Saturday, May 30, 2009

News: Blase Splee, Telekinesis, Rock Plaza Central, Jay Reatard, Vivian Girls, Pitchfork Festival

News Splurge:
Upcoming shows of note

June 5 Prom Night at the Crofoot – featuring Quadruple CD Release for four Detroit bands: Deastro, The Silent Years, Manna & Quail and The Summer Pledge. Special guests include Bars of Gold and The Rogue Satellites (in the lounge next-door). $5 gains you access to the whole complex – with the ability to have a full night of record shopping, fueled by beer.

June 6Blasé Splee Album Release at Small’s. Et Cetera is their first full length. “"I can say I think it’s amazing but I’m sad I can’t listen to it with someone else’s ears. It’s hard to hear them as songs anymore after a year and a half of recording. It’s been a long process but it’s definitely time to cut the cord with this one. We’ll never be 100% satisfied but this is easily the most amazing thing I’ve ever been a part of." Post punk guitars meet bearded 70’s road trip rock, relentless shambolic drums and lots of organs and pianos pushing it all forward. The Et Cetera release show is rounded out by Sh! The Octopus and Macrame Tiger, with DJ Bearclizzyawaw. More info:

June 8 Telekinesis is coming to the Pike Room (Crofoot), still burning through the support-tour for their critically acclaimed self-titled debut. The band captures that New Pornographer-ian ability to conjure instantly cozy pop ballads – with fine-sunshine-in-the-summertime-vibes that facilitate grassy field rolls, or breathless twilight city runs or that zen like moment when you realize it’s 4 in the morning and you still somehow have energy to leap the fence into that empty playground you parked in front of…but I’m getting tangential – it’s spirited pop, tight, buzzy and fuzzy with those amorous-toned mid-range indie-literate vocals.

June 12 Rock Plaza Central (from Toronto) come to the Pike Room (Crofoot), bringing you songs from their forth-coming At The Moment of Our Most Needing (from Paper Bag Records). Starting in the realm of indie/folk but making it smokier, gristlier, with influences from darkly provocative troubadors like Oldham or Waits, then flavored by insuppressible draws to dystopia (that one might apply to electro-pop…without being electro-pop) or riffs that one might apply to a like for hard rock (without being hard-rock). As Magnet finely put it, something like Dust Bowl-era country/folk as crossed with Neutral Milk Hotel.

Album News:
Jay Reatard:

So Jay Reatard continues to write and tour and sing and write and tour and sing and play and get sweaty and write more and yell more and then write more and record record record… As the indie-blogger cliché of calling any such-industrious musician the Bob Pollard Of…, I would put Reatard as the Bob Pollard of….well,... garagey (ala Wire/The Sonics), punk-ish (ala contemporaries Black Lips), new-wave-ish (ala Tubeway Army/Fire Engines) and weird throw-back fuzz-pop (ala contemporary Ariel Pink)…somewhere in there is the essence of Jay Reatard.

And Matador Records is putting out his next release, the ominously suggestive, Watch Me Fall (August 18), a (we should emphasize) self-produced full length that promises to live up to the standards of the last couple year’s releases of Singles…

Mp3: - Jay Reatard - "It Ain't Gonna Save Me"

Jay on tour:

Thu June 11 - San Diego @ Casbah with The Oh Sees + Earthmen and Strangers
Fri June 12 - Los Angeles @ The Echo with Thee Oh Sees + Earthmen and Strangers
Sat June 13 - San Francisco @ The Independent with Thee Oh Sees + Earthmen and Strangers
Mon June 15 - Seattle @ Crocodile Cafe with Thee Oh Sees
Tue June 16 - Vancouver @ Biltmore
Wed June 17 - Portland @ Dante’s with The Oh Sees + Nice Boys
Fri June 19 - Long Beach, CA @ Alex’s Bar with Digital Leather
Fri June 26 - Chicago @ Bottom Lounge with TV Smith of the Adverts
Sat June 27 - Detroit @ Magic Stick with TV Smith of the Adverts
Sun June 28 - Cleveland @ Grog Shop with TV Smith of the Adverts
Mon June 29 - Toronto @ Mod Club with TV Smith of the Adverts
Tue June 30 - Montreal @ La Sala Rossa with TV Smith of the Adverts
Wed July 1 - New York City @ Stuyvesant Oval, FREE
Thu July 2 - Brooklyn @ Music Hall of Williamsburg with TV Smith of the Adverts
Fri July 3 - Allston, MA @ Harper’s Ferry with TV Smith of the Adverts
Sat July 4 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's with TV Smith of the Adverts
Sun July 5 - Washington DC @ Black Cat with TV Smith of the Adverts
Tue July 7 - Asheville @ Orange Peel with TV Smith of the Adverts
Wed July 8 - Knoxville @ Pilot Light with TV Smith of the Adverts
Thu July 9 - Nashville @ The End with TV Smith of the Adverts
Fri July 10 - Memphis @ Hi-Tone Café with TV Smith of the Adverts
Sat July 11 - Oxford MS @ Proud Larry’s with TV Smith of the Adverts
The Vivian Girls

