Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fallout Fest 3

Saturday, Oct 10
The Loving Touch (22634 Woodward, Ferndale)
8 pm / $10 / all ages 

This Fest is not a Fest...
I mean, you think "Festival" and you see large crowds, greasy food, scant parking, (threatened citations,) jutting tents and over-priced beer...

This is more like an Autumn-time party, a pre-Halloween hootenanny, a post-summer soiree, a Fest without all typical exasperating auxiliaries...

Two rock band dudes, John Morgan and Jesse Shepherd-Bates, started this festival two years ago ostensibly in reaction to (or as a lighthearted parody of...) how ridiculously vibrant and active this local music scene had become, in both the sheer number of bands but also in the present range and variety of genre.

Why not have a music festival forged to celebrate the bands -themselves, the music -itself... A night to let their already-long-hairs-down and raise a pint or two to all the work that goes into this tacit fun of rocking and rolling... And why not curate a killer lineup of talent? Shouldn't be hard in a scene like this...

The lineup is split between two stages, named in accordance with the theme of nuclear fallout...
...Co-headlined by The Muggs and Bars of F'-ing Gold, also featuring The HandGrenades (with Bates as a contributing member) and one of my new favorite bands, Earth Engine... (so get there early)

12:30 - BARS OF GOLD (Wasteland Stage)
12:00 - The Muggs (Bunker Stage)
11:30 - The HandGrenades(Wasteland Stage)
11:00 - MPV (Bunker Stage)
10:30 - George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus (Wasteland Stage)
10:00 - Valley Hush (Bunker Stage)
9:30 - Siamese (Wasteland Stage)
9:00 - The Vonneguts (Bunker Stage)
8:30 - Earth Engine (Wasteland Stage)

$10, All Ages. Doors at 8 pm


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

BLKSHRK: Dial81 & Eddie Logix

Blkshrk (ft. Eddie Logix & Dial81)
Friday  @7pm
2300  17th St., in Detroit


Jellyfish On Cassette is an instrumental "journey" for the listener, led by the mad scientist producers Blair French (Dial81) and Eddie Logix, joining together with their ambient arrangements under the project titled BLKSHRK.

This Friday, ASSEMBLE Sound in downtown Detroit hosts a listening party celebrating the release of this mind-expanding sonic excursion.

Listen/explore Jellyfish On Cassette via Fat Finger Cosmic 

"Leaky Sun Roof" 


Eddie and Blair have composed an album evoking a sense of insular retreat and detached escapism... It draws the shades to block out the city's cacophony ...or it closes the eyes to seek out a lucid dream... It creates a feeling of safety and yet mystery... but it can also widen its peripheries, carry you somewhere like a kite in a gale, out into the  night sky's expanse, where the proverbial stratsopheres envelop the entire nocturnal horizon, the soundwaves as waves wafting you away, the stars wreathed in a haze similar to the neon-turquoise luminescence of the cover...until the next song draws around you another gossamer curtain, and the swell, the oscillation, the melodic hum, the meditative churn....takes you somewhere else... 

...I'm sorry, but that's what ambient music does to you. It sprouts ellipses, it uproots the mind and threads it up stream... And that's particularly the case with "Fin," a 29 minute slow-trance orbit with a coterie of cool, calming tones lilting like a midnight's blanketing of snow, cultivating and stimulating a loud quiet, a startling spaciousness, a dreamvision consciousness where your cerebral planchette begins to move across the oujia board of your mind at its own accord... 

Logix has had some experience dabbling in the boundary-blurring lines of ambient instrumental compositions, but Dial81 garnered particular notoriety through the form with his soundtrack for the Detropia documentary. 

"This is my first time really going this deep into the ambient music genre," Logix admitted. "But, that's one of the reasons why I wanted to work with (Dial81)." Logix, who helped mix and master some of Dial81's earlier ambient projects, including Detropia, admitted that the soundtrack to that documentary formed a lot of the influential bedrock for Jellyfish. "We both come from heavy hip-hop backgrounds, so a lot of our production philosophies are very similar, even when working on the more house- or ambient-esque type stuff. I had a lot of fun working on these tracks..." 

The duo have called this project ambient, but also "blunted house...," a dirty beat-tape music made specifically, but not exclusively, for the cassette format. The tape, which you can check out this Friday night at Assemble Sound, is 60 minutes of original ambient music forged by two collaborative minds, musing on the mysterious inspirations sparked during sleep-deprived nights in Detroit, gazing into the night skies over the train station, stars mottled out by sewer grate smoke. Side A has eight 3-4 minute palatable tracks spanning the first 30 minutes while Side B is comprised entirely of "Fin..." What a trip. 

