Friday, September 30, 2011

Mike Anton Relief and Benefit - 10/7 - Lager House

Detroit's Mike Anton epitomizes the blue-collar folk hero (but even then, tweaking the typical Dylan-y perception with his own signature, passioned panorama and blunt, quirky poetry); his tunes were/are vibrant, vitriolic, anthemic and cathartic - always slogging it through the day-job so that he could get back to pen-and-pad, guitar-and-harmonica, to chip away at his blues-rock ouvre...

"...a combination of shock, anger, fear...all wrapped into overwhelming concern..."

Mike Welby, drummer for Detroit blues rock power trio the Mantons, speaks of the day he found out his long time friend (and Mantons-founder/singer) Mike Anton...was shot in the face.

Friend and longtime fan of Anton's work, Kyle McBee, along with Welby, were given scant details from police, the morning they found out:  "...he's alive and he's shot in the face." No other info, not even the name of the hospital.

What followed were eight "horribly anxious" hours, until more information reached them. Walking into Anton's hospital room, seeing him "breathing, conscious, able to communicate" Welby received an extreme relief that was quickly tempered by questions ("why?!?") and then strained by the inevitable medical bills.

"Most musicians in this town don't have insurance," McBee said. "Everyone that was able to do this, everyone that expressed interest in helping or at least was sympathetic to the cause....I mean, the amount of people that wanted to be on the bill............."


 " see everyone come together," McBee continued, "the amount of help from Matt Luke and Anthony Retka, Mike Welby and PJ, for putting this together, it has just been an honor to Mike (Anton) but it's an affirmation to me, the community of artists that I work with and play with. I'm very proud of them, of everyone..."

Anthony Retka (a.k.a. Tone, of Tone & Niche) agreed: "It speaks volumes." Musicians are, often by nature, blue-collar/DIY types, when it comes to financial status - so when one of our own is hit with five-digit medical bills, it's heartening to see so many pledge their support and commitment. "And all because he had the bad luck," McBee says, audibly irked, "to open up his front door and get shot." (The story was covered by the Metro Times, here).

Others who can't make it, like Loco Gnosis, are offering up merch -to have proceeds go directly towards Anton's relief.

Retka has known Anton for almost ten years, hanging out together after a fateful gig, back in 02, and steadily solidifying a friendship. "His music? That's the candy. That's the sweetness of the deal; he's a great songwriter and can blow the harp with the best of them. I've always enjoyed Mike's point of view and style, when it came to the craft of writing. His tune, "Blackbirds in Detroit" will stop anyone in their tracks..."

Indeed. McBee was stopped in his tracks when he first heard Anton, opening a set with his song, "Blood," on the stage at the Blue Note (in Pontiac, where McBee day-jobbed, years back). "I had to go looking for him," McBee recalls, likening it to Dylan seeking Guthrie, scouring through othre M. Anton's in the Grosse Pointe phone-book.

"I found him at Trixies a year later and he's been a close, close friend ever since. I've seen him start his first rock band and it's just great to see this guy continuing on, now, even after all this...he's survived, and still translating this into new music. the mark of an artist at his craft, to translate your reality into something that everyone can have..."

"For anyone who believes in any kind of cosmic or karmic justice, it's gotta be hard to wrap your head around what happened to Mike Anton..." said Matt Luke, who, with Welby, Retka and McBee helped throw together this week's benefit, and, who also will be performing as part of the special (and, as it stands, one-time-only?) Black Lodge reunion (along with McBee).

(Mantons, pictured right, with Mike Welby and Robin Simpson).

Other Anton-thoughts expressed by Luke: " of the most nicest...most genuine...least pretentious people to ever pick up a guitar"

Welby captured the sentiment of this concert, reaching out with a letter to the music community to not only support Anton in his recovery (physically, emotionally, financially) but also "to join as one to Stop the Madness; the victory must be peace..."

This concert is a chance, Welby sees, "for camaraderie, personal affection and general humanness to triumph, if but for a moment and but with only a few dollars raised...."

"But, maybe it starts a message within each and every attendee and person who becomes aware of its existence that the entirety of this tragedy is unacceptable."

In music news: Yes, this is a reunion for Black Lodge, a garage/soul/punk outfit that had such a bright future and plenty of local buzz through the Spring of 2010 only to fade before it's time... but the boys (Luke, McBee and Steve Gamburd and Nick Marshall) are back together this week, for Anton's sake.

When band's work (just like romantic relationships), then... "it's beautiful," Luke said. "But unfortunately with Black Lodge we just didn't handle it well during the end of our run." Still, "...playing with those guys was like stepping onto another plane and I'm really glad we get to do it one more time, still very proud of what we accomplished as a band" (which includes a full length LP, Moon)...

"When we formed, not one of us had any 'in' with the Detroit music community and every bit of recognition we got we earned honestly by busting our asses... So, one more time then..."

McBee said that they surpassed any initial awkwardness and "flipped right back into gear, back into that groove; a little more rugged around the edges, but still good. And good to see these guys again."

Bands are like's rare to see the marriage reconcile... Thus, McBee stresses there's no future plans - if so, then there'd be need for some actual marriage-councilling...

Retka, meanwhile, is looking forward to the release of Tone & Niche's 5th album (not counting singles and EPs)- Everything Is Good will be celebrated with a release show on October 28 at the Berkley Front (costumes encouraged). wsg/ LIVY, Mod Orange, and The Blueflowers!

"The Mantons are again, afoot!" (Having played their first show about a month ago). Stay tuned at MantonMusic.

Gunk Music

...I've been re-reading Douglas Adams' brilliantly bent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy... Which, during a scene of great imporbability, re-revealed to me these sonorous scenes, regardless of context - I felt a kindredness to some sort of similarity to the mad, keyed-up way in which I, myself, write about music...