Brooklyn trio Vivian Girls are following up their busy year (festivals, Bowery Ballroom shows, releasing debut on In The Red records) – by finishing up their 2nd LP – Everything Goes Wrong on Sept 8 (also In The Red). No word on whether the title is a smack at the sophomore-slump cliché… The band said, in a recent interview, that they are slowing things down – not just in the sense that they took more time on the recording process (something like a week as opposed to a few days) – but also stretching from their tribal-pounded pop and surf-shredded swing-rock to the “longer” songs… Our last album was like 22 minutes, so we figure if this album is longer than 44 minutes that'll just be insane,” said guitarist Cassie Ramone in a Pitchfork interview, “It would be twice as long."

Bassist Kickball Katy added, "We're aiming for around 35 minutes.”

Vivian Girls
Everything Goes Wrong (In The Red)
Sept. 8, 2009

01 Walking Alone at Night
02 I Have No Fun
03 Can't Get Over You
04 Desert
05 Tension
06 Survival
07 The End
08 When I'm Gone
09 Out for the Sun
10 I'm Not Asleep
11 Double Vision
12 You're My Guy
13 Before I Start to Cry

See them at the Pitchfork Music Festival on June 21…

Festival News:

Speaking of which, the Pitchfork Music Festival has rounded out it’s 2009 Line Up. The 4th annual festival (always nicely packaged between three-days in Chicago’s Union Park, with a manageable/see-able amount of bands) has had all it’s three-day-passes sold out by now. The “rapidly diminishing” one-and-two-day passes are still available through

2009 Pitchfork Music Festival - The Complete Lineup!

Friday - "Write the Night: Set Lists by Request"
Built to Spill
The Jesus Lizard
Yo La Tengo

The National
Final Fantasy *
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Fucked Up
Plants and Animals
Cymbals Eat Guitars *
Matt and Kim
Bowerbirds *
Charles Hamilton
The Duchess and The Duke
Michael Columbia *

The Flaming Lips
Grizzly Bear
The Walkmen
The Thermals *
Pharoahe Monch
Blitzen Trapper
Frightened Rabbit
The Mae Shi
Black Lips
The Very Best
Vivian Girls
Killer Whales *

* Just added

Rothbury - July 2 - July 5
Michigan's own festival reaches it's first birthday and gets the "2nd Annual" tag - putting the Eco-friendly, Green/Sustainability-stressed festival amongst the ranks of all those other Californian, Washingtonian, Tennessean-based gargantuan festivals.

Fox News online is giving Detroiter's the chance to vote-in a local band


and see Rothbury's site for the full line up (including Bob Dylan, Hold Steady, Man Man, The Hard Lessons and much...much...more) - as well as read up on Eco-tips and how this festival is trying not to destroy the planet...

Label News:

Ann Arbor based Ghostly International released a single for School of Seven Bell’s “My Cabal” – while the band has also put out a video and have started touring with Black Moth Super Rainbow.

The single features a “a blown-out re-imagining of "Face to Face on High Places" by Jesu's Justin Broadrick.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reviews - 800Beloved - Bouquet (Mikel OD); Darling Imperial - I Know Everyone You Know

800Beloved - Bouquet
(words: Mike Pfeiffer)

Recently I was discussing with my friend how the instant access to the overflowing fountain of music has lead me to a lesser appreciation of it. When music today flows like water from a leaky tap, it's easier to leave the tap dripping. Why bother to even drink from it? It's better to just let it puddle on the floor and maybe some will manage to latch onto my pant cuff as I stumble through it on the way to take a leak.

Of course, just to prove I'm full of shit and like to pontificate fancy verbiage, an album like 800Beloved's "Bouquet" comes along and the water suddenly turns purple with a sugary, syrup taste coaxing me to lap it up like a man that hasn't had a good drink in ages. I could go through a breakdown on just how good each of "Bouquet's" 11 tracks are with moments that echo New Order with a shoegaze twist, but that would just be an exercise in tedium as the whole album is glorious in it's decadent, rich darkness.

reviewer: aka Mikel O.D. more info:

Scouring the gulch of Detroit music, with all its weird indie experimentalism or electro-pop born from an almost reactionary distancing from the bluesy shred-garage stuff of early 00’s, one risks getting weird-genre-spliced-tunnel-vision and missing the band’s that are doing, radical as it sounds, more of a straight rock take – guitars, rolling rhythms, catchy choruses, blazing solos – the good ol chop, churn and burn.

