Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blowout and The Night Move (Shuttle)

A message brought to you from The Night Move (a shuttle for the night-life) and/for The Metro Times Blowout 12 (Mar 4th - Mar 7th - 2009).

Attention all Royal Oak, Ferndale and Detroit Blowout goers! If you are worried about getting down to Blowout (or making it back alive), we just made life even easier for you. Our official shuttle service, The Night Move, will be providing transportation to and from Blowout each night of Blowout!
Night Move will pick up in Royal Oak at 8pm, Ferndale at 8:10pm and Detroit at 8:30pm (so that Night Move can be in Hamtramck by 8:45pm to be ready to run the Blowout route). At the end of the evening, Night Move will leave Hamtramck at 1:15am, stop in Detroit at 1:30 am, Ferndale at 1:50am and Royal Oak at 2:00am.

[5th & Washington]

[E. Troy & Woodward (Between the Emory & WAB)]

[Beaubien & Monroe]

more info

Bands Make Their Metro Times Blowout Picks - part 3

(words: milo)

March 4th - March 7th - 2009 - Hamtramck

Line Up / Schedule

Here we have the third installment of “Bands Make Their Blowout Picks”

Introduced and explained here – and expounded upon here – featuring the Blowout schedule selections of The Friendly Foe’s Ryan Allen, Zoos of Berlin’s Will Yates, The Silent Years’ Josh Epstein, Lee Marvin Computer Arm (and Dirtbombs)’s Zach Weedon, and Duedne/Pinkeye’s Jeff Howitt.

Because as we said – it’s fun to pick the brains of musicians who will not only be performing within the 4-day-long festival (March 4th – March 7th) amongst 200 other bands, spread across 20 venues, but also to hear the voices of artists who will no-doubt be circulating the streets of festival-base Hamtramck, seeing their friends and other interests performing live…

This week: Suburban Sprawl chief Zach Curd (and keyboardist/singer from The Pop Project). Curd’s main band may not be on the Blowout bill this year, but his label’s current hot ticket, The Word Play – will be performing Thursday night at the Belmont – along with The Rue Moor Counts, Beverly Fre$h and Timmy’s Organism – easily one of the more flavorful and varied combinations in the festival.

Zach Curd: OK here are my Blowout picks/thoughts!

Blowout is the Detroit music festival equivalent of Prince's Sign O' The Times album -- messy and all over the place, but there are some cool moments. Obviously I'd say go see The Word Play (Thursday @ The Belmont) and Child Bite (Wednesday @ The Magic Stick), but here are my non-Suburban Sprawl picks:

Wednesday - 3/4/09
The "Pre-Party" night has two solid headliners in Silverghost (Magic Stick) and The Meatmen (Majestic). I like Silverghost's recorded material, and the last time I saw them live was the 2008 Blowout at the K of C Lounge. I predict that they will be one year better than last year. I've never seen The Meatmen live, but 14 year old me was into them. Oh god, I just watched some things on youtube and honestly The Meatmen are not good, but they were friends with Minor Threat. So you know, points for that? When is Minor Threat playing Blowout? I'm all over that.

Thursday - 3/5/09
The K of C Lounge lineup on Thursday is solid (Zoos of Berlin, Daniel, Devilfish, and Blase Splee). Other sets of note are The Plain Dealers at The Painted Lady, and Mick Bassett at Small's. I'm a Marty Smith (ex-Thunderbirds Are Now) fan, so I'm sure the Plain Dealers have some interesting stuff going on. I saw Mick Bassett with Friendly Foes at the Belmont a long time ago and that was my only time seeing him live. Sometimes I listen to the songs on his myspace page. They are good. Cool.

Friday - 3/6/09
When reading over the schedule for Friday, I saw Il Segreto String Quartet (playing at Whiskey In The Jar) and got excited at the prospect of a string quartet playing Blowout. Turns out they are one of those string quartets that play covers and stuff, which is less cool than modern composition, I gotta say. When is La Monte Young playing Blowout? I'm all over that. Other than that, Great Lakes Myth Society at The Atlas Bar will be great I'm sure.

Saturday - 3/7/09
The Painted Lady lineup seems pretty cool (Warn Defever, Druid Perfume), although that means going to The Painted Lady.



Also making selections this week – fractured-folk/lo-fi experimentalist Alan Scheurman – still on the heels of the free online release of his mystic minor masterpiece “Old Patterns.” Scheurman plays Friday night in the Knights of Columbus Lounge, alongside a consortium of equally experimental folk acts like Aran Ruth, Kelly Jean Caldwell and Fred Thomas (of Saturday Looks Good To Me) performing as City Center.

