Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, there's an All Saints Day Party in Hamtramck, at the modest Baker Streetcar, a place that still sorta feels like 1986 on the inside, but brings its own kind of intimacy that we're all used to cramming into for brief periods of time during the Blowouts...
But this time it features "Bands made of other bands..."
The Drinking Problem( the Sights, Pop Project, Solitary States and Hard Lessons) - Copper Thieves (New Grenada, Kiddo, Child Bite) and The Four Hour Friends (Expatriates, Back In Spades, Dead Bodies, Actionbasic, and...Solitary States and the Drinking Problem again...)
Doors are at 9pm - $5
On Friday at the Crofoot, doors are at 7pm
Check out both if you can
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"Fools" said I,"You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed in the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence." (-simon & garfunkel)
"Things they do look awful c-c-cold
I hope I die before I get old
Why don't you all f-fade away
And don't try to dig what we all s-s-say
This is my generation, baby…" (-the who)
"Government is at best but an expedient; …The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. ...Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed upon, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. ...Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then?
…it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize…” – Thoreau
Deep Cutz State of the Union part 5:...closing argument/rant...a generation in the balance...
Mere days from the election.....(how is voting for Obama a revolution? It is not, by a long-shot..., it is, however, undeniably of dire necessity that McCain is defeated)
The whole world is a merely god damned television show that washes over us, failing to percolate our already burned out retinas, failing to put any fire into these glazed expressions, it’s all white noise by now…we hear it all; secret prison camps, torture, Marshall law, civilian casualties, the patriot act, the greatest theft in human history, perpetual war that feeds the pockets of military contractors, perpetual sickness that feeds the pockets of big pharmaceutical co.’s, perpetual reality television shows that continue to numb any resistance we might be able to otherwise conjure…thus feeding the pockets of the illusory power clout held by the government.
Son of a bitch, why am I stuck down here on this rock with all these crazy complacent television watchers?
There’s nothing left, no vigor, no protest, no one seems upset, no one seems to care…
I’ve already said what I need to say – at least it feels like it…I feel drained, broken (almost,) fallen out of some mad grip that I’d been locked into all year long, leading up to this election, through the primaries in the daily nauseating mind tenderizing swirl of pointless analysis and droning paralysis and everything else like our roads and the spirit of our communities crumbling to hell and on and on and god damn it…I’ve got nothing left…
McCain could potentially be the (true) great villain of my life…the old, white, pudgy, rich pre-baby-boom Pensacola playboy from a lineage of greatness whose failed upwards to a seat of power…here to squelch my one last chance to see something close to progress. Yes, THE villain, more so than Bush, perhaps, because he will have killed...pulling the trigger for the final bullet into the head of my the last shreds of hope that I have (admittedly, irrationally) pinned upon this one politician… Is this foolishness?
Questions…I’m sick of all these questions…but I keep coming back to a few. The cliché that I’ve been repeating is: that “hope” is all I have left…is it? I may be stumbling into existentialism, which I know might be unwise to embrace too fully, but for some reason I can’t resist…let the hammer fall already…I hate this limbo-shackling to glowing boxes and cell phones and clocking into work and stopping at red lights and microwaving dinner…it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore…
Just assure me…that hope isn’t foolish…
(Because)…uncertainty reigns…What will actually change?
We’ve been motivated by fear ever since Bush tried to reinstate it through his arrogated dictatorship in the post-9/11 days…so, this time, be inspired by the fear of (once again,) annihilation, but this time…an annihilation coming from within…be inspired to survive. I may be doting on existentialism, and questioning existence…but if McCain wins…then fuck existence!
No question about that…
– especially with all of the bickering and in-fighting amongst the Republican Party and the McCain ticket recently…they are looking as erratic and risky as ever…this has to rank as one of the weakest tickets in the history of the party, for a presidential election…if you elect a 72-year-old cancer survivor (with the potential of melanoma returning) and a conniving, hypocritical airhead with a thin record of political experience (not to mention the fact that she just had a kid…and one would expect her to be needing to take care of it…)…if that happens…then there would be no other excuse, I am sorry, no – other – excuse, other than to have that victory have been motivated by racial prejudice.
This is the great social precipice of our age…and for many people like me, my age, having seen all we’ve seen and knowing what kind of shitty debt ridden, jobless life lies ahead for us…we are holding our breath to see whether or not we renounce all hope for the human race. That’s right. Complete renouncement. It would be a dirty, ugly, ravenous drudging up of the most evil histories…if, what we take away from this election is that we are still hung up on race…after how far we have come…socially, scientifically, reasonably…
What it really comes down to – is a whole generation hanging in the balance. Babyboomers, (and even some over-40-Gen-X’ers), listen…you’re lucky our crowd even lasted through a second Bush term…but if this burning wobbly-wheel escalade of a culture we live in…blitzing down the highway with no one at the wheel (as Drew Bardo’s apt metaphor still stands) makes just one more wrong turn…then you will lose us….
