Monday, September 1, 2014

Listening: Sleepless Inn

The Detroit-based duo Sleepless Inn debuted their brand of ambient nocturna-pop back in April with The Rainbow Room EP - Listen: "Lucky Penny" by Sleepless Inn.

The hip-hop-informed beat production of Eddie Logix supplements Laura Finlay's melodic sunshine-soul. The songs evoke the soundtrack of that dizzied inspirado that strikes amid the stark midnight milieu of city streets as they finally quiet down for the night - the loud kind of quiet that softly throttles your ears when the cars stop, the lights go low and the ringing of the world's distracting din fades away so that crisper beats and mellower melodies can percolate to the top.

Ultra-faint guitar samples resonate beneath Finlay's multi-tracked harmonization while a bulky bass booms out simple blurts like a resting heartbeat over scuffed-sounding rattly hooks.

"Escalators" was released last week - but it's just the latest production during whats proving to be a busy summer for Eddie Logix. 

Logix released an instrumental mixtape six weeks ago called Back Pages. This is some of Logix' most spaced-out trips, 3am-escapist fare, spiked with funk guitars and strutting brass ("Braincloud") and haunted with ambient drones and marching percussion ("Sunday Sage"). Logix has honed his knack for cerebral, evocative soundscapes, trundling beats jutting up against celestial synth reverberations and swooning bass tones splashed against rubbery guitar riffs, all of it swirling together, in and out of slower or faster grooves, capricious, like a busy brain's meditation on the edges of a dream as it switches it's beguiling samples. Oh, and...but of course, you'd sneak in a Dylan sample for these "...back pages..."

Not as overtly avant-garde as Flying Lotus and not as old-school revivalist as Yesterday's New Quintet - but somewhere in the middle - something closer to Dabrye, perhaps?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Listening: Mic Write - Code Green

Minute's up / don't know where it's gone
Life is very short / and there's no tiiii iiime

The transmission provides the power for the car's engine. There will be no going forward without it. No drive.

Transmission also involves communication - the sending of information in various forms, an expression of emotion embodied by beats, a confessional spill supplied in rhyme, a poignant punch coiled with nostalgic funk, soul and cool shit samples.

The blippy warble of radio frequencies blur into soothing strings and rousing choir. Our protagonist comes in, full tilt declarative bout the new shit he's on...presenting himself, bracing himself, setting the scene...setting the tone.

Listen: Transmission Start

A lot of other car metaphors come back into play for the libidinous "Day Job," a hazy-spacey R&B ballad with an indelible hook, sensual samples and plenty of blushable bits about chases and shaking chevys.

Listen: Day Job

"Where are we going...? / what car are we fitting the crew in...?" Themes of finding something through the art of the rap; a renewed inspiration, a respite from the wear of the rat race, a resolve to continue despite disenchantment or unfortunate karmic consequence, these have been explored, expanded and returned to by many in the #CoOwnaz collective, including Cold Men Young, which includes Mic Write. Fittingly, "Triple Fat Goose" opens with Stevie Wonders' cover of Paul McCartney's "We Can Work It Out...," particularly that now-or-never sentiment of how life is very short... We must be wary, then, of how we spend our time...

"If time is money than how am I spending my minutes?"

These are some of Mic Write's best, most earnest lyrics and Jay Norm knocks it out of the park -if just for that slamming beat that rattles the whole foundation of the track after Wonder's distorted vocals warble away...but also for that brooding bass that swaggers under the vocal track. That hook, that wavy sway and slide of the bass lick then lends itself to the low, guttural flourish of the chorus...

"Tell me how you livin / is it good to ya?"

It's a song that starts at the shifting of the seasons...from the bleak cold of winter to the rejuvenating warmth of spring and summer. Transmission...

But where are we going?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Matt Jones & The Reconstruction - Deep Enders -

Dodging wild pendulum swings 

It is futile now, to even try giving up that ghost, my friend.

 If you’ve got skeletons in your closet, you best teach them to dance.

“Mem-ory / wants / me / dead.” There’s such calm pacing to your singer’s delivery, the voice a thickened whisper over quavering strings, restless cellos, placid guitar strums.

