Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Thursday night, potential basement artists and craft auteurs can sign up for their own space at the 3-day September art festival in Ferndale. Friday night, musicians can sign up to perform on the main stage.
Saturday Night, there's a Bellyache Records showcase, with Woodman, Electric Fire Babies, Swamp Sisters and The Muggs.
The Loving Touch is a pool hall, technically - but it's also a bar and, lately, it's been hosting some decent shows, nestled nearby it's "garden" lounge area. It's located at Troy and Woodward in Ferndale (right next door to the W.A.B.).
For more info on all the days, head to DIYSF's site, or this recent DC post/ramble.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
First off, we have a "reunion" of the Moondagger-era Deastro. -Deastro was the brainchild of Randy Chabot, starting about four years ago as a M83-meets-Caribou-at-a-sweet-and-naive-dream-pop-mixer, with just a laptop and a drum kit.
And, cassettes are cool again, in a weirdly retro way, so 53DT is unveiling their own tape series with this release.
Not only that - but freakin Silverghost is on the bill. (Bend your ears for a forthcoming LP from this tubular duo).
Monday, May 24, 2010
That said - when I was going through all of my facebook-invites this week - two particular "events" on-or-near Memorial Day caught my eye based upon the girth of their line-ups and thus anticipated likelihood for healthy draws (and I'll point them both out in "parts 2" and "3" to follow).
But, for this more humble and endearing "part 1" - I'd like to try and persuade you with a few less-beaten tracks, when it comes to some bands performing this weekend.
Now...who here likes Godspeed You Black Emperor! -? It takes two of my hands to count off some of the local psyche-rock bands here in Detroit who've admitted them to be an influence. So, then, you're probably familiar with Thee Silver Mt. Zion (pictured below), the comparatively epic-scoped-composition gaping collective led by Efrim Menuck, a guitarist from the initially referenced Montreal-based group. Mt. Zion's aim is similarly stratospheric and cerebrally-stretching pounding post-rock stuff.
So, then - why not check them out when they come to town (Friday, at the Crofoot in Pontiac) - as they will be welcomed by one of my (er, DC's) new favorites, the transcendent starry-fogged effervescence of Jura (who...if you keep your ears bent and eyes peeled, have a full-length on the way.
Friday, May 21, 2010
It's been going around the news - Real Detroit Weekly's report can be read here, documented by managing editor Ashley C. Woods - (The Detroit News also picked it up, here) - Cityfest won't be happening this fourth of July weekend. Instead, we'll have a series of block-party type affairs running Thursdays-through-Fridays down and around the grassy bowl of that area's park stage. We'll have live bands, films, farmers markets and more!
So instead of cramming it all into one-four day span of massive crowds, billows of barbecue smoke and ketchup-stained pavement, we can wind it down to more bite-sized weekend affairs.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Kyle and Nick recalled how they’d often brainstormed a possible band after running back into each other in 2006, after some time apart.
Implicitly, it felt like now or never. Nick, the “six-stringer” offered up his then-current tastes… “Black Sabbath, Black Flag…” Kyle, the singer, recalls, “just,...a lot of ‘Black’…”
Kyle then pulled Nick out of the record store and into his car to play Otis Redding’s “Shout Bamalama” off the stereo; the fuzzed recording groaned and bumped through the backseat, the muggy wheezing sax and tribal clacking drums and fast-fiery spat vocals blared.
“It’s gotta sound like this,” Kyle looks at Nick, “but…punk!”
Though it would take more than a year and the birth and death of an interim band, this meeting and resolution would eventually lead to Black Lodge
“…and so, Black Lodge forms out of the ashes of the continuous fits and starts-that-was the Dead Letters,” Kyle said, “(while) the Nerve was on its way out the door, time had passed for that group and time had passed for the Dead Letters.”
May Day, 2010: Singer Kyle McBee is paring down the converging roads of two separate projects through 2007 – his and guitarist Nick Marshalls’ (the “blood and guts” antics-fueled, Iggy-Pop whirled punk of Dead Letters) and drummer Steven Gamburd with bassist Matt Luke’s band (the “rock-solid” tight, technical, stately pop of the Nerve).
McBee, the journeyman wild-frontman whose roared and wriggled his way over stages for half his life, had, in his days, made it around town enough times to already have been acquainted with Luke and Gamburd separately as well as, later on, wind up offering the Nerve lead-vocals sit-ins covering The Stooges' “Johanna.” McBee had went from an 8-year-old singing George Jones and Hank Williams covers, to the “grunge leftovers” of his early teens to the nuanced punk of late teens early twenties and now, since 2008, entering something closer to soul.
In the mid-00’s, at jus t16,
Music geek outs and band ideas flourished between the two. The youngest
The Nerve, meanwhile, formed back in early 00’s when Gamburd moved back to
McBee becomes intertwined with this rhythm section when he starts the “Johanna” covers with the Nerve towards its last year and a half of existence.
“So,” McBee says, bringing us to 2008, “we” (the four of them) “decide to rehearse as both bands are in their closing chapters. And, the first time we played together we just did ‘Sister Ray’ for like a half-hour.”