Us, whom you have so brazenly taken for granted...
You will lose US…to complete, utter apathy…we will NOT accept the responsibilities you have shackled us with, we will not work to pay back your debts, we will not work to preserve the environment that you FAILED so negligently to care for through the 1960s and 70s…we will not give you grandchildren, we will not continue to be the backbone of society through the shitty toilet cleaning, floor sweeping, fast food serving, order taking jobs we hold (some of us, with college degrees (rendered useless by your upside down world) that we are still paying back)
You will lose the backbone of society…
We need a president for US…because it is OUR time and OUR turn to take the reigns. We’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do…and we will not be inspired by yet another old white rich war-ready candidate who knows nothing of our unique experience…
We are the computer generation, yes, regrettably, and the television generation…but we are the technology generation…the green energy generation…the color-blind generation…
We must come alive
Vote on November 4th…if you’re feeling existential, if you’re “unsure,” if you’re a middle of the road republican…whoever whatever…just vote…And listen to reason. We must come together.
Goodbye Cruel World - by Jane Smiley
"Most of my friends see the coming election as the most important we have known. The right wing has damaged our country, our livelihoods, our national honor, and our planet, but not yet fatally. If McCain gets elected, that could change."
How Much Damage Has Eight Years of Conservative Rule Done to Americans' Psyches?
5 Reasons Why Wall Street's Bailout Won't Work
NY Times....for President
We're all in this together....
(why am I so angry?)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Duende & Pinkeye - 10/30 at Pike Room; 11/1 at Park Bar; New Pinkeye live recording with John Sinclair; New Duende album release
There for the Music: Duende’s On The Steps
(words: jeff milo)
The wholesome souls of the motley and mystic Pinkeye Orchestra, climbed the stairs of Corktown Tavern, in the shadow of now-lifeless Tiger Stadium, flicking away one last cigarette in the muggy mid-summer’s air, ascending to a makeshift recording set up (on the 2nd floor) where the baker’s dozen of them settled in for a stormy sprawling musical avalanche helmed by a gray-haired shamanistic poet.
Thus, a reckless release of communal euphoric calamity ensued; an ode to the history of this city's art and activism, spurred by a chance meeting between Jeff Howitt, a humble hobo, rock n roll classicist, and working-class musician with a huge heart and immeasurable affability with Detroit's renowned mystic, activist, leader, musician, poet, John Sinclair.
Their recorded efforts, Tearing Down The Shrine of Truth and Beauty, an exploration in musical spiritualism and an exorcising ceremony, was just one of many events that the long-haired, fuzzy chinned Howitt, with his local label Loco Gnosis, its all encompassing-cast band Pinkeye and his main band, the more traditional blues-rock of Duende, were invited to play this month, in helping to celebrate the lineage of Detroit art and music. The group recently performed for Sinclair’s 67th birthday party (where he was named poet-in-residence at the Bo-House). A few weeks ago, the Duende quintet performed for the 44th Anniversary of the Detroit Artist Workshop, a tribute to the Sinclair-co-founded artist collective.
“Playing [the anniversary show] was close to my heart,” said Howitt. “It was a beautiful feeling. These people are the remnants and progenitors of a cultural foundation whose values and attitudes have consistently been the starting point for any mother fucker who has tried to kick out any jams of whatever variety from this town…this is our birthright, our lineage. And, to be immediately participating and creating in a living lineage is more than inspiring…"
Tomorrow, psyche/blues/goth/country quintet, Duende, joins Gary Rasmussen's (from The Up) current band Smokin' Moses at the Crofoot, with Scott Morgan's (Sonic's Rendezvous Band) current group Powertrane. Then, Saturday, at the Park Bar, commemorates Pinkeye's recording with Sinclair, releasing the live album and performing with the Motorcity Midwives and Loco Gnosis label allies Wildcatting.
(Sinclair, at Pinkeye recordings)
Meanwhile, Duende also releases a "stacked version" of their original debut On The Steps, which collects new recordings, with old, unreleased tracks, meant to "show who has been with us and contributed to Duende over the last two years," said Howitt.
Duende currently features the tight rhythm duo of Laura Willem on drums and Jason Worden on bass, with the flavorful expressions of ("Jelly Roll") Joel McCune on guitar. As guitarist Johnny Miller plans to depart, the band plans to forge on, setting to record a new full length this winter in New York with Matt Verta-Ray (during a showcase tour with Wildcatting/Oscillating Fan Club).
"Approaching Duende, initially, as a recording project allowed for the cast (including Hotwalls’ Ryan Milligan, Bored Housewives Lance T. Sanders, Jorge Cortez and briefly, Carjack) to generate itself for their accompaniment to be much different than what they might do themselves in their own band(s)," said Howitt. He adds, admiringly, Duende is “…a roots bands but roots like Woody Guthrie backed up by Sonic Youth.”