Not that that is merely what sextet Darling Imperial are all about – but it lessens the esoteric and puts focus on talent and collaboration. Particularly highlighted on their debut EP, I Know Everyone You Know, is the intertwining styles of each player. At its core, it has the soul, throaty growl and stage-side fist clenched feeling of those garage days, but reaching back to the jangly-fied melody-heavy rock of 60’s brit-pop. Take all this tambourine-tapped, hand-clapped, head-bopped goodness and give it the wings of classic 80’s new-wave college rock and add in rocket power of those burning grimace, pedal-pushed guitar solos and you get quite a swirled serum decanted into the cracks of this 6-song EP.

Punchy beats, grooving rhythm guitars, monster-rock riffs that often blaze into solos and soulful moaned vocals that can bite and bolster over anthemic rock runs (“Baton Rouge”) or swoon and sway in heartbreaking repudiation over the organ-pulsed jangly waltz (“Where Do You Go At Night?”). The opening guitars of “Company You Keep” set a this glitzy and surfy tone immediately feeling at home with many other art-punk revivalists, but its given extra guttural girth by its deep crooned vocals rolling into these soft oooooh’s before the rest of the guitars bust in and everything starts twirling faster and faster before the walls catch ablaze with this spacey guitar solo. Be it a rough shimmied waltz (“Emily”), a foot-stomping ballad catching that classic grimy bar night vibe (“Sticks & Stones”) or a marching drum beat under a dreamy, sad-and-soothing ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – it’s a wide arc of ideas, styles and talents coalescing, but the sextet always feels comfortable and stitched in…
more info: Darling Imperial myspace

WAB show Thursday: plus, Poetry, Blues, Last Tourist last show, Black Lodge, James & the Rainbros and more...

[[National stuff -
Holy Fuck play the Magic Stick 5 - 29
The Doves play the Majestic Theatre 5-30]]

DC Pickz:
Hopefully this can get off the ground - Thursday night shows at the Woodward Avenue Brewery. It's still interesting, if not engaging, to see a show inside the place - but mostly I, like others, am just hoping for another viable venue in/near downtown Ferndale. Continuing their Thursday series is Carjack, Dutch Pink and Bloodbird.


Also, on Friday May 29 - at the Lager House, Detroit poet Richard Wohlfeil presents a new release through his publishing house Lo and Behold - featuring a book of poetry by Livonia school bus driver Randy Foreman. The line up to celebrate includes Glemie Derale Beasley ( (Detroit hunter and bluesman, recently pressed for his "Fresh Coons" signs around town), Danny Kroha (of the Gories, Demolition Doll Rods, and The Readies), and The Potions. Lo and Behold is described as "an independent publishing house tending toward the experimental and avant garde in modern lit."
more info at:


The rest of this weekend's posters




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

June 5 - "Prom" - Quadruple Record Release at the Crofoot - Manna and Quail, Deastro, Silent Years, Summer Pledge

(plus, Rogue Satellites and more, in the lounge for Phonotropic)


That said, here's something of a review..., or a rambled rumination - on Manna and Quail's upcoming release, Smile Sweetly, Say Good Morning:

Since their early days through 2005 and 2006, Manna and Quail have always had a certain intensity – inhabiting the heavily-melodic/slightly atmospheric regions of pop music. Their music had a bit of healthy melodrama and was thick with pedal-pushed fuzz, atmospheric reverb walls, dreamy star-twinkled pianos that could avalanche into pounded storms. Singer Steve Saputo’s vocals have developed into that same wilting flower catharsis of a Jeff Buckley, burned but hopeful, yet still carrying the wide-eyed innocence of ho-hum McCartney-esque docility.

Smile Sweetly, Say Good Morning is filled with illustrious frills of 60’s Brit pop, (the title takes my mind to song titles by the Rolling Stones, Beatles and the Pretty Things), but it’s shaped to emphasize a singer/songwriter sensibility with lyrics that tug at the heartstrings. It’s not all hook-heavy pop, the soundscape is given head-swimming effect by the lush instrumentation as bolstered by the fuzzy pedals and tightly locked rhythms. SM,SGM’s admirable point is utilizing sparseness. It has a measured intensity, well aware that all cylinders do not need to be firing at once to create a swooning ballad. Coming on even stronger is the swirling bass groove ("The Layman’s Heart"), that sultry-yet-druggy guitar line, the hazy fuzz furls ("The Western Calamity"). It’s the blend of stately and guttural; with atmospheric guitar shreds that can quickly slide down into these hard chugging ("She’s So Heavy"-reaching) scrawls. It explores a strange storybook-gothic-pop as inflected with the character of the British-indie/classic pop revival of the mid 90’s. Grand, yes, but also given that murk and mystery of a dark folk that doesn’t mind leaning in for a few dips of Krautrock-esque experimentalism.