McBee and Luke would sporadically posit starting “side projects” together. What McBee saw in Luke, initially, was not the inevitable conclusion of being full-time band members but as an ideal facilitator, as “a pop writer, a guy who could write a Lennon/McCartney jam, a post-90’s indie-pop thing,” to help McBee grow as a vocalist from the gravelly growl to being more melodic.
But nothing ever worked. So, then, McBee runs into
“So… I called Matt…”
So the quartet’s soup bowl was stirred and spiced with Beatles, Otis Redding, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, The Cure, Fugazi, Velvet Underground and who knows what else…when they got together, definitely Joy Division too, and even some Who.
And the initial direction was power-pop crossed with a “Shangri-Las type band,” yet somehow they wound up in a shadowy styled clattered and tattered punk crossed with sleek grooving soul and jangly surf pop.
The first original they worked out was a head-boppable college-rock flavored anthem called “Teenage Graceland,” a tune they all still consider to be their closest flirtation with straight up pop.
“…sounded very U2, too,” Gamburd nods.
“It kinda turned darker and more atmospheric,” Nick surmises.
McBee speaks of those early writing processes as personal germinations of his two disparate influences, “old folk country traditional” rant and rouse lyrics with the spill-outs of his Stooges and Sex Pistols influence – while the band was able to gel and able “to do something that was creative and kind of on the darker side;” McBee says, looking around the table at his mates, “…a little claustrophobic, despite having that weird tense sound to it. Sonically, it opened up the gates to them creatively, that’s where we started falling into our groove.”
“Matt and I,” Gamburd said, “were locked into a real solid rhythm and melody that opened the gates for Nick to fill in, to take up a lot of sonic real estate. And by (Nick) doing that, with Kyle’s vocals and the accents and that extra pitch that he does—influenced to add accents to his vocals as well. We were able to bounce off each other because it was an open forum. What I love about this band, musically, is that I actually came into my own as a drummer; to be able to play roles and do things that I couldn’t do in any other project because everything was so formulaic. There are formulaic things about Black Lodge, but it’s still open, also, somewhat improvising…”
I’m going back, in my mind, to the first time I saw Black Lodge and how I couldn’t talk to my friends at the show until they were done. How…I was drawn by, I suppose, their conjuring of a cathartic dark-edge, a keyed-up, blistering brutishness, yet bent all of that into a stunning tightness as an ensemble, each corner and crevice of the sound’s engine seemed to spit a bit of its own fire. I couldn’t tell if I was watching some completely ratty post-punk thing or a more late 60’s surf-toned psychedelic thing…everything was so distinct, the clanging cutting guitars, the bass blurts, the drum bursts, the fast bawling, incanting deep-boom vocals.
I found elements of The Fall and The Doors. It was loose, but not self-destructive; dark, but not melodramatic.
But there is darkness.
McBee fields that question and there’s a knowing chuckle ‘round the table. He brings up singing those sad country ballads he sang as a child in honky tonk groups. “There’s a primal energy to those songs that I came to relate to later in my experience with music. Music is my free therapy. I either can’t afford therapy or I’m too pigheaded to go to a therapist and talk my problems out so I’m gonna do it at band practice or at the show…particularly at the show because there’s that kinetic energy that bounced from crowd to fan, which is a border I’m trying to break down, that perceived border, …which, it’s starting to happen in this band. The crowd in the audience come up and are part of our performance. That’s good, that’s a feeling of shared-life which transcends the darkness that I am projecting out, with my lyrics.”
Up in his room, in his house at
“I never feel like he’s a prophet of doom,” Luke said, “when we’re playing live, I latch onto the lyrics and I feel like every note I play has purpose.”
“I don’t know whether it comes off seeming-staged or whatever,”
The sound of the music – orbiting near a rock-and-soul stateliness but grimed and grimaced like the fiery, sharply-dressed, glowing shells of the players are scarred from the inside and the song is the best salve – is one thing entirely. The live show – the trance they lock into, like their instruments almost latch onto the human bodies themselves as the energies, mad and mystic, steadily accelerates like a fatalistic semi-truck detached from the cargo of the material realm – that “fucking freakout” that Marshall describes, can grow as enchanting as each member marveling at their chemistry and baffling synchronicity to more gruesome and disarming anecdotes of McBee falling to his knees and gripping his scalp, yanking backwards to self-inflict pain in order to add even more throaty fire to a chorus’ curdling yell.
Another time, McBee ended a Black Lodge set with a whole side of his head soggy with fresh blood. “Once I get up there, I’m in an altered state.”
“Which is why he can never put out an exercise video,”
Reaching back to those books of lyrics, that “folk” style rousing rant, McBee can often cram fifty to sixty waving winding words over just 10 seconds of a song.
He goes back to his teens, when he set out to start a traditional punk band – whereupon he also started listening to Public Enemy and became smitten with the word-whirling of Chuck D. “The meter of his lyrics, the rap-timing really influenced me more than the punk writers; that’s where that machine-gun delivery comes from.”
While McBee name-drops Dylan and Leonard Cohen,
McBee praised the democratic (and loose) process of their writing, adding that he feels confident bringing any batch of lyric pages to these three due to their inventiveness and compatibility. “Somehow, something will happen; everything seems to happen through some sort of sense of serendipity between us.”