Delving deep into the origins of Duende, (a word which describes the middle ground between the dark and the light, good and evil, etc), Howitt covered all instruments:
Guitar: “Jorge (Cortez) and I loved Chuck Berry and would watch watch live performances and try and retain some of that regal sense of bacchanalia. I used to drive other more groomed players nuts with my shuffles. Jorge knew his stuff but was also into the whole Disco Rock thing we have in Detroit so we did droning and snaking well even though for me it came more from the Monk's or Velvet Underground.
Drums: “Laura for the most part was learning her instrument as we went along,” said Jeff, noting that with only about a dozen rehearsals before the band took off in late 06, she’d already developed “more accuracy and presence than people who practice themselves away from what they like and never join or can stay in a band. For her, it is the associated experience, not just the exercise.”
Bass: “Jason and I have only been in bands since I got back and didn't realize until a couple months ago that we met through a local mystical friend…(bassist) Ryan Milligan (from the Hotwalls) has so much gumption as a singer it is hard to expect other newer members to do all his parts. Which was really evident on the original sessions. It would be hard to not see him continuing to record with us.”
more Guitar: “We've always hired from the inside. Johnny Miller really identified with
what we reached for and hit sometimes. He brought a lot to the stage and did shows with him bowing stand up bass and Jason cello. He could play something that Zappa would have spit his coffee out at but had such a strong traditional sense.”
Returning to Pinkeye, Duende, and Rock n Roll history…44 years of the Detroit Artist workshop and 40 years of Kick Out the Jams…it’s hard to resist hinting at the passing of a torch…the inheritance of the lineage, continuing on with remnants of the past…in the hands of classic-rock enthusiasts like Duende.
As John Sinclair put it, about the local collective to which Duende (and Pinkeye) are focal points: “They’re there for the music and they’re playing out of love and curiosity and they’re comfortable in their skins and, well, it’s immediately apparent that they’re my kind of people.”
Crofoot 10 / 30; Park Bar 11 / 1; Berkley Front 11 / 14
(Duende photo: Kevin Pachla)
Still Love The Heavy Music: Dungen
(words: jeff milo)
While he's thinking how to properly phrase his response to the uncharacteristically vague questions I've conjured for today, I pause, myself, and reflect on the slight absurdity of my asking Swedish-born musician/composer Gustav Ejstes, (who sings entirely in his native language completely regardless of the artsy psychedelic head-music-loving, all-English-speaking American indie crowds who eat up his music,) about why he decided on more instrumentals for his band, Dungen's, fourth proper release, 4 – like I'd even understand what he's singing anyhow…
Dungen: The Deep Cutz Interview
The fact is, this Swedish auteur blending jazz, heavy metal, space-rock (and latent hip/hop influences) has managed to capture an appreciative audience regardless if we're all left guessing at the meaning of the lyrics– because, firstly, it has always been about "feeling" and "emotion" for Ejstes in forging his expansive, flit and fuzz rock odysseys; but, secondly, he has garnered this ravenous (in the indie-underbelly) attention by forming a glittering psychedelic rock sound that wholly expresses a mind molded by the nobles of American 60's rock mythology, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Pink Floyd— refracted through an idiosyncratic writing perspective of an upbringing rich with classical training (piano, violin, flute) and an inevitable exposure to some mind-blowing underground Swedish psyche gems.
"To me," said Ejstes, "It's very obvious what the song is going to be like – I feel that almost immediately. But, lyrics for me, are important to me, but it's hard to make music…it's emotional, and you really dig into yourself to get the tones and the melodies." For Dungen's first three proper records, Stadsvandringar, (the personally monumental) Ta Det Lungt and Tio Bitar, Ejstes wrote and recorded the material on his own and then brought it to the band (Reine Fiske, Mattias Gustavsson, Johan Holmegard) for live presentations.
"If I wrote a song I recorded everything the same day, I put it down on tape and played all the instruments, beginning with the drums," said Ejstes, "That way, you have a lot of material but it's very definite – I almost never worked on a demo. I just picked the first recording always." But for 4, Ejstes brought developing ideas to Fiske develop together. "I wanted to see how the music changed. I wanted to keep it open for myself."
Certain records just burn themselves into the timeline of your own musical consciousness. You find an album and you always return, with reverence, to those first few listens and how it changed you – 2004's gargantuan psyche storm opera, Ta Det Lungt, and it's piston-pumping drums and shimmering guitars and grand crescendos and tight rhythms, is certainly one for me – as it was for many in the west as an awakening moment for Dungen fans hungry for what they were laying down…
With 4, however, Ejstes (who was raised with fiddle training in a small village in south Sweden) stretches into calmer compositions. There's room to breath, space for the violins and pianos to lead the way; this album certainly has it's gritty guitar grimace jams where Fiske sets a fire, but it's more atmospheric as a whole: "I still love the heavy music, I still think we have that element." And mood? "For me, the main purpose of songwriting is to make music that really has taste, it should taste and it should be a lot of emotion in the harmony and the melody; the material should be emotional. I'm glad that you can hear something, something emotional in the music."