The whirled, nocturnal walkmen-striding heartbreakers like "Progress, Plans and Promises," and the space-rock tinged "Where oh Where" reveal the true heart of Manna and Quail – and its worn brazenly on the sleeve, with a twinkled tear-filled eye that’s still making sense of what it’s seeing. Philosophic, romantic and a burning catharsis through every pore with buzzsaw guitars balanced by serene pianos.

Manna and Quail release Smile Sweetly, Say Good Morning this month –joining Deastro, The Silent Years and the Summer Pledge for a gigantic quad-release show at the Crofoot, June 5.



That said, here's another bit of a review for an upcoming album by guitarist Sir Richard Bishop - The Freak of Araby (Drag City)

Sir Richard Bishop is well known for his Indian/North-African flavored solo work on improvisational guitar – blending folk, gypsy and traditional Middle Eastern styles. On Freak of Araby (Drag City), he is backed by an accompanying band. The groove of a steady bass, the tribal thump of drums and tables, the shimmer of tambourines, all throbbing under Bishop’s hypnotically whined undulations that burn like blurry heatwave stares off toward the Kasbah, from the heart of the desert. As many reviews will note, just the sound of these Mid-East flavored shimmies make your ankles and toes burn with the feel of hot sand, it makes your brow sweat and your armpits swampy. A hard-grooving summer record, mystic, warbled, wandering and filled to the brim with Bishop’s transfixing knotty finger-work. It also features finely interpreted classical works from key references/influences like Mohammed Abdel Wahab, the Rahbani Brothers, Farid Al-Atrache. Dig the tight, hooky, potential pop ballad of "Enta Omri," the tabla drum circle breakdown of "Solenzara" nicely metered by an almost surf-toned sway on guitar. Fantastic eastern interpretations, homegrown from the Phoenix-based-Bishop, The Freak of Araby is out this week on Drag City.


And, all that being said, one last random P.S.-

Check out an interview with fractured-Broadway-folk-pop quartet Cryptacize – I conducted for Tiny Mix Tapes - here

Read about their latest album, Mythomania, about new Broadway hijinks, Steven Spielberg, and pissing off the neighbors.

(photo: John Ringhofer)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

JSB Squad versus Jesus Chainsaw Massacre; with Marco Polio and the New Vaccines / Woodman - - Saturday at Small's (Hamtramck)

This Saturday, at Small’s, the existentially-all-encompassing JSB Squad (led by the Martha’s / Sleek Speek’s Jesse-Shepherd Bates) challenges the often supercilious, often Detroit-blog-ubiquitous, Jesus Chainsaw Massacre, to some sort of musical battle royale – with Marco Polio & the New Vaccines and Woodman also at the ring-ropes, eager to perform / pile on.


Bates noted the penchant of JCM (recent Detroit Music Award winners in Outstanding Electronic Dance category) for trash talking – and felt it appropriate that the Squad’s show with them would have the more confrontational qualifier of "versus"…

Dig the bands myspaces to get a taste for sound…
Show is Saturday night at Small’s

It Came From Detroit - Wednesday / Thursday - at the Magic Bag - Ferndale


This Wednesday and Thursday – at the Magic Bag in Ferndale – see the finalized version of It Came From Detroit. The expansive documentary culls dozens of interviews from the prime players of the so-called garage explosion – and thus the energizing of a new "scene" from 1998 through 2003. It also analyzes of the world’s fickle on-again-off-again-yet-always-intrigued-by…relationship with the city of Detroit, as well as features the unique blue-collar lifestyle of its artists and musicians.
Director James R. Petix and Producer Sarah Babila debuted the film in 2006 – and have since taken it worldwide to numerous film festivals.

See the final version this week – and read an interview HERE – from
(as well as see a clip from Petix’s other work: Tokyo Below)

More info at:


It Came From Detroit Official Trailer (New) from James R Petix on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Year of The Great Rap Comebacks? Cam'ron and Eminem return.

by Thomas Matich

Will 2009 be the year that Dr. Dre finally releases Detox? That Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon The Chef gets off his lazy fat ass and puts out Cuban Linx 2? Will we see that Tribe Called Quest reunion album? De La Soul just put out a running album with Nike, does that count for something?

