Tuesday, December 30, 2008


ghostly international
Real Detroit
Real Detroit +

(Randolph Chabot, of Deastro; photos by James P. Morse)

"Once you're here, there's like, this belief…there's this thing inside of you, ya know wh
at I mean?"

Everything To Me: Deastro
(words: milo)

“I think about the opportunity that Detroit has to show the world that things can turn around and I go and make a giant pot of coffee so I can write all night…"

Every time I talk to Randy, the blurring back and forth is brimming with variations of the words: excitement or encouraged…or opportunity.

There is always the next project, the next song to work on, the next philosopher to quote, the next great thing to recognize in humanity. And he is always re-thinking and over-thinking the potential of our scuffed, modest music scene; dreaming up new ways for its scattered suburban/metro flock to coalesce.

"I have played 210 shows in the past year and a half and I can honestly say that I met at least one person (if not 20 people) at every show that feels the same way about our city!"

Detroit's singer/songwriter, Randolph Chabot, the shaggy, bespectac
led frontman of now-quartet Deastro, started out in a flurry of under-attended solo-performances at often unconventional venues on sometimes-weekday nights during the summer of 2007. But, every ear he hit took notice and every song he sang had might. Or maybe that sounds like corny legend… some point to the help of internet buzz, blog murmurings and bandwagon jumps, but…perhaps it's deeper than that.

Yeah, but, there certainly is an energy: more bands, more bars booking, mo
re blogs, more and more great local albums being released and local labels persevering. I've been trying to convince myself that this piece doesn't have to make an argument (for Deastro), which is futile in a town where it feels like everybody's doing something… photographers, poets, filmmakers, writers, dancers, painters, designers. This is a scene where everybody's connected. I'd wager half of you still reading at this point are either in a band or can count at least 2 musician friends…

So, it swells into this mind-numbingly circling debate about how and why one really justifies this top-of-the-heap title of superior suggestions. Call it a cheesy-after-school-special sort of half-resignation, but the real artist of the year is this town's whole cacophonous coop of energized minds.

And that's exactly what Randy would want.

"There are so many mysteries in life and I do not claim to know any of them! I am confronted and moved by them daily. The music I write cannot in any way compare to the songs that people sing every second of their lives."

It's Our Turn to Turn It Around

As the story goes, spastically summarized, the 22-year-old lifelong musician, who's been writing songs for 10 years, debuted his enthralling, synth-surged, dreamy balloon pop in the early summer of 2007. He was a bit awkward at times, running off of a lab-top, drum-machine and synthesizer while he drummed live and sang. Blogs started buzzing early; this publication wrote a few things and by autumn, Detour magazine booked him for their inaugural music festival…and it just, bit-by-bit, blew up from there.

The "emotions" that were going through him when he and his band started getting regular (not entirely undisputed) local headlining slots, were "wow, there's more people," said Chabot. "There's more people listening, there's more people caring about community. Not that I even embody that, but that people are there [at shows] and they're excited to see their friends there,…that's great! I think that in 5 years you're just gonna be amazed with what's coming out of our city, just from what I've been seeing."

So, how do you write about an artist/band that's already been over-cooked by bloggers, over-hated by the haters and over-cheered by the quickly-converted…? I both am, and am-not, looking forward to it…

Chabot was home-schooled until the age of 16, after which he trained to be a hair-dresser, then went off to college in Minneapolis where he joined an unconventional youth-group/drug-rehabilitation group in the form of skateboarders who would roll the streets looking for people to help. Life would take him to Baltimore and then to through Arkansas (where he started an electro-pop duo, Velicorapter, an acknowledged genesis for the Deastro project).

Randy can't help but get into the mix…with experience as a social-worker during his college days and his younger-day's recognition of the ceremoniousness of punk-rock shows as being "a really unique opportunity to talk to people," he is unavoidably drawn to others – embodying a sunshine-soul/inspiration-pollination – and galvanizing communal energy.

"I like figuring out what other people are about," he said when we first met in July 07. And music, you'll excuse the cliché, is simply his best-utilized form of communication. "I want to be a messenger of community. I feel like I'm starting to believe things: friendship and community, on a level that I hadn't allowed myself to in a long time. I had believed in those things, but always in the future tense. But, lately, the friendships I have, the guys in the band, it's been real now."

