Friday, November 14, 2014

Echo Fest V

Echo Fest – V

When I first interviewed Sisters  Of Your Sunshine Vapor, (more than five years ago,) they told me that, yes, they make “druggy”-sounding music, but that shouldn't imply that they don't get up and get to work in the morning!

They work their asses off, actually. Not only self-booking numerous interstate tours, establishing their own recording studio and producing their own albums, but this psyche/blues/shoegaze trio has also fostered a crucial spirit of community among those similarly “druggy”-sounding bands, i.e. the torchbearers of that tripped-out, artfully effected music that all roils together, in all its echoing/looping/dizzying-delayed glory, under the umbrella of “pscyh-rock” (…or “neo-psychedelia” if you really want to stir the word soup of the genre-obsessed bloggoids).

--Echo Fest – Nov 15th @ The Loving Touch (22634 Woodward Ave)
Main Stage
12:15 Elephant Stone (Montreal) 
11:00 Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor (Detroit)
10:00 King Buffalo (Rochester, NY)
09:00 Dead Leaf Echo (Brooklyn)
08:00 Siamese Detroit (Detroit)
07:00 Buffalo Coven Party (Ann Arbor)

Side Stage
01:00 The Witches (Detroit)
11:45 Heaven's Gateway Drugs (Ft. Wayne)
10:30 MOSS FOLK (Milwaukee)
09:30 Plastic Crimewave Syndicate (Chicago)
08:30 Rogue Satellites (Detroit)
07:30 Matthew Smith of Outrageous Cherry (Detroit)

Thankfully, SOYSV’s hard working MO has only amplified over the years, as they've grown the original  Echo Fest from five years ago into a two-stage / 12-band fest inside a sizeable capacity venue, with a theme of encouraging a cross-pollination of bands and niche-genres that builds bridges to other scenes, including Chicago (ft. Plastic Crimewave Syndicate), Montreal (ft. Elephant Stone) and Milwaukee (ft. Moss Folk), while nodding to the iconic “psychedelic” songwriters and bands of Detroit like The Witches and Outrageous Cherry’s Matt Smith.

SOYSV will also be on the bill, of course. But, as I was on assignment this week with a Washtenaw county culture zine, I wanted to draw some attention to an Ann Arbor based group on the bill. - Buffalo Coven Party, a blend of the bewitching and with some beautiful melodies waving under slight blankets of fuzz, some eerie atmospheric tones strike in under  blends of acoustic and electric, with a wicked organ’s ghostly haze adding essential blacklight ambiance, (take a listen below).
And find the full lineup here:

Listen: Buffalo Coven Party – “Pariah”

But, while you're here... This song has been on heavy rotation inside the Milo Dojo: 

Echo Fest Info/Links

Monday, November 10, 2014


Mic Phelps - Forthcoming album

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gosh Pith

Gosh Pith: An Interview

Music from the  middle....between when the full darkness disintegrates into a slow, lilting light, a calming yet eerie grayness that glows behind the faint horizon, brightening by the minute, with the fog, like each of the dwellers at the danceclubs, the ravers from their basements and the ramblers ruminating from their galleries, each evaporate in their own ways, back... into the daylight, now, with fog fading upward into the atmosphere and the night owls bleary, blinking and clearing their throats, embrace commencement of dawn as though it were an epilogue, a time, an experience, for mining enlightening revelations and consciousness-expanding conclusions... If only those epilogues, those moments of clarity in the at the break-of-day could be set to music. If the break-of-day could be set to breakbeats..... 

Gosh Pith:
The soundtrack of that middle, between dead of night and break of day, when the spirit is still willing to dance, and the mind is still yearning for contemplation, when a fuzzed out guitar sounds so apropos over distorted vocal loops and shushing cymbal hits, with vocals that sound beautiful and hurt and happy and frustrated and thankful the sunlight and the fog and overall comfortably-numb-nature of those mornings, it sounds light....

Josh Smith and Josh Freed are two 23 year old musicians, Detroit-based songwriters with an eclectic range of influences, everything from Otis Redding to J-Dilla, Little Richard to Outkast, Slum Village, Jimi Hendrix, even artists and filmmakers like Matisse and Godard. 

Their single, "Smoke Bellow," was inspired by such scenes described above... The pair have been making music together since 2009, having bonded as children during a summer camping trip through Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada 15 years ago. But, said Smith, the duo not only write and produce together, they also share a lot of music, essentially, just listening and experiencing records, together, which aids in their knack for conjuring a particularly evocative sound for their own project. 