Matt Jones picks up his guitar like an astral sword and wields the dull, hulking thing towards the neck of his nightmares; an aboutface, turning, back, back, back to the past, marching with it, speared over his head, to slay, to exorcise, to cast out…the darkest things… to (merely attempt) to deny his what he fears to be his destiny.

Oh, the heavy records and the beauty they bring. That feeling…when your eyes adjust to the midnight-black of a disparate wilderness., there’s illumination enough, here… submersing oneself into the cloudy bog of the past for a late summer’s swim; a pool made murky by your immortal mistakes, with bruise-tinted lilies floating atop eerily calm surface ripples that deceive the more furtive entities that burrow and snap their plaquey, creaky jaws throughout the darker streams toward the very bottom.

The Reconstruction’s orchestral arrangements, the bows upon cello, violin and bass, can rake with cathartic roughness, like scythes into webby grain; but then they can sooth with the next song’s more tranquil traipse. There’s an almost cinematic melodrama to the rustling tremolos building up into pretty lullaby-ish plumes of breathy choirs; there’s nostalgia to some of the folkishly curled melodies and radiance to the tones achieved on that reverb-flecked guitar intertwining with the ever-flickering fingerpick upon the acoustic guitar, there’s richness to the baroque-recalling accompaniment, these sumptuous, yet austere strings affecting an inevitable epic-ness, the soul-shaking reckoning that one only finds in the clarity of first light when that illusive sunlight you long for disintegrates a dream you’d been lost in for too long…

Imagery abounds, allegories to the civil war and torn photographs of taverns, history-book entries of ancestors whose faded-echo-heroism ever-shadows your poetic self-deprecation, the idealized love or loves of your life, your past lives, dancing and denting your memories as you try to mold them into a song that could be so sweet with its devastatingly beautiful melodies and precious pairings of crisp acoustics and sighing strings…. Could be sweet… could be surreal…

I’ve done enough writing…done enough talking to you about the ineffable sublimity of some of these songs…

Just listen:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Baptism - Passalacqua - CHURCH

"Ravenous...these ones that are left to salvage..."

I press play and immediately press the headphones snug against my ear. It's not loud enough.
I turn it up just 12 words into the first rap and there's a feeling of ascension with the choir, even though their chanting something as colloquially endearing as...
"Ohhhh, YEAH!" 

"Trying to keep my composure, wise enough not to call myself soldier" 
"I don't see another way / no, I sure do hope that all this pounding on my chest wasn't done in vein..." 

What do you do with that beat? Rock the body, shimmy shoulders? Nod the head with neck-kinking catharsis...? ...Or are we supposed to march? To stomp? Brace the knees and stand taller? 

This isn't proselytizing as much as it's instilling. It's not damning, it's emboldening. It's a rap that doesn't just point to the splay and spill of broken pieces...but resolves to pick them up. Fit them back together. 

Oh, but it's also not idealistic, preachy protest-rap. No, It's rap that does just as Mister says... pounds right on your chest. Ya' know, part of a baptism involves a regeneration. And that's one of the key ideas here, on this collaboration between Passalacqua and SYBLING

But the biggest idea is a bracing, a building, a galvanizing... of, what? You, yourself? This area? The style of music, hip-hop? New levels of production with those body-rocking bass booms and jitter-juking synth-chirps, new possibilities of genre-fusion? Possibly all of that.

There's these guttural spitfire raps, the words still serrated from the MC's teeth as they seethe out (and soothe away some spite), "Original mystic, evangelist gone ballistic, words with a man on a mission...and it all started out from a vision..." And then the choir's celestial voices coalesce again as the chorus comes in, belted as if nearly breathless, like the singer's assuring herself that her crescendo reaches the rafters: "this World's my drug..."

It's telling that, during Mister's opening rap, there's pitch-shifted samples of other voices repeating "Hit 'em."
Hit them.
Hit them. If that's what it takes, right?