"...wild, yowling noises of pipes and strings seared through the wind, hot doughnuts popped out of the road for ten pence each, horrid fish stormed out of the sky....they plunged through heavy walls of sound, mountains of archaic thought, valleys of mood music, bad shoe sessions and footling bats and suddenly heard a girl's voice....."
(Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, p.81, Harmony Books, 1979) ...whilst later on, making intriguing/inspiring references to a- "gunk music..."

But then, for something completely different...yet still comparatively keyed-up...and "plunged" through "wild," "yowling," "sounds..."...
Those curious to see what happens when the plaintive pluck and swampy strum of bluegrass gets jolted by the self-descructive pedal-stomped accelerations of punk - then consider these genre-splicing upstarts, fresh off their Warped Tour victories, Larry & His Flask - who perform the Magic Stick, this coming Tuesday evening... (10/4) They've got the gusto and the graneur of banjo-slung troubaors, but their twangs and stomps are stirred and spilled fervently all about - blaring in brass and sweetening it up with huffed harmonies...
...that's "All That We Know..."

It looks and sounds like this:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

No 'Moments' -just moments

I've been dancing my way in and out of this subject's bonfire circle for the better half of the last year...

How niches destroyed culture - from "We don't agree on anything the way we agreed about Prince, Nirvana and MJ -- and our cultural life is poorer for it"

Pardon the quick and dirty//get and go -nature of my lazily snipping another writer's work and merely giving you the link...but, then, I'm sure many feel they could use a break from my dissertations now and then... Though I might be moved to defend how much "poorer" we actually are...

That said, here's something for the indie-rockers on Friday - (New Dodge, in Hamtramck)

I'm sure the members of the bands packed into this bill (ranging from power pop, to spaced-out folk, to fuzzed-out psyche and then to whatever new trip Bassett's a-buskin' down...) can, perhaps, reveal the significance of putting the Dalai Lama on their humble lil internet-poster...

But I'll at least add some relevancy to it - spurred from a day job in a public library; His Holiness released a new memoir this week, The Profound Mind, discussing the potential to bring about positive change in the world. Many a review or blog have also clipped this exerpt: "Our efforts must be realistic. We must establish for ourselves that the methods we are following will bring about our desired results. We can’t merely rely on faith. It is essential that we scrutinize the path we intend to follow to establish clearly what is and what is not effective, so that the methods of our efforts may succeed..." 

Speaking of new books... MT writer Brett Callwood has another one ready, documenting another aspect of Detroit's late-60's proto-punk movement... runaway Sons of the nuclear A-bomb... The Stooges: Head On (Stiv Deville Productions and Wayne State University Press).
There's a release show on Saturday (10/1) ...also, again, at the New Dodge - featuring The Ashleys, Sharky & the Habit, Amby Gore & the Valentines and Bootsey X & the Lovemasters

There's more on Brett in today's Detroit Free Press.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Locals On The Air

Being a child of the Wes Andersonian indie-hipster millienium-shift, I was one, like many, who would hear certain songs and just see them ...fitting perfectly to some grand, fantastic and visceral cinematic sequence. When a band's work, whatever of any potential 3 or 4-minute single they churn out on an album, can conjure specific images in my head, characters striding down streets, certain looks in their eyes, zoomed by speeding cars in the heat of dramatic chase sequences under bridges buzzed by the perfect light of a setting sun...

Fur was (is, rather) one of those bands as many of their songs have an evocative edge to them, the rolling rhythms, atmospheric synths and distinctive guitar wails... And being locals, Detroit psyche rock show goers will probably say it's no wonder then...

...that (another) Showtime Series has snipped one of Fur's tracks, "Break Me My Love," for the soundtrack of one of it's new shows, Homeland, airing Sunday night. (However anti-climactic, it soundtracks teens getting high... ah well).

This was also the case with Detroit's The High Strung - who had their tune "Luck You Got" picked for the that channel's British-fractuerd-family-remake Shameless. (P.S., stay tuned for their forthcoming LP - !Possible O' Impossible!
And, soon enough, we'll see the images-put-to-the-sounds of Prussia's "What Am I Gonna Tell Your Mom?," produced by Single Barrel Detroit, which is the lead single of their new album, and the center piece to the forthcoming vinyl 7" ("Part II" - available online).

This is also floating around the internet -

Cold men Young - riding the rap...on the People Mover

(Detroit residents recently showed support for rate-hikes on the People Mover... ...the extra charge may even treat you to an impromptu performance...)

- keep up on the new songs filtering out from Cold Men Young as they prep their new LP (here's a taste).

And, just to show you another random video (with some local relevance...)

Although all the beach scenes are a tease for us northern-midwesterners currently bracing the early chill of autumn, we can still enjoy the live sounds of wonderboy (Zach Condon) of Beirut, when he visits the Royal Oak Music Theatre, Oct 11 - with tunes from his new album, The Rip Tide.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"First Dream of Last Morning" (Another) Mix Tape

There's not enough time... Insides excited and controted with caffeine, minds distracted by the spate of spitty status updates, I never, never, want to dillude the experience of connecting to / drowning-in / floating-upon / rooting-through a work...a song, a sound, an album...

There's been so much work released around Detroit that I want to get lost-in, but have only been able to permit myself teasing wiffs from fleeting moments where the, albeit impersonal-digital-medium, is streamed and uncorked for a listen one day, another return-listen the next...

Glossies, Mick Bassett, Prussia, SelfSays... some day I'll sink in...
But here's a few tracks that just went up...

" a newborn, Yes, I made it..."


a fine autumnal dittie, a lil shuffle, a lil march, a lil daydreamy

.....and that'll have to be all for now - I gotta run.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Johnny Headband - "Over There"

A new single is out from local kineti-cut-up space-rock outfit Johnny Headband, a preview of their cabin-conjured LP, Who Cooks For You? (which will see the light of day some time in the early new year).

Radiating their characteristic surreal charm, "Over There's" video touches upon the main muse for Cooks, the rich redolence of the outdoors, the sublime, squinty meditations of sunrays stabbing through green leaves, wooden cabin shuffles, canoe transports, and gravelly shores.