11 / 1 – blind pig
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Onwards to Halloween: Von Bondies, Army Navy, Takeover UK, The Shys -- Child Bite, Wildcatting, Javelins & Prussia -- Pop Project -- Sucker DJs
Pictures! Noises! Music! Screams! Horror! Dancing! Alcohol! Costumes! More Pictures!!!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Are YOU Midnight?: Re'l Blood, Straight Strychnine - and hazily recalling night of the dancing dead...of Zombie Dance Party 5
(all photos: mike milo)
What warmed my beat-less heart and electrified my dry empty veins, was not only seeing how many other people came dressed as zombies--(--or became 'zombified' by the team of talented make up artists diligently running the "Zombinator") but, that even before 10 p.m., before everyone was lubricated with distilled beverages, before their senses started floating with malted hops - while we were all just getting in and shaking off our coats...we were, from the get-go, ready to dance!
It almost didn't matter what the DJs played (though my wheels of steel comrades, Eugene Strobe, Phil Childers and Carjack. certainly did bring a blazing set of serious floor burning bombardments, each of the three of them bringing their own flavors and genres) ...these were liberated souls...and I don't mean that to stray into zombie puns, but...mostly to emphasize the liberated part...all these crazy kooks were the usual crowd of Detroit show-goers who may stand casually and nod a bit to the beats, but now that their faces looked like rotting, blood-stained skulls, amongst a sea of similar walking corpses...they felt a new freedom...a total monster mash ethos!
Sonic Boom was a tribute to the late 60's ultra-rough, ultra-catchy, scream-n-shout garage blues band, The Sonics: featuring Frank Woodman, Ray Thompson, John Szymanski, Alex Glend
Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship, featured Zoos of Berlin's Trevor Naud on guitar and LTD from Pas/Cal on drums...the album itself is experimental, cerebral, sometimes drifting...albeit at other times it's highly engaging, poppy and dancey...for the live presentation, their first show ever, they kept the rhythm rolling, the guitar buzzing, the feedback churning and the subtle danceability shining through... looking forward to their next set, indeed
F'ke Blood (or, as guitarist Dion introduced them for this night only, Re'l Blood) were as riling as ever with their blend of punk-whirled new-wave pop, spacey noise and acerbic shards of The Fall or Fire Engines spook-shouts! with Steven Darson, Deleano Acevedo and Marcie Bolan: Cuz they are the baaa aaa AAA aaa AAAAND ...that bled real blood...
Thanks to Carey, the Magic Stick, the make up artists, the bands, all the volunteers...and to all the dancing zombies...
(pictures on the way..., once I get home)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - album review and Interview (playing Friday, 10/24 - Zombie Dance Party 5 -- Magic Stick, Detroit)
Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship -
["I hope you enjoy this 'experiment in sound...'"]
Completely puncturing that gossamer filmy layer stretched over the firmament of the already dreamy-style of, and forgive the retread of bastardized genre buzz words, ambient art rock… this is something demanding more than the usual name drops of Scott Walker or Eno-n-Byrne…a grand experimentation and exploration of beat creation (by LTD-Little Tommy Daniels- from Pas/Cal); up on the rims and tumbling down to the bass (“Non a Non”) or a more soul/hip-hop vibe (“Jonaccce”) or a more tribal groove-blended into polyrhythmic spills (“Latest Journey”) all the while augmented by Trevor Naud’s electronic (with some guitar) accoutrements that mostly balance the rhythm with a steady swirling of wavy cinematic sweeps from the synth and long sawing strings serving as dramatic foundation for the sometimes-baffling, detached melodies to warble-as-they-will
…melancholic, humanistic, romantic…it percolates a dark function inside us all, it’s haunting echoed synths-and-strings and it’s looming hums and booming builds cascade a cold and gray world that is off set by the warm (and airy-as-ever) vocals of Trevor Naud (from Zoos of Berlin) whose ability to flit his voice to such a high ethereal realm and still trill it poignantly before sliding it down into a thicker moan would lead some to posit him some reincarnated love child between David Bowie and Colin Blumstone, all the while dripping with a palpable and intriguing devastation that can feel so human at times, but at other instances it lingers indeterminately, more like some cloud born narrative watching over all of creations absurdity.