The band, (drummer Jeff Supina, 27, bassist Brian Connelly, 23 and guitarist Marc Smak, 24) all grew up in Sterling Heights together. Rehearsals started in mid-to-late Spring and the trio played out live, interpreting Chabot's songs in early summer. At that point, said Chabot, "the guys were already like, 'we can play bass, we can play guitar, [but] what else can we do to add more to our sound, to add more to your sound…they started taking owernship of the band for themselves, which is what I wanted in band members." This is an idea, he added, a feeling to be shared.

Chabot developed the project from one-man-band through November 2007 (when he self-released the best of his basement recordings on a dual-disc debut featuring 35-songs wrapped in hand-drawn screen-printed cardboard) and took himself out on the road in January 08 for 3
weeks, self-releasing the Powered #1 EP online – which showed his breadth as a songwriter, to grow from the more whimsical doe-eyed night-of-your-life dance romps he'd showcased at live shows into more intricately structured instrumentals that flexed his ear for melody and his ability to set a great buzzy groove.

When he got back in mid-winter, it evolved into a duo with drummer Aaron Quillen. Writing continued; he self-released the darker-tinged, more shambled-pop of Powered # 2 in time for the 2008 Metro Times Blowout. Inside the dim and stuffy Painted Lady bar, filled to capacity on a stormy winter night ("It was so encouraging," said Chabot, "wall to wall!") Ghostly International (the Ann Arbor label renowned for galvanizing the electro-atmospheric-pop underground) showed up to see the performance. They arranged the song "Light Powered," an imposing groove-pop boomer, with sawing fiery synths and wispy chimed melodies that swells into an arresting shunt of echoing hums, as a featured song on a collaborated compilation between the label and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. (Aqua Teen fans may have heard his stuff playing between commercials).

Next, Ghostly set him up with the folks at EMu
sic.com, a by-subscription online music store, that released a palatably pared down 10-song album of his 2007 material called Keepers. "As much as we can be sure of anything," reads the ominous headline on EMusic's Best of 2008 Editors Picks page, "we are sure of this: Deastro will be a star." Indeed, they ranked it # 2 of 2008! Then they go on to name-drop likely influences like Death Cab for Cutie, M83, LCD Soundsystem. A similar you'll-like-this-if-you-already-like-this descriptive approach was taken when SPIN Magazine threw him in with electro-psyche-pop-neo-hippies MGMT in November 08.

"I was raised Christian, but, just so you know, I love my family, they're great," said Chabot, referencing the spastic cut-and-pasted quotes of SPIN regarding his upbringing in
music leading to a misunderstanding between he and his father. "It was like an awakening for me – I can't just say whatever I want all the time, 'cuz there's gonna be some points…" he trails off and the oncoming press/interviews of 2009 seems to moan like a haunting banshee in the silence. "I mean, the main thing I'm trying to do is be encouraging, to every kind of person."

Through Spring, Chabot toured briefly with drummer Quillen then parted ways to become solo for another run of national shows. "That was insane," he said, referencing that last tour before finally forming the band, "just all DIY. I played this place where the toilet exploded, in the middle of the show. Like, all these hardcore kids – I love those shows."

We're Gonna Make It Home

July became August and Chabot gathered the band to begin writing and recording their Ghostly debut, Moondagger, a project that started as an EP, then stretched out to a 14-song full length, currently slated for April 1 2009. Still working on multiple projects, Chabot released the Legends EP, a further extension of Powered # 2 but swirling with even more emotion and flitting with an ever-developing penchant for layered synth melodies (that always ended intertwining to perfectly compliment ea

ch other). More than halfway through writing Moondagger, he also digitally released Voyager EPs, part one and two. They properly kicked off autumn by playing the CMJ music festival in New York.

"I kept telling everyone that we met [in NY] that stuff was going on here…That's what me and the band are definitely striving for – we've been touing hard and we've been getting press and we're working towards getting exposure so we can bring it back to Detroit."

Chabot was already itching to write the 2nd half of Moondagger in September. "I'm so ridiculously happy [it]. Jeff and Marc, they understand my sound, with this new album, better than I did. They've all been really growi

ng as musicians, so the original 7 songs…these new ones are just so much crazier and we had already had "Parallelograms," [a tumbling rainbow avalanche of dreamy synths, triumphant hooks and playful dance shimmies, released as a single for Ghostly in November], I felt like, wow—this is really weird—I love this song, let's write some more like this and see what happens!"