As the Brothers Thompson nonchalantly half-dance their way around porches and the unmistakable "forest" of the Loving Touch pool hall, they seem to be spurred on by the squeaky incantations from their new wandering prophet, a wizardly-wrapped Speaker who knows how to rock a hammock.

Says singer/keyboardist Chad, “I wanted something that made you wanna move, and feel good, and go out into the sun and feel like things are possible. These songs, they’re visual. They’re all on sonic landscapes.”

Even the high ceilinged resonance of their cabin studio, the birds outside, the rusty creak of a door...became instruments on the album...

The in-house directed/produced video mishmashes Mariachi-hats with axes and swords, telescopes and hypnotic owls, and beguiling-yet-breathtaking displays of framed fine art grasped in the mossy woods misted with fluming smoke machines...

Johnny Headband - Over There from Johnny Headband on Vimeo.

(photo: Trever Long)

St. Clark

Annie Clark further hones her blend of the beautiful and the avant-garde on her third album under the St. Vincent moniker, where her resplendent electro-pop visions are rendered with an aggressive hand, shadowing her dreamy grooves and hooky waltzes with sublime, spooky atmospherics from chirping and droining analog keyboards while her guitar shreds through a spacey middle-ground of scorched blues and wound-up funk. The trippy, fuzzy marches and dark, almost dirgey electronica/rock of 09’s much-heralded Actor has made elegant surrealism her calling card, which she continues to carry on Strange Mercy.

Her musical compositions can be as elaborate, heady and acerbic as her lyrics. She’s not going to be a “Cheerleader” anymore cuz that epitomizes society’s submissive, artificial grin masking life’s pains and the world’s complexities. Wind your body, wind your mind. Mercy toes the line between grand and grandiose, maybe too preoccupied with perfecting (or re-imagining) Actor’s aesthetic. Still very much it’s own unique trip: haunted, orchestral, rigid and rhythmic, but like a lot of “third” records it feels like a closing, the third act of the opening to her ouvre. It's no wonder this is turning heads, it's the show brings the curtains down, bolstered particularly by the production work of her consistent collaborator, John Congleton. By the last track it feels like the stage is cleared.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Autumn Addendum (the Amalgam Rock)

"Summer can kiss my ass..." Tom quips moments before the last sip of his second bottle of Schlitz.

I nod in concurrence before jostling my shoulders and rubbing my eyes, trying to stay awake on this foggy Friday evening. My mind, my heart, my gut wrung with an electricity that never gets old; makes my insides feel like a howling toddler, sugar-smeared face and crayons clutched in hand, stomping and speeding around, circling the corporeal walls and streaking a graffiti that's got to get out, -inevitably becoming expressed upon this page...

And I go mad mad mad, feeling the full weight, giving under it, even, of trying to write about everything - everything, even, that's just going on around music. 

Reeled with naive befuddlement that something so radical and radiant as the Phantom Cats could be so informally framed by the worn stage and poster-plastered walls of this dimly lit club on an otherwise random night in a town already terrifically taxed with talent (and how about them Tigers?), to fist the air, shake the head, scratch the chin, at how this band even works, considering all it's piquant elements - operatic singing, punk-tumbled flamenco rhythms, spacey-surfy guitar noodlings and rickety rollicking bass rhythms - this is the future...amalgam rock

The Phantom Cats are beautiful and weird, sharp and sweet, ...quirky, precious - why is such a staggering voice somehow fitting so well upon such a fervent, rambunctious staging - some kind of voluptuous vanguard cooed and growled until inevitably you two-stepping, dreamily, swaying back and forth between moderate PBR puddles on the Lager House floor...

And then the next band goes up... There seems, at least on this sunny Autumn morning, to be little reason or worth in trying to dissect or describe this age of amalgam rock.

And it only gets amplified when Jesse Shepherd Bates walks into the bar, just in time for Pink Lightning's set. He remarks, with fiery eyes, at the mad, murky marvels of St. Vincent's new album - yet another axis-shifting LP to spin his and all of our indie-heads with it's dense, charming and challenging compositions of not-so-orchestral, not-so-indie-pop, not-so-anything-just-quite but quite-a-lot-of-everything all at once...

And, oh, by the way, Bates' and his band, The Gnome are going to be Radiohead for Halloween.

Tom comes back over and tells me, in slightly greater detail, about the exhileration of forming a new band called Future Oldies... yet another musical adventure considerably ameliorated by the sum of it's parts--being made up of players from respective bands of notable stylistic distinction. Amalgams abound.

Future Oldies brings Tom, known for fast, fierce, blues rock from the Ashleys, Steve playing the drums (though known otherwise for a body-sacrificing, altogether enlivening dynamism with Pupils/Marco Polio, Leo -heretofore known only for his adroit accordion squeeze in the dance-rock displays of Pink Lightning, Chris--the yowling showman from PL and Adam - the bass whiz from Phantom Cats and Woodman. --And bar-side rumors have it that they'll be the backing-band for local solo-MC Mister--as, like Bates' Radiohead--he embodies the fractured funk and re-spun rap antics of iconic troubadour/producer Beck - ...again for Halloween. (Oct 28 @ the Crofoot, in Pontiac, p.s.)

Halloween, let's get to it, is just an inherently keyed-up time around here. This is the fourth year the local rock scene has induldged itself in what is a not-at-all-uncommon band-er's tradition (dressing up as another band and doing a full cover set).

The idea is fantasy - rely upon the ample talent (and passion) surged through each selfless dayjobbing basement musician in SouthEast Michigan to assign itself to affecting as accurate (or as creative) an interpretation of your favorite bands ever, your old guilty secret bands, the longlost legends from the 60's, the untouchable megastars of today - Jay-Z? Radiohead? Joy Division and the Stooges?

Stone Temple Pilots? ABBA? ...Michael Jackson resurrected and the elegant Bjork gracing the plaintive plains of Pontiac??