The two completed the project with the listener's experience explicitly in mind. "Even the mixing and mastering was done in a way to allow for a better cassette-listen," said Logix. " is still pretty cool, too." 

The release party (Oct 9) is supposed to be the ideal listening experience for the tape format, accompanied by projections, a light show and a special installation of floating jellyfish.

"Some of our favorite Detroit DJs are playing," Logix said, "and there's limited edition prints available along with the free digital download paired with the cassette tapes. It's going to be a super chill evening." 

This album's been two years in the works; the first collaborative production between two of Detroit's most dynamic producers. 

It's the debut release for Blair's new label, Fat Finger Cosmic, which focuses on tapes and vinyl with digital supplements.
vibes by ...DTCHPLNESTodd ModesFahrenheit 2040

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sonic Lullaby

Sonic Lullaby, 2015
October 9 / October 10
Trinosophes (1464 Gratiot)
Music starts at 9pm (both nights)

Featuring :
Carl Hultgren 
Visitors Vstrs
Impulsive Hearts
Dark Red
Beset By Creatures of the Deep
Dave Graw

It was just shy of a decade ago…that Detroiters heard their first Sonic Lullaby. 

Well, maybe not everyone in Detroit knew about it, as it was happening… You see, the whole point was to expand an interest in ambient music: experimental, sound-wave shaping pursuits wherein a melody would be smooshed or stretched, spread or slowly wound around itself like a mobius strip… Detroit, back in 2006, was a place for indie-pop, for garage-rock, for hip-hop, stuff that kicked… Ambient music didn’t kick, rather, it massaged or it assailed…it surrounded you or throttled you… It wasn’t something to dance to, it was (or is…) something more cerebral… Some of you might call it “druggy…” or “trippy…”

Paul MacLeod started the Sonic Lullaby after he and fellow ambient composers (from groups like Indian Guides) were discussing how to shine a more welcoming light upon this esoteric music and widen the circle for more ears to listen in on all these strange, sublime sounds… MacLeod joked that they should have a festival with nothing but ambient music, including covering the floor with mattresses so that they could lull everyone to sleep. Facetious self-deprecation aside…the burgeoning community of ambient-rock (or shoegaze, or whatever genre tag you’d like to apply…) were still mustering for more listeners, but it’s not like there were any stand-out darlings or champions of this scene, waving its flag… The idea behind Sonic Lullaby was that every ambient band’s unique insignia or sonic crest could be stictched onto one big, encompassing flag, fluttering for the whole scene to see (and hear) with each musician grasping an edge…

MacLeod took it upon himself, having never done anything like a festival before, to nonetheless arrange a program of music with a full lineup of bands…that was 2006…but on Oct  9 &10, Sonic Lullaby returns… 

MacLeod recalls the first year; hosted at the CAID (Contemporary Art Institute, Detroit), featuring STAR (from Chicago), Sea Turtle Restoration Project (MacLeod’s main project), Geist Ex Bibliotecha, THTX and Sey Lui. MacLeod’s Sea Turtle Restoration Project, or TRTL started in 2005 while he was still in the band Tiny Amps of Corduroy Tuscadero

TRTL was for pieces of music he’d composed that didn't fit with what TACT was doing. He took the name off the back of a soy ice cream container since he didn't think anyone would ever see it. Because there’s actually an organization that uses that name, (and since he was never entirely happy with the moniker,) he changed it to TRTL in 2014. TRTL and Sea Turtle are at the core of every festival….since, essentially, they’re the reason why (Sonic Lullaby) began in the first place… “Without them,” MacLeod said, “I wouldn’t have started the festival in the first place…”

Now, after several Sonic Lullabies, an audience has begun to form, following the strangely enticing spells of ambient music. The hope, someday in the future, would be to take the festival outside…since this music lends itself to the open air….The vibe expressed by both MacLeod and musician Frank Lee (who’s helping out this year) is that they want these Sonic Lullabies to grow bigger, to get better…to be even louder (in a soft, swelling sort of way…). You get the picture, hopefully… If not, then we’ve got an enlightening Q&A with MacLeod and Lee, talking all about Sonic Lullaby 2015.  