When prodded further about their tendency to swirl themselves into a fervor and expand these shimmering, psychedelic dissertations, McBee shrugs that there’s “propensity for the melodrama; that’s something I’ve brought to my friendship through music, is the propensity for melodrama for better or worse.”
“And it’s not just our relationship,” McBee finishes, “but it’s like a healing process, almost, through the tunes.”
Black Lodge (vs. Marco Polio) w/Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, Frustrations, Deadbeat Beat, Troy Gregory, the Handgrenades, Noman, Mick Bassett & the Marthas, Duende, Augie & KoKo (Hard Lessons) – presented by Pure Detroit – 5/21 – Magic Stick – 4140 Woodward – 313-833-9700 –
The band loaded into Chris Koltay’s studio through the winter to record their debut full length. The boys found him very accommodating (he offered up a galaxy of different electric and acoustic guitars, pedals from all over the world and various other types of alluring engineer’s toys for each to experiment with and gave encouragement for them to make whatever kind of sonic statement to which they were most attracted).
The band is hoping for a late summer or early autumn release, on vinyl.
And so, that brings us to Black Lodge, as of May Day, 2010. McBee recalls a span of months, not too long ago, where he was in a dark place that caused “some inner band strife…
"...and we realized that we had something we were really proud of and we obviously had our friendships which trumped the band. But, those friendships were strained. We took some time and we talked it all out; we realized we came really close to losing something we all care about and then when I had the student loan money” (McBee had taken out, in order to fund the debut’s recording) “…and I said, ‘Alright then, we’re gonna do this record, now…’ that renewed that hunger and I think it gave us a bigger appetite. So once we got on stage we felt like we had something to prove, not just to someone in the audience who may not have known us, but to ourselves. It’s paid dividends. The last three months of shows, a lot of them have been those types of experiences you’re never gonna forget."
“If you were to look at our (two previous) bands,”
“It’s a lot of intangibles,” McBee says.
“It’s like dating a girl that, even though—when she gets really drunk she smashes your window, you still have great sex…”
The band hope to head out for a Midwest tour, continue writing and release their album, all within the next few months.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Part of me wants to say that the High Strung have made a genre-splicing(/genre-mutating) musical soundtrack to a coming-of-age-type road-trip/adventure film (think The Warriors set to Yellow Submarine with swords, mead, magic and all tumbling cross Michigan-feeling freeways) where our journeying crew of heroes share sobering life-lessons and spur each other on with renewed resolve and strengthened bonds in a valiant dragon-slaying manner that aspires to indestructible enthusiasm in various facets of life.
I want to say that.
But you’ll want the meat of the music, so here goes: it shifts from lo-fi, fuzz-hued, minimalist affairs led by a guitar (an acoustic jangle or a pedal-gurgled grr) or piano (a sonorous buoyant chime or a more chilly synth-organ) then into full-band vigorous marches and drivers, muscled by that playful bass groove and tight tumbling drums. “I Want Us All To Relax” feels peppy, pulsed with a shuffling beat and a bass that links with the high-steps of the piano’s parade; “Blast It” flexes their knack for atmosphere (yet so sparse, the marching drum fill and punchy bass ricochet under clanging guitar strums) as the song builds into what may feel the most traditional High-Strung-ish entry in its taut, scruffy power-pop flavor. But after that, it’s down darker roads like “Decomposer” feels chillier only by the bending tones hit on this slightly nervewracking slide up the guitar neck while ominous Gregorian Monk-like voices ahh-ee-ooo around in the background.
The message, however, is represented by both of these tracks – we’re in it together, till the end, and nothing’s gonna get in our way, in fact, we demand our dreams be left alone – and if anything does get in our path, we’re gonna take it out. Bout time a band made a concept album like this – setting the music life/band life experience as an struggle and an adventure, to be survived, mastered and won, together!
Whereas I mentioned “traditional High Strung” –at least compared to their first three albums – all very lively and whirling – but Dragon Dicks will act as the gravel-speckled, unkempt warrior to the more glossy, debonair mystic that was its 2009 predecessor, the highly produced Ode to the Inverse of the Dude – that said, while it’s opener is a low-key organ-hummed jaunt and “Black Mad Wheel” is a fuzz-blown, hand-clap led glam-rock groover and there are other strident noise-pop clangs here and there, the “grit” and “lo-fi” feel is often distinct only by comparison to Ode’s atmospheric glitz – “Back To The Wishing Well” is anthemic with a stair-leaping up-and-down hook that has all elements firing—shambling surfy guitars, melodious bass and hammering drums.
Overall, it’s a slightly more blemish-baring, lo-fi-rocker – certainly having it’s Sgt-Peppered-penchants (the circusy imagery and fast-rolled barker-esque regaling vocals of “Levitate”) it’s inevitable Guided By Voices guttural feel (“Barn Party”’s fuzz-fried vocals and urgent clattering propulsions are spiced nicely with weird UFO-ish howls at the corners). But most of all, the suggested theme, of communal-unity not only to overcome the adversity of life’s great adventures, but also to reassure ourselves in nuanced instances thus to obliterate self-doubt…it obliterates group-doubt, “In Dragonland we practiced every day, we wouldn’t go away, it was hard, but we did it.”