Alan Scheurman:

The coolest thing about the blowout for me is that it makes it easy for musicians to catch up on what other musicians are doing musically. Sometimes you see a band at one of their first shows and you never want to see them again. But the Blowout makes it possible to see how much each of us has progressed.

Here's my picks:

Child Bite (Magic Stick) My old band went on tour with these guys along time ago. Now Sean is in the band and they're even more crazy and fucking awesome.

Silverghost (Magic Stick)I haven't seen them in a while but their video on the blowout site has caught my attention.

Deastro (Knights of Columbus Hall)I haven't seen Randy with his full band yet. I like Deastro because of Randy's ability to vision the future. When he first moved to Detroit he asked me what he could get involved with to do active good works in the city. How can you not support someone with creative energy like that?

Slow Giant (Whiskey in the Jar)Max and everyone that accompanies him are amazing songwriters. If you're interested in the Detroit indie-folk scene Slow Giant's long-winded somber folk is worth discovering.

Matt Jones (Atlas Bar)Sometimes Matt's talent is hard to stomach. You'll know what I mean if you see him play.

City Center (K of C Lounge)Fred Thomas, an I-pod, and delay pedals.

Aran Ruth (K of C Lounge)We're on the same page, cosmically speaking.


Bianca R.

Gardens (K of C Hall)Terrence McKenna, DMT, Aliens, Urban Gardens, and Rock n Roll.

Druid Perfume (Painted Lady)Jamie Easter and friends scare the shit of you and fuck your mind with superior technical accuracy.

War (Painted Lady)This is the only way I could ever call myself pro-war.

Pinkeye with John Sinclair (Paycheck’s)How couldn't you be curious about this?

more info: Metro Times

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview: Loney Dear (Emil Svanängen) - New video: "Airport Surroundings"

(..."could be
the big
for me...")


So ABC News poked and prodded the almost painfully-charming and affable Emil Svanangen, on camera for their “Amplified” series. (The music-series started up a few months ago, galvanized by the spiel of Ryan Schreiber, editor of def.-hip. institute Pitchfork Media(.com), making his picks for 2009.) Since then, ABC has ran with this new splash of “with it,” and are actually going out of their way to find some commendably unconventional interview selections. Like Sweden’s Svanangen, a quasi-recluse/home-recording songwriter and lead singer/performer of five-piece Loney Dear (acting both as his writing moniker and the live band name).

Svanangen, twitching a bit, but seemingly comforted by the nearness of his guitar, says during the interview that he didn’t want the band name to sound like “lonely,” so he made up his own word…, That, even though the word strikes close to forlorn, or seclusion, that it’s different, it’s more nuanced…that a Loner isn’t exactly Lonely…

But most of the readers, the listeners, and the “critics” are tagging it as thus – this, music-to-be-listened-to-alone, bullshit.

I don’t know if I’m overthinking this…but when I see the apparent “music critic” on ABC, (who looks as though she’d be as at-home judging fashion decisions on red carpets, and in fact, delivers the on-camera review in similar fashion, “If you’re going to pick up [2009's Dear John], now is the season…”) – she limitedly gages it as “a break-up record” that feels sad, or feels, indeed, like “a Dear, John letter.” Then, she re-phrases that lonely music perception.

“I’m just trying to do what feels important,” said Svanangen, who hails from Jonkoping, Sweden, where, through the early 00’s, he recorded homemade (made in the basement of his parent’s home) albums and released them online. “Every time I’m out touring I get a bit closer to what I want to express. It’s still a long way to go. Sometimes its fun to play dancey happy music and other times that just feels shallow. I guess it has a lot to do with the audience and the rooms you play.”

Listen: "Airport Surroundings"

Svanangen’s homemade works started gaining attention through 2005 – and fate would have it that his CD-R’s surfed the desks at Sub Pop. From there, he was signed and the baroque-pop beauty Loney Noir was released in 2007.

“[Sub Pop] sort of let me go after the first album,” said Svanangen of dealing with the attention-storm and having been scooped up by the Seattle-based label. “So they were never really involved in ANY sort of musical development or creativity, but I felt very proud to be working with them and think they had a huge impact on my music all over the world.” He adds, “…thanks.” But, in late 2008, signed with Polyvinyl, for the release of 2009’s darker, more cinematic Dear John, a still-delicate yet palpably urgent sounding hybrid of folk, electronic and…just slightly, subtle dancebeats, albeit unobtrusively rolling underneath.