Ever since LL Cool J rapped "Don't call it a comeback," on his rebound from the ropes magnum opus Momma Said Knock You Out, the idea of a triumphant return to grace is one of the major chapters every great MC most go through when writing their hip-hop history.

Jay-Z sorta did it with Kingdom Come (and then solidified it with American Gangsta), Nas reignited his rap career with Stillmatic, Slick Rick dusted off his heavy gold chains in '98, Snoop Dogg bounced back after that stint with No Limit Records, Cee-Lo made a 180 with Gnarls Barkely, Gang Starr hit us with a Moment of Truth, Common went back to his roots on BE and so on. But, it often seems like we are still waiting for many rappers to make that return to greatness. Where is that Rakim album? When will The Fugees make a new score? Will The Hot Boy$ ever blaze the booth again? Will Andre 3000 and Big Boi go back to just being OutKast?

More often than not, these hip-hop comebacks don't live up to the hype. Anyone check that new Capone-N-Noreaga album? RUN-DMC's Crown Royal? DMX's last one? Ice Cube working with Lil' Jon? Nelly, anyone? With the last example, it's clear that sometimes we don't really care for a comeback. The shelf life of a rapper is relatively short (even more so in the digital age. Anyone heard from Petey Pablo lately?). Where's Lil Mama at?

Of course, there are those comebacks that are highly anticipated and timely, ones that get the press scrambling, blogs buzzing and fans feverish. 2009 is seeing two comebacks from rappers that have been pretty reclusive in the past few years, Eminem and Cam'ron. As widely reported, Slim Shady has been on hiatus due to a drug addiction and the death of his best friend Proof, along with other personal issues that led to Eminem struggling with writer's block. A couple years ago, Killa Cam was beefing with 50 Cent, Jay-Z and then his own crew, The Diplomats. Cam's last album, 2006's Killa Season, like Eminem's Encore from five years ago, was a letdown. Since then, he's spent the last year or so releasing hilariously mysterious "Where's Cam'ron?" videos online and dropping freestyles here and there while, as it turns out, taking care of his ill mother.

But guess what? The bills don't pay themselves! So Slim Shady and Killa Cam are back to rapping like it was 2002 all over again. Eminem's Relapse is the first of two albums he'll put out and all the beats were done by Dr. Dre except for one. Like Relapse, Cam's Crime Pays features little guests, but the majority of the production was handled by no-namers Skitzo and Araabmuzik, so it's the low budget of the two, obviously.

Like a blockbuster summer action flick, Hip-Hop albums can often have generic themes, and the "comeback" is full of requisites. Therefore, it's only appropriate to see what happens when Relapse and Crime Pays square-off. Who isn't as washed up?

Round One: The Comeback Single
Eminem's "Crack A Bottle" vs. Cam'ron's "My Job"

This is the pivotal first move, which often involves plying for radio and MTV rotation, but also not alienating your core audience. How do you let the fans know you're back? If you're Marshall Mathers, you rent out a club with your best buds Fiddy Cent and Dr. Dre and invite everyone to pop champagne because it's all good now that you're back to rapping. It's like The Chronic 2001 again, smoke some trees and vibe to some gangsta beats. Eminem is looking for rubbers to bang groupies. 50 Cent has a lot of money. What else is new?

Cam'ron pulls out a surprise maneuver, a heartfelt sign o' the times song called "My Job." Riding a soulful, nursery rhyme beat, Cam talks about the struggles of a girl working a 9 to 5 and the hustle to the pay the bills while holed up Office Space style. So Cam might have to sell some crack instead! In this recession, it's a genius move! How can you "Crack a Bottle" when you're on Unemployment, Eminem?


Round Two: Spare time song
Eminem "3 AM" vs. Cam'ron "Get It In Ohio"

If a rapper hasn't been rapping for a couple years, what have they been doing with all that spare time? If "3 AM," is any indication, Eminem has been up to some pretty gross shit! Waking up naked at McDonald's covered in blood, jerking off to Hannah Montana and trying to reenact the Silence of The Lambs isn't exactly productive, but it's definitely interesting when backed by some masterfully morbid Dr. Dre beats.

Apparently, Cam'ron has been selling drugs in the interim. Original! He's also been listening to a lot of shitty Southern Rap albums as evident by the beat. He can still pen funny punchlines though, threatening to make you "Look like a Gyro," if you step out of line.