Alright, let’s work past these fixations over “genre…” Sonic Lullaby encompasses more than “shoegaze…”More than fuzz pedals or echo or delay or reverb…What does this fest embody...or encompass…or represent? A sound? A feeling?  A shared delirium?
Paul MacLeod:
It's not just about shoegaze and never has been. It is based on a feeling created by all the music featured; mostly, dreamy and swooshy and beautiful. It's music to get lost in. It's music to be engulfed by. Its music to be experienced, not just heard.
Frank Lee:
(Sonic Lullaby) is a celebration of an often ignored or maligned music.  From what I've read, you go back to the early 90’s, after the first few years of 'shoegaze' bands in the UK, Brit-pop was exploding and anybody with delay and reverb pedals or rack mount effect processors were viewed as a plague upon the land.  I'm too young to have known about it the first go-round, but I still remember when I bought Loveless and Souvlaki, or the day I picked up Nowhere by Ride and Raise by Swervedriver, and playing those CDs non-stop.  It definitely lead me into stuff that resonates with me still, be it Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai, or Harmonia and Earth.  While I love that music, there's not a ton of people I can share it with, so maybe something like (Sonic Lullaby) can bring attention to these styles of music and help connect the people who enjoy it.

Sonic Lullaby

Is there a broader conversation that this Fest can start... As if this were a gallery and the noises the bands made were framed art... Can attendees come and experience the throttle of reverb and scattered rhythms and come away with a new perspective on music? Is that one of the ...goals? ....of Sonic Lullaby?
Paul MacLeod:
The goal of Sonic Lullaby and I guess …of all festivals …is to expose the audience to music that they wouldn't have been of aware of otherwise. Someone might come to see 800Beloved and walk away in love with Jura or Dave Graw. Something that they would have never known existed without this festival.
Frank Lee: Well, it would be nice to see more people embrace these sounds for sure.  Ultimately, if someone comes to this and sees something new that inspires them, then that would be the best possible outcome…and however they react to that, or what they take that inspiration and put it into I have no control over.

Frank, you were, and are…first and foremost, a fan of this festival, as well as a participant… Talk about your favorite experiences from past Sonic Lullabies to give folks an idea of what they can expect…
Frank Lee:
Watching Scott Cortez of Star (who also plays in Astrobrite, a group on this year's lineup) playing guitar and using the broken off head of a hockey stick as a slide, …so calmly too, as if it was something every guitar player guitar does.  I also remember watching Sey Lui have some absolutely amazing sets, just destroying everything!  They were the only other local band besides Paik I knew of making epic instrumental music (Rob from Paik will also be playing this year's festival in his more recent project Dark Red).  Paul's done some amazing work with (Sonic Lullaby showcases), and honestly I have a hard time remembering DIY festivals like these happening in Detroit before he started these; it was very eye-opening to me.

What was the particularly exhilarating about these shows… Or how did it help you sort of weave your way deeper into this scene?
Frank Lee:
(Sonic Lullaby) was where I was first able to see live ambient music, particularly with what Sea Turtle and Kindle were doing.  I was friends with these people, but watching them perform this music definitely made me appreciate it more.  And, these performances, along with many conversations with Jason Worden of Kindle and Indian Guides, are what led me into discovering some of Detroit's space-rock legacy, like with Burnt Hair Records out of Dearborn and bands like Asha Vida, and Windy and Carl.  These were people who played amazing shows with great national and international bands back then.  Unfortunately, as is usual with many Detroit bands, there was never enough support from the outside communities and a great legacy of music now sits like a dusty book on a back shelf of a library.

Paul, can you talk about what draws you to these sounds, this style, the dreamy, fuzz-drowned, wavy reverberations…
Paul MacLeod:
I've always believed that the kind of music that you write actually chooses you, you don't choose it. The music that influences you the most is what’s going to come out of you, freely and truthfully. When I started purchasing music, a lot of what I chose were soundtracks, by Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, John Barry, John Carpenter…. I also fell in love with Pink Floyd, who, to those that aren't familiar with ambient or shoegaze, is the band that my music is typically compared to... Those influences and the bands that I've discovered since then, like Slowdive, Windy and Carl, Godspeed You! Black Emperor,... all spoke to me and that's the kind of sound the festival tries to embrace.
Frank Lee: Music like this reminds me of things that are not often considered musical but can be very moving.  Sitting on a beach watching the clouds change and move in the sky, the sound of wind rustling through tree leaves in a forest, having your windows open while speeding down freeways, an orchestra of cicadas heard during summer on a back porch at 4 am, etc.  These are things that a lot of instrumental (or mostly instrumental music) replicates for me. As much as I can appreciate lyrics or words, being able to say something with sound probably is what I connect to the most.