“Experimental,” as they say, certainly – and to a tee, but simultaneously so pleasing to listen to…in the tradition of Pas/Cal, where the duo met, in terms of providing sheer boundlessness to the pop format while never stretching the senses into too alien of territories…and never staying put…this album never solidifies one sound, one feeling, or even similar instrumentations, as Naud brings an multitude of different effects onto each song’s table…nor does each song, (and here we could throw in a dream metaphor, due to brevity) stay with you very long, leaving you in this hovering state of glee or somberness as one chapter trails off and the other opens up to you…… …I don’t know, truth be told, it’s really hard to describe in a song-by-song sense…
Deep Cutz Interview: Trevor Naud--Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship
Hidden Ghost Balloon ship, like Naud’s South-South Million with Zoos-comrade Daniel Clark, was originally (at least introduced to me) as strictly a recording project, but the band makes their debut live on Friday, performing at Zombie Dance Party 5. “…while P/S was on a bit of a live-performance hiatus, and Zoos was in a slow period, we discussed the idea of recording a ton of drum beats on cassette tape and letting me sort of "have my way" with them,” said Naud.
LTD set up his drum set inside at “a massive factory space” for months, (while working as an Industrial Hygiene Consultant) and set to work recording beats (dig the groove of “Nineteenth Usher”). “I was surprised when he called me from the parking lot of La Fondue saying, "I've got some beats on tape—and they're huge,” recalls Naud.
Naud took the cassette recordings, pulling highlights onto his home computer and started editing the beats and adding instrumentation. “Not all of the drums are from that factory, but I think if you listen to the record you can tell which ones are….Some of the stuff we worked out in his basement (the Ringo Starr-styled "Jonaccce" beat) or in his kitchen (the Kraut-tastic "Non A Non").”
“There are a few tracks that are devoid of beats, too, and they serve as little narratives or mood pieces throughout,” Naud added. “It's a pocket-sized concept album (at their longest, only a few songs are over the two-and-a-half minute mark). The story is of an old man, a self-made reclusive. As the day progresses, strange things happen to him: inexplicable phone calls, a whale in his backyard… and, finally, a visit from a speechless character named Midnight. Then… the ultimate retirement.”
Hidden Ghost Balloon ship was recorded and mixed by Dave Allison and mastered by Collin Dupuis. It will be available digitally – more info at; http://www.myspace.com/hiddenghostballoonship
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Zombie Attack at A.C. Rich (Prussia, Child Bite, Javelins, Wildcatting, Von Bondies - Crofoot - Halloween Night!)
Night of the Living Prussia
This was the tragic, gruesome, heart-wrenching end...Austin and I had battled the monstrous remains of what was once the 4 living souls of Prussia throughout the dark confines of the AC Rich Building (in Pontiac)...the two of us being the only survivors of a whole tour bus full of people from various cliched plot devices; a cheerleader, a jock, a prissy know-it-all (of both genders) a hot blonde, a hot brunette, the director's nephew who had only one line...and then, the two of us...possibly the hero-types of the script...er, bus....stopping in at the AC Rich to use the bathroom and make some long-distance phone calls, we happened upon Prussia, finishing up a rehersal for their upcoming show at the Crofoot on Halloween night...
The scene got ugly fast...the zombies of Ryan, Andrew, Brenton and Drew (who at times even resorted to feasting on themselves!!!) started advancing, staggering wawardly, slowly, but ever-so-steadily, grabbing, groaning, gnawing....until all that remained was myself, Austin and the camera that got these last few shots...
Judge me if you like...but grabbing the camera and shoving Austin into their rotting clutches to buy myself time enough to steal the bus and drive away through the shadowy streets of Pontiac was all I could think to do...
I'm sure Prussia and I will do battle again soon one day...hopefully I'll be better equipped--per chance with a chainsaw/arm attachment, or something close to that...
this week's Deep Cutz: with Prussia
Photos: Austin R. Hermann
Halloween night at the Crofoot: In the Pike Room, UK’s pop legends The Smiths have cleared up all the bad blood of clashing egos and earnings and reunited for a special Halloween show! Joining them will be inextricable New York poster boys of indie-rock and CBGB-revivalism, The Strokes! Another Hallows Eve performer is rumored to be the swaggering-guitar and glam spackle of ‘70s shimmy-rocker T. Rex! Get it on and bang a gong!
Or … it’s Halloween, and Detroit’s own Prussia (pictured in zombie form) will be in costume as The Smiths, with Javelins taking on The Strokes, Wildcatting interpreting T. Rex and Child Bite as, well, rumors lean towards a grunge-legend surprise (all apologies if that’s not true) not merely in appearance, but through song as well. Hang the blessed DJs! Sucker DJs will cater the night on the patio. The Pop Project will charm the candy-flooded Subterranean Lounge. Meanwhile, the Ballroom features the newly reenergized Von Bondies (recently signed with Major Domo; LP ready next February). Prizes in store for the “dumbest costume.” Dibs on “Abe Vigoda/blood-soaked-prom-dress-Carrie—hybrid.”