Round Three: The Nostalgic joint
Eminem "We Made You" vs. Cam'ron "Silky (No Homo)"

This is the rapper doing what they do best. For Eminem, it's always those comical pop culture time capsules with zany beats, this one sounding like a cross between Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears' Circus. It's really no different of a song than "The Real Slim Shady" or "My Name Is," except you can exchange pop culture references like Spice Girls for Kim Kardishain. Yawn!

Killa Cam has a knack for using ridiculous samples like the Magnum P.I. theme song or The Police's "Roxanne" and peppering his flashy Harlem swagger all over them to make his own fruity concoctions. "Silky (No Homo)" samples that old 70's R&B record "Groove Me" which you've probably heard in a few different commercials and movies. There's tons of stupid quotes on this one like "I don't work, no job/ Redford, I go rob/ Cream Corn, no cob" that fans of albums like Purple Haze and Diplomatic Immunity will just love. Kinda sounds like something Ghostface Killah would've done circa The Pretty Toney album. But more gay... "Silky," for the record, is a slang term for a black homosexual man.


Round Four: New & Improved!
Eminem "Insane" vs. Cam'ron "Who"

This is where it's time to showcase any lyrical leaps. In Eminem's case, he always shines when he drops shock raps and rhymes about how fucked up his upbringing was. "Insane," is a pretty crazy song, from the racing violins to Em's venomous delivery, where he talks about being raped by his step-dad, being felched and general psychotic lines like "then he played ping-pong with his own ding-dong." It's a super entertaining and disturbing throwback to songs like "Criminal" and "Kill You."

When it comes to Crime Pays, it's hard to pick something in this category because Cameron Giles hasn't really done much to step his rap game up aside from a few different song ideas like "My Job." "Who," has a hyper wanton beat in the spirit of "Get Em Girls" and he's spitting the same wacky punchlines he's been doing since Purple Haze.


Round Five: Getting experimental
Eminem "Bagpipes from Baghdad" vs. Camron "Bottom of the pussy"

Remember when Jay-Z did that song with Chris Martin on Kingdom Come? Sometimes rappers like to take indulgent liberties when they return to the booth. At first, I thought "Bagpipes from Baghdad" would be about Iraq, but it's actually just a song with an Aladdin flavored beat and Em rapping in a half-assed Arab accent. His flow is on point, but the subject matter (Mariah Carey, yawn) is pretty banal.

As far as "Bottom of the Pussy" is concerned, Cam'ron must have been listening to a lot of Lil' Wayne or something. It's a lounge room rap about going real deep in the vagina. If R. Kelly was on this, it would've been much more enthralling. Neither Slim Shady or Killa are doing anything groundbreaking on their records, but instead playing to their strengths which was probably a smart move.


Round Six: Sketch Comedy

Oh, how rap albums love to have skits! Eminem brings back good ol' dirty cockboy Ken Kaniff on "Underground," which makes for a pretty funny gay parody of "We Made You." And of course there's the skits where his managers tell him there's no way they can sell this record because of all the fucked-up shit Em is rapping about. And continuing his tradition, Em does another spoofy pop-culture video for "We Made You."

Cam'ron has some rather funny skits involving crackheads talking shit about him, a skit where he threatens to poop in a girls carseat and a black humor filled sketch where he basically treats one of his ladies like crap over the phone. Even though it's not related to Crime Pays, this is the EDGE right here, even two years after the fact. And I suspect Cam will do another interview like this with a new album coming out and all. Cam is just funnier, even on his off-days.

Round Seven: Style points

Normally, I would predict Cam'ron walking away a winner when it comes to a swagger showdown. The man once pulled off driving a Pink Range Rover through New York. But, Crime Pays fails to offer any interesting fashion trend or new slang ("Curve" is a sorry attempt). Kudos, however, for songs titles such as "Chalupa" and "Cookies 'n' Apple Juice." Sadly, the album cover is of the generic East Coast gangster rap variety. Someone needs to renew Cam's NetFlix, Internet and take him clothes shopping because he needs to update his aesthetic game.

Even though Eminem did jack T.I.'s album cover for Relapse's pill self-portrait, I must admit his music videos for "3 AM" and "We Made You" put Cam's low-budget productions to shame. But Em still walks around dressed in Brand Jordan and Shady LTD clothing and he did that odd Punisher photo shoot for XXL Magazine. His hair is no longer blonde, he's lost weight and he looks like he's had some work done. However, his new flow is wicked and he drops enough drug references on Relapse to make it required listening for pharmacology school.



There will be plenty of traditional albums reviews for Relapse and Crime Pays that discuss the vile lyrics of Eminem, Cam's ever-silly punchlines, the tour de force Dr. Dre production and the brilliance of "I Need A Job." But these comebacks will go down in annals of hip-hop history because of what it says about these two stars.

