currently based out of Iowa but it's a sure thing we'll be seeing them soon... Their proper debut album comes out this week....

I wanted to say it sounded like Of Montreal until it sounded like Electric Light Orchestra...until it sounded like Tame Impala...until it sounded like Olivia Tremor Control or Traffic, or Black Mountain...

Cuz why just be a fluid, feathery psych-pop when you can really wail it out and dabble into a bit of heavy-metal soul? Why just go for that melodic-centric indie-pop whimsy when you can bring in some eerie/beautiful synths and organs and jettison a low tide beach stride up into the rainbow-bolt struck stratosphere of trippy/paisley baroque-bliss.... 

Follow along the breezy strums and soaring motifs of "New World" until you get to the cusp of the bridge... "In the new world, who's wrong, who's right? / As the new girl under wallpapered sky..." Sounds like we're in pretty typical psychedelia locales with those lyrics, until... "In the new world, they cut off hte head....and they serve it in rounds like the baker's bread...."
Stream it along, I'll wait, it's about at the 2:32 mark... 

...And did you get a load of those guttural barks during the first four measures of the solo? Something interesting is going on inside of the heads of King Eddie's four members and it pours, bleeds, bursts and radiates onto the recordings of their debut album, which comes out August 14th.

Lead guitarist Justin Maike draws a vivid picture and his collaborators help color it all in with their own unique vibrantly tinted tones. Maike recorded the record himself, between his time spent in Denver, Sioux City (IA) and Detroit. Adam Cox helped mix and master the self-titled album. Maike currently resides in Sioux City where the band is currently composed of Angela Lambrecht, Velvet Adams and Les Rahns. The release show is tomorrow night, actually, at the Sioux City Music Conservancy.