Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dear Darkness CD Release Show (Saturday)

Click here for show info 

The blades in Dear Darkness' Swiss Army Knife of gnarliness include the rawest of indie rock's roots, that early stuff from the 80's that dabbled with noise-pop and nearly gnaws at your ear, but also some dark, trippy punk, with ramshackle riffs and quavering vocals that still attain discernible (and even indelible) melodies, albeit deploying minor keys for optimal malevolent-esque evocations and grit-blasted overtones. Some rhythms can pummel but others may strut, the guitars may be a bit surfy sometimes but are set up to screech, if needed and the bewitching dual-vocal effect nicely augments the allure. 

Here's the lead single from their debut album (which gets its proper release on Sept 23)

September 20th - Dear Darkness at the Berkley Front - 

Pthalo Sky and New Centaur will open up the release show for Pleather Pants...and, speaking of clothing, there will be dresses and bags provided by an excellent local clothing designer (named Melissa) who works under the moniker/brand Mended. Check it out

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pulp Culture's Masquerade

We Do It Because We Care

This Saturday at St. Andrew's Hall, Pulp Culture invites you to The Motor City Masquerade - a concert donating portions of its proceeds to The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.

The vociferous Beast In The Field will be headlining the event, with a lead in from Pulp Culture, the local prog/post-hardcore quartet that initially dreamt up this event. The Motor City Masquerade also features performances from pop/rock outfit The Midfield and a quirked-out glam/psyche performance art outfit from NY called Not Blood Paint. Attendees receive a gift bag at the door that includes a hand-painted mask.

Pulp Culture released their debut album at the start of this year and have, in their first couple years, demonstrated an enthusiasm towards philanthropic ventures with their lives performances. This group is keen on utilizing their concerts as a means for sending a message, promoting a cause or raising awareness. 

Bassist/singer Alex Brown spoke with us about the event. (Tickets here)

DC: You guys have played charity shows before - can you talk about why that is important to you/this band
AB: There are a lot of reasons our benefit concerts have been so important to us. We are working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention because it hits home; (guitarist/vocalist) Jake’s father submitted to his depression last year. This is a very crucial cause to us because we are all affected deeply by it. Charities are a great way to inform people about things that affect us all. We wanted to help and to involve people, so tying our music to not-for-profits that we think are doing awesome work in Michigan and the greater world seems to have invoked a positive response from those with whom we have worked at the very least. Plus, it feels just as good if not better than doing some stupid publicity stunt to get media attention.

DC: What are some of the other causes you've supported through concert/performance? AB: We started doing charity work back in March for the Greening of Detroit, which is an urban and suburban ecological development group. We did three benefits for them and planted trees on two occasions. Then we had a huge two-day event we called Vetfest; we sourced and roasted a pig and put on concerts at the Old Miami and the Blind Pig. The proceeds to both of those concerts went to Help for Our Disabled Troops, a retrofitting project that helped our drummer, Mike, move into his house after he was med-evacuated from the frontlines of the Iraq War. After that we did a benefit concert for Pesticide Action Network, raising awareness for honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. 

DC: What are your hopes for the show; what kinds of conversations do you hope to stoke between sets/performances?
AB: I think the most important facet of this show is the element of awareness raised for those suffering from mental illnesses of any kind. The whole effect of a masquerade can reinforce identity and implement the anonymity of a group, spurring a ton of different emotions. In promoting the event we’ve run into all sorts of people with their own stories regarding suicide and mental illness. 
DC: What's the overall message of the Motor City Masquerade? AB: This is about communication and tolerance in dealing with indwelling stigmatism. The music we have lined up is seriously amazing. I am not worried about performance in the least. Turn out is the biggest issue. Ideally we would have had three whole months to promote the show, but we had one. That’s the breaks. No matter how I look at it this is going to be a helluva night, and we are so happy to be able to do it at one of the coolest venues in town.
DC: And, what's new with Pulp Culture, this year?

AB: What Do You Want? was a rock opera dedicated to a close friend of my family who passed away of an overdose in 2012. Since the release, Pulp Culture has transformed rapidly. We lost our first drummer to the American Dream. Then we hired in Mike, taught him all the music, got some new gear, and started hitting the Detroit scene as hard as possible. 