Talk about losing your mind. Put yourself there, with make-up on your face, yourself already transformed into someone or something else, -then add alcohol to your system, then wind the clock's hands up to past the Witching Hour and then all of a sudden Nine Inch Nails or ...even, say, Nirvana appears to come on the stage? Suspension of disbelief... forgetting that's your  neighbor up there in a yellowy Cobain wig and allowing yourself to mosh to a rendition of an Incesticide track...

And yet the rest of the world keeps turning, powers' keep on lying and soldiers, citizens, species and cultures keep on dying... There's no sense to wondering out-loud, all wide-eyed and naive, why these special little bands around here don't break out and become the next big thing, the next Radiohead or the next Nirvana... We're in the amalgam-age now - and no label knows how to sell all the zany elements that you've stirred together for your sonic swill - Instead, let's look around ourselves, today, this Autumn, and this Halloween, and realize that we're lucky to be able to find such comfort, camaraderie and catharsis in each other's work, in each other's performances, in each other's expression...

.........And then Bates reminds me about Mick Bassett's newly released album and I get whirled all over again. So much to take-in, around here. (This, while Bates himself is wrapping up recording work, standing next to Molly Jean who just spent the preceding weekend working on her own new solo album).

 Different patches of our musical garden bloom and recede at varying times - Other musicians back away, their bands break up, the pedals of their perennial roots recede into the shade for a time - while others re-sprout, renewed and verdant...

And then again, maybe I drink too much coffee when I write. Bassett's been moderately quite, "on the scene"-(-if you will,) for the last better-half-of-a-year, and hearing this album unveiled communicates why... He's been pouring himself and his acoustic guitar into this haunted, shoulder-chipped memoir, that sees him embellishing a reverence for blues and heart-wringing busker ballads, adorned with florid, dreamy, gruesome and defiant poetry heretofore not heard upon his tunes, which, themselves have drifted somewhat restlessly from New Orleans jazz-mutations, to guitar-bolstered indie-rock... Dylan's ghost finally takes full possession of the shaggy haired troubador...(My personal favorite being the shadowy, hand-clapped punch and quavering cut of "Scoundrels").

"Leaves jump right off the trees as winter's warning..."

And every other week another new local artisan finishes a new album ...
and it just makes me continue to run those laps, inside my head, whirled by how much there is to write about...
For now, I'll just take a breath, and walk up to the next stage.

And listen.

Wild Beasts - 9/30 - (Magic Bag)

Listen to Wild Beasts' "Loop The Loop"
Wild Beasts are known to be a bit of an outsider
...and not just because their from the UK
...and not just because, even on that grande islande, they're sprung from an old, overlooked, grey town in secluded northern England
there's also the showy, snaky falsetto lead vocals wielding blushable ballads over moody baroque-excursions that have seemed to rub listeners the weird, or wrong ways, thick with syrupy synths, brooding bass and inner-demon-baiting beats.

Not your typical "indie-rock," to be sure, and inevitably conjuring the adnauseum copy-pasted adjective: "theatrical" -from many a' blog and music zine on both sides of the pond and all sides of the internet...

They've also changed things up, stylistically, atmospherically, on each of their three records, making it harder for anyone to stay on their trail through the murky and mellodious woods of their songs.

This year's Smother  seems to have finally won them the respect they deserve (even from me, -considering now, that I've only come around to it after the fifth or sixth  listen)- they're not kowtowing to packs of numb, jittery bloggers who just want to crown them the next-new-fill-in-the-blank-phenom from England - they're not even continuing the dirty, danceable airs conjured on their breakthrough LP from 09...they're instead going darker, more detached, more of a drift of sordid sighs and provacative nocturnes...

See how it plays out on a stage - 9/30 - at the Magic Bag in Ferndale.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gallery Week in Detroit

"It's funny, ...people in Detroit still talk about it as something that's broken...".....

"This gets people involved...artists...walking and screaming down the road together...There's not enough of that, man!"


"This is a city that's building..."

The "Blowout for visual artists" is upon us - Detroit Gallery Week kicks off on Sept 30th - "highlighting the region's remarkable contemporary art scene with openings, lectures, studio tours and special exhibitions across metro Detroit..." ArtDetroitNow has a list of participating galleries -as well as a schedule of featured events.

DC caught up with artists and gallery director Lisa Marie Krug, of Whitdel Arts, an art gallery on the fringe of Mexicantown opened under the umbrella of the C.ontemporary A.rt I.nstitute of D.etroit about one year ago. 

Whitdel is currently transitioning into becoming the CAID's primary outlet for artistic exhibition, as the original space on Rosa Parks has "legally" transformed into an operating television production studio. -A new PBS, if you will, spurred on by it's progressive talk show, Tonight at the CAID amongst many other recently brainstormed programs, coming down the pike.

Much  less a traditional gallery, Krug stresses that this space (originally started as the Ladybug Studios under CAID's direction a few years back), is more of a community center for aspiring/curious artists, would-be painters, daydreamy designers, and those who want to get their hands dirty via creative expression but maybe don't know how to get started, or don't know the ins and outs.

Gallery Week is about reminding the community that these spaces are for much more than just standing and staring at things hung on a wall. Lecutres, like those offered at Whitdel, Detroit Artist Market and more, can inform artists of all the nuanced upkeep it takes to be self-sustaining, freelancing producers, photographers, artists, designers, whatever - as well as feature insightful discussions about the meaning of art.  

Engaging and educational, Whitdel is equipped with a media center and classroom space for various workshops and lectures.

The idea, said Krug: - if you want to do it, to try it, to create it - you can learn how, you can do it...

"I hope Gallery Week shows that there's that kind of attitude going on," Krug said.

The ladies behind Whitdel Arts (Krug, along with JenClare Garwan and Lauren Montgomery) share that attitude with various arts organizations around Detroit, namely the gang behind the unconventional/experimental film house, the Burton Theatre - who recently paired with Whitdel to help program a film screening this coming weekend (more info at Whitdel). "(Just)...try to create an inspiring environment."