Emphasis on ‘we.’
Saturday, May 15, 2010
A one-night-only art show by Buy This So We Don't Have To Rob You - this is one of the more crucial nights because it will serve as the rallying-point, for volunteers and vendors. Ferndale's DIY Street Fair is a community-celebrating festival with dozens of local vendors sliding into tents splayed across the parking lots just at Woodward and Troy - indepedent artists and collectives come to share their wares at affordable prices as well as network with other cultural contributors while upwards to two dozen bands sing, stomp and sashay across the main street stage to soundtrack the carousel of revelers sliding in and out of the "beer tent."
DJ Jeff Howitt of Loco Gnosis Records will be spinning...
Friday, May 28 - "Flashback Night"
This is where the music is recruited - bands interested in performing can drop off "apps" of their own.
There will also be candy bars for sale.
During the day, the pool hall turns into a vintage accessory bazaar - tables will slide in and outside of the venue, featuring vintage inspired crafts and a swap-table for you to trade your own stuff (Free, 1pm--5pm)
Continuing their tuesday-night series of DJs (with a special Monday afternoon appearance), it's Record Show - with local labels selling all vinyl, with stacks across the pool tables. This part is free.
Then, that Monday evening, DJ Richard Wohlfiel returns with a proper "Forest" presentation - spinning records to a line up of bands, with a $5 cover.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
~"...You Wanted A Hit? That’s Not What We Do..."~
What you do is.... you work backwards:
I’ll start a band and proclaim, from the beginning, that I’m (already) “losing my edge…,” I’ll sing about the flock of “internet seekers” who will gnaw me like vultures with mouse-pad talons, I’ll sing self-referentially of the pages-long lists of bands that fire varyingly cross my songwriting synapses, I’ll sing of guitars and turntables, I’ll sing about rock kids dancing to Daft Punk, I’ll be profoundly and provocatively ridiculous and self-deprecating – and then, after extravagant and devastating live shows and two more albums, I’ll have back flipped into a kingly credibility that leaves the euro-disco-digging hipsters dropping my name as a quick n dirty reference of any sound that perfectly balances techno, krautrock, indie-electronica, dance, and synth-pop. But, see, I apparently “lost my edge” eight years ago, yet it keeps getting sharper somehow.
Call it manipulative to seemingly parody our tastes with those early lyrics (from "Edge"), or maybe chock it up to Pitchfork.com-hyperbole through the mid-00’s, still!!-we critics can’t avoid overzealous praise – at least, specifically, with LCD Soundsystem’s dabbling in trancey-Kraftwerkian-marches and infectiously dance-inducing/hand-clapped-cow-belled flare-ups; still!!....
LCD leader James Murphy’s compositions feel timeless and uncontainable because his music (backed by a septet of players) is the aural embodiment of a controlled and strategically-pop-aimed explosion of a DJ’s crate of records: “punk rock, new wave and soul, pop music, salsa, rock n roll, calypso, reggae, rhythm and blues,” –stirred and simmered in a recipe that tastes good on the dance floor, or on night drives, or even, somehow, on meditative sun-soaked coffee-sips in the kitchen of the morning-after.
Beyond techno being a more intelligent house music, LCD Soundsystem’s developing canon (particularly on 07’s Sound of Silver) converted its flock by pulling off the baffling feat of intelligentifying all myriad genres of this metaphoric “crate” of musical genres and sensibilities – it made the stupid fun of disco feel sophisticated and it embraced self-scrutiny through embracing-and-also-repudiating that same stupid fun – but, all that post modern shit makes my head hurt. Just press play.
The sound of This Is Happening seems refreshingly disconnected from the romanticized artsy gutters of New York dance clubs: the conga drums, the spacey-wind-chime synths, the cymbal sheering drum fills and the rolling guitars give it all a more cosmic/everywhere-effect. “Pow Pow” is the sleek, charming, instrumentally-eclectic sing-speak styled answer to “Losing My Edge,” but pulsed with an unabashed prog-rock theatrical mid-section. Murphy drops the arty-urban-stuffed-up-nose drawl he affected on the 2005 debut and the too-Bowie-ish-feeling delivery on some of Silver to, (continuing the trend from the poignant and poetic, dance-deifying one-two punch of “Someone Great”/”All My Friends” on Silver) allow his pleasant mid-range voice to be upfront and flex into eye-widening falsettos (“I Can Change”).
As before, when we would cock an eyebrow at the familiarity of certain movements (again, that’s the whole idea with LCD’s crate-scan), “Somebody’s Calling Me” is an enjoyable piano-plodded, finger-snapping strut that sounds like Lou Reed vacillating between Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” and Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing” - Hence the fun of LCD, simultaneously stepping outside of their own art to make you beat-skippingly-aware of your own musical consciousness or of your favorite songs.
We open with the affirming “Dance Yrself Clean:” an ever-building minimalist percussion and speak-sing-ah-AHHH-sighing solemnity that steadily and rewardingly loses the battle to contain the bursting bass and weaving synth melodies – thus that the drums start booming and the harmonies howl louder – a cathartic and cardio-boosting shake up.