The final chorus comes in and it starts to feel like something's dawning upon you; not like any heavenly light coming over the distant dark horizons (though the arrangement of synthesized strings, guitars and drums, mixed in such away, certainly does evoke a certain mystical radiance), but, no, it's like a widening of perception. That there is this whole fucking world, yawning and yelling and dying and living, all around you; big, enveloping, broken apart, surrounding you and your headphones. 

Turn it up more. Headphones, press em closer. The bass samples swoon, heavier, louder, and you feel like you're in a cement truck mixer and those snapping beats start to feel more like the alleviation of a pain you'd grown too used to to even feel anymore. Now, cleansed.. Back, alive. Braced, galvanized.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Third Wave Music

So, pretty soon, a new music store will open up in Detroit dedicated to establishing itself as "the best support system" for local musicians.

Third Wave Music will, eventually, be a full-service musical instrument shop; " and used gear, retail accessories, lessons, repairs and locally made goods!"

The Detroit Music Federation estimates upwards to 10,000 full time musicians in the Detroit area, but no substantial outlet for them to obtain supplies, equipment, replacements or lessons for the upkeep and continued evolution of their craft.

But more than just a locally owned and operated Guitar Center or some Detroit-version of a Memphis Drum Shop, this place, Third Wave Music, aspires to be a gathering place not only for obtaining strings, sticks, new keys or new reeds, but also for an overarching meeting-of-the-creative minds -of Detroit, for tutorship, for networking, for soundboarding in order to seek a renewal of inspiration. A musical place to meet.

So... who's behind this?
Jen David - daughter of a jazz musician father and a mother who ran a music store...(both of them integral influences for her, particularly as she works toward Third Wave's realization).
Get to know her

What inspires most idealistic ventures? Frustration.

David, who sings/performs/writes with local groups like Mama Roux and Illy Mack, also teaches a handful of budding students, part of her participation in the Detroit Music Teachers Collective. But the commute, from her home in Hamtramck out to the suburbs to see her students, was taking up time (and gas money, not to mention) as well as the extra time she'd have to devote to her day job.

So, A.) she needed that vital "creative time" that all musicians/artists need...but could never find the right balance of scheduling.
That's frustrating.
But, more importantly
B.) Why is there no reliable resource/outlet for musicians to obtain the supplies (and the education) they need, centrally located near downtown Detroit?
That's also frustrating.

"I had to make a plan forward," said David. "I just was never sure if I was ready to sacrifice creative time for business time. I realized, talking to other entrepreneurs, how rewarding all of this hard work could be. Kelli, from Wheelhouse Detroit, really encouraged me. 'Just do it!' she basically said.

"I really want to make a place, locally, where teachers can teach without getting stressed out by a commute..."

You can vote for Third Wave Music via the Hatch Detroit Contest -for entrepreneurs to obtain securing, start-up grants. Click here.

The store "will exist, definitely" with or without the grant...but the grant assures that this business will thrive, right from the get-go. Think about it: more used gear, more free community lessons, better soundproofing... And an overall welcoming, supportive and encouraging environment - a business owned by an enthusiastic woman musician who knows, having been raised by her mother, what it's like to run a music store.

"Many ladies I know," David said, "dread having to buy anything from (a music store), with having to deal with the sexist comments from the 'guitar store guy.'"

The name is a reference to the sound of a third, in music (two notes played together.) "It's harmonious and makes me feel positive," said David. "But, yes, it is also a feminist reference. As a feminist, I know it's important for women to have positions of power in male dominated fields."

Third Wave Music will be located in Forest Arms, with renovations slated to be finished by June of 2015.

The store will open shortly thereafter.

If it sounds like a good idea, you can vote here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Currently Listening: Turn To Crime

Detroit trio Turn To Crime released their debut album last month (via Mugg & Bop records). Defying preconceptions of psych, glam and out-there rock music and clattering it together into a groovy, yet gnarly new sound that has faint gusts of friendly pop under the crustier distortion's grimace.