Somehow Slim Shady catapulted himself out of the Grand Canyon size hole he found himself in - delivering his best work since the Marshall Mathers LP. Cam'ron has proven once again that when he's on his game, even when operating with cheap beats and rap cliches, he's a geniusly eccentric entertainer. In a clash of the titans, both recapture some glory. //DC//

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reviews: Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eddi Reader

Dreamy-folk pop gang gets even more atmospheric with Dave Fridmann (noted for Flaming Lips collab.)
(words: milo)

Eating Us may be the closest Pittsburgh’s Black Moth Super Rainbow have gotten to a live rock record in the traditional sense. The band, a tight collective whose names are cloaked in aliases (just as lead singer Tobacco’s voice is shrouded in the robotic fuzz of a vocoder), has often mined the pop sensibilities between trip-hop’s euro-new-wave tasting chilly atmospherics and hip-hop’s tight, tumbling booming beats that set ideal grooves for any synthesized string to skirl over.

But, while it’s been a balance between the earthy acoustic and the fuzzy electro sheen, it has equally been a conversation between human and robot, keyboard and sampler, live drummer and drum machine.

As the band has evolved into a live-interpreting ensemble, past works’ heavy reliance upon electronics have developed into a healthy adaptation of the human rhythm. Eating Us is, at first a bit confusing since it appears to repeat previous entries (“Dark Bubbles,” “Fields are Breathing,”) set into eight new songs. But, properly qualified, the album is a declaration of the human element taking the lead – with reliance more on the wholesome invigoration of an arm splayed live drum kit and the spacey shrieks scraped from the pedals of guitar more then synthesizers. But it is not the abandonment for one arm (human) over the other (computer), both arms flex in harmony.

Making this a much tighter presentation, simple (11 songs, all roughly 3 minutes) melodious, fuzzy, pounding – the strange takes on dream pop, the sleepy dance sway and the soothing atmospherics blend nicely to create that confounding universality (that was hinted at on Dandelion Gum) of a hazy, ethereal rhythm-heavy folk, that feels right set to lone moonlit walks, morning dune-set picnics, long valley splitting road trips, or rainy day window pane daydreams.

Or hallucinogenic trips! Noise lovers will miss BMSR’s occasional embrace of the abrasive. The focus should be on this album’s balance…
Black Moth Super Rainbow - "Eating Us - medley"


Eddi Reader
Love is the Way
Rough Trade

Eddi Reader’s sound, here on her seventh solo album, is an elegant and deceptively soulful folk-ish woosh, potentially perceived at its surface to be yet more sweet shushing pleasentville coffeeshop soundtracks.

The classically trained singer, from the UK, spreads on layers of accordion-friendly euro-streetside café gypsy, with golden acoustics over chopety brushed percussion ringing in that reflective-metered-escapism of early 70’s singer/songwriters. But, what might do best to set her apart (better than those charming, wheezing accordions) is her voice. Upon introduction, she sounds firm but vulnerable, relatable and comforting, almost motherly. But as the album unfolds it starts to recall the striking stateliness of classic 40’s crooners in their tempered vibrato – blending into early 50’s folk and later-pop singers who could slide from a sexy hazy wisp into a firm, melodious moan. Add in penchants for poignant orchestral ballads mixed with piano-prancing doo-wop, and you start to uncover the glitter of her uniqueness that may get unjustly muddled by preconceptions flung from her (admittedly) close-ring to other endearing folkstresses like Nedelle, early Feist or Neko Case.

There’s veritable jovialness in the conversation between intricate instrumentation, there’s cutting, relatable philosophy in her lyrics and there’s refreshment on her ability to take potentially pigeonholed formulas (see: pretty girl with a guitar or her ability to take a love song for a city everyone already “loves” (New York) and make it fresh) and then surprise you by not only revealing her own take, but making you reconsider, too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Album Review: The High Strung

Ode to the Inverse of the Dude

Park The Van

Detroit trio The High Strung's first two records were hurried and explosive yet highly technical – a fist-pumping buzz-fun kart-wheel kind of pop-rock that bent closely to their indie-and-punk roots (albeit from more unconventional, similarly fast-but-tight ensembles like the Minutemen, blended with the heartfelt and humble rough-hewn styles of Guided By Voices). Over the last four years (of their now 8-year run) they released two records, (Moxy Bravo & Get The Guests), that were more intricate, more layered and comfortable in indulging an experimental side that included the atmospherics of prog-rock and the fuzzy sheen of dreamy theatrical indie pop.