What are you both stoked for, this year…what can we anticipate?
Paul MacLeod:
I think that this year's lineup is possibly the best ever! No offense to those that have performed before….all the previous acts were incredible, but I am really excited to see everyone on this year’s bill. I'm really looking forward to Astrobrite's set! Scott Cortez's band STAR performed at the first Sonic Lullaby and I'm glad that he'll be back with his legendary Astrobrite project. Carl Hultgren of Windy and Carl is playing a solo set that is sure to be amazing…
Frank Lee: (It’s) a veritable metric fuck-ton of awesome!  Astrobrite is going to be killer, so is Dark Red; those guys are going to bring the melting fuzzy tones.  I definitely am stoked about Beset by Creatures of the Deep, they are pretty much a supergroup with members from Human Eye, Johnny Ill Band, and Electric Lion SoundwaveMissionary has a lot of connections too, with dudes from Palaces and Isosceles Mountain.  Also, I know almost nothing of Dave Graw…but the music on his website is absolutely amazing.  Everybody is top notch.  

October 9 / October 10

Trinosophes (1464 Gratiot)
Music starts at 9pm (both nights)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Passalacqua, meanwhile…

Pic courtesy of MPAD Media 

Passalacqua features a dynamic duo of MCs, Blaksmith (aka Brent Smith) and Mister (aka Bryan Lackner) and they joined thislineup at the Blind Pig with Tunde Olaniran (pictured), James Linck and Alex Koi. 

Having been childhood friends, the two reconnected back in 2010 after a decade of distance and got right to work, interweaving their unique performance styles and lyrical sensibilities into an uncanny harmony, splaying it out stylishly over a smorgasbord of soul, jazz, Motown and funk samples shuffled to some snappy/smooth beats. They can do chin-scratching introspection ballads for the night owl neurotics as well as club-bangers for the weekenders wanting badly to turn up… turnt up? Do the kids still say that stuff?

The rap-duo recently wrapped a rather intensive tour where they participated in round-robin styled thunderdome performances with other hip hop groups. “That tour helped us trim the fat,” said Lackner. “We’ve always come from the opinion that you should do more with less…trim the fat, give ‘em everything you’ve got, and keep it moving.”

Their deliveries, Mister with that drawly, blues, baritone and Blaksmith lashing a more lithe, snarled panache in a higher register, complement each other quite nicely… But while the raps are often written in close collaboration, like two bridged brains, the production is often open, like a revolving door, to any producer who wants to provide some beats and hooks to augment the final Passalacqua presentation.   

Smith calls back to their most recent full length, 2013’s Church, and admits that it was a very thematic piece. But their latest, with producer Zach Shipps (known for his work with the Electric Six and many others,) is “…a bit more heady, with tracks about depression, detainment, domestication, and freedom. At large, it’s a project that is personal. I hope fans listen to it closely because it plays kind of like a scavenger hunt. We’re all over the place.”

“I think part of what we like about working with (Shipps) is that we have no expectations,” said Lackner. “When we go in, there’s no telling what we’ll leave with; it’s (Shipp’s) style. Sonically and lyrically, it’s far denser. I’m proud of all our others but this is the most realized project, yet…” 

Passalacqua join Alex Koi, Tunde Olaniran and James Linck, this Saturday at the Blind Pig 

Smith said that he and Lackner will be wrapping up their next album by November with a release to follow sometime in the near future. “The production is ‘zany’ and it has lots of sounds we created ourselves, from xylophone, to jibberish noise, to audible claps and smacks in the beat…”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Prude Boys Tour Kickoff

Happy Autumn...
...let's get grimy...

Lo-fi punk-pop purveyors the Prude Boys have a new EP out this month demonstrating their knack for gnarly throwback rock and bruised indie-blues....boogie-able, croony cuts and haunted jukebox jollies from a minimalist, fuzz-shrouded three-piece outta Detroit...

...and they'll be hitting the road this season, starting with a tour-kickoff party on Sunday night at Lo! & Behold in Hamtramck.

You can also see & hear:
The dynamic-yet-dirgey, slamming-yet-sludgey 70's rock revivalists The Deadly Vipers
The sweat-flecked primordial pounders Caveman Woodman & Bam Bam Moss

More info here, folks

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chris Dupont's Outliers (Interview)

For this month's CURRENT issue, I got Chris Dupont to open up about his band’s newest album, Outlies and it wound up being one of those conversations that reminds you about how important music is in life.