A new video was released at the end of July, view and watch:

Pertinent info:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Passalacqua, SYBLING, Right Brothers, "Baptism" and CHURCH (Revival)

"The idea is that CHURCH is a space. A space for release, worship, exercising demons, the whole works. If we all come together, we can raise hell. Or heaven. Which ever you prefer."
--Brent (Blaksmith) Smith - on Passalacqua's Church - a collaboration with SYBLING (founding members of Flint Eastwood).

"Coming together as a coalition, yes, and also showing how strong the coalition is. Busting walls, wielding microphones as hammers. Restoring authority with art." --Smith

The Right Brothers - filming Jax Anderson (SYBLING), with Bryan Lackner, a.k.a. Mister and Smith - for the video of "Baptism" - premiering 'The Baptism' at 'The Revival' on the 26th.

7/26 - Eight and Sand - 3901 Christopher St, Hamtramck, Michigan 
Church: Revival
An Album Release Party 
ft. Tunde Olaniran, Open Mike Eagle, Nothing Elegant, Charles Trees, Dante LaSalle, SYBLING and the film by The Right Brothers 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Methodist Girls

Nathan K. has unpacked some ghosts, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them just awkward, but all of them get addressed, nonetheless and with a poignant earnestness, here; Methodist Girls is the soundtrack of a songwriter reflecting while being reflective, letting you inside as well as just exploding outward.

The K. stands for our Ann Arbor-ite’s given name, Klages. He’d recently helped his mother move out of the house in which he grew up. “I’m not so glad (that) I visited …back here…” he sings on “Most Birthdays” with his distinct voice, a nasally thing that wisps along with a soft chill like a sleepy autumnal breeze. How do you not write a record when, after digging through all the manuscripts and childish artifacts of your past, you become flush with so many disparate emotions – rewinding, reminding, but not necessarily trying to forget, just, trying to dissect, through song, with an acoustic guitar and rolling strings, light percussive claps and some warming chimes, more orchestral-pop than the folk/country vibe of his first two records.

“I had this vision to make the record sound like something akin to “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles,” Nathan K. said. “Darin Rajabian (of Nightlife) and I recorded this in St. Joseph between my tours with Stepdad, back in the middle of the winter. We were finishing the Nightlife record just before and we had a lot of time to discuss how we wanted (Methodist Girls) to sound during the much needed breaks from the studio. I think we did a good job of creating this lush, big sounding…but…also still very intimate feeling acoustic pop record.”

He finds all these notebooks filled with na├»ve, blunt love songs to the girls he met at summer camp, knowing, now, as an adult male churning through his 20’s, that these coming-of-age blips from his past must have meant something to him, then, so that now, they could or should, mean just as much. That’s why he and Rajabian spent so much time discussing, arranging and recording these songs, going so far as to meticulously research preamps and different recording techniques.

Well, they also took their time because those Stepdad tours forced them to stop and start, here and there. But, there’s a palpable carefulness in the songwriter and producer’s crafting of these songs.
As a songwriter it was nice to look back at things I wasn't afraid to say, mostly because I didn't know any better, and that had a huge effect on my writing for this record- saying and sharing things I never thought i would say in my music- it's my most personal music I’ve ever made.”

Album will be available on CD (via bandcamp) and digital (itunes, bandcamp, amazon, spotify)

Friday, June 27, 2014

All The Wild Children

All The Wild Children sound like freedom…

…like  barefoot jogs through the thorny brush, fearless of barbs, bugs or whatever kind of bacteria breeding in the puddles at the edge of that swamp that you intend to swim through – it is a muddy kind of rock, an elbows-up, let’s-go-right-now, the sun-is-out kind of sound. Read off the song titles from their recently released super-EP Songs From The North, “The Ropes” (makes you want to swing out, right, on some splintery-twined strand slung from an oak branch) or “SunSick,” sounds like a bad trip or a day-long party taken just too far, but it still embodies that nuanced electrified feel to their particular brand of psych-rock, something supernatural that beckons you to either let loose or just run outside. Or how about “Mountain Lion?” Wild, man!

 This outfit, which started as a quartet and played several shows in Woodruffs as part of an Ypsi-based collective of rock acts known as Ghost Family, has gone through some membership shuffling, but still retains its core.