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
(more info: www.myspace.com/abevigoda)
Juan Velazquez is a gay Mexican who plays guitar in the “tropical punk” band Abe Vigoda. He recently had trouble crossing the border into Canada during the tour. He explained this to me while driving in L.A. traffic, cell phone in lap, exclaiming into the speakerphone en route to his day job at a record store. Even in the year 2008, the government still considers punk bands “dangerous,” which makes border crossing a hassle.
“If you say you’re in a punk band, they’ll get upset,” Velazquez says. “Once, on the U.S. border, we showed them all the paperwork and said ‘hey can you help us out getting back’ and in the process he looked up our band on MySpace. A lot of times the border will look up your tour dates on MySpace and check out your band, which is really weird. The U.S. border guy was like ‘Abe Vigoda, what kinda name is that’?”
The band name, a reference to the actor who played Sal Tessio in The Godfather, started as a joke back when Velazquez and lead singer Michael Vidal were in High School. Although Velazquez doesn’t care for it, he says it’s silly and has stuck. Abe Vigoda have an alphabetical advantage in my iTunes which benefits them greatly in that after a few Ah-ha and Aaliyah songs, their album, Skeleton, is the first record that pops up in my playlist. So, I click it ¾a lot.
“We didn’t beat ABBA, but we beat AC/DC, which is cool,” laughs Velazquez when I tell him about their alphabetical dominance. “I don’t know if there’s any advantage but it’s nice to be at the beginning of the aisle at the record store. I work at a record store in Hollywood and the first section of CDs you see is our stuff, which is kinda cool.”
Velazquez works at a record store in Chino, where Abe Vigoda soiled their roots. He hasn’t sold anyone his band’s album yet, but he’s recommended it. Their music is spaz happy ska-punk bursting with Capri Sun flavored rumba riffs and Jumanji stampeding drums. The lyrics don’t make any fucking sense and I’m convinced they might be loops of Tarzan howling in the jungle. This year has witnessed a couple other bands, Vampire Weekend and Foals, enjoy success with this formula of frantic drum rolls accompanied by tropical ukulele plucks and preppy cardigan struts.
“We have similar drum beats sometimes,” Velazquez replies in regards to the Vampire Weekend comparison. “We played a couple shows with them in L.A. recently and we were hanging out and talking about the comparisons and neither of us really see it. But I think people that like them could like us potentially.”
I’d offer that Skeleton, Abe Vigoda’s latest album, is more frantic. If Vampire Weekend is this generation’s Graceland, than Skeleton is Shaft In Africa. Drawing from a heavy influence of Sonic Youth and World Music, this Chino collective make music centered on repetitive spurts of giddy gyrations that tree people might dance to during a sacrifice to the gods. With song titles like “Gates” and “The Garden,” I wondered if there was some religious subtext. Or, more importantly, would Adam & Eve fuck to their music?
“I don’t know, I guess so, it’s pretty frantic,” Velazquez laughs. “It be pretty awkward sex, pretty quick. I guess they could.”
Take it from me; Abe Vigoda isn’t just for horny bastards who want to jerk off to The Lion King. Along with peers like the distortion drenched No Age, they’ve risen from The Smell (a legendary punk club in L.A.) to expand their audience by currently touring with Diplo. They might sound like an episode of Gilligan’s Island on PCP, but they won’t be dressed like it anytime soon.
“I would never wear a Hawaiian shirt though, that’s for sure.”
Abe Vigoda · 10/22 · The Magic Stick
(Photos: Marvin Shaouni)
(words: milo)Halloween's always a party; a fantastic, supernatural party, with howling and fangs and blood and an all-out endorsement of indulging in dorky theatrics and over-the-top cackling; the thrill, the fun of giving and receiving a good scare. Euphoric escapism through the donning of a cape or a gown - a spooky party ingrained in all our collective consciousness with Lon Chaney doing karaokee and Boris Karloff grimacing as he serves punch and Bela Lugosi coaxing all the girls into candle-lit slow-dances. It's Christmas for the creeps.
And Carey Gustafson, Detroit's own DIY-producer/event-planner/musician/glassware artist and overall-enthusiasm-spreader, knows this all too well. For five years now, she's been hosting Zombie Dance Parties, formal soirees that encourage-(to-the-point-of-almost-mandatory) creepy costumes, freaky theatrics and unabashed spooky exhibitionism, presented in some strange undead rock-n-roll gala, where even the performers are likely covered in blood.
"It's one of the handful of times of the year that you're allowed to just go nuts-o," said Gustafson, who hosted the first party in her then-newly-moved-into house in Ferndale, in 2004 (where 100 energized zombies showed up, with a live basement jam session with the Atomic Numbers and the Hard Lessons). The next morning she thought, "maybe next year this could be a show…and…" surveying the zombie damage, "…not at my house."