“Drunk Girls” is fun and bombastic (and forehead-slappingly-profound, if you listen to the words) but it can feel too much like the “Okay, here’s your single,” moment, just get your 4 minute party-starter out of the way early.
“All I Want” slides and shines with grinning Strokes-ian guitars but continually wafts in psychedelic prog-howling synths and dissonant scraping roars – dreamy into dizzy. “I Can Change” will likely be sampled into some car commercials with its affable 2/4 shimmy beat and Gary Numan-chilled synth-blips, but it’s likely, at least lyrically, the sequel to “All My Friends” in terms of this painfully relatable documentation of nightlife emotion: subtle thrills and dramas put back into perspective. “
You Wanted A Hit” sums up my LCD rant nicely; a darkly echoing electric clang wafts over a subdued beat in a computery-east-Asian feeling melody until that motorik autobahn-beat gets louder and Murphy suggests “maybe we don’t do hits.” Indeed, maybe they do something beyond that… “intelligent hits.” Admired by various music niches, yet not overexposed in the perverse-niche of the mainstream, it’s like all their songs and sound-crafting style – is the hit, the enveloping hit. Don’t over think-it though. “Honestly, you know too much, so leave us-leave us on our own…this is how we do hits.”
Monday, May 10, 2010
First and foremost...to cull you out down the streetlight-glowing cobblestoned Michigan Avenue of Corktown on a Thursday...you can take in a performance from Gardens (pictured), with their particular style of fast, jangled, jittery twang-punk (listen here) and then check out their new release, a 7" on Just for the Hell of It Records.
Next, you could, as I did, discover what feels aptly described as "...Lansings' best kept secret from Detroit" (lazy cherry-picked quote from all your facebook invites, please forgive), that being The People's Temple - heavy on the resonant, pedal-warped surf-guitars and hazy desert traipsing druggy dirgey psyche-pop affairs - looking forward to it.
Third, you could, as is always diplomatic of us as a local music community, come out and support (or at least nod-to,) a band that's made their way to us from overseas, France's The Dreams (take a listen).
And then, show extra support to one of my favorites (at the least--based upon a particularly fiery and inspird set from the Blowout), that being, The Sugarcoats, (pictured above^) (listen here).
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Just as it did with "lost" Detroit garage rock trio Death and their mid-70's release For The Whole World To See...Drag City has, again, unearthed a buried gem - this one is an ornate, flute-fluttered, soft-rock-jazzy sauntering from Kansas City-set singer/songwriter Jeff Eubank.
And, this 1983-re-issue will come highly recommended for when you're in the mood for a slightly-psychedelic swished champer-pop elegance - for Eubank's vision is that of a sepia-soaked polaroid snap of late 70's suburbia with weird-ish middle class lanky quasi-rockers shuffling Mott The Hoople and Big Star in the tapedecks of their beige-trimmed camaros but transmogrified into a more other-planetary-fused surreal-quality.
It is dashed with melodramatic cymabl sheers, mystically cooing synths and head-swimming guitars lofting into spacey-whirled tones. When the mood really starts to detach itself and float up into more atmospheric vibes, his voice zooms up into a disarming falsetto - all the while the steady strumming acoustic guitar is the anchor below, while we meander like a exosphere-flirting kite, high on ultraviolets and transfixed by the glow of Mars up ahead.
Heavy with that warm AM Pop and flirting with soft-rock, but...at it's heart, a classic neo-psychedelia-folk record, wrapped in the handsome grace of waltzing, shuffling chamber-pop. I'm glad it's seeing the light of day.
That said....this day, this day is insane with beauty - so get off the computer, go out and enjoy it.
It's out May 18 - more info
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Stately, shimmery, baroque-pop quartet Zoos of Berlin is welcoming Justin Stein from NY to play a show at the Lager House. Stein is known as Elk, a harmony-fracturing, noise-pop angled, dreamy-synth-sheen of girl-group cheer meets experimental-prog-tinged drone - like riding a tilt-o-whirl right before the fair closes, you're grinning and giddy but also dizzy from the shifts, risings and lowering, all the while eyes dazed and glizted by the flashing lights and rising meditative moon. (It could likely fit with what us Detroiters have gotten used to via City Center or Randy Chabot's latest musings.)
Then again, Elk also pairs nicely with the burgeoning swirly synth/dance-pop of Coyote Clean Up, who just released an album (Double Trouble Doo Doo Bubble on Afternoonsmodeling.
These three join together with the strident garage-rock extravaganza of Jesus Chainsaw Massacre to complete what is one of the more eclectic line ups in a while..., 5/7 at PJs Lager House.
For an idea of what that night will look like:
For a idea of what that night will sound like......GO
Then, Saturday.... GO here
And read an interview/feature on (this MCB event, here)
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Mick Bassett’s speaking voice was often low, timorous; his eyes veiled by hanging shaggy curls. And when I’d catch him bar-side or backstage, he’d often seemed stressed. Maybe the band members were shifting around again, maybe a show didn’t go perfectly, maybe nothing was happening, or not happening fast enough. Makes him sound mysterious and melancholy, I know, but, still…you get the picture.