Dupont can do that; the Ann Arbor singer/songwriter has spent the last five years re-imagining the folk aesthetic with a devastatingly soft brush of baroque strings and pianos under autumnal wistfulness strummed across his gutiar, with lyrics that punch the gut in slow motion and cathartically pluck the heartstrings (snapping a few, sometimes, after the third chorus). Dupont’s music manifests that startling quiet you feel come over you when you reach that clearing in the wood or if you’re out traipsing the cold Michigan lake’s shoreline at dawn. That’s just a taste of what to expect on Outliers, which comes out October 2nd.

The blend of electric and acoustic guitars, splashing together with this soft radiance over the steady pulse of the drums and pianos like soothing sighs, yes, it’s this kind of revitalizing folk music, the epilogue of emotional ravages, the soundtrack of the next sunrise. And we haven’t even touched on that voice, fragile and fresh, celestial and smooth. Let’s really open up…

Outliers songs sound more existential, lyrically; it’s like an outlier being out of one’s body or a view from a scene from backstage, singing as an outside observer…
Chris Dupont:
Jeff, that’s a great take on Outlier! Yes, the idea of being an onlooker, being outside your own environment or even your own body, that’s definitely there. It’s a feeling I have often, and, I think it speaks to the mood of (Outlier). It’s almost as if I’m separating myself from my emotions, sorting them out, looking at them, reintegrating. I’m not sure that’s what I set out to do. I started realizing the title really described me as a person, and how I view the world, really. Not necessarily as an “outsider” or “rebel,” those imply something more active. It’s more a calm submission to being on the fringe. You can follow what everyone else wants for you, you can stay bitter for a long time, or you can accept your own oddities and do your best to live with what you've got. That's what a lot of these songs dwell on.

It’s not easy striking such a heartfelt frankness to one’s musical poetry like this, talk about sifting the heavy emotions to the top and what draws you to these poignant veins of folksinging?
Frankness. I love that word. Yeah, it’s tough being so exposed. It’s not necessarily embarrassing because I absorb these energies from people, whether good or bad, and then gravitate toward writing. Usually, the process of putting those thoughts to music and molding ideas into a narrative lyric helps me discover an insight that might not have occurred to me. I think that’s why a lot of my songs have turns or resolutions. Some of these songs and stories spur emotional reactions in people but that might cause them discomfort. That can make me squeamish; I’m that party host wanting every guest to feel great, ya know? But, I can only connect with that I’m doing if I believe it. Frankness is all I’ve got. I also draw lots of inspiration from my environment and the seasons. I try to set a scene; to really place people in the grey overcast valley of Ypsilanti, or in the woods when everything's frozen and dead.

Talk about what moves you, when it comes to music, like your influences and what it is you strive for when you record and perform with the band
I write a lot of my music when I’m in deep need of sorting something out. I love songs that make sense and feel like they’ve been there for a long time. James Taylor, Ryan Adams, Tracy Chapman…all wrote a bunch of those. I’m attracted to songs that could stick around and mean something new several years later. Outlier has a bunch of ‘jam’ sections but I think the songs themselves are actually simple forms with lyrics and melody leading the whole work. I was taught by my father, long ago: “don’t just be a guitar player; make the guitar sing.”

Chris Dupont starts the biggest tour of his career to support Outlier this month, which gets a national release on November 13 (iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp). Look for Outlier on vinyl next January.

Chris Dupont Band Outlier Release Show
Friday, October 2nd Towsley Auditorium (Washtenaw Community College, Ypsilanti) ft. Frances Luke Accord & Abigail Stauffer 7pm $15 more info:

What other areas, vibes or forms did you explore with Outlier and tell us more about your inclination to include strings and that baroque style of playing…
I definitely always come back to fingerstyle guitar and string arrangements. I just never really get tired of it. On this album I definitely veered off into some pop territory, because it's nice to have some pay-offs, some higher energy work that really kicks. But I was taught by my father a long time ago, "don't just be a guitar player. Make that guitar sing." I want every guitar part to be a good platform for the melody, and to stand on its own if I play out by myself. I try to put melody and movement into the guitar, and play it like a piano. Partly because it's what I want to hear, and partly because I get bored if my tunes are too easy for me to play. And strings never cease to make something well up inside me. Katie VanDusen (violin, arrangements) takes my songs and always finds a way to pour tons of emotion into them, and some of her lines just make me want to cry for no reason. She makes the violin sing emotional content that the lyrics can't necessarily provide.