"I'm a huge fan of the total kitsch factor, of being a grown-up 'normal person' that's just trying to get through day-to-day and all of a sudden you can turn into this hideous creature, or sexy monster or just be totally incognito." Year 2 was a success, with live music from W-Vibe, the Pizazz and Johnny Headband. Year 3 accelerated with an invented "undead" 60's pop band, the Zambies. Year 4 doubled as a release party for an all-local-double-Halloween-album from Bellyache Records. Year 5 will highlight Year 4's experiment, which was "The Zombinator…" a team of make-up artists offering their artistry to rot your features, scar your skin and drain your blood – and allow you to join your Zombie brethren on the dance floor of the Magic Stick.
With the Zombinator, arriving attendants "who didn't wear a costume, which was the minority, could get something done on the spot" or those in costume could "get enhanced," said Gustafson. "I want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable and have a great time whether they've been every year, or a newcomer that's just come to town and wants to be a monster…" The undead lineup of bands includes the dark-groove space-punk of aptly
titled F'ke Blood, the debut of recording project Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship…and a mystery Sonics tribute band: Sonic Boom.At the witching hour, Gustafson will present the horrid hoard (dig all these cheesy Halloween-alliterations?)…with a midnight snack of finger-foods before the culminating dance party heats up.
Gustafson acknowledged the vital support of the Majestic Theatre owners, and added, "People come and go, friends move away, friends move back, but the common thread has been, just, good buddies that are willing to help. I couldn't do this by myself, so all the pals that have contributed and supported it every year, and brought their friends, strangers-to-new friends that have come out of this, you can't beat that!" Doors at 9 pm, with Defying Death Bicycle Club DJ's facilitating the dance. Monsters encouraged! Feel the embrace! Dance around!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Yeasayer: The Deep Cutz Interview
links: www.myspace.com/yeasayer ; www.yeasayer.net/
So...this song comes to me at just the right time…way back in late January, all of 2008 still ahead…while the sea of candidates were bitching at each other at primaries, the “surge” was being debated and lengthening endless war, timelines for withdraw were getting vetoed, more jobs were leaving Michigan and on and on….death and depression and down-trodden suburban-lulls of complacency…
Sheltered in a café from the gray-blur-bluster outside, I attempted reviewing the late-07 release from Brooklyn tribal-psyche-n-folk-n-pop sage sounders, Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbal – and then the single, “2080” hit me…
“I can’t sleep when I think about the times we’re livin in…” ...in this haunting air of gloom-with-dizzying incitement with poignant pained stress, “I can’t sleeeep when I think about the future I was born into…” Holy shit, yes that sounds ‘bout right… “Cuz in no time, they’ll be gone…I guess I’ll still be standing here…”
It hit my world-weary anxiety, it hit my generational conflicts of destiny, and then the chorus rushed from beneath, clipped my shoulders, lifted and thrust me forward out into the fresh, malleable snow outside, in high trilling falsetto, “It’s a new year – and I’m glad to be here…It’s a fresh spring, so let’s sing…” delivered with an Eastern-flavored intrigue, stirring West African rhythm and murky dub grooves in such a rousing high-toned swarm of duel-harmony-warmth and timeless spiritualism swelling over the driving wave of the bass and the cascading rainfall of gleaming guitars. I felt renewed, I felt like no matter what happened – I will still be here…and it’ll be counterproductive to just keep bitching or feeling sorry, for myself or anything… Anyway, I felt like going on...
Speaking with guitarist/singer Anand Wilder, he said, “There’s a sense of seizing the day, make the best of the situation that you’re in. For me, I think these times are fucked up, there’s a lot you can comment on, but I don’t want to be Rage Against The Machine, I think that is kind of played out and a bit cliché. A lot of the album was reflective of Baliwood soundtrack music; where you’re living in all this squalor but - you don’t want to see a Satyajit Ray movie about the squalor - you want to see a bombastic Baliwood musical that’s an escape from that kind of thing. I think we were going for that escapism, while also being able to touch on the reality of the situation, to be critical of it…”
“Maybe people like us ‘cuz they think we’re a super-political band,” he muses, “and they’ll be depressed when the next album is like, abstract love songs…”
The band (with Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton and Luke Fasano) is eager for their first headlining tour, which promises considerable new material, but still to be thick with All Hour Cymbals side-winding location-less enchantment and inverted pop flavors.
The two of us riff back and forth, cathartically airing our woes for the enraging lies and ploys of the right and share our hopes for the charging vibrancy of the youthful, generational-torch-passing of the left. We start a strange bonding through empathetic yells. When he speaks of friends noting Obama’s naivety, “Whatever!” shouts Wilder of his response to them, “he’s idealistic! Finally, I can say [of a candidate] ‘I can relate to this guy, and he’s not an old school guy.’ I think it’s great that he’s naïve, he’s not jaded into being a puppet of the lobbyists.”