Last month, Bassett went to Austin and played somebody else’s songs. And, that wound up giving him more confidence and self-awareness than he’s had in all his six years of playing around Detroit. Plus, two new members joined his band, the Marthas (former Satin Peaches guitarist Ryan Wiese and Joel Sanders on bass). He was equally spurred on by drummer Eric Roosen’s knack for sound engineering and basement-set recording studio and the continued allegiance of trombonist Allison Young (of the Kickstand band) and now…
“I’m trying to have more fun with it.” He talks about structuring recordings to simulate groups of people harmonizing, he talks about his want for people to enjoy, even dance to, the Martha’s live shows, he talks about his love for pop music, he talks about just continuing to make records, he talks about his role as an entertainer.
And not taking it all too seriously anymore.(photo^: Allison Young^)
“Being out on the road,” Bassett says, recalling his SXSW-aimed tour with The Hounds Below, “I saw a lot of places I’d never seen and got a lot of time to think. When you spend a lot of time in Detroit, or anywhere you may live, but, especially Detroit, for me,…being cooped up here for a few years, it’s easy to let things get out of whack in your mind. It’s easy to forget, I guess, what drives you or who you really are. In a lot of ways, I was just desperate to get out of here and I wasn’t focusing on things that mattered, but more on trying to just jump steps in terms of trying to make it to the top as fast as I could. But, in the meantime, when I went on tour, I obviously was away from my music…and playing other people’s music and listening to other bands (at SXSW), I think I learned a lot about what it takes to lead a band and what it takes to have a vision…”
Pretty revelatory so far, right? Bassett is known around here for the brass-blared, grimey-grooved, swaying ragtime jaunts through the Martha-ensemble’s interpretations of his bluesy, goth-scorched folk ballads – backed by a band that’s only maintained its drummer and trombonist throughout its nearly four years, with three guitarists and three bassists shifting through…
“…and I think my vision of my music became more clear to me. I’d wake up and I’d be writing these songs, they’d just start coming naturally. It felt real and not forced.” And he uses the word “confident.”
Bassett recalls, again, the stage-side research he’d conducted between Hounds sets in Austin, watching all the other bands at SXSW…bands that, to him, initially represented a bit of embodied-envy, since this, SXSW-or-something-like-it, was something he’d always hoped for the Marthas to reach.
The incorrigible cliché is that SXSW can always serve as a prognostication of the current crop of the cool – the hip – the awesome bands – the new cream of the new crop of the new style and sound and blah blah blah.
Essentially, Mick said, he walked away sort of relieved, refreshed, and believing that “I had something unique to offer,” that the Marthas coulda’ been dropped anywhere into that blurring Texas mess and been able to hold their own and turn some heads.
And that word, “confidence,” comes back; his wanting to wheel his way back to his home band, the Marthas and continue developing the sound with his newest collaborators. Wiese and Sanders came on board towards the end of 2009…guitarist Gordon Smith had moved over to the Sights and bassist Jesse Shepherd-Bates had initially wanted to develop his burgeoning JSB Squad project, but then also wound up re-joining his original band, The Satin Peaches.
In the meantime, through the month of March and April, Bassett gathered the band into Roosen’s basement and laid down four new tracks from songs he’d been writing through the winter. They combined these tunes with the reworking of a 2009 single, “Got Me Wrong” and thus, we have the Laugh Like You Want It EP.
That’s where we stand now. Bassett, himself, has been in the eye-of-the-scene since he was 18, when he and a bunch of other peach-fuzzed freshly mortarboard-flipping youths gave their all in a commendable and energetic indie-rock outfit, aptly named, the Dollfaces; thriving for a couple years in the extinguishing days of the Detroit “garage boom’s” temporary flame.
After that, he balanced the development of the Marthas with a bit of college, but a couple years ago resituated to go at music full time. Through the late 00’s, the Marthas released two EPs and a couple 7” singles.
But, this refreshed Mick and his now clear resonant incanting of finding ‘fun,’ ‘enjoyment’ and ‘entertainment’ through a less keyed up or distracted approach, now feels that this is the truest-of-true beginnings for the Marthas, “the first real statement the band has been able to make.”
For the maturing Mick, growing up on a stage with a perennial acoustic guitar slung at his shoulder (or set by his bedside each morning), he considers those first two Marthas EPs “growing pains” or, at least, “records” (in a documentary sense) “of where you were, what you were doing and the way that you grew up…” He pauses. “Not that I’m done growing at all…I’m sure I’ll feel this way two years from now, again.” And then chuckles.
“Now, I’m really encouraged…” he echoes, again with this optimism. The young man who, before, seemed like all he wanted was to get out of this city…finally got the chance with the Hounds and once he saw the other-supposedly-greener-side of the fence, concluded, “it gave me a lot of inspiration to come back to Detroit and put things together from the ground up and not skip any steps…and get the right people, get them all motivated and just make music and not worry about all the other shit in the music industry…and allow it to happen.”
He praises the recording and mixing work of Roosen, as he worked the boards to help develop Mick’s vision for these new songs and he expresses a gratefulness that the new players, Wiese and Sanders—though they’re songwriters in their own right—seem to be so dedicated to giving Mick their time and contributions.