You've been playing out live here and releasing records in the SE MI scene for a while, what do you find most inspiring about it...or do you feel it has even more potential that it hasn't yet reached but could, very soon? 
I love this scene, man. There are many little pockets, different communities of people doing different things, but they all seem to cross pollinate pretty well. I'm just inspired by all the cool things people keep doing. You've got Luke Jackson fixing everyone's guitar and building custom instruments. You've got Billy Harrington playing drums on EVERYTHING, and helping artists get out of their shells and make great work. He actually gave me the push to make this Outlier, so he's a big part of this project's life. I see a lot of artists teaming up on each other's records, and I think that's really important. It's how you grow.

 I'm also excited about how many artists have really built their own scenes. There are lots of gig opportunities around here, but not exactly a plethora of venues. I've noticed that, instead of getting super frustrated, lots of artists around here just make the scene they want to see. Like those porch shows in Ypsi that J.T. Garfield hosts. Those are awesome. A really cool girl named Ilana Riback really wanted there to be a great open mic in Ann Arbor. So she went and started one, and it's done really well. Artists like Vince Colbert, Billy Harrington, Adam Plomaritas, and myself have all been known to rent venues when we have a specific vision for a show. You gotta be scrappy and resourceful around here I think.

Matt Jones is working on something that’s kinda all-encompassing for the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti scene, with the River Street Anthology.
I could rave about that all day. What a cool concept. No budget, no tricks, Matt Jones is just inviting everyone, big name veterans and quiet bedroom artists who never gig, and having them do 1 or 2 takes of a tune in front of a hundred dollar mic. Just to have it. To record what's going on in Michigan. Get a snap shot. I actually did "Bedside," one of the tunes on Outlier, for that project. I'd been in studio non-stop, and it was so refreshing to just ditch the headphones, forget about Pro Tools, and just sing a song for Matt in a basement. Just like it was when we were all 17 in our punk bands. It felt real. I was so inspired by that session that I decided to record the album version all in single passes. I sang and played live into a reel to reel tape machine at Solid Sound, picked the best take, and then added more stuff, all single takes as well.

And of course, going back to your question, the scene could reach new potential. I'd love to see more venues in Ypsilanti. I miss Woodruffs. I think everyone here is scrappy, and they've found good ways to play out, but I'd love to see more sit-down, quiet venues. You know, a lot of my fans are in their 30's, 40's, and up. And what's funny is that most of them just want to sit comfortably, listen, and go home at a decent hour. There are a couple great listening venues in Ann Arbor, but I'd love to see more options that are accessible to developing artists.

What’s your future plans, rest of the year and beginning of next…
All kinds! I'm about to go on my biggest tour yet to support this record. I'm doing a release show at Towsley Auditorium on October 2nd. I love that room. It's a big theatre style space with a big stage. We're bringing our own sound and lights and putting on a big production. I've done a few gigs this year in rented rooms, and you can really curate the experience for people. It's going to be an amazing show.

After the tour, I'll stay close to home for much of the winter. The album releases nationally (iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, all that) on November 13. Up until then the only way to get it is at a show. We're going to do a vinyl pressing that'll come out late winter.

What are you most looking forward to…?
I'm excited to really push Outlier. And I want to do something bigger with it too. A lot of the tunes speak to some painful stuff like mental illness, suicide, and the like. But I don't just want to sing about it and shove the issue in people's faces. I'm talking to some other artists and trying to figure out how we can make this work tie into a movement or something that could encourage help for those who need it. I don't know what that even looks like, but I think that's the big dream at this point.

After that I think I have dreams of doing shorter scale projects. Like an EP that's all analog tape, or a short LP that's rockier and sounds way different for me. Why not? 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cameron Jones: Love, Honey

Cameron Jones has had his ears open. Coming of age around the Detroit music scene, the singer/songwriter has been stageside to several iconic songwriters and rock groups. He may only be 24, but it's not like he fell in love with a classic pop/rock sound just yesterday... Since before the Michigan music maker could drive a car, he's been quietly honing his craft, finding his voice, attuning his ear and sharpening his sensibilities. He could have jumped out there on stages as an 18 year old and thrown whatever raw guitar renderings he'd wrought from his initial heart-on-the-sleeve poetry, but instead he kept those solo songs set aside...opting to take-in the local music scene by-way-of other projects (like the indie-rock outfit The Jet Rodriguez).

Now, having established a sonic footprint around Detroit, he's opening up the notebook and plugging in his guitar... A solo record drops this Friday.

Around a time when singers like Tobias Jesso is bringing back the sentiment, when Matthew E. White is bringing back the classic rock 'n' roll sound to pop music and when others like Natalie Prass are pouring lots of soul and softer edges onto the ballad-format, you'll now find Cameron Jones following in that same vein, reviving the sophisticated energies of the classic American songcrafter's sanctification of melody and molder of moods... Pour in some swooning multi-track harmonies, Elliot Smithian bittersweet-tenderness and some Beatlesy-crescendos. ....Have we done enough name-dropping, yet? Maybe you should just listen for yourself.