"We've showed each other a lot of music," said Smith. "And also we've heard a lot of things for the first time, together. We have encountered so many things together." 

"Smoke Bellow" will be officially released in late December, accompanied by remixes from Jamaican Queens, Jonah Baseball and more. The song, said Smith, "
was written after a long night out at a warehouse rave. We were driving home, passing people on the road on the way to their 9-to-5, and my thoughts were teetering between robbing a bank or renouncing all of life's comfy norms."

Their particular sound was inspired by their surroundings, Smith said. "We come from a place where there is a lot of poverty and also some obscene wealth. We come from the void, the middle, and we represent the void, where people find beauty in places where they had not looked before." 

Sometimes they're in love, sometimes they're heartbroken, sometimes they feel trapped, sober, on drugs, off, inspired, frustrated... The songs, said Smith, are coming from that array of feelings and experiences "and all our circumstances." But influences? "....Peter Green, Kele, Jeremy Greenspan, Ian Curtis, Yellowman, Matisse, some psychedelic times with Dali and Van Gough, Jean-Luc Goddard... There's also faint influences, Smith said, simply from "...a lot of movies and past friends who sold drugs and never slept and lived crazy lives like a movie. I remember nights of watching Belly and then Breathless and listening to beats that josh had made, our sound is just like that. Hype Williams and Jean-Luc Goddard...."

They'll be releasing a single with a b-side and some remixes later in December. Stay tuned. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pink Lightning - Blue Skies

To inhabit a Pink Lightning song is to be flung…

…to be slung, bumped over that way...
to be sent
...flung up into every corner of the room until one of the walls give and you’re out into the mud.

And you keep dancing, dirt and all… Or is it more a graceful kind of contorting.

You’d almost mosh, if you could, but the drums are just as much push as they are pull, pulling, kicking... more toward tilt-o-whirl-terrain, where said-drums threaten to pull your proverbial rugs out from beneath your feet…

And those guitars, brilliant buzzsaw badassery, with their mean hooks dipping and twirling you in a clenched conniption waltz.

And if metal married jazz and their abominably groovy offspring spat its first words through fuzzed amplifiers, than you’d have their bass.

Then there’s that accordion, the chief of Pink Lightning’s effected ambiance, conjuring gaunt punk-ghosts of crazy carnivals, nervy ragtime and twisted gypsy folk.

What was that howling? What was that crooning? That sing-speak poetry in a half-honked raspy sort of theatricality? Your lead vocalist, a mad barker, freaked-himself up into agit-falsettos as though he were shouting the show-stopping lyric at every chorus, if only his cohorts weren’t so possessed to keep the tilt-o-whirl-whirling…the show might never stop…

Banjos? Mandolins? Ghostly piano jitterbug taps? Saxophones? Nightclub lounge-pop cycloned into mutated post-ska jigs… Listen closer. Press the headphones onto your ears. Bob and weave around the room a little more. You'll get the hang of it. 

And you get this album this December. 

Small Houses - New single / New Album on the way

Jeremy Quentin, a Flint, MI native, used to sing songs after supper in the big ol' neo-hippie-populated co-op house where I once resided ten years prior... 

I've never seen him without his guitar, either on his back, on his lap, around his chest or at least nearby him, in whatever room I found him. Quentin didn't live in this old house of mine...because he was ever on the move. He's constantly booking his own tours, he's lived in a dozen places (it seems) and, though he had settled in Atlanta GA for a while, he was most recently residing all the way out in Denver, plotting an ambitious tour that will bring him back eastward, all the way to Helsinki. 

His voice has a fragility to it, like the autumn wind, caustic with a bit of dust and splinters but resplendent with that high, honkish warble and it resonates so richly off those bell chimes at the chorus. This is a track for anyone still high on the War On Drugs from last summer... This is the new post-Americana, alt-country tinged, indie-folk refining JAM... 

Quentin, under the moniker Small Houses, will release his next full length, Still Talk, next February (with a tour starting next January). There are, according to Quentin, a handful of videos on the way, as well... (Expect to see them streaming here). 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Detroit Sound Machine

Local singer/songwriter Ryan Cox has organized a new Music Worskhop for young musicians (age 8-13), hosted in Clawson, MI (Hunter Community Center, 509 Fisher Ct.) More info. 