Next, the band will work on a Powered full length and a ("more traditional") completely analog album. "Yeah, I dunno…the only reason that I write different albums is because I want to convey a message."

Yeah, but what really happens next? That's the more quieting and looming question. I go back my irksome drafting of this article, where I felt like I had to defend Deastro as 'Artist of the Year…' Set aside to my tallying of touring and recording projects above…and even if you debate me on other artists having heavier work loads…my point is that you will debate me. I fell into a 2+ hour discussion last nite (of varying intensity) about Chabot and Deastro and what its meant for the music community in-total. In terms of sheer captivation… energizing audiences and stirring conversation…be it the dirtier-feeling blog buzz, or be it genuine awe-inspiring impact on audiences both live and over recording, he is the artist of the year.

"I feel like I'm ready for it. It was a process…" he says, referencing a moment in the middle of 2008 when he fought through both exhaustion and a daunting wear. "I'm always questioning myself: do I really believe in what I'm doing, is it really the best thing I could be doing with my time? I feel like it is right now…I really believe that it is. I feel like I have to challenge myself to find new ideas, to read more books, to know that I'm not just singing about crap, but I'm really singing about ideas that people are either struggling with or they're encouraged by…"

Truth Powered

"My uncle, when I started making music, asked me, are you really ready for this? To make that sacrifice? I really had to think about it. In my own life, I've grown. I feel really hopeful about everything and the guys that I'm playing with have been such good friends to me that I feel like I've found a new community, myself…in myself. So, we're just excited and that's it…"

“I have friends and family telling me that they are so proud of who I am, it makes me want to cry because I couldn't be who I am without them, without you, or without us. I wouldn't say this if I didn't mean it or if I didn't believe it.”

And back to the energy of the city and the encouragement it breeds in Chabot and Deastro: "It seems like everywhere I go people suspect it they feel it. It overwhelms to think about it and all I can do is sing."

Albums of the Year - from Real Detroit

1· Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears — Flight of the Knife
Scary’s epic, theatrical, complex power pop channels The Beatles, XTC and Queen on his sophomore album, which is more cohesive than his debut.
2· TV on the Radio — Dear Science
Every two years these guys put out a record, and it always ends up at or near the top of my list. Like clockwork. The scary thing is, I think they keep getting better every time.
3· Todd Rundgren — Arena
In 1991, presumably in the twilight of his career, Rundgren released an album titled 2nd Wind. Seventeen years later, it’s clear that this prolific, 60-year-old rock anomaly still isn’t close to slowing down.
4· James — Hey Ma
The seven-man Laid (1993) lineup reunites for the band’s best record in as many years. A brilliant return to form for a UK band that is still highly underappreciated.
5. The Kooks — Konk
The debut was promising, but the follow-up is stellar. You could say it’s “just” pop, but it’s what they do and they do it well, cramming this record full of irrepressible hooks.

  1. Nobunny — Love Visions
    What do you do when everything’s been done already? Steal someone's shit and make it better! In Love, Nobunny produced a record with the charm of 1910 Fruitgum Company and the venom of G.G. Allin.
  2. Terrible Twos — Terrible Twos
    Perfect. It’s 32 minutes of unrelenting and uncompromising punk rock.
  3. Hunx and the Punx — Gimme Gimme Back Your Love
    Hunx is the answer to the Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum pop groups. B-Side “You Don’t Like Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a favorite from 2008.
  4. The Dutchess and The Duke — She’s The Dutchess and He’s The Duke
    Like Gene Clark meeting Aftermath-era Rolling Stones, The Dutchess and The Duke have seemingly perfected lo-fi folk.
  5. Human Eye — Fragments of the Universal Nurse
    This is the musical equivalent of the scene in Hellraiser where the guy gets disemboweled by hooks. It pulls at you from every angle until your body finally explodes.