"We're trying to honor (Detroit)'s past. This is the city of making-something, whether it's cars or music or anything," Krug said. "Honor that past, but also keep going. Some don't realize it's a tremendous opportunity to be here - what other city could I go to and become as heavily involved, so quickly, in the arts community, as here in Detroit? It's an inherently DIY city. It's just one of those things, here, you can do whatever you want..."

"Whitdel and Burton share that attitude," Krug said, nodding to the theatre's welcomed run of cult films through 2009-10 before having to close it's doors. "Just, find a way to do it if you wanna do something."

GALLERY WEEK: Midtown Art Crawl
Sixteen galleries and museums open for extended hours. Free shuttle service between venues.
71 POP • Cass Cafe • CCS Center Galleries • City Bird
Dell Pryor Gallery • Detroit Artists Market
Detroit Institute of Arts • Ellen Kayrod Gallery
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
G. R. N'Namdi Gallery • Re:View Contemporary
The Scarab Club • Wayne State University Galleries
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

And of course, whatever intriguing/provocative film that Burton decides to screen at Whitdel - Attendees will receive an update on when the Burton could open permanent doors again (and where said-doors will be located)...

~~And then there's the Art Parade - put together by Art at Wayne - and bolstered by CCS/WSU students - which kicks off the Gallery Crawl next weekend. "Led by Satori Circus and art students from CCS and Wayne State University, the parade winds its way through participating venues."
-Parade route and rally stops include: WSU - DAM - MOCAD - DIA -CCS

With burlesque-punk-provacateur Satori Circus presiding as Grand Marshall for the second consecutive year.

Russ Taylor, the fiddle-fit hockey-playing human behind the kooky clown make-up, recalls similar "crawls" or "gatherings" even back to his days playing in punk bands and punk clubs of Detroit during the mid 1980's. It ebbed and it flowed. When Satori Circus got a rebirth in 2006, Taylor said "I noticed that there was caberet, there was burlesque, there was fire-people and aerial lifts, there were performance artists and I wasn't alone anymore."

"There was a synergy..."

Taylor nodded to the a rise in energy, more galleries opening up and engaging the community, Detroit Artist Market, the MOCAD, and ArtDetroitNow.

Taylor even performed his own "crawl" of solo-performances in 2009, complete with a red radio flyer wagon in-tow, stopping at the Scarrab Club, Cass Cafe and many more culture spots and galleries for half-hour performances, eventually charming along, very pied-piper-esque, a trail of followers. That's when it hit Taylor that the energy, the need for these "gatherings" had returned.
For the parade/pre-crawl? "You know me," Taylor said, "I just blow up." He said the people working with Art At Wayne who planned the event, along with the CCS Students, are raring to go. "I just have to light the fuse..."

Taylor, aided by a group of close friends and talented collaborators (in design and photography) put together a Calendar - The 2012 Satori Cirquettes Calendar - with proceeds going towards the community-outreach non-profit Burners Without Borders.

"I'm basically (portrayed) being abused by 12 different women..." Taylor said. "It definitely all has my own slant of humor. I knew of or was a fan of these ladies and they knew of me and I asked if they were open to the idea of this kind of fetishy/tongue-in-cheek Satori calendar, with them in dominant sexual poses and Satori-make-up...and everybody went for it." ~

Taylor is currently working on two separate one-acts, very unlike any usual surreal/goofy Satori show - "much darker," one featuring more music the other featuring none. "Just relying more on expression, more on acting. We'll see what happens..." Taylor said.

More info on the Parade:
WSU: Angelo Conti

DAM: Ryan Standfest performing “FAT BRANDO”
MOCAD: Beverly Fresh
DIA: Rally with Satori Circus!!
CCS: YELP schwag giveaways and Gallery Week promotional materials!

And more info about Art around metro Detroit from the Detroit Free Press:
Detroit Design Festival will showcase the city's creative community

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Folk Festival

Cliched words are slinking their way onto my keyboard... like, say, "beacon..." a beacon for overarching community - not just for artists, not just for folk singers, not just for hippies, hipsters or long-haired idealists - a place, a beacon, damn it, to network, to be neighborly, to nurture involvement and to come to know more about yourself and your city...

TrumbullPlex is a housing community and performance space, and Saturday's day/night-long event is a fundraiser for some long-needed repair work for the cozy red-brick abode. As songwriter/poet/performer and TrumbulPlex resident Audra Kubat told Detroit Free Press music writer Rachel May (in Thursday's edition): "We want to encourage and show them that we can live cheaply together and live richly by sharing. It's about coming together with groups of people and finding a new way to have family."

The line-up (as any Facebooker can see) includes Tim Kish, Josh Allen, Cedar Lashes, Jere Stormer, Loretta Lucas, Kelly Jean Caldwell, Jeff Jablonski, Tone & Niche, Markita Moore, Small Houses, Pancho Villa's Skull, Eleanora, Gardens, Eric Dilworth, Pree, Petal Shop and Goat Toker...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

...I'm thinkin' lately...

September 24th, 1991 -
Back when album debuts were still tinged with a certain significance, garnering zealous claims of cultural impact, rising to or falling from the simmering of expectation and tied up with a swelling bake of hyperbolic sanctification...

Perhaps 2011's 17-year-old specimens are likely just getting the latest hot listen off of their mediafires or whatever-other-Internet back alley deals - But 20 years ago, this Saturday, it's mythologized that the torn-denimed, droopy-faced, long-haired, flannel-flanked masses completely lost their shit over the unveiling of this album...

Here's some thoughts from a more sagely MusicHead, Lo-fi-Bri (of Carjack/Electric Fire Babies) who raised/trained himself to be a shrewd and passionate crate-diver, us his perspective from back then...

"when Nirvana's 'Nevermind' so called 'dropped,' - I was living in Dayton OH," (a particularly formative year, musically, for Mr. Carjack...)