The Detroit Sound Machine will be held as two sessions, 5pm - 8pm on Thursday Nov 13 & Friday Nov 14. The workshop is titled "Song From Scratch" - aiming to introduce tweens and teens to the instruments and to the craft of songwriting. 

The Detroit Sound Machine appreciates music as a unique form of art and communication, activating,  the brain in a systemic/holistic way. 

Absolutely no experience necessary, just passion and patience.

Cox said that since he'd has his song when he was still a teenager, he's since spent most of his life working with children, coaching youth soccer, running soccer camps, tutoring and mentoring children and spending nearly two years writing a parenting column for AOL. 

As a musician, Cox developed his own unique method for writing and recording music, one that  anyone can participate in, regardless of musical/recording experience. This is how the idea came together. 

"I love working with kids, love making music, kids love music, etc, etc and here we are..." Cox said.

Cox recently obtained his 3rd major academic degree and afterwards felt inspired to create a unique, small business before he started preparing for graduate school. "Over the past year," Cox said, "I have created numerous programs in numerous fields—a new soccer camp, a new-type of tutoring program/curriculum, a writing tournament, along with working on an album as my musical incarnation/pseudonym, The Good Things." 

So what can Detroit Sound Machine attendees anticipate?

Participants will learn a little bit about a lot of things, as Cox puts it, along with some music-related science, some music history, some music appreciation, and some basics of performing, writing and recording music.

Young musicians will explore various writing and musical styles, along with a collection of very different instruments, while learning some basics of how to play whichever instrument that they choose.

All students will contribute to the writing and recording process, including performing with an instrument that they may or may not be familiar with—they get to choose.

All participants will also be given a small instrument to keep, which they will also get to record in our song.

After we've completed the song, all participants will then be sent a copy of the completed song one week later after I have mixed the tune and completed all necessary post-production (so the song will sound like a professionally produced, commercial, radio-sounding song.)

Cox said he has based all of his teaching techniques on child psychology and meta-cognitive concepts. "So, hopefully, all of the participants will leave feeling confident, accomplished and satisfied with officially being a creator of music! "

And of course, the song they created will stay with them forever—a great memory to listen to at any stage of life. 

"But above else," Cox said, "hopefully they leave the Detroit Sound Machine recording workshop with a smile, having had an enriching and fun time.

Youth "Song-From-Scratch" Recording Workshop
Ages 8-13
Hunter Community Center
509 Fisher Court
Clawson, Mich. 48017

Thursday/Friday, November 13/14, 2014
The two sessions will run from 5pm-8pm 
Registration is $50 per child

Sleepless Inn - Karol Simon

Detroit duo Sleepless Inn release new video...

Immediately, the visuals evoke a sense of being half-awake/half-alseep... 

A dream, like a vapor, its mesmeric mix of fantastically vibrant hues, blasting and blazing and cascading in front of your eyes, nearly obscuring the dancing figure at the microphone, Laura Finlay, her beautifuly wispy vocals wafting in melodic waves over the clackety percussion and throbbing heartbeat-bass of Eddie Logix' arrangement. Logix, the other half of Sleepless Inn, is the shadowed dude over Finlay's left shoulder, buoyant to his own beats, locked into his own little groove back there).

 Kudos to The Prince Of Darkness for the marvelous luminescent atmospherics; kudos to the song, a fine single for this Detroit dream-pop duo to release, kudos to Logix, showing evolution in his production as he expands from hip-hop into something a bit more akin to The XX or A Sunny Day In Glasgow...and kudos to Finlay, of course, singing with subtlety, vulnerability, sweetness and endearment - with those dance moves, blended under and over animation of a ballet routine, serving as a livening element to an otherwise airy/dreamy aesthetic, in sync with Logix' beats, it only entices any listener/viewer further into the color-splashed fog...further into this lucid dream...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tart (Interview + Video Premier)

Meet TART 

The beats are substantial. The minimalism gives it grit. The vocals sizzle and know when to soar.... The guitars can be funky if they need....and they know when to flourish....

And, oh, why not throw in a Daft Punk send-up riff and twist it into a Zeppeliny embellishment...

TART, a Detroit-based duo with Adam Padden on guitar/beats and Zee Bricker on lead vocals/bass, whimsically tip-toe lines between new-wave glitz and romanticized, goth-laced techno-pop, snappy hooks, and enticing melodies with vocals varying from soft, syrupy coos to breathless, beckoning balladry, all fo it weaving through a balanced light-flash storm of club-blasted oonzt beats and samplings of arena-rock bass kicks, while the guitars zig, zag and zip from strutting glam, to cloudy shoegaze, indie-riffage and, yes, some strange new take on space-funk. 