Melodramatic strings that saw and sway over certain songs, draping it in a specific kind of sadness, not the kind of cutesy Belle & Sebastian forlorn effused by Loney Noir, but instead, something more hard-boiled. “I guess I tried to make it darker with that. Maybe I felt less afraid of trying that sort of sounds.” He adds that these theatrical dressings were “…a long process” and self-effacingly shrugs, “I’m not sure it was a perfect result.” (Which would echo his deflections on ABC news, being asked if it was true that he tried to make a masterpiece with Dear John – and that, did he succeed? No, he didn’t think so…but he tried, and that that was what mattered…)

Identifiable. Everyday we write the book.

Asked about his relaxation time – or where he may look for inspiration during the quieter hours: "Difficult. I still don’t know if listening to music is good for my writing. When I do the jockeying in the tour bus I mostly play jazz music from the 60's and the 00's. It means a lot to me.”

Svanangen is currently finishing up a tour with the flavorful gypsy-folk, string-heavy-swing and jazzy pop auteur Andrew Bird.

“It’s an amazing thing to come out and meet fans, if there are any. We are still so early in our careers and it’s always a surprise every time there is a crowd. On the Bird tour were playing 1000-1500 almost every night and that’s different. Besides the live thing I’m currently thinking about what I want to express for the next album. Hoping for some sort of really BIG acoustic sound. I have been trying to get my hands on a double bass for a long time, plus looking for different small string instruments from all over the northern hemisphere.”

Loney Dear headline Schuba’s Tavern, in Chicago on March 1st (with Anni Rossi) – then it’s a bit of time-off before SXSW madness and a tour through Europe (particularly Scandanavia) in April.

Svanangen said he’s looking forward to “…actually, touring and playing. And writing new music. I really hope the next record could be the big breakthrough for me.”

New Video: "Airport Surroundings":


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Neon Nostalgia of Futurecop!

The dazzling Nintendo disco of Futurecop! descends unto The Pike Room on March 2nd.

by Thomas Matich

It’s 1984 and you slide down the stairs, lace up your Reebok hi-tops, zip-up your Members Only jacket, don the Ray-Bans, hop into the DeLorean and zoom away to day of sunny paradise in The Valley. Futurecop!’s “Transformers” is what’s blaring out of your cassette deck. With warm, kinetic sci-fi synthesizers that sound like the soundtrack to a “Two Coreys” space adventure that was never made, British boys Manzur Iqbal and Peter Carrol formed Futurecop! a few years ago and have since saw their blog love balloon into hyper fans spinning their tunes across the globe.

Futurecop! is part of an elite electronic movement bubbling out of Europe (with strong ties to America) which forms a viral scene that best represents what word of mouth looks like in the global music community. There's the pounding heartbeats of College, the glossy suave stylings and jaw dropping remixes by Anoraak, the superhuman DJ powers of Russ Chimes, the disco queen dynamics of La Roux, the acidic glam of Minitel Rose, the euphoric house of Justin Faust and the glitzy dreamy dance pop of Jupiter among so many others. Crystal Castles, Keenhouse, The Golden Filter and Weird Tapes are some of the stateside allies that make up this electronic new world order where MySpace is the command center and blogs like DiscoDust, BIGSTEREO and Ohh Crap! report on the movers and shakers.

With College (David Grellier) and his Valerie collective pals Anoraak just wrapping up their first North American and Australian tour, Crystal Castles taking the world by storm and The Golden Filter debuting in New York and building hype for their first release, this music is beginning to put a much deserved crater-sized dent into the earth. It's thrilling because outside of our current thriving Detroit scene with gems like Deastro (who I believe fits right in line with the electronic movement), these artists are the exciting future of music, one that doesn't go for retro '80s shtick but time warps you to that nostalgic, innocent, fun era and builds a whole new world with tools and ideas from the future.

With their energetic, body movin' live shows and carefree mantra towards embracing the '80s pop culture aesthetic, Futurecop! is poised to make plenty of noise on their coming North American trek. I've been addicted to the handful of songs you can "officially" get your hands on, from the bombastic Brat Pack jam "Class of 1984" that makes you want to do the running man until you pass out on the living room carpet to the robotic cosmic tango of "Transformers." Their recently released EP available on BeatPort, The Unicorn & The Lost City Of Alvograth, was put out by the Los Angeles label IHEARTCOMIX and features three stellar tracks.