  • 1. The Silent Years — The Globe
    Nothing took more spins in my CD player all year than this infectious and ambitious release from Detroit’s own The Silent Years — a flawlessly perfect record. My jam: “On Our Way Home
  • 2. Mason Proper — Olly Oxen Free
    The Globe was my ideal summer record; Olly Oxen Free is the soundtrack to my winter. Tight, concise, haunting and quietly brilliant; I am in love with this album. My jam: “Shiny”
  • 3. Vampire Weekend — Vampire Weekend
    The buzz surrounding this album was undeniably justified. Vampire Weekend afforded me more smiles than any record had in ages. My jam: “Oxford Comma”
  • 4. Daniel Zott — The Double Album
    One of Detroit’s most prolific and heartfelt songwriters, Zott’s second solo album is overflowing with inspiration, determination and salvation. My jam: “The (After) Life”
  • 5. American Princes — Other People This disc from a little-known band from Little Rock crept across my desk months ago and has been in my ears ever since. This is a hidden gem you ought to unearth. My jam: “Watch as They Go”

    1. My Morning Jacket — Evil Urges
      This was my first dose of My Morning Jacket, and this album did not leave my car stereo for several months. Innovative, addictive, soaring and grounded ...
    2. The Avett Brothers — Emotionalism
      These boys slapped me in the face with their punk rock energy mixed with diehard folk melodies and rhythms. Only my dad appreciates these guys as much as I do.
    3. TV on the Radio — Dear Science
      To all the white coat scientists out there, take heed. These bona fide Brooklyn boys have crafted three perfect albums, and show no sign of jumping ship anytime soon.
    4. Fleet Foxes — Fleet Foxes
      This album will not stand the test of time, but in '08, these boys really made a dent on my eardrums.
    5. She & Him — Volume One
      For the first time in my life, I said, "Zooey Deschanel is hot." She picked up a guitar, let down her hair and unleashed her voice, crafting a fine piece with living legend M. Ward. — RYAN PATRICK HOOPER

    1. College — Teenage Color EP
      The title track mesmerizes within a millisecond, as David Grellier’s dreamy, mysterious and simplistic yet ultra catchy and dance-y synthesizers recall the ‘80s unlike anything before.
    2. Crystal Castles — Crystal Castles
      We live in a high-tech age, but nothing messes with the arcade classics. These slightly controversial hipster game genies have tapped into the cultural zeitgeist.
    3. Hercules & Love Affair — Hercules & Love Affair
      This funky clan of disco divas provides a boogie fever when another Studio 54 and Harvey Milk is sorely needed today.
    4. Why? — Alopecia
      If Ian Curtis made a hip-hop album it would be Yoni Wolf’s incredibly human masterpiece.
    5. Javelins — Heavy Meadows A triumph of terrific, tranquil tunes catering to the strength of their beautiful soundscapes, romantic themes and Rickle's magnificently mellow vocals. — THOMAS MATICH

    1. The Silent Years — The Globe
      With its textured yet spatial quality, its interwoven milieu of melody and its highly evocative lyrical content and conveyance, The Globe is a flawless favorite.
    2. The Black Keys — Attack & Release Here, one of the hardest hitting drummers around backs a guitarist with the thickest riffs on the planet. In '08, A&R saw the band evolve in the most beautiful of ways.
    3. Mason Proper — Olly Oxen Free
      A mélange of melancholy quirk, dance, down-tempo, funk, pop and playful yet harrowing poetics, Olly Oxen Free impresses at every turn and on everylisten; it's both hypnotic and addictive.
    4. MGMT — Oracular Spectacular
      “Time To Pretend,” “ Weekend Wars,” "Electric Feel” and "Kids” could’ve made up the best EP ever. The bar has been raised.
    5. Human Highway — Moody Motorcycle
      This simple yet thoughtful pop-folk duo effortlessly blends their lullaby soul with a groove-oriented brain. I found a song for every mood and moment the day can bring. — TRAVIS R. WRIGHT

  • Buffalo Killers — Let It Ride
    Filled with crunching wah-wah guitars and a laidback spacey feel, the CD harks back to the James Gang while referencing bands like The Greenhornes.
  • Hank Williams — Unreleased Recordings
    This collection features 54 unreleased songs and surpassed all expectations. I was blown away by the superb sound quality of these lost gems.
  • Polk Miller & His Old South Quartette — Polk Miller & His Old South Quartette
    Vocally mesmerizing and musically stunning! For fans of old timey music, this must own CD is the missing link between Robert Johnson and plantation holler music.
  • Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Band — Puckey Puckey: Jams & Outtakes
    Imagine the Stax rhythm section jamming with Miles Davis and Fela. The Greyboy Allstars and Galactic, wish they could pull off something this cool.
  • Dennis Wilson — Pacific Ocean Blue
    Who would have bet that Dennis Wilson would be the one Beach Boy to release a solo album that the critics still rave about some 30 years later? — WILLY WILSON