“I think our shows,” Mick says, musing on the new rapport, “have gotten a lot more fun. People can come and dance and enjoy themselves. We’re entertainers. My job is to entertain people and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at that now that I’m a little more free-thinking about what I’m doing.”
“I just want people to experience it,” he says and his tone is ripe with a new purity and hopefulness that I haven’t yet heard from him.
After six years of playing in Detroit, Bassett says, “I realize that worrying about where I’m gonna go next year…” as he admits he often had, “…it just isn’t up to me. The only thing that’s up to me is writing songs and that’s all I want to do.”
May 13 - at the Loving Touch - in Ferndale
Or, check this other library-ish blog...
Here's an interview to catch you up on the mischief-maven/animosity-spurring pair of musician/blogger/writers and an overview of exploits through the last 3-ish years.
Bryan Metro and -jr have been posting sharp, scathing commentary about all the Detroit shows they've been attending...blunt (often bellicose) band reviews and hyperbolic spills born from people-watching or actuall nose-to-nose encounters kept lots of internet-clickers entertained and incensed over the last two years.
All the while, Metro was penning a book inspired by all of these events - the result is Invisible People
...which coalesces this season as a joint novel/soundtrack (combining Metro's narrative with -jr's musical soundtrack accompaniment). They'll be reading chapters - performing as their band The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre and will welcome hip-hop artist Sheefy Mcfly to provide interludes - as part of a Prevue Reading/Listening Party - May 15th - at the Ferndale Public Library (642 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale) - from 6pm-8pm - with refereshments offered).
The book follows Metro--the-character, as a "quasi-celebrity on the cusp" in the music community of Michigan who carries himself with predictably high reserves of self-confidence and strong self-regard--as he "tries his luck" in the big cities he finds fame, success, excess and fleeting glory but quickly spirals into the dark-side of his newly conquered world...returning home to find "the greatest horror of all..."
It (the book,) will vascillate between "drama, comedy, romance, thriller" and "self-help." "Metro" (as an alias of Robby Starr) has drawn from his experiences in the music scene and entertainment world to develop this over-the-top persona that acts as a satire of the superficial nature of society and "a cautionary tale for those who take it too far." He aims for an independent release of the book, his debut novel, this fall.
The book is divided into three parts, each with it's own theme ranging: "hollow socity" - "vigilante justice" - (and finally) "true love."
6pm - Ferndale Library - Reading
Music from JCM and Sheefy Mcfly
(I know many have their differences with this pair - but... for one, this book may offer perspective as to all the ire they stirred up in the (mostly) electronic/written spere and the (sometimes) physical sphere - but, hey, if you need another reason - at least come to support your local library)
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Goldenberg grew up a couple miles north of Detroit (a stones throw from the zoo) and graduated from U-M with an honors degree in film and video. He has been working on this production for more than 3 years, starting out with a collaboration with Zachary Takenaga that documented the fundraising efforts to withstand the risk of one high school's closure in 2005 - then leading to the pair's return to document the perspective of students within eight sepaarate high schools slated for closure (back in 2007).
Monday, May 3, 2010
"'...But the thing you'd like is that with the multiverse, you have basically every option you want--really, every option you'll ever see or imagine--and one of your selves somewhere has taken that option..."
(-Hand, p.119 You Shall Know Our Velocity - David Eggers)
I woke up wanting to fume a bit 'bout the televised professional sports competition last night, between the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings - wanting to rail something subjectively supportive of the boys wearing my hometown's colors, like:
"...it seems like anytime the Red Wings made the slightest contact with any San Jose player, that blue-jerseyed player would go limp and flail to the ice, flopping not unlike a fish out of water - thus that the jumpy referees, like band-aid grabbing zealous neighborhood mothers would come to their aid with phantomous love-taps being classified as "holding" or "tripping" penalites."
But strike number-one, in hockey, soccer, baseball, hell...any major sport...is that it's petty, whiny even, to attempt placing "blame" upon officiating... Because at the end of the day, your team's effort will bear the most weight upon the "outcome." So take a breath, cut to commercial, wake up the next day and go back to the real world. It's only a game.
But then...it got me freaking out - why can I be so easily belittling of "sports writing" or sports journalism when I do try my hand at it - Because I can also turn the lens back on myself and realize the comparable triviality of "music writing" or music journalim...my apparent realm of...proficiency...or at least the object of most of my energy.
Like, how, when the volcano erupted in Iceland - music blogs covered it from the angle of "...how this will effect the tour schedules of your favorite Radioheads and LCD Soundsystems and whoever else..." or maybe tie in a Bjork or Sigur Ros angle...
That's all good for a small chuckle.
But why can't I write sports? Becuase I'm still at the junior-grade level of bitching about referees and I need to mature a bit......mature beyond the couch-jettisoned, beer-swilled, television-set yeller who casts aside reason in the fervor of competition...
It all gets very Roman-feeling: distract-the-masses with brutish, sweating, grimacing battle...
And then...by the same token, music, mainstream music, the music "biz" and all the plastic faces on television singing and dancing for you - is all distraction as well... Blimey, we'll all need cheering up after we see humans dump five million gallons of oil into the Earth's water and sets to kill innocent sea turtles, dolphins, shrimp and, likely, our continent's only living coral barrier reef around the Keys.