The synthesizers on "N.A.S.A." get about as intergalactic as one would expect and "Tonight's Hero," whisks you away to an arcade fantasy adventure with a thumping bass line and zippy xylophone that sounds as if it could've came out of Vince Clarke's playbook. But the standout might be "As Seen On TV," which begins with an aggressive, crunchy blitz of distorted synthesizers that quickly erupts into a Dan Deacon like blast of cartoon glee, conjuring a Chia Pet commercial springing to life in your living room and flying you away to green pastures where you get down with the Babes In Toyland.

Futurecop! - "Eyes Like The Ocean

The duo have also worked their Game Genie magic with remixes of cuts by Ciara, M.I.A and Crystal Castles (they make "Alice Practice" listenable) as they unload their secret codes and splatter electronic neon nostalgia over these cuts to create something fresh to def. It's that old school flavor that makes Futurecop! a real sweet treat, as they make music not for the club but the treehouse and by getting in touch with the little kid in all of us, they're sure to raise the roof.

Deep Cutz caught up with Futurecop! founder Manz Iqbal via email in anticipation of their debut performance in Detroit, one you won't want to miss...

Deep Cutz: How did your music become to be influenced by ‘80s American pop culture?
Manz Iqbal: The music has to do with creating a nostalgic feel from when I was a kid growing up in a boring town glued to the TV.

DC: The ‘80s revival has reached overkill lately, what is it about Futurecop! that separates you from the pack?
MI: I don’t make music to consciously separate me from anything. I make music that satisfies me and I try to create what I’m feeling in my head. Whatever that comes out is what it is and if people like it it’s even more amazing!

DC: Are you nervous about this big North American tour? What do you hope to take from your visit?
MI: Not really, more excited - we want to just show what we are about to America and I’m sure they’ll love it.

DC: I love "Class of 1984," but I think Anoraak might have made it into a better track. How do you feel, as a remixer yourself, when someone takes on one of your songs?
MI: I’m not really into remixing myself unless I love the track and I’m not really into dance/club music (Pete is more the dance freak). However it’s nice when someone likes our music in the first place and someone asking us to remix it is even better, no matter whom it is.

Futurecop! - Class of 1984 (ANORAAK Remix)

DC: What is the inspiration behind the title of the EP: The Unicorn & The Lost City Of Alvograth?
MI: It’s a fantasy movie idea based on our favorite movie; The Never Ending Story (title song kicks ass) and the songs are the soundtrack to the movie.

DC: Where do you see Futurecop! in 5 years?
MI: Whatever’s happened so far is amazing and unreal! We never knew about electronic production and I’m still learning even simple things now. All we did is put a MySpace up and send 3 songs to a blog. Whatever we have done we are proud of so we can’t really say what’s going to happen we're just going with the flow.

DC: How did you guys link up with IHEARTCOMIX and what made you decide to release the EP with them?
MI: We did an IHEARTCOMIX gig last year in LA and we got on well with Franki Chan. Then when we decided to release an EP with Southern Fried, we decided to have Franki on board. So the main reason was we really liked Franki and his team, especially when a lot music industry people are weird.

DC: You guys don't have a lot of recorded material out yet, so what are you going to perform live after you do the EP tracks? Remixes, DJ sets?
MI: We’ve got lot of mash-ups in there plus when we play live we play songs that I’ve never put on our MySpace or given to blogs - so if you came to our show there will be a lot of new material.

DC: Judging from the MySpace photos of the live shows, you guys have been able to draw good crowds that want to dance and have fun like at a Girl Talk gig. Have you been surprised? Has it been easy to promote the music/shows?
MI: Not surprised – I’m happy it’s like that - the music is all about having fun, dressing up and dancing again, instead of moshing to noise/techno music. Personally, promoting the music feels really easy because as I said I hardly did anything - people just wanted to help promote it because they loved what we were doing from managers, agents, promoters, labels and the fans etc.

DC: You guys have some incredibly awesome artwork. How does it come together?
MI: It’s just in our heads and what we experienced in our childhood, which we are trying to bring out.

DC: There's seems to be an unique, worldwide bond between some of the electronic artists right now like yourself, College, Crystal Castles and a few others and the blogs that support you. Does it feel like you guys are on the verge of taking over the world?
MI: It actually does - especially at shows where people are so enthusiastic about it and the amazing buzz we get when we play.

DC: With a song named “N.A.S.A.” and some other odes to space, I’m wondering if you wanted to be an astronaut as a kid?
MI: LOL - Yes I did!

DC: Bangladesh has it's own unique music and film culture, does that have any influence on you and what does your family think of your music?
MI: The old stuff, yes. Family think it’s weird how people like the music without vocals lol but they are supportive and I make them wear the t-shirt when they are shopping at Tescos! //DC//

Watch: Futurecop! live in L.A.