  • Bon Iver — For Emma, Forever Ago
    February re-issued: somber goosebump-devestation-folk — the closest thing you’ll get (distinct, far from derivative) to the poignancy of Elliott Smith.
  • Child Bite — Fantastic Gusts of Blood
    Gusts finds the metal-pop-desonstructionists getting a bit wigglier and a bit more anthemic in their rousing, hard-crunched roll-arounds.
  • Future Islands — Wave Like Home
    This Baltimore trio melts scuffed-up basement dance-pop with Joy Division grooves, doo-wop and new-wave berserker-vocals.
  • Bonnie Prince Billy — Lie Down ...
    Behold as a meditative auteur explores rocking-chair/back-porch country. An odyssey into the beauty of the everyday.
  • The Kills — Midnight Boom
    The Kills make beautiful yet minimalist art-punk. Their music is booming, sexy and danceable. Tracks like "Hook and Line" and "Sour Cherry" helped me make great mixes all year.
  • MILO
  • ___ of the Year list: (featuring Child Bite: Mad Scientists of the Year)

    In this week's Real Detroit, you can find numerous different year-end awards: Artist of the Year, etc... more info - here

    one example...
    Real Detroit named local quintet Child Bite - 'Mad Scientists of the Year'

    (words: milo)

    By appearance alone, it's 'fish-in-a-barrel' to call them mad scientists. At any moment, on stage, in the middle of their torrential freak-rock sets, you'd expect any of these five fuzzy commotion-ers to just flip out, and start cackling. Sure, they look the part, with their increasingly frazzled beards and tour-worn sunken eyes, but let us qualify this term "mad…" Most times, the "mad" scientist the townsfolk cast out is actually a misunderstood genius, ceaselessly devoted to saving mankind and galvanizing new paths for society (and fellow inventors). Or, they really are mad, and hell-bent on world domination (or destruction). Which side is Child Bite? Well, if we're talking about on-record, or on-stage, then it might vary from song to song.

    Gold Thriller

    But we mean creation! Child Bite take an already diced and baffling angle toward pop, balancing it with healthy doses of grungy metal grimaces and tribal art-punk break-apart-the-basement berserker bursts. But they never say, "cool, we're weird enough, let's stop there…" They make it weirder, noisier! Or, they make it softer, sweeter – with more disarmingly beautiful melodies swimming in the murk. There's never a formula – never a 'let's get weirder' or 'let's get smoother' discussion – mostly just a 'let's get somewhere else' discussion, while utilizing the exceptional talents of each of the five members to forge stalwart chemistry. They are constantly searching for the electrifying, inspiring intersection of their individual energies. Meticulous and always self-analyzing (to a pain on themselves), they may seem tumbled out and chaotic on stage, and oft on record – but they are devoted, diligent experimenters at heart.

    more info:

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    deep cutz: End o' the Year + The High Strung / SSM / Electric Fire Babies / Battling Siki - PJs Lager House 12 / 26

    The year leaves us feeling markedly more energized as a music community, (the rise of Deastro, Prussia – the evolution of Child Bite, Terrible Twos, the transformation of The Go)… yet still perceptibly groaning out for that last push through the ever-moving goal posts of what could garner genuine respect or acknowledgement, either from the hollow mainstream press, or touring bands, or just our local bloggers.

    Hell, I don't know who we're trying to impress here, anyhow... and, why our legitimacy is constantly debated. You want escapism? You have it, any night of the week. You want to swim the innards of a pure unadulterated arts community? You can do that too… Why bicker? As the year ends – let's just see where this goes...It's so easy to judge the scene, it's a lot harder to stand up and believe in it…'cuz at that point you're sacrificing yourself – you succeed or fail WITH the scene. And that's something every band/musician in this city is devoted to…

    This week: The always impressive power-pop trio The High Strung (pictured) headline PJs Lager House with soul-shockers Electric Fire Babies, gutsy-blues of Battling Siki and the familiar sounds of S.ame S.ex M.arriage.

    art as competition- THE DEEP CUTZ TOP 18 OF 2008

    So, here is a very belated, very belabored..."top" o' the pops list of 2008...