"and I picked up the Nevermind CD on it's release day.  Funny thing is - you couldn't find it in the stores!  Let alone did any of the record store clerks even know who Nirvana was...  I ended up making a bunch of phone calls and found it in another town at a store called CD Connection." 

"I picked up 1 of there only-2 copies.  I can still remember the record store girl giving me a really weird look while ringing me up, looking at the naked baby on the cover!" ... "Weeks later, MTV invents the BUZZ CLIP video feature, Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Red Hot Chili Peppers all have videos featured and they all blow up in a matter of weeks!"

If you want to hear similar straight from the horse's mouth-type accounts, from around that era, ...  I'd recommend checking out this recently released Oral History of Grunge - Everybody Loves Our Town - by Mark Yarm.

Everybody loves us /
Everybody loves our town //
That's why I'm thinking lately /
The time for leaving is now...

(Mudhoney, "Overblown")

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

True Believers

Happy 20th Birthday, Nevermind. Though, to be frank, I always liked In Utero better.

But still, unlike many MusicHeads out there, I'm not retracing my adolescent album steps back to overly reverent re-spinning's of the grungebreaking/groundbreaking album ~ (Do you wonder, as SPIN did, what Nirvana means to you?)

I'm rockin a pair of strutting, new-wave-tinged pop-rock ditties by locals, The Prime Ministers, who, having just played the ever-charming and beer-splattered DIY Street Fair, recently put out a mini-digi-EP on their bandcamp. 

"Missed You Again" puts funky falsettos and spacey, disco-glittered showers of synthesizers atop rock's meat-and-potato-plate of jangly guitars, booming bass and punchy percussion. 
"True Believer" keeps the danceability flexing with tight, treading rhythms and a fiery, fuzzed guitar kicking and soaring under the chorus - sounding like a not-so-distant cousin to similar local shake-up-pop-stylists like Johnny Headband or the Electric Six.

~~(Take a listen)...~~

But anyhow, back to that whole Nirvana-commemoration-thing...
This Saturday, at the Blind Pig (in Ann Arbor), there's a Nirvana Tribute Show - featuring:  Err..., Counter Cosby, Las Dragos, Sharky and the Habit, Mumble, and The Bobby Electric, along with new collaborations~~Dive (members of Red, White and Booze),
and Negative Creeps (featuring Chris Taylor from Blue Snaggletooth/Scott Morgan's Powertrane, Fred Thomas of City Center / Swimsuit and Dave Sharp from Mol Triffid/Dave Sharp Secret 7/ The Melvins).

So then, -Negative Creeps features Chris Taylor, who plays guitar in Ann Arbor based Blue Snaggletooth, who recently unearthed an album radiating with metal-tinged, psyche-scorched power-ballad potency. As Autumn sets on, they're essentially re-emphasizing their Summer release, Dimension Thule, bolstered now with it's recently-arrived proper album artwork) - while they simultaneously gear up for next month's YpsiFest (playing Oct 14th, in the middle of the Woodruff-hosted 4-day-long 39-band-packed event).

"Swords of Atlantis" comes crashing in on a wave of tumbling, tension-building drums before dualing guitars ignite with grimacing, rickety riffs under throaty, anthemic lyrics regaling the "...time of the Old Ones," back when the "Earth was shrouded in fear..." The aggressive rip and roar of these guitars compliment the mythical murk and cosmic conjurings of the album's over-arching aesthetic, plenty of freaky fuzz and rust-flaked fire spew and swirl over broodishly propulsive blues-wrung grooves.

It's not all psyche-pummeled space-rock though, there's sublte twangs of gothic-country, howled-out indulgences of post-grunge grit, cathartic spills of blues riffs, and of course, plenty of pedals echoin' and alterin' the six string surge.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blogging Out of Turn

Music writing, the life of it, demands the watching-of-one's-steps, mister, let me tell you...

Sometimes we're jaded, but other times it might just be that we're cranky, that we probably just need a nap.

One's in a constant struggle against apprehensions over propping one band...when yer mind drifts so swiftly to how oh-so-fleeting these blogs can be...

I only make you suffer through such superfluous prefacing because I tripped up on my typing out such a phrase varying the age old hyperbole: see this band now before they get big... Shit, I've said that about local bands too... You can never tell.

I'd like to say it, now, here, about this Minneapolis quintet rolling into the Lager House on Friday (their 2nd Detroit-stop in less than 6 months)... Sleeping In The Aviary. And, not just because they had the gall, gusto and gallantry to produce a 12-minute infomercial for their upcoming album in which they give you 70-second clips of each song - each dressed with it's own theme, background, costumes and time period.

It's because I saw them those months-prior and their oomph, their vigor their kaleidoscopic kicks made me feel as though these fervid baroque-bending psychedelia-dorks could be tapping the same kind of tweaked-twee-panache as the Elephant 6 collective's heydays...

But, then again - Fri, Sept 23 @ zee Lager House - could be a tempting show, also, due to the fact that (just as before, 6 months prior) they'll be backed up by local "neo-gypsy" danz-rawk quintet Pink Lightning.

Said local group is currently wrapping up their first proper full length (after last winter's debut EP, listen here). When DC caught up with PL's lead yowler Chris Butterfield, he assured that progress was...progressing...on that record. But that, also, in the meantime, he and PL's Leo McWilliams were forming a new band Future Oldies - calluding Marco Polio/Pupils singer Steve Puwalski on drums, with Phantom Cats/Woodman bassist Adam James and the Ashley's Tom Bahorski on guitar...

Via a Facebook telegram, Butterfield reported that "it's sounding GREAT and -look for a performance sometime in November." Outside of PL and Future Oldies, Butterfield will also be lending his distinctive pipes for some back-up vocals to a forthcoming track with hip/hop duo Passalacqua

^Phantom Cats, as referenced above, are also on this show's bill.