Futurecop! @ MySpace

Fontana's Losing Streak

“So I guess I should tell you about our stupidity,” Fontana guitarist/vocalist Paul DeRochie relents with a deep sigh. “Oh man, people aren’t going to feel bad for us at all.”

The pains of touring can be immense. Where will you sleep at night? Is the weather going to warrant the roads undrivable? Will you get paid? Is your shit safe? A momentary lapse in these paranoiac states of frenzied thinking and you could be looking at a situation similar to that of Detroit punks, Fontana.

“We were standing in 7/11 and Colin (Simon Fontana’s Drummer) and Geoff (Ives Fontana’s bassist) come up behind us and say, ‘Did you guys load the stuff out of the car?’” Derochie recalls of the group’s January trip to Philadelphia. “My heart just sank. I already knew what happened.”

After loading the band’s gear out into their touring vehicle, the band delayed leaving the City of Brotherly Love for a few hours. In that time, their car was broken into and everything from hand-built guitars, amps, drums, records and birth certificates were stolen. “It was a professional job. They had the tools to break the lock. They staked it out and knew what to get,” DeRochie says. “They didn’t waste time on shit like drum seats.”

It’s been a hard road for Fontana in the past few months, aside from the group’s gear getting stolen in Philly, they were also involved in a car crash that left DeRochie’s prized Mercury Tracer for dead. “We just played this show in Ohio, it was a Friday night and it was only a five hour ride back to Detroit,” DeRochie says. “We figured we would make it home that night and than just rest up on Saturday.”

As the boys pressed crossed another county line, snow began to fill up the road, which had not been prepared prior to the onset of the powdery white stuff. Cars were spinning out left and right, the group tried to navigate themselves, but ultimately they hit another car. “I just looked over at Geoff and his face was all bloody. An ambulance had to come,” DeRochie says. “Geoff’s parents were nice enough to come pick us up. It was my mom’s birthday and I had to call her and tell her we just got in the really bad accident. ‘Happy Birthday Mom.’”

Fontana, who plays a brand of punk that mixes free jazz with ‘80s American hardcore, will be playing a show February 26 at PJ’s Lager House with X! Records label mates, Terrible Twos. While Derochie, Ives and Simon have insisted it not be, the bands friends have suggested that all proceeds go to the band in order to get new gear. “It would be bull shit for me to put one together for myself,” DeRochie says. “I don’t really feel right about it now even though we aren’t putting it on, but I feel a little better at the same time knowing people want to support us.”

Fontana/2-26/PJ's Lager House

4 Stars
“Not A Leg To Stand On” b/w “Miss Calhoun”
Milk n’ Herpes Records

Recorded at DNA Studios while on tour in Lincoln, Nebraska, Fontana’s brand new seven inch from Milk n’ Herpes Records is nothing short of a slap in the face. The A-side, titled “Not A Leg To Stand On” meshes a choppy Chuck Berry riff into all out punk rock rage fest complete with Black Flag background vocals. It sort of makes me feel like punching someone in the face, but then, the breakdown comes. A bit of that “early R.E.M.” dream-pop sound that most indie rock bands dream of trying to encapsulate, but Fontana nails it in the matter of ten seconds. Then, it’s back to the rage.

On the flip side, Geoff Ives leads the sonic assault of “Miss Calhoun,” which features the Fontana formula of “fast then slow and repeat,” that has worked so well in the past. Paul DeRochie’s guitar is the hallmark of this track with shredability that can’t be deemed lame. In addition, Fontana’s lyrics are also one of their strongest attributes. “Every time she touched me/I was glad to be alive” dares you to wonder just who Miss Calhoun is/was.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bands make their (Metro Times) Blowout picks - for 2009 - PART TWO

Hello again –

(2009 Blowout - March 4th - March 7th - 200 Bands (all local) and 20 Venues in Hamtramck)

Part 2 of our Metro Times Blowout mini-series –
featuring personal picks from the bands on the bill.



Last week we read the viewing and listening preferences of Friendly Foes’ Ryan Allen and Zoos of Berlin’s Will Yates.

This week –

we start with Josh Epstein from the Silent Years – who headline the Knights of Columbus Hall on Thursday night (3/5), with: electro dream-pop quartet Deastro (; art-punk/pop-revivalists Satin Peaches ( and electro-pop trio Rogue Satellites (…also a new DC personal pick.