    I won't lie to you - I've come to hate "top-whatever" lists. Well, maybe 'hate' is too strong a word. But from a legitimate critical standpoint, they're useless, mostly becuase they're so brazenly subjective. (As an, even-to-me-inexplicably-random-act, I've made this a TOP-18 rather than a TOP-10...some sort of mini-rebellion against tradition, I suppose...) (it's also technically a TOP-22, but who's counting?)

    "This artist is better than this artist, by one ranking position..."

    But then - why stress? I just like seeing (and hearing about) what everyone else has been listening to this year... It provides some sort of inspiring snapshot, a montage, a cultural collage that makes up a grand interaction of tastes...

    But, I've already decided not to ramble any longer..., just to simply "list..." everything. Besides, it would probably be best for you to simply go to their myspace, or just listen to someone else tell you why I'm wrong...

    Or, write me...tell me what your lists are - I'd love to see them - we'll talk about music!
    thanks for reading!!!

    as the Yeasayer lyric goes...
    "It's a new year, I'm glad to be here..."

    more music writing soon...

    the list..........Milo's deep cutz top 18 of 2008

    18. Terrible Twos - S/T <-/-> Alan Scheurman - Old Patterns

    17. Prussia - Dear Emily, Best Wishes, Molly

    16. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

    15. The Death Set - Worldwide


    14. Oscillating Fan Club - Feverish Dreams As Told By.../ Dirtbombs - We Have You Surrounded

    13. The Walkmen - You And Me

    12. Mason Proper - Olly Oxen Free <-/-> Pas/Cal - I Was Raised...

    11. Quinn Walker - Laughter's An Asshole/Lion Land

    10. Tobacco - Fucked Up Friends

    9. Edie Sedgwick - Things Are Getting Sinister and Sinisterer

    8. The Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom...

    7. Why? - Alopecia

    6. Deerhunter - Microcastle

    5. The Kills - Midnight Boom

    4. Bonnie "Prince" Billy

    3. The Silent Years - The Globe <-/-> Child Bite - Fantastic Gusts of Blood

    2. Future Islands - Wave Like Home

    1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (re-issued, Feb. 2008)

    "i.....know that it's true....it's going to be a good year...."

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Lenny Stoofy - 12 / 20 Belmont

    original draft of a print v.-deep cutz, which was held because we weren't sure if the band was confirmed for the bill...but now, they're on...and, apparently also playing a house-show afterwards(?) possibly near Southfield(?) Scrummage fans (who don't already know where to go) could probably come to the Belmont to check with Stoofy for the details...]



    Deep Cutz:
    Lenny Stoofy

    I've been told that Lenny Stoofy is like Benny Stoofy but "even more fucked…"

    ...or is it the other way around? It all depends on how much you can handlehow deeply you can immerse yourself into the swirly, twitchy, subterranean fuzz and space-folk whirl of each band's flavor (both are connected by Scrummage University being their birthplaces). Melodies get flanked by feedback, synthesizers coalesce in shambolic dizzies with barking shouts and ghostly hums, guitars hover ominous and somewhere in the thick of it you can pick out a song. And that's true for both outfits.

    So then, now that we're all good and confused, I can say that one, (not both, but) Lenny Stoofy (pictured) will be playing the Belmont 12-20 (more than likely...) with two bands in the top-5 running for longest local band name: Marco Polio & The New Vaccines and Night Shall Eat These Girls and Boys.

    Marco Polio & The New Vaccines - 12 / 20 - Belmont

    (words: milo)
    photo - Kenny Corbin

    I wouldn't be so tempted to use the phrase "Beat-boxing Jesus"…unless Steve hadn't said it first, regaling his Easter-night performance in robes and a cardboard cross.

    It's fitting, as Steve Puwalski's fiery-eyed expression is framed in a healthy curly brown beard and stringy locks, and his performances with ally Michael Langan as Marco Polio & The New Vaccines often see him locking into trancelike frenzies discharging his high-school-born development as a human beat-box.

    My lead should've been that Marco Polio's freaksome fuzz-fried spook-dance style was the first band/performance in a long while to, frankly, leave me speechless…and I mean that, personally, in a very good way.