All The Wild Children perform with Ypsi’s own Lizerrd, tomorrow night (Saturday) in Hamtramck (at Small’s Bar).
Songs From The North is murky, it’s twangy, it’s not metal and not hard rock and not entirely psychedelic-soul, but somewhere, in the middle of the bubbly bog, wades all the children, wild!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Start The Summer

There are few songs that have so profoundly evoked the emerald green explosiveness, the mosquito-bite madness, the humid-night / riled-up run-amok, the fulsome fire heat, head-on-a-swivel, super-soaker-slip-and-slide, bike-breaking NOWNESS of SUMMER TIME ...MORE....than THIS song.

I know it's the middle of the year, right now, and we should probably follow-suit of other blogs and reel off a list of the "Best So Far." But it's 2014 and you don't need a blog to do that for you. You have your own list.

Today's my brother's birthday - so, fittingly, I'm unabashedly bucking "internet" trends and "looking back" at an "older" song -that features two BROTHERS at the front of it (with an awesome Kalamazoo-bred drummer keeping time). This song IS summer.

So happy summer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Track By Track - DUENDE's Mezcal

1.) "One More Time"

Duende's new album opens with a storm of a song called "One More Time," a boogie-sledge-strutter that sings of that special bloodshot, sweat-beaded bedlam we all have found ourselves caught in, one weekend or another, where the songs just don't end and friends keep piling in around the turntables, assuring we're always willing and ready to whirl around just one more time, provided the wine bottle ain't empty yet and the stylus needle ain't worn out.

Singer/guitarist Jeff Howitt:
"One More Time started around a fictional weekend that never ended. Starting over at Pookie (from The Beggars) house then over at Ryan Dillaha's (front man for The Miracle Men) where we shout out a bunch of our favorite recording artists. Then end up at Loving Touch where we've held court with our monthly showcase DUENDESDAY. We even work in our long time Friends of Rock 'n' Roll, The Oscillating Fan Club, "Party Hat" literally into the outro. I always loved that the early Rock 'n' Roll songs were mostly about People and Places not some vague emotional situation. Something you could see in your imagination."

2.) "Mezcal"

Track two is also the "title track" for the LP, Mezcal, which will be released on Saturday via Bellyache Records. Guitarist Joel ("Jelly Roll") McCune channels the spirits of both Link Wray and the Ventures and then jettisons the thing about 8-miles-high into spacier, more psych-freaked territories with some groovy flits of noise. Oh, and that's the legendary McKinley Jackson on the organ, adding integral soulful ambiance.

Guitarist Joel McCune:
"I have a very difficult time sorting through my musical inspirations and translating them coherently. I have always had great reverence and respect for the folk forms: country, rockabilly, bluegrass, blues, jazz. You know, the oral history of song and the language of music as it is passed from generation to generation. But, many people listen to the blues and feel there is a lot of plagiarism, which really isn't true. It is a language. There are certain rules. Certain times when you use a musical adjective rather than a musical preposition. They all know where the commas go and where the quotation marks are inserted. It isn't plagiarism, it is respect of the form, and it is your responsibility to figure out how to get your own idiosyncrasy into it. When I say blues, I mean the original, old timey blues. Skip James, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Not Stevie Ray...
   On the other side of the coin, I love music that destroys tradition. Sonic Youth, early Butthole Surfers, punk, post punk, Neubauten, noise...."

3.) Herstory

Wordless backing vocals imbue their haunting, distorted melody into your ears as this otherwise slower tempo rock song starts to slime its way into those noisier, cathartic territories that McCune referenced above. The guitars become rusty buzzsaws over steady drums that shoulder their way through a storm of feedback, while the overlay of different vocal parts, high falsettos, mid-range and low growls, certainly gets pretty trippy.

"Probably about as close as we can get to Doo-Wop at this point! Started with a riff I played at various tempos until Laura and I jammed on it one day and she ended up "Ba-Bop-Bop-Bop-Ba" singing the riff back and it clicked. This song really depends on the elemental and oozing fuzz dynamic. Where on the past few releases we honed in on the arranging of parts in the songs this time around our strategy revolved around the Sonic features. The lyrics also play off gender themes and power. History is written by the victors but Herstory is written by who knows the Truth."