Jones will be bringing his solo material to stages around Michigan and further out, with an autumn tour on the way. Stay tuned for dates and find more music HERE

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Detours Podcast

Reporter Rob St. Mary and the Detroit Free PRess bring you your weekend guide to arts, music, and brew, via the Detours Podcast, every Thursday... Have you been listening? It's coming up on 10 episodes, already; maybe you should subscribe

Your audio guide to Metro Detroit's thriving arts scene is finally here! 
Yours truly will be co-hosting with Rob St. Mary this week, talking about the DIY Street Fair, the Renaissance Festival and the Top 5 picks for the weekend, from the Detroit Free Press brain trust. 

Tune in... 

Friday, September 18, 2015

TV Is My Friend (Thoughts Before The Emmys)

So, the Emmy's are this Sunday. And, oh, how we sanctify our screens... Whether it's your flat screen HD behemoth in your living room pumping out basic cable slop or if it's something more offbeat on your iPad while you're on the bus, streaming Netflix or Hulu or Amazon many other avenues are there, now?

SHOWS. Dramas, Comedies, Documentaries, Reality Shows...SHOWS....

A TV Critic came on the air during NPR's Morning Edition to gripe about how demanding her job has become, now that someone decided we live in "...a new golden age of television." (Just hearing that phrase makes me want to watch something...anything).

The TV Critic talks about how they now have to spend more than six hours of their days watching television, ostensibly implying that there's just so much that deserves that much attention, that is worthy of reviews, that is potentially worthy of awards...

The Critic imagines herself defending her predicament against the editor of the Sports section: Imagine there were 50 new different kinds of sports with a hundred new teams playing them... or something to that extent... all tacitly deserving of coverage, of recognition, of validation.

Let's talk about validation. Or, rather, since we're talking about TV Critics, why not talk about Music Critics. Imagine there were 5,000 new sports with 25,000 different teams playing... And that's just a tip of the ice berg. How many bands, how many singular musicians, will pour just as much of their heart and utilize twice as much of their talents for their album as any actor or producer might for whatever new show has just been malevolently malformed inside a cold, corporate, focus-grouped board room inside a skyscraper among skyscrapers and scraped onto your screens in time for sweeps...

When the Grammys come along, there isn't a Music Critic coming on NPR talking about the chunks of their days spent listening to albums... Because something already feels so pre-determined about the Grammys. (You know this, already; I'm not necessarily chiseling a profound blog rant, here). Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamaar, Mark Ronson, Meghan Trainor...The implication being, we already know these megastars are pre-crowned, we know that if they're names are repeated throughout the evening's gala (and if some of them perform, live) then we'll get more ratings, so what's the use in debating?

What's the point in talking about your esoteric indie artists, your avant-gardist boundary-pushers, your artists who have just as much to say, sometimes more worthwhile, more inspiring, more enlightening... Forget about the 50,000 other sports teams that you, Music Critic, have been trying to keep up with, because not only are they utterly taken for granted, it's almost nonsensical for anyone to even get up on a bloggy soap box about their disregarded existence. Because music, and the  music that is made my modern musicians, is not as important as TV.

What else is on?

But, truly... TV is a numbing escapism, whereas music is an active escapism. TV is something that washes over you as you sit there, there is no dimension to it and it, whatever it is, say, a show, is often formulaic... Music challenges you. Music demands that you respond to it. It is a more engaging experience. Of course TV Critics are more glamorized... Because who doesn't love watching TV? It's easy. But is it love... Do you love watching TV? Or is it just something that you don't have to think to much about, as you do it... Dive in to an album...its essence is the majestic whale amid a sea of sound... Try to harpoon it, catch it, stop it, document it, dissect it... Maybe it won't even let you catch it. But that's the thing with music vs. TV... You have to try harder. It wants you to try harder. That's why I love reason among many.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


"This shit's corny, but we 'bout to turn it out!!"

LXL, (Large, Extra Large) is a new hip-hop project between MC WarrenPeace and producer/rapper Jah Connery. Possibly a device for silliness, possibly a vehicle of surreptitious thinking-man's satire in the form of facetious rhymes, but doubtless, a project of interest for local rap fans, since these two talents have put out a substantial amount of exceptional tracks as solo artists, already, over these last five years. To be honest, I have to back my blogger ass out of the room and just leave this right here... ...because Modern Knot Artists actually have a more effective, eloquent, character-defining biography of the project...