    "Sometimes I wonder how we even got together," said Puwalski, who met Langan at open mic nights, where he did "human beat-boxing and comedy" and Langan brought "the synth stuff. We're totally divergent in a lot of ways…" Breaking their combined tastes down to brass tax would be: Puwalski's initial hip/hop influences matured by a jazz appreciation and Langan's initial punk influences matured through experimental/noise-pop. "Something about when we play at the same time, it always sticks for me," said Puwalski. "Sometimes on stage we might not even acknowledge each other; we're acknowledging the sound waves that are going on between us…"

    Langan calls leaving his home in Port Huron "the great escape," westward to metro Detroit, (where he taught himself how to play the Roland Juno), eventually meeting up with Puwalski and forming an unnamed experiment as a trio and at times, quartet. "We were all over the place," said Langan, "there were so many definitions of electronic music; our goal, at the time, was to perform 'live' electronic music, fully live, without computers." The 'experiment' hung in limbo until Langan was offered a slot to perform a factory show. He called Puwalski the day-of and the duo met up and improvised a set at this "dank, dirty factory…total Texas Chainsaw Massacre environment…"

    The live show, (utilizing two keyboards, synthesizer, sampler, drum machines, a snare drum, a cymbal, loop pedals, delay pedals and, at times, an umbrella fort) – has been bewildering, inspiring and maybe frightening local audiences for more than a year. Early on, they found vital inspiration and creative energy while performing at Scrummage University. Puwalski ricochets around the stage with his startling avalanche vocal splurge while Langan keys in beats and jittery/shimmering melodies with intermittent freak-scream duets. The whole shebang is fascinating.

    "We knew we were bringing chaos in, but we didn't know where to aim it," said Puwalski.

    "We don't want to make cheesy dance music," said Langan, "we like making dance music but we also want to make very elaborate music…of what we're feeling right there…"

    Then, there's the Imaginotron; an instrument played by Puwalski that involves alternate universes and the releasing of Ultra Light Matter. You see, the Imaginotron is everywhere, it sort of is everything; a limitless (invisible) board/grid of adjustable nodes that release and mix particles of alien light energy, expanding various universes. "As far as going back to 'reality,'" said Puwalski, "it's a way for me to connect with the audience." After I ask, he affirms, "Oh, I'm definitely outside of reality…"

    Unstoppable in the sense that, even if all their equipment breaks down (which it has,) they will still perform – if even just with their voices and whatever noise they can make. "Don't stop playing," said Langan, "no matter what."

    12 – 20 – The Belmont; myspace.com/marcopolioandthenewvaccines

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Bing Crosby's Holiday Dance and Shopping Explosion of Cheer and/or Glee - Friday Night, Crofoot in Pontiac

    8:45-9:00 MOBIL
    9:15-9:45 SEX GHOST
    10:00-10:30 CARJACK
    10:45-11:15 CHAMPIONS of BREAKFAST
    11:30-12:15 VICIOUS CYCLES
    12:30-1:00 CHARLIE SLICK
    1:15-1:45 DEASTRO

    Prominent Electro-
    locals Unite for Holiday Dance Party (words: Milo) ~~

    (Sex Ghost)

    Never start a snowball fight with robots. Lack of emotions means they’re ruthless, plus they’ve got freeze-resistant rocket-launching technology.

    I tried hosting a “Deep Cutz Kinda Christmas” at my cozy green shack of a house on a blustery winter day, only to have my second guest, one-man band of destructo-space punk, Carjack, (aka Lo-Fi-Bri), arrive flanked by the smart-ass robots who often accompany him to live performances. The robots and I would spend the next 20 minutes hurling ice at each other…I’m still disputing who actually won…

    Minimalist glammy dance-pop duo Sex Ghost (Patrick Wenzel, Natasha Beste) were already inside, mixing egg nog at a safe distance from their 6 drum machines. Boisterous medieval video-game nerd-hunks Champions of Breakfast (Val Hundreds, Moses Jackson) arrived not too long after Carjack, striding up my driveway on white steeds with their swords and cardboard “axes” drawn. A half-hour later, I’d just finished hanging my outdoor lights when new-wave dance magnate Charlie Slick’s striking blue van rolled up, blaring bass-bulged LL Cool J jams that caused the collected snow on my roof to avalanche down upon my creepy Home Depot-bought skeletal light up reindeer decorations.