As are the Handgrenades, a quartet of adroit pop-song composers gifted with some comparable harmonic abilities to bolster their incorrigible knacks for stringing and strumming indelible hooks (likely a symptom of their substantial auditory deits of Brit-pop). Bassist Nick Chevillet reported that HG's are in the studio with renowned Ghetto Recorders' engineer Jim Diamond, an unnamed LP featuring 10 songs that they hope to put out by this coming January.

"And, if we stop being lazy," Chevillet said, "we plan on releasing a split-vinyl with Jesse & the Gnome before the year is over."

Beyond that, they're going to film a music video at some point, while also shopping for a pop-up camper for an inevitable tour.

So there you have it...

I can tell you that I think Sleeping In The Aviary have that oh-so-dubious je ne sais quoi that sends bands a blazing through blogs and subsequently onto bigger stages... But maybe not? Either way, it's half-true that this is your only chance to see them... Because if you don't go, they'll feel burned that they drove here for nothing... (But such is always the case for a touring band, no?)

Let's end this post before it goes on for three more pages...

Friday, September 16, 2011


  • For the fourth year in a row, much of the metro-area's musicians will swarm into the crook of Troy Street nestled between the two towers of tipsy, Emory & W.A.B., for Ferndale's DIY Street Fair. Things are already under way, with reverlers huddling into the Loving Touch in school-night defiance being sufficiently charmed and rocked by the potent jazz/garage/blues hybrids of Jeecy & the Jungle, amongst others...- But more words will be spilled (just like the hundreds of chippable plastic cups made all sticky by the froth of Porters) on this subject later on...I'm sure

  • If you're looking for something more poignant, more profound, please consider the 1st Annual Blair's Crowded House -Hastings Street / Tangent Gallery: 40 artists come together to remember the recently deceased poet/musician/performer and cultural sparkplug. This is "an homage to the Crowded House show Blair created and hosted yearly in an effort to expose the Detroit community to a variety of its homegrown artists." (
In other news, reported this morning by both the Free Press and Detroit News, it seems much of the MI has been taken out of this weekend's MI Music Festival - including the Juliets (forthcoming album cover inset), Bear Lake and recent-Third Man Records-collaborators, the Thornbills. However disconcerting, it was however inevitable due to low ticket sales. Was this more of an extraneous festival? Would local rock heads have just as soon preferred to get their Raconteurs'-fix a bit closer to home, maybe at a Fillmore show? Whatever quibbles or debates flumed like white noise across comment boards will be irrelevant come Sunday morning...

UPDATE: from the Free Press - "Two local bands pull out of first-ever MI Fest" ... " respect to the canceled artists, who include such Michigan acts as the Howling Diablos, Alto Reed and Jill Jack." (The Thornbills are back on the bill).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We played scenes / certain dreams / can make me stop and stare... But not so strong / to move along / and act like I don't care...

Melody and hooks over fuzz and pummel...
(Hospital Garden's Haunter)

Somewhat 2nd-cousins of the Michigan music scene, Chicago's Hosptial Garden have spent the last couple years honing their dashing drones of feedback, piston-punched percussion and bendy-twisty solos to further elevate a knack for that distinctively sweet/sour, exquisite/cacophonous sensibility akin to seminal indie-rock. The band look to augment both sides of their coins on this, the noise gets noisier, the punk-elements get punkier, the sweet melodies get more poignant and the softer ballads bring the vocals further up front for full articulated sentimental affect -

Hospital Garden - Rough Year by DC/Milo

-"Rough Year" flexes much more muscle, grit and gnarliness upon the growling guitars and their pedal-grated riffs eventually winding it's way, wildly into a theremin-yowled acceleration to the point where the song seems to start barrel-rolling over top of itself. "Midway" and "Ties" are both singed at their frames with acerbic feedback garnish, while "Pact" pares it back for a more nostalgic traipse that's not afraid to let in a bit of an Americana twang and march up to cathartic choruses.

Hear and Watch a live performance with Small Chicago, below...

Hospital Garden- Pact from Milk Products on Vimeo.

More info on Hospital Garden - @ Arts Vs. Entertainment

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've been listenin...

I always take too long writing about Quentin's music...risking to psyche myself out, or perhaps just over think the right way to describe the mystical ways in which his chiming acoustic guitars match the high wispy tones of his voice, thus that one closes his eyes and sees nothing but hazy, half-remembered day-dreams of autumn outings, sepia sheens spilled cross your eyes with crickets in your ears and cider biting the back of your throat...

It's like you can feel loose woodchips caught inside your birkenstocks...

See? ...did it again...  I don't know why, maybe it's like huffing that last rose of summer for whatever aestival intoxications it still bears...
Just like the last time I'd written about the Ypsi-area songwriter's late winter EP (which acted as a prequel of sorts for this LP, North). Only now, it is getting on to autumn and I'm all that much more bewitched by his percolating folk brew bridging indie-to-Americana... a worthy successor to the elegant and emotive, rich and rousing contemporary folk expositions laid down by mid-Michigan acoustic-slung lyricists (be it Bathgate, Bergeron, Monger or Milia...)

Here, as before, Quentin is disntinguished by his intertwining of whispery sunset sonnets ("The Ground, It's Glass") to propulsive rousings stirring hunger for hte road ("In The Lawn"), either buzzed with the saw of violins ("The spill of every hill is in my pocket...") or pared back so delicately you can hear his fingers streak across the frets as his breathy belts quaver and almost break.

His arrangements are flourished with the chime of pianos, the spilly strum of acoustic guitars and the measured tumble of brushed/tapped percussion, recorded out in Ann Arbor at Backseat Studios and the Lake House. You can find it at Small Houses' Bandcamp starting October 6th - (with an Ypsi appearance at the Dreamland Theatre on Oct 9th).