Josh Epstein

“My must sees are:

Zoos of Berlin

-I've heard the new record and haven't seen them in

about a year, which makes me curious and excited. Colin (their

drummer) did an excellent job recording them. (Thursday – K of C Lounge)


He is going to be making some national waves this year and I

couldn't be more excited and proud of him. What a good dude. (Thursday – K of C Hall)

Running With Panthers

Cock rock glory with the world's most

entertaining front man! (Friday – Small’s Bar)

Alan Patrick Scheurman

-haven't seen him pay in about 3 years, and

really want to this time (Friday - K of C Lounge)

Child Bite

who the fuck knows what kind of shit they'll pull? But I'm

interested in finding out (Wednesday– Magic Stick)



Also throwing out ideas this week – Zach Weedon, bassist for Lee Marvin Computer Arm (and the Dirtbombs) – Lee Marvin Computer Arm plays on the same bill with the Dirtbombs, 3rd and headliner, respectively, at the K of C Hall – Friday night. Timmy Vulgar will be djing this rough and tumble noisy punk rock soiree, with The Terrible Twos and the Uproars.


: Friendly Foes (Belmont): because drunk Ryan Allen is hilarious. Feed him beers people!

Friday: Kelly Jean Caldwell
(K of C Lounge): because she's an amazing singer, and she has a song titled "blood."

Saturday: The Sisters Lucas (K of C Lounge): because the have beautiful vocal harmonies, and Julie can drop some stand-up comedy like a flip of a switch

Saturday: Druid Perfume
(Painted Lady): because they're amazing

Saturday: Frustrations
(Painted Lady): see Druid Perfume

Saturday: Gardens
(K of C Hall): because they'r
e my roommates and they'll kick my ass if I don't show up. And they're really good

(Kelly Jean


Up next, some choices of blues/goth/folk/country/rock-n-roller Jeff Howitt, from Duende and Pinkeye. Like last year, Howitt’s Loco Gnosis label will take over Paycheck’s for the night of Mar 7 (Saturday), featuring the noisy spook rock of Red China, the aristocratic pop/surf-and-swing of Oscillating Fan Club and Detroit’s great poet/provocateur John Sinclair, performing alongside the formidable freak-fest of the Pinkeye Orchestra.

Jeff Howitt


It will be hard to go pick up our packet with Silverghost, Octopus, Child Bite and Electric Fire Babies playing all in a row. Seriously. A line up like that is monumental and I have to breathe-in every minute of it.


Fields of Industry
- New Dodge Lounge They keep that Velvet's shade of malevolence inside their lush beauty where other mid-Michigan bands give over to the syrupy. Actually this is
another dream bill for me with Millions of Brazilians, Marco Polio & the New Vaccines and Love Meets Lust but I have to go see Devil Fish at K of C Lounge. After that I am running to 3141(Locker Room) for To The Bat Cave who has Ray from OFC, Leslie from MCD, Tony Vega from you name it and wild man Justin Walsh.

Afterwards it is completely up in the air. I have no idea what I am going to do..Mick Bassett, Sex Ghost!, the Decks, Beard of Bees..I almost want to go see Zoos just to remind Colin to give us a PINKEYE recording he made at a drums only gig!


Woodman who are always gracious, cool and full of energy at Paycheck's. Beyond that I'd check out the Uproars at K of C Hall. Any phase of the

development is worthy of seeing. I'd also check out Madame XD at Trowbridge House of Coffee. Truly a Detroit original while maintaining all it's roots. The Manton's are also a
top pick. Great lyrics, great picking, great vibe.

may have something more than usual/unusual with former Bear vs. Shark singer Marc Paffi so for me it's a can't miss. Otherwise I'd have to go see the full throttle Michigan rock'n'roll of Mazinga at Baker's Street. If I didn't mention Stare into the Sun whom our bassist consider a operatic genius at Kelly's I'd be pinched.

Dutch Pink
at Paycheck's. They are doing a specia l long set and if you have never seen them wind a night up then down you haven't fully lived it. These guys hold the scale of what's possible.


Late 60's troubadour Rodriguez at the New Dodge is my pick. We ran into him at 4th Street this year and he came to our Dennis Coffey show this past summer. Detroit cool at it's coolest.

Magic Shop
at K of C Hall. When people scratch their head at where all the roots and country comes from I have no idea how they haven't sniffed it out earlier. Band is top notch and mean to boot!

If I could transport myself and catch the Readies while we play I would. Otherwise people should just come and see DUENDE! and stay. Pinkeye will be doing a set with John Sinclair and not just because of my involvement but if you haven't experienced this progenitor of culture and Detroit-mythos and creed you should really check that one off the list.