    (Champions of

    The scarf-swung Randolph Chabot of Deastro, along with the Crofoot’s Phreddy Wischusen, drove up in a station-wagon packed with presents just at sunset, and finally the party could begin. The celebration? Bringing together most of the line up for Friday night, the ‘Phonotropic’s Bing Crosby’s Holiday Dance and Shopping

    Explosion of Cheer and/or Glee,’ features a long-anticipated who’s-who of local synth-n-sampler-pulsed dance, rock and pop that we’d all been anticipating to inevitably form an ultimate bill: Deastro, Champions of Breakfast, Carjack, Charlie Slick and Sex Ghost. (Also with Vicious Cycles, Downtime, DJs and venders).

    Glammy dance-pop duo Sex Ghost, “started off as a fun side project for us both,” said singer Nathas Beste. “We were lucky enough to be noticed and invited to play some of our first shows during two of the biggest festivals, the BLOWOUT and Detour’s ROCK CITY FEST. We are inspired by our own moods and atmospheric changes caused by the seasons and changes in life. I push (singer/electronics) Patrick (Wenzel) to be more organized and he pushes me to be more improvisational.”

    “Sex Ghost! was born out of our shared sense of humor and interest in different styles of music but with the art of keeping everything minimal. It’s interesting to see people’s reaction to our name. People have even referred to us as raunchy and very sexual but I honestly think that it is the power of suggestion- SEX in the name… they have got to be dirty. We won’t deny it’s laced with it, but not saturated. We are inspired by our own moods and atmospheric changes caused by the seasons and changes in life. I push Patrick to be more organized and he pushes me to be more improvisational. We both agree that less is more and we may have learned that the hard way.”

    [Natasha added, on a Phonotropic related note…and a future-plans note:]—“ Our favorite place we have played is was the Pike Room at the Crofoot in Pontiac. Phreddy at Phonotropic really puts the power in your hands and let’s you create whatever you want for the night. We defiantly want to play there again so we can throw out everything we’ve got. It might be a great place to have the first part of our series of music/art/videos we are planning on releasing in 09 (including lyrics, music video shot on 16mm film, and more).”

    Destructo-space-punk, Carjack, meanwhile, hit up NY, Toronto, and Chicago this year, while its sole operator joined another band, Electric Fire Babies. Lo-fi-Bri plans on releasing a full-length, 2 new 7”’s and re-issuing a back-log of old EPs and b-sides this winter to early spring.

    For dance-pop/party-in-a-box Charlie Slick, 2008 has been “a year of building. We (with keyboardist Shelley), at least I feel, have laid the foundation for some exciting growth in 09. [New LP] Edward Murphy has been selling well and it gives me hope that I can keep this rock n roll machine going.” Elron Hubbard comes in spring 09.

    Deastro signed to Ghostly International and is preparing a winter release for their Moondagger LP.

    Champions of Breakfast
    are planning their first US tour for April 09 and plan to release something in summertime. Said Moses Jackson, “…what we hope to accomplish is moving forward from a commentary on medieval mythology and its weirdo connections to American Techno Music and attempt to use the work we've already done as a framework to explore a more domestic project, i.e. produce a record that addresses the mythology of the American Frontier in a sort of mash-up way.” They are actively seeking sponsorship from Joose malt-liquor energy drink.


    Thus, sharing massively spiked egg-nog that caused our noses to grow a clichéd red hewn, we started wassailing around my living room, sharing our thoughts on a few yuletide subjects….

    Most magical thing about christmas/hanukah/kwanza/etc etc...

    Sex Ghost: Making out by crackling fireplaces, turtle neck sweaters, red underwear and gifts you can return.

    Charlie: I really like the holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving. Christmas movies make me cry. Frosty Especially is good. I like getting to see other people’s families and how they celebrate.

    Deastro: Laughter "It is all about the Laughter!!"

    Least magical thing about the holidays…

    Charlie: I'm not going to shit talk comercialism like I think a lot of people might. I don't mind it so much because I don't let it offend me. I think a lot of it is funny

    Sex Ghost: Parents tell kids a creepy old guy in a red jumpsuit breaks into your house while your sleeping and gives you "presents.”

    favorite x-mas song…

    Carjack: 'Santa Stole My Baby' by the Mistreaters - A modern day Christmas classic.

    Sex Ghost: ‘Keep Christmas with You’ by Bob and that deaf lady Linda from Christmas eve on sesame street. Its a real tear jerker.

    Least favorite x-mas song…

    Sex Ghost: Here comes Santa Claus. I think the title speaks for itself.

    Deastro: Anything Christmas song Bing Crosby sings! I just don't like the way he draws out his words, I'm more of a Dean Martin guy!