There will be a different sensibility to their upcoming cassette album, Nosh Pit, charged with an ardently self-deprecating spark and a charismatic sense of being comfortable in one's own skin, as this duo has three decades of life experience, along with families, now, so they aren't necessarily out to take on the world with braggadocio bars dropped about their cars, fat wallets or intimidating virility. "Rappers and artists are supposed to draw from experience..." said Joshua Davis (aka Jah Connery), "...well, here in our 30's, now, and as Dad's, this is our experience..."

The reason there's such a renewed energy behind these snarky, parody raps is that both Davis and Joe Liebson (aka WarrenPeace) felt like they were at a fork in the paths of their respective rap arcs... It was time to either make a U-turn or buckle tighter and go off-road!

"As father's of young children, (Liebson) and I found it hard to maintain the sometimes confrontational, but often serious lyrics we were writing for our own solo endeavors," said Davis. "We found in writing together that our lyrics became less dense, and more focused on wordplay. Adding turntablist KeeFlo was a no-brainer." KeeFlo, it should be noted, keenly cued in, quickly, with the vibe LXL was laying down, turning his talents behind the decks toward a comparable fare of irreverence... (like samples of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force) slicing in above the scratches into looped hooks of funky guitar riffs in "LXL Theme."

"Get respect / something that I never knew, like revenue / resolute..." (...Because, don't get us wrong, the pair of them might be rapping about John Cusack and "The Truth About Stupid," but both of them stitched in some sincere truths with yarns specific to some weary, but nevertheless resolute, 30-something Dad's still doing it, the best they can...

Says Davis: "We wanted the production to hinge on the sound of turntablism, in an attempt to, in our own music, pay homage to what hip hop was, without addressing it in the lyrics, which we think is kinda hack these days."

Nosh Pit will be released on cassette, iTunes, Spotify and most importantly, (the latter is producing the release party on September 19th).

"The release party will be a multimedia weird-out held," Davis said. "Most people who know us will be able to inuit the exact location when we say 'in Eastern Market...'"

Nosh Pit's release show, as we said, is on September 19 and it will feature performances from Mister (Passalacqua), Leaf Erikson (Smash Television, Audopilots), and :brownstudy. There's also talk of an 'omelette battle' between Jah Connery and Mister, a "Being John Malkovich-esque Experience" with WarrenPeace, live print making "made by and concerning" healthy snacks, and, finally, a "chicken and waffle beer" for "certain lucky individuals." 

You can extend your evening, on the 19th, with the monthly Head Nod Suite, the local beat-maker showcase featuring an instrumental set by Jah Connery, Clear Soul Forces beatsmith Illajide and DJ Ohkang behind the decks.

More info? Right here:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lt. Bad - Electromagnetic


Cuz with Lt. Bad, you can have it all... Well, you can have all the retro boombox bass-blasting breakdance glory... This Detroit duo started a synth-pop revivalist project a couple years ago with specific proclivities towards Cybotron-era Juan Atkins and Planet Rock-era Bambaataa. Before Lt. Bad, the pair songwriters and producers behind the project, incognito behind those certain 1983-ish mustaches and neon outfits, had been applying their experimental ideas to pop, post-rock and a bit of indie-funk, by way of some other bands throughout the mid 2000's.

With their debut, it was all about the dance-floor, the blaze of nightclub lights and helicopter-ing on some thing cardboard in the basketball courts... Electromagnetic brings in a brainier bit of thinking-man's techno, scaling back the bombast and dialing up the ambient grooves, the understated cymbal shuffles, the steadier disco friendly tempos, the minor key synth swells chittering and chattering as if to accommodate the 2 a.m. wanderer-and-ponderer who skips out of the club to go home to his lab and start scratching...scratching something new, something fresh, something more intimate.

Or, something more haunted? "Creeping On U," (featuring the theatrical/cool vocals of DUANE) has got a great groove and a bit of a boogie to it, but it's certainly oozing with that often creepy vibe that takes hold of those in the throes of infatuation....

And then, "Walk With U" brings in the cinematic dazzle with those wispy tones and spacey timbres, as the robot voices exude their short-circuiting emotion chips.

Call it neo-techno....Lt. Bad have evolved. Maybe we should give them a higher rank... But Captain Bad sounds too much like a pirate, or a hair metal song...

Until then...
Electromagnetic is out now and streaming online...

Saturday at the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, you can catch Lt. Bad backing up DUANE, the Brand New Dog, during his set at 8pm. Info