See...I'm freaking out and over-analyzing...probably too much coffee. But, I started musing on Dave Egger's book, Velocity, and the two somewhat bumbling Gen-X-neurotic heroes of that tale, discussing quantum physics. Why should I only be set to music writing? I get that edgy feeling of wanting to split myself into eleven pieces anytime I try to set down to write some supposedly-free fiction writing and I want to follow so many different plot lines, so many different sensibilities, themes, reflections and characters...
How can we choose just one?
I am in the tumble cycle of a drier, bouncing and banging around the metal cylinder and tryiing to put on every article of clothing as I roll...fly zippers and tube socks are hard to fit at that ever spinning angle...
"...if you combine the quantum physics paradigm with the idea of the subjectivity of time, we're basically all alive in a thousand places at once, for a neverending present."
(Hand, p. 120, You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers)
I will try my hand at sports, just as I will try my hand at geopolitical-weary harrangueing news items and pleas for social justice and nods to community culture... I will try to wear all these hats.
And the tumble cycle rolls on...
P.S. - Broken Social Scene's new album Forgiveness Rock Record comes out today on Arts and Crafts - they have a new song on that record called "All To All" which seems to fit my spastic-every-direction-rant...
P.S. - Broken Social Scene's new album Forgiveness Rock Record comes out today on Arts and Crafts - they have a new song on that record called "All To All" which seems to fit my spastic-every-direction-rant...
P.P.S. - The Emory in Ferndale, with the city's Public Library, is hosting another "Book Party" where we'll gather and discuss You Shall Know Our Velocity - here's a link to another blog's post about all that...
P.P.S. - The Emory in Ferndale, with the city's Public Library, is hosting another "Book Party" where we'll gather and discuss You Shall Know Our Velocity - here's a link to another blog's post about all that...
Saturday, May 1, 2010
6/20 – Detroit, MI @ Old Miami w/ Mr Quintron and Miss Pussycat
Every once in a while that perfect, temporally-displaced, cloudless sun-blazed day of mad giddy freedom falls on you like the awkward sopped rush of a Gatorade keg tipped by linebackers on your turned back – and you feel renewed, re-inspired and taking pause at the modest ease with which the apparent object of your restoration came – like a steadily rising sun that just said - …here I am.
Thus, I put CAVE into my car stereo for what I knew would be a 25-minute car ride – grasping the 3-song collection as a burned CD thinking this would be a quick EP from some band I hadn’t heard of yet…turns out it was a 12” – with its three entries filling the entirety of the trip – and enhancing my whole afternoon as the sun began to set.
I was transfixed… the opening guitar jitter sounded as though the record was skipping…but after seven shaky seconds a tumbling motorik beat bursts in and it reveals itself to be a tightly wound loop acting as a surged robotic heartbeat under the flexing bass grooves, the blurped chiming synths and the surf toned lead’s melodious coos. The vocalist conjured that monotonish rustbelt yowl, not quite Great Lakes-area yokel and not quite southern twanged bark – that would, in my mind (and, exasperatingly—and repetitiously—also in the mind of many other online zine-ers and bloggers), recall a Mothersbaugh-ian delivery. Meanwhile, that beat…just kept going…and those playful, almost fuck-around noodling synths just kept dancing around the soundscape while the duel guitars continued to yammer at each other. This was, I said to myself (and would find, again, others already saying the same thing to themselves across the internet’s crop of early write ups for this) –a krautrock inspired jam!
CAN! DEVO! Even Neu and Suicide- it felt and tasted like 1983 and I was loving it! This was my sunny day! These unrelenting guitar blazes, these jogging drums, these fuzzed and howled bitty vocals, the ever-chirping synths…the pedals swirling it all up more and more the further the drums took them down this road of swelling synchronized cacophony.
“Teenager” stars with a single gurgling wavy riff that stretches and meanders for a full minute before the more psychedelic wah-whirled guitar and burly bass join in under this herked-and-jerked waltz-punctured drum. It’s exemplary of many similar post-rock, noisy fuzzed out roarers, the way it just keeps clawing and dragging deeper and deeper into the mud until it breaks through onto some rushing rock-bedded rapids off towards some gaping waterfall – the sustained guitars blur further together, the synth continues to cry out, the pedals are stomped and the drums just keep on going…
But then, as I said, exemplary of any kind of krautrock-spaced-out-jazzed-out-noise-parade worth its salt in reverie for those Faustian/Silver-Apples-ian type dissertations.
Just like any old perfect sunny day can be the simple recipe for inducing epiphany – in this world where we can already, disconcertingly, say that every band has already done every-thing and every-other-blogger has already run through their own kraut-rock incantations whilst writing about this band – I can say, simply, that what they’re laying down is, firstly—done well – and is invigorating. Like these gnarled and raucous guitars and punching-bag drums are apparently juiced with the same vitamin D of those rejuvenating sun-rays of this onsetting Summer. (Let’s not follow that metaphor much further, cuz we enter the risk of sunburns and cancer…but then, as they say, everything gives you cancer, somehow, sometimes, some-way).
Cave…Cave’s got style. They’ve got grit. Their minimalist jams have muscle. But enough said. I’d rather stop writing about it and just listen…