Man, it's all over the place. But that was the idea, at first. 

A while back, Zee felt very inspired to finally learn a musical instrument and get involved with the music scene. A musician-friend of hers suggested starting something with Adam... But the couple had a laugh about, initially. Not necessarily brushing the idea off, though... Just...unsure yet that it was necessarily the right idea at the right time. 

But, then, the next night, it did feel like the right time and the right idea. Adam, who'd joined the singer/songwriter Patrick Davy's group The Ghosts about five years ago, had only been "more or less...just a bass player," as he puts it. "I had dabbled with some songwriting and guitar playing, but never serious enough to be a catalyst for a legitimate project."

Says Zee: "...the whole idea was really that I could help create a platform for Adam to do whatever he wanted musically."

Adam says he learned a lot from Davy, particularly the potential effect a song can have on a listener's "soul, mind and body..." His time playing in the Ghosts taught him "about groove and what it really means to be a bass player..." 

He started up Nam Kook & The Typhoon towards the end of 2011 as a means to further flesh out some songs he'd been writing and gain some confidence as a frontman. "But it was never serious enough to be anything more than an occasional gigging band.  It was important for me to play the role of front man though, I guess I needed to prove to myself that I was capable."

After performing and touring most of 2013 as part of The Hounds Below (with Jason Stollsteimer, currently of PONYSHOW), the idea of starting something with Zee soon came up and the rest....

Zee: "One day, Adam came up with a guitar riff but couldn't find a vocal melody to go with it. I started singing over his guitar, and that became the first song we really wrote together, Kids I Know..." (Streaming above). 

TART was actually a four-piece for a little while, at first. But the fledgling project went on hiatus when Adam left for another Hounds tour.  

Last April, inspired to follow a new direction, Adam buys himself a sequencer/sampler. He makes sure that during this time, he was "listening to Daft Punk's first album, Homework, almost exclusively..." 

Adam: "I realized that I could potentially program full backing tracks with it, so long as we kept it simple. Meat and potatoes kind of thing. Strong melodies and a heavy beat.

He turned into a bit of a mad scientist, really, astutely setting himself to learn, experiment, experiment further, and learn more, still... little by little... "It was a slow process and I was constantly second guessing myself. Honestly, I was just worried about not being taken seriously... I feel like the stakes are even higher in a city like Detroit, with its rich electronic music history."

Their first EP is streaming right now, on their bandcamp. Dig the new video. 

Their MO, for now, as any new band's MO should be, goes something like:
"...Playing as often as we can and perfecting and tweaking our sound...."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ambient Music For Driveways (Autumn Revisited)

Sentimentality and romanticism cloys at some, I know.

But when the Moon is such a monster, up there like it is tonight, I care not for the eye-rolls of the un-enchanted.

Freed souls, lost souls, neither-here-nor-there souls, souls swept up in the gloomy glamour of frayed detritus upon hardened dirt, dried mud and frizzed grass… Here we are. The heart of October. It beats, up there, in the sky. Sounds like a song.

Ray Bradbury proclaimed October to be “…a rare month.” Verily.  

Winter: Gray. Spring: Green. Summer: Orange

Autumn: Everything at once! With darkness dashing in…

A time when minor keys sound beautiful, not mournful, when overcast skies are as welcomed as the first snowflake in December or when cinnamon could go with nearly everything.
You know it all too well.

But that moon up there that the world is ignoring each night, too many shut away into their rooms with their screens as it glows, resolutely up there, this lunar sentry, the look of a gaping, pale portal up there, its iridescence made faint by the fluorescence of our nervous, active, busy, loud cities with their signs and streetlights glaring upward into the misty skies, criminally sapping away mystique…

….that moon, above the clouds, amid the clouds, illuminating the clouds, is all but screaming, no…of course, it’s HOWLING…howling at you to get out and enjoy the night, be the night, for Autumn’s sake, just breathe it all in, these colors draining from dead leaves in the night, all insects absent, the lawnmowers now muted, the abominable air conditioners under nylon tarps, the quiet can start to reverberate mightily…