Prussia…who I had asked for their picks, thinking that they were on the bill…corrected me and responded with a polite reminder that they weren't going to be in Hamtramck that week, and are in fact playing the Pike Room with fellow experimental indie/folksters Ohtis, and Mississippi swing/pop’ster Dent May on Saturday March 7th. …just so ya know…

School of Seven Bells: tour, release new single

Premier dream-pop trio, School of Seven Bells, are still bustling about in the depths of Winter - finishing the US leg of their first big tour of 2009, before heading across the pond for a flurry of European dates through March and April. After diligently a handful of 7” singles in short order after their 2007 formation, guitarist/electro-provocateur Benjamin Curtis, from Secret Machines and dual singers (and also keyboardist/guitarists) the Deheza twins (Alejandra and Claudia) from On!Air!Library! are still riding strong on the fringes of a buzz-wave, after releasing the sweet and serene pop-odyssey, Alpinisms in 2008, on Ghostly International.

The single for said-album's swooning, herky-jerky haze-pop “Iamundernodisguise” came out last week (with B-side "Trance Figure (Nobody remix)"), on Ghostly. The blunted burst of a drum machine marches along with a steady burning synth and the back-and-forth pulsation of the Deheza sisters’ equilibrium-shattering waver. The subtle guitar twangs looming in the back and in the corners pop out after a calamatous chorus that includes spiritual feeling wordless echoing exertions.

Alpinisms draws heavily from the day-dreamily fuzzed out lovey pop of 80’s new-wave, sampling the purposely murky and cryptic, mumbly but bewitching dreamspeak lyricism of the Cocteau Twins and splaying out into the prog-loving art-punk of twiddling the dials and drowning out the sound in a measured yet dizzying dose of fuzzy feedback and cerebral, warbling reverb.

For those of you at home playing drinking games connected to how many times I, or anyone else, use the word (as metaphor or adjective) “dream,” well, you’d understand if you spun the album through a few times. Not only does it have that sort of whirled where-am-I feeling lingering through the fuzzy corners of your mind, after each listen (facilitated by the haunting siren-like swoon of the Deheza sister’s harmonizing and howled serenades, combined with Curtis’ consistent electro-grind and metric meandering of crunchy synths), but the lyrics are also rapt with ethereal imagery – philosophizing the logistics of the dream state and the unreasonable, unstable, euphoric-madness of a slumber’s adventure. Each song feels as though it’s winding ceaselessly without ever leaving this dark nocturnal maze of a structure.

Suffice it to say they’ve made a big enough splash throughout 08, with tours, attention-grabbing performances at CMJ, the well-received Alpinisms and now, “Iamundernodisguise”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Album Reviews

The Acorn -
Tin Fist EP

(Paper Bag)

The Acorn
occupy a middle ground between soft, atmospheric, campfire-in-the-clearing folk and rousing, rhythm-heavy kartwheel-through-the-curtains theatrical pop/rock. This middle ground is given a unique tinge of mysticism by sound and by words: with singer Rolf Klausener's mid-range cooing of poetic lyrics that combine rustic
sobriety with fantastic whimsy either swaying, shouting, or tumbling over intricate, layered instrumentations that pull out the metallic clang of guitar reverb over a subtle but vital acoustic strum. This blend of warm fuzzy center framed with frostbitten resolve was apparent on their 2007 full-length Glory Hope Mountain, (re-released in 08 after signing with Paper Bag records) and it hits you early on during Tin Fist (also a Paper Bag re-release, from 2006). "Dents" opens with a softly howling feedback that fades to give room for a woodsy acoustic guitar riff, dancing along with massaging vocals – slowly setting its footing to take off down the pine-laden hill with minimalist barrel-top drums and a welcomed banjo's charm dosey-doeing with steady strings. "Dents" may feel like the brother-song to Glory Hope Mountain's quintessential road-trip runner "Crooked Legs." "Brokered Heart" may feel like an awkward or unnecessary interlude – though it's poppy and has a vigorously strummed acoustic under a wandering jazzy electric that recalls a Sufjan Stevens-y sonnet, it's by far the shortest track on the collection…one almost feels that if it just lingered a bit longer it may fit with the rest of the EP's subtle epics like opener "Heirloom" or closer "Maplebees." But that opens up the only, or at least strongest mark against the album – hazy calmness at the corners. With this EP's middle section, aforementioned "Dents" and the ethereal clang and cutting, post-rock-ish guitars wavering over blunted but burning drums of "Feral Chile," we're presented the more appealing, (or energetic) side of the Acorn – that which leans closer to the sunrise-invigoration of road-trip wonder and melodramatic baroque-pop staging – but others discount the lulling builds and swirling atmospheric delicacy of the longwinded folky opener and twilight closer. At the least, one must credit the Ottawa-CA-based quartet for a variety of flavor, for an interest in sound experimentation; you can get your dreamy night-driving soundtracks and your front-of-the-stage head-boppers, but you can also settle in for some high-places cerebral drifts, a quieter come-down, warming your hands by the fire before setting out again…