Monday, September 12, 2011

It Writes You

When MC Benjamin Miles "Begin(s) The World," he starts talking about lyrical bars that expose the most honest exhibition of one's self, one's experiences, one's perspectives, the bars that act as one's "rebuttal" to the world, and the presentation of one's self through that righteous and rhythmic cadence distinctive to the hip/hop beat - over the meticulous arrangements of Eddie Logix, utilizing 70's soul nocturnes, left-field space-bop jazz and psychedelic surf grooves.

Their new album, "Play It Forward," came out over the weekend on Five30 Music. Spliced samples are intricately lain under Miles' earnest confessions and cultural call-outs (see: "Sickness & Health"), weaving together breathy organs and sinuous brass as smooth as silk at some points but snaky and avant-garde at others, while Miles words and voice sound girded by a cool and assured confidence.

Miles cut his teeth with hip/hop collective Of Mice & Musician and will be a featured cameo on Passalacqua's forthcoming follow up, out sometime this season. Logix, meanwhile, has his own songs out that you can you can dig, as well as a recent collaboration with Mobil.

2 (of 3)

As Autumn slowly sets upon our suburban scene, so does the long-awaited LP from Prussia...
who, you can see live Sunday night, as part of Ferndale's assuredly spirited musical-blowout, DIY 


Since I'm not ready to write about autumn leaves... I'll write about punx...

However curious and/or heartening, Detroit is developing some substantial bonds to out-of-towner rock acts - with the recently girded camaraderie between Conspiracy of Owls' Robert Harlow to the Anaheim-CA-based Burger Records and the sporadic returns of up-and-coming scuffed psyche twangers Natural Child to fill bills with Detroit's resident punk crowd (i.e., among others, the balls-out brevity bashers in Kommie Kilpatrick, who recently put out a new tape via their drummer's label).

Through the mid-to-late 00's, perceptions swirled amongst touring bands that we were somewhat of an unattractive stop that was an otherwise out-of-the-way-swing interrupting an ideal route from Chicago-to-Cleveland-to-New-York only to have an underwhelming, under-attended show.

Comes a time when we need to network outside of our state, just as Harlow (who recently welcomed warped-soul/psyche-pop song slinger King Tuff to our town to lay down tracks for a forthcoming record), other bands like Gardens are putting things out on California labels.

In any case - on Thursday you can catch Harlow's fellow Burger-ite, Hunx & His Punx (imagine if John Waters was the Ramones' manager), at the Lager House. Ypsi/Arbor sinuous surf-tinged rock quartet Swimsuit opens up, along with the aforementioned Natural Child (who hail from Nashville) and noisy charms and clattery pop-rock of the Pizazz (another recent Burger addition).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Frankenstein's PB & J

There's a very real possibility that...we've...
as the Carpenters once odiously cooed...

Only Just Begun

That, or I'm just an easily convinced Pollyanna...

Hindsight can render bluntly refreshed perspective. Local sensations flicker, seemingly incandescent with "buzz" that raises brows at the back of the bar and keeps the word on the street whirling - certain bands keep circulating as the go-to answer for the murmuring hipsters trading drowsy late-afternoon conversation about what shows they'll be checking out this weekend.

--Oh, well, ya know,... So and So's playin tonight at the A-B-&-C I was thinkin...

--When do you think they go on?

--Man, they're so awesome. At their last show they...
Well, the heat of the moment can be deliciously/deliriously deceptive... I say this now because I'm reflecting, perhaps a bit mistily, that a considerable amount of local bands that were the humble, rough-hewn soundtrack to my local-music-maturation (or rock-refinement) have broken up, some considerably long ago, some just recently, or if not, just slowed down or fizzled in the past year.

impressive performances of late from bands like K.I.D.S., GLOSSIES, Pupils and, yes, even Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr... (and probably 8 others that I'm forgetting), communicated to me the true benefits of living in a busy/animated arts community - call it the Frankenstein effect, if you want... (or, maybe I want to) - a new creature formed from an amalgam of other parts - re-utilization, reanimation, etc etc etc...

Bands formed from other bands, bands coalescing from the components of recently disbanded-bands.

A local band gets started, gets its buzz, gets its first album out-- turns some heads, plays some memorable shows and...inevitably... gets its own little tag for having this sound and this style and this character...somehow, ludicrously albeit, applying a sonic identity to the players involved in said-band. Oh, that one drummer dude from the goth band?

It's nothing new, it's just the sign that a scene's current generation (let's say it lasts, now, a good 5-ish years?) has reached a metamorphosis. Roots have gone real deep and intertwined...thus that, what blossoms above is that much more dazzling.

The network lines form a thick knotty web, this band knows that band knows the other band and you set up a show through that guy who knows this band who played that joint and also has friends in another band out of town.

It runs itself.

With bands placing their songs up on the internet for free, it suggests that, however mad it may make them seem in a capitalist society, it ostensibly means more to them to merely get their songs heard then to $ell an album. Is it too much a stretch to then suggest that they are just as capricious with locally-bred bands (or should we call them projects? Something more fitting to an experiment).

I've not had enough coffee yet to think through to the conclusion. Plus, I'm not in a band. I can't speak from experience on the bonds and convictions involved...
The rewarding part of being in this community is getting the chance to see so many musicians flex their adaptability to other styles and other players via these new bands -bands where they're mixing in with very distinctive musicians who, in turn, are also flexing their own signatures upon the undulating new aesthetic, who, respectively, are likely known 'round town for whatever identity the 'scene' applied them from whatever other past bands they had...

And, like that paragraph above, it all starts to spill atop itself... That girl from this band, this singer from that band, the artist who was doing this kind of sound is now blending with this bassist and now they're making something that's steadily finding its own weird voice...

And it makes you realize that you are attracted to this new weird voice more so than the initial weird voice that bent your ear a year ago...

Maybe...we should call it the peanut-butter and jelly effect?

Or maybe I'm just in the heat of the moment...

Maybe we haven't only just begun... Maybe the healthy thing is to just keep searching beginnings? If not, then one gets jaded that much faster.

But I'm wrapping this up before I start sounding too ... too...