"Our philosophy was to capture and document what happened in the studio on a particular day or days, and let that document stand. Very few overdubs, very few takes, we weren't trying to make the perfect record. To me, I believe trying to achieve perfection in the studio will only capture some of the most lifeless and rote performances ever! We went for the opposite."

4.) Devil Do

Those organs come back in for this Holly Golightly cover and we play with tempo - demonstrating Duende's characteristic here-and-there, this-but-also-that, unpredictability, going from a shuffle, to a steadier toe-tapper, to a faster, knees-up kicker.

"We arranged this specifically for Theatre Bizarre last year and it has stayed in our set. Their has always been the Light and the Dark. Perceptions of Good and Evil. Sides. Always have to have a Side, right? The Devil is classic in theme. I've never written a song with heavy handed morals but this song and it's nature spoke to us as a performance piece that accelerates with each verse. 

5.) He Meant No Harm

Devil Do fades away...and we fade back into this one, with two overlaying guitars--one reverberating dazzling with a lilting riff over another grinding an agitated, sizzling rhythm, while bass and drums start subtly accelerating into a punchy overdrive. It's another instrumental, but a bit more cinematic, like shunting a chrome, flame-wreathed Semi down a gravelly, Route-66-type road under ultraviolet skies and evading varying apocalyptic circumstances threatening from behind...a chase... Ah, the inherent drama that Duende can evoke in their strange, psychedelic compositions.

"....and it's our first fade out! We recorded DEVIL DO and this together and decided to split the two sides of the record with them. Again some have taken this song to represent dual gender perspectives. Most songs if you listen narrate from the masculine..."

6.) Damn

The aerodynamic, burn the place down, country-punk tantrum - just two minutes, surfing in and out over voraciously wavy guitars and a rhythm section that, for the first time on the record, finally looses its cool (in the best way possible) and starts joining in on the musical melee.

"We have stretched out songs to over 10 minutes. Churned repetition and mined and opined the atonal. This however became an exercise in pure muscular DUENDE. The ringing out Hard Days Night chord at the beginning. The extra rolled out drumming at the end. I get my foot in the door to spit some lyrics and get it out before the song squeezes it shut."

Duende! began as a philosophy of sort of lawlessness within a structure musically speaking. It is a very liberating way to approach music, but it requires attentiveness and listening."

7.) Burn This Town

This song was recorded during the sessions for their previous record, Murder Doesn't Hide The Truth. Oh, the echoey distortion, the dazzling reverb, the relentless march of the drums, the steady, if feedback shaded, heartbeat of the bass. This is the song in which you lose certainty of which way is up, which way was down... Therapeutic--yes, but a blend of breathing meditation and the sting of electro-shock. Ten minutes long? A blur of guitars, like a slow-motion cyclone. By the end, one did I get here?

"...churning repetition and mined the atonal stretches... The lyrics, in all their apocalyptic gaze,are pulled from News Paper headlines and arranged as William Burrough's suggested in his cut-up theory and practice. Just as you can't take another dip back down to see the scorched Earth the song instrumentally shifts into a sensation of relief and builds until the ground has stopped shaking and you have only what you were left with, and that's different for everyone."

What you were left with...

Mezcal was recorded by Dave Feeny (of Gangplank Records) at Ferndale's Tempermill Studios.

"I live in walking distance from Tempermill studios, and can honestly say that Duende! has no need or desire to record anyplace else. Dave Feeny has become the essential ingredient in our records, the File' to our Gumbo!! He gets us, knows how to get the best performance from us, will give as much or as little input as is necessary, and is just the easiest cat to get along with anywhere! "

May 31st - - 8/9pm @ The New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck

Caveman Woodman & Bam Bam Moss celebrate the release of debut 7" (also on Bellyache Records--with art/design by Annette DeLorean)

Duende will also perform, showcasing songs from Mezcal (with artwork by Tato Caraveo and layout/design by Slasher Dav)

The inimitable Beggars will be joining the party, as well.