Black Dice -
Repo Man

(Paw Tracks)

I'll start out talking about Animal Collective and my furnace. To qualify, a friend of mine once said of Animal Collective – "Animal Collective remind me of Black Dice…if Black Dice actually made music." Which could be a good hinter for those of you just coming to these awe-inspiring trailblazers of noise-rock monstrosities…because they too like to slide into these "almost-songs" of tribal beats and world-music shamanistic chants (albeit, the chants are done through computers and metallic keyboards and guitar feedback…) – it's like the spooky humpback brother hiding in the boiler room to Animal Collective's new lady-charming intellectual who runs student government – they're both going to make for great conversation.

Listen: Black Dice – “Glazin”

Then…the other thing about listening to some of the second half of this record – I had it playing in another room while I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. The shambled looping cymbals and weird gurgling synth noises, the acerbic guitar scrapes and clankety drums made me think to myself, "what the hell is that noise? Is the furnace acting up again? Sonovabitch…" But no…that's just the (misunderstood) beauty of Black Dice, the galvanization of music through noise – utilizing the most rustic, guttural, scraping, machine-like sonorousness to create, not so much a song, but music…finding the visceral emotion, human emotion, in the most alienating tones and un-human sounding noises. (Dig the tinny skirling glory of the shambled junkyard drum circle run "Glazin"). If music is meant as an emotional stimulant – then Black Dice would make pop, hip-hop and rock look cheap by comparison of the thrill…or the disturbance, rather. Pop gives you lots of hooks, and its fun to dance and singalong, but Black Dice explore the deeper grinding groans of your soul, by letting you linger a bit on buzzing synths that only morph into unsettling insect-like buzzes that loom from above ("Earnings Plus Interest"). "La Cucaracha" is a potential single, for those wanting a quick digestion – and the most bank for your buck in terms of a nice blend of tribal drums, scratching shouted vocals and tension-building synth bass booms that grow and transmogrify in tone. One of the biggest distinctions is, not only the layers, the more "together" swelling of feedback and rhythm, but the conciseness of songs – cutting down from their usual 8-10 minute nightmarish narratives to a palatable 4-5 minute boundary. Samples persist throughout, though you wouldn't really notice on the first few listens because they've been stretched, burned, fuzzed, squashed and disemboweled by this NY trio of spooky-sound-loving experimenters that it all washes over like haunting white noise possession. If nothing else, always interesting. But, also—as always, alienating as all hell, for most listeners. Hardcores can make up their minds from here…

Benjy Ferree
Come Back To The
Five and Dime,
Bobby Dee, Bobby Dee


Benjy Ferree is the kind of music artist that you'll see described differently in every write-up. That, or you'll get generic terms like, classic rock/folk singer…That's a good start, but one needs to cover his love of synthesizers, and weird buzzing bass grooves and space-rock-esque wavy guitar tones… And, fuzzy vocal effects add an extra fire to an undoubtedly less-crackly/deeper-toned Jack-White-recalling voice. But you'd also have to picture a Jack White voice embracing more doo-wop-y falsettos and early classic 60's pop balladry, over guitar lines that shimmy in that sultry glam-rock style ala T.Rex. You could even get the attention of fans for that alternative singer/songwriter style, the experimental pop structures of M.Ward or the psychedelic folk of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, -only, with Ferree, you need to add a bit of showiness, a bit more of a confident strut, even just a bit more soul. Going back to showiness, or even just a penchant for showmanship, this is a concept album dedicated to the desecrated memory of Bobby Driscoll, the once-Disney-child-star who played Peter Pan (and was inevitably fired for hitting puberty…falling into a life of drugs, an early death and an unmarked grave). As heavy as that is, the album, soundwise, feels very celebratory, very swingable, even if the lyrics are a bit morbid and biting. The only downfall is that this is a strong and dizzying swath of many flavors (adding onto the names dropped above could easily be Bowie, Roxy Music and Queen), sometimes coming off as a bit ostentatious, a bit awkward, or just overwhelming in its punch – But, to say the least, it's always catchy, with a great groove to every song.


Benjy Ferree – “Fear”