And that continues until we calm down to talk music…finally, Wilder, with sighed surmising, “I dunno…we’re not a political band though…”
10/26 Blind Pig
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Soul and grit and that boot-stomping bar band ethos, but delivered so…passionately. Yeah, with passion – that’s the word I kept coming back to – which left me no other choice but to quote the aptly put bio entry on Detroit quartet Spitting Nickels’ homepage: “To Spit Nickels is, at least by one person's definition, to do something very difficult, but with passion and purpose.” Dig it.
The band, having persevered after the tragic loss of their guitarist Tom Furtaw, will release their EP 5 The Hard Way, on Saturday, 10/25 at the Park Bar.
Spitting Nickels - 5 The Hard Way
Spitting Nickels' projection as a working-class or blue-collar band is made solidly evident by their fat-cat indicting opener Give & Take – think Harrison’s Taxman as transposed upon the oil stained pavement of an abandoned factory parking lot on an overcast day in Detroit – and these scuffed denim Stroh’s swishing crusaders are gonna lay down everything that’s been going wrong, in their eyes, these past few years.
These riffs come in quick and steady, like punches to the head…while singer Dennis Miriani’s soulful howl trades off expressive waves with Chris Brosky’s guitar – "...you still work, but then they take it away…times they are tough, I can’t get a break..."
Get a rhythm and strum that guitar with reckless exertion balanced by soulful conviction – that’s all you need,...dig the waving grooves of "4 The Hard Way" that bottle neck into splendid crunchy guitar solos. "The Bitch of it All" breaks out again with these characteristic tight guitar jolts that ride over Brosky and bassist John Bissa’s intertwining sunshine guitar tones and smooth driving bass lines while drummer Eddie Baranek, who every where else is hitting the skins as lethally as a ninja but as rousing as a jackknifed-truck, brings a more subtle driving pop-rhythm on this one while he joins Miriani on back-up vocals for the chorus. Textbook smoky blues-guitar-guts spills all over the opening of "You’re The Bomb, Soccer Mom," which slides nicely into an alt-country feeling swinger, with Miriani’s gruff twang singing a tongue-in-cheek love song to a distinctly American cliché; that great indie-shred-mixed-with-blues-beauty guitar styling also shines on this one…This all gets wrapped up with the steady beat and ravenous guitar rip opening of “Work it Out” that ebbs and flows into the EP’s most intricately structured entry (dig the organ coming in, and that guitar break-down at the halfway part) with flowing crescendos and Baranek providing his sweet refrain over the chorus.
Release Show - 10 / 25 at the Park Bar
The Sea & Cake - Car Alarm thrill jockey
The Sea & Cake always get it right. I mean, if you've been digging onthis Chicago-based 4-piece and their smooth-sheen jangle-fuzz withwisps of electro and proggy-jazz-pop and their literatestream-of-conscious lyricism and urban-sunset-reflection pieces…then,the good news is this is more of the same and it'll be right up youralley.
Sometimes it's difficult distinguishing their 7 other albums (each with similar-vibes and syrupy jammy-guitars) to newcomers – if it counts for anything, this record is more a return to the steadyguitar-grooves and transfixing-wanderlust pop of their late 90'smaterial. You can't go wrong, with 4 supremely talented, ego-lesspassion players of the Chicago underground, pouring their hearts outrewardingly on (yet) another release.
more info: http://www.myspace.com/seaandcakeor http://www.theseaandcake.com/
Le Loup - The Throne of the Third Heaven… hardly art
These murky early morning banjos rising with strange harmonies, like soggy dirt-caked leaves spread over a hilly terrain in some ideal wooded area where there is no hum of cars and your able to just build and build your percussion lines with bells and tambourines and bass drums booming and just stretch out, shake your legs and wiggle your fingers, shrug your shoulders and be as weird as you want…
Le Loup follow Xiu Xiu or Akron/Family in the sense of truly exploring the potential of a song, in what you can add or what tones and moods you can galvanize, but also Blitzen Trapper or Animal Collective in their apocalyptic-exploded takes on neo-folk-mixed-with-electronics…sometimes triumphant and energizing in experimental cacophony, but sometimes a bit too meek or subdued in their whispered tones and buzzy melodies, contradictorily minimalist-pop at times, and then spiky-experimentalist at others…strong flavor of heavy cosmic ponderings in autumnal escapist strolls away from civilization, through young eyes…This D.C. group has a very distinct flavor, sometimes bordering melodrama, but they’re slowly developing into something you may want to taste very soon…
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Friday night at the Crofoot...
...the eclectic dance-pop preferences of the Sucker DJ trio preside over Phonotropic (at the Crofoot in Pontiac) with a performance from locals Sex Ghost (a minimalist electro-dance-spook-pop duo spread between Detroit and Lansing), described aptly by Sucker DJ Thomas Matich: “like watching The Evil Dead if they tried to make it the "Thriller" video … in the Cass Corridor.”
To sample Sex Ghost - check here: http://www.myspace.com/sexghostbeats
Also going on at the Crofoot tomorrow, up in the Pike Room:
what the fuck is gonig on here???
vote for change.