…if you just stand still, in the slight cold, in the dark night, for just five minutes longer, you mad lost soul, you neither-here-nor-there-soul, swept up in the gloomy glamour, as you should be, because what are you really missing, in there, back there, the clamor, the repeats, the status updates, the shared links, the latest MP3’s of who knows who and the chitty-chat/this-and-thats of the every-day-you-know-what-they-say…

Out here, there’s that monster moon. And the quiet reverberates – and it becomes like music, like everything pure can, with your whole viscera suddenly awakened like a tuning fork inside of you, swirled into a piqued, romanced vibrato, harmonizing with the nightsides of you, the dreamsides, as only the special keys struck by the notes of Autumn can…, those sides of you where you’re nostalgic inner child still runs to breathlessness, but then there’s the side, awakened only in Autumn, where you’re just at a strange sort of peace…

because the lights are off,

because its nearly time to retreat from the vicious snows, (but not yet),

because you can not only feel time, in Autumn, but you can see it and taste it, smell it and hear it…

It’s why Autumn is the most enlivening time to listen to music, to share music, to make mixes, to return to old favorites, to lose oneself in a song…

…because Autumn, like the perfect song, will trigger every emotion… in such a brief burst of otherwise fleeting time.

And I tell myself that that Moon will be as beautiful as it is, now, later on, in the colds of January.

And I know that’s just not true.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spell Check: King Tuff coming back to Detroit

King Tuff - Black Moon Spell 

New album on SubPop - produced by Bobby Harlow (Conspiracy Of Owls / The Go) and featuring local sonic emissary ("Magic") Jake Culkowski on bass.

King Tuff performs at The Magic Stick on October 15th (Wednesday night) 9 PM - with local triumphs Twine Time and Cassie Ramone (formerly of The Vivian Girls) - click here for more info

Everyone wants to summarize a sound, ...any sound. 

Certain soups of certain-buzzwords get ladled around, like: Nuggets-styled garage revival... 

There's much more to King Tuff than all of that...

The guitars and bass swarm together, a blitz, a blur, pedal-mangled marvels melodically coughing a swell of comet-belt-coiling space dust, ("Sick Mind"), there's the machine gun patter and propulsive pedaling of those mean, muffled drums ("Headbanger" and "Beautiful Thing") ...and then there's the dude's voice...King Tuff himself, with a voice sounding unearthly, inhuman almost in the coolest way possible, as though it were synthesized by some Neptunian engineer's dialing up of cosmic reverb... As it does on the song, "Black Moon Swell."

King Tuff on Sub Pop 

So if you want buzzwords, you can sprinkle in space-rock...but refreshingly weird space-rock. You can pour in some classic-rock throwback heart-attacks with those rip-roaring solos, yes... You can throw in some glam-ified bubblegum pop strut (...ala, yes, a bit of Marc Bolan-esque haze-n-blaze).

Why not just go out and see what it sounds like for yourself

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Blueflowers - At The Edge Of Disaster

The Blueflowers 

The Blueflowers always aim for the heart.

Not to warm it, no, but to break it.

The guitars cast a canopy of nightsky haze with their cool-grimace riffs reverberating endlessly into a night that’s already haunted by the beautiful wail of our balladeer, Kate Hinote, sounding as supernatural and sumptuous as if she just came to life from an faded oil painting of maroon and jade, belting a quavering coo that could rattle the drafty, candle-lit mansion inside which the Blueflowers music seems to inhabit… Oh, the cinematic strikes of those tastefully theatrical percussive elements, from slow waltzes to dashing shakers, snappy handclaps and rustling floor-toms, oh, the woozy heartbeat of that strutting bass, the pinched metallic howl of the pedal steel soaring over it, the comforting throwback surf-jangle to those riffy guitars…

“I sit on a table with my sunglasses on / I’m waiting to fight you, but hope that you win…” There’s an album opener for you, richened with reverb coated guitars and a bassline that slithers low to the floor like a viper ready to strike, a slow sashaying beat starts and it evokes a weary, wiry stride across a cleared out jukejoint with one’s fist clenched, ready to wring out all the romance in the room with all the right words for all the wrong reasons… The magic of The Blueflowers, these masters of the dark-and-dreamy aesthetic and the shuffling Western fable of loves-gone-wrong, is their ability to make the quaintly playful aspects of pop/rock, like handclaps, and the rustic charms of Americana…sound almost ominous, if not, yes, cinematic…like Nick Cave wrote a screenplay for Quentin Tarantino to direct while using whoever’s does cinematography for David Fincher…

This record’s out on October 24th