DC: The FB page for the band talks a lot about the DIY ethos. AB: Yeah, we sort of redesigned our mission as a real grass roots group, trying to emphasize the importance of DIY ethics in Detroit. We’ve probably spent hundreds of times the amount we raised so far from the album on demos and posters to get people involved in our benefits, but that doesn’t matter; we do it because we care. We do it because we love music. There is such a positive, collective effort of artists in Detroit, but it’s something you don’t hear much about in the news. It can’t be helped because of huge infrastructural road blocks like the bankruptcy, but it’s pretty obvious that the main issues with the local music and art scene are the same on a national level: major labels, giant entertainment monopolies, and even some indie labels work together to inhibit public awareness by manipulating the media, leaving local rock musicians in the shadows of the typical dogmatism of venues where they'd rather have laptop DJ’s get people to dance until they’re forced to buy a $4 bottle of water. 

DC: So that DIY tilt of yours is an acknowledgement towards bettering the situation or the opportunities of the local musician...? What's the key issue to address, here?
AB: Local musicians of all walks are left at the whim of smalltime agents who, in a similar situation as far as the politics of regional business, throw them into an endless loop of opening slots. And that forces musicians to pay up to thousands of dollars just to throw an event at esteemed clubs if they want to attempt something bigger, just like we are doing with Live Nation at St. Andrew’s. The same thing happens to visual artists downtown; they will only be commissioned if they will advertise and submit to the investor, changing the essence of their own hard work.

DC: It's a cycle...corrupted by money... Inevitable, sometimes. Changeable, though? AB: We’re trying to change this sort of thing, but look now, who wouldn’t want to play at a larger venue? Who wouldn’t want to play for more people? It’s a house of cards, and the big agents won’t protest about it out of profit alone. I wish they cared more about the music. The Fillmore Group should put local support on every show. It’s so simple, but it would help the local economy and potentially bring more people to concerts. People like new things, and Detroit's (music scene) has a lot to offer. Musically our scene is on the up, and it’s a privilege to be writing at this time.  

For more information on the Motor City Masquerade follow this link or check up on Pulp Culture's Facebook.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Currently Listening: Johnny Headband - Leave Me So High

That strutting beat and those cascading synths hook you stumble into the club and re-ruffle your blazer, straighten your hair, let your eyes adjust to the neon fluorescents flashing all around upon the shiny linoleum dancefloor.

Detroit's Johnny Headband have a knack for loosening-up their listeners; shoulders become rubbery and hips wind as if to a new, heartofore unfounded groovy gearwork build for the boogie; the feet start moving because the drums keep hitting... The nearly-hammy-yet-altogether-endearing vocals, flourished with R&B falsetto and squints of new-wave balladry, soar over the drums, rustling and they're hustling, along with a bass licking higher up on the funkier frets of the neck while a jittery jumble of bloopy beats cluster at the corners of the bridge.

Is it nu-Disco, is it radical yazz-rock or is it an indie-dance ballad? There's deployments of 70's and 80's soft rock and electric boogaloo fx, tightened by the stone cold bass, shuffling drums and sampled hand-clap bursts; a melting pot of longlost French danceclubs and the piquant arrangements of George Benson and/or Roger Troutman.

All things considered, the local trio always bring their own sound into that very same melting pop...stirring steadily and never letting it boil over. Above all, keeping things fun, loose...leaving you just where every pop production should: high.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Currently Listening: Prude Boys (Dally Sample)

This was recorded in a garage...

But there's something inside of it that draws me... Even if it's "garage music," there's nifty knickknacks cluttering its corners, maybe a gnarly bat up in the rafters nesting into the crusty lawn-chairs or a cool pair of bolt cutters hanging beside the rusty rakes. What pulls me in, here...?

The dissonant bluster of that chugging guitar? Yes, but also... the nervy rhythms barely keeping cool, kicking along, ready to frenzy... Yes, that, too... Or is it that fine flare over that serpentine guitar solo, like wax upon scorched fiberglass... Definitely. But, then, there's that tranquil quality to the lead vocals, a sweet-sounding sedate sparkle over a barely-contained burn-up. And how "piano keys" almost sounds like "anarchy's" the way the words weave through the feedback.

The Prude Boys started out in Ann Arbor where they were known as The Lost Boys. Long story. Just listen ^

And make sure to swing over to the 37th Annual Dally In The Ally - September 6, 2014 -between Forest and Hancock, Anthony Wayne and 2nd Ave

The Prude Boys are playing at 10:00pm - part of a stacked line-up for the Alley Stage

There's four stages with dozens of local bands -
Full Line up here:

Let Autumn Begin!

Detroit Free Press Article:

Local bands are the stars at laid-back Dally in the Alley

In the meantime...
My weekly columns in the Ann Arbor Current should start up next week
More info here: Weekly What's Up's

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