Now on their 5th, Ode To The Inverse of the Dude, they open up, they slow things down at points, they stretch out, they layer their parts and they set an even more hypnotic mood. Vocals echo around the soundscape, rhythms set more of a groove. Many of the would-be-characteristic run-arounds and motor-away style rock trounces of earlier work (see These Are Good Times) are molded and tweaked by producer David Newfeld, the man who massaged all the shimmering clamber of similarly situated hard-driving/groove-heavy indie-rockers like Broken Social Scene and Los Campesinos. (But this reviewer needs to keep coming back to “heart” and the sound of energy and “heart” captured on tape – in which both BSS and Los Camps often fall short, thus making it vital to capture the chemistry for the Strung). Newfeld, with the boys’ own stretching-into-the-experimental, sprinkles in certain pops and piano pounds and hazy drawn-out intros. The album is popping and soaring with near-psychedelic fuzz explosions, multi-tracked drums pummel their way into that dancey-art-punk realm and other areas are sweetened with swooning strings and energetic run and blurt brass that follow the hooks of the bass.

Another noticeable distinction is Malerman’s voluntary couch-set life-spill-out lyrics, setting the album’s thesis quite bluntly with the opener, a slow-building fuzz choir of one chanted lyric, “Standing at the Doors of Self Discovery.” The song builds steadily with marching drums and jangly guitars. The multi-tracked vocals sets a very communal vibe from the get-go, an overdue emphasis of the brotherly bond the band shares, properly setting this almost-Hey-Jude-ian inclusiveness, yet simultaneously clarifying that this band’s about to look inward and lay it all out for you. All the blemishes (“Guilt is How I’m Built”), all the embarrassments (getting past bed-wetting in “The Lifestyle that Got Away”), or relationship frustration (“Anyone”), all this gets hung out on the clothes line for the whole neighborhood to see. For a band who’s always pigeonholed as the non-stop-tour-band, or the library-tour-band, or the bus-donation-to-the-rock-n-roll-hall-of-fame-band – this album’s dynamics force you to consider their sound and style – to get to know them. This is the album is rapt with expressiveness.

Not only is Ode the album where they open up lyrically, but, they bolster their sound such that it becomes a dual declaration, not just of personality but also of talent/taste/ability. Going from the more spastic pop of the past into the more cerebral, complex instrumental constructions, they somehow also top their characteristic (and unheralded) heart that shone through their past works. See: touching stripped down acoustic ballads like “I Got Your Back,” or “The Middle” (“We both work all time, let’s try and meet in the middle / we were born we will die, but we’ve met in the middle”), combined with the hazy, smooth and psychedelic wanderer “House Party.”

(words: milo)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Revolution will not be twittered: Dan Deacon, Future Islands, Teeth Mountain, Genders, Child Bite, Marco Polio & The New Vaccines – 5 / 9 – CAID

At Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit~

Elfish synth-surged pied-piper Dan Deacon, renowned throughout the indie-world for his style of "Devo-meets-Rave-party-as-refracted-through-a-classically-trained-mind-and-a-big-heart" comes to the CAID May 9 - with fellow Baltimore-based bands: weirdo electro-dance pop Future Islands (a trio who bring in the post-punk sheen and the new-wave shimmy) and Teeth Mountain, a psychedelic drum-circle-recalling tribal/raw/rhythm-driven noise-pop collective. As though this touring trio wasn’t enough, some similarly situated Detroit-based bands are doubling the line up – essentially guaranteeing that even if you see only half the show – you’re mind will still be either melted…or blown…or…expanded…man. The line up also features noise-pop/indie-metal quartet Child Bite, the drone-driven art-punk of Genders, and the often danceable and easily-distant-cousin-by-way-of-alternate-dimensions of Deacon’s style – Marco Polio & The New Vaccines (a d.cutz fav)

Child Bite - May 6 - W.A.B. - gas money for their Big Beard Showdown in Alaska

World Beard and Mustache Championships – May 20 – 24 Info:

(child bite photo by jason wong)

Detroit-based freak-pop quartet Child Bite – known as much for their engaging live shows as they are for their scraggly/grizzly appearances (hands-down the best set of beards in town…) are taking their fuzzy faces on the road, to compete! The band is holding a fundraiser, May 6 – at the W.A.B. to get a bit of funding for their ambitious trek from Detroit to Anchorage AK – to compete in the World Beard and Mustache Championships, hosted by South Central Alaska Beard and Moustache Club. The band will tour their way out there, across the U.S. – which includes a 43-hour-drive from Vancouver through the expanse of Alaska.

Said Child Bite singer/guitarist, Shawn Knight: "The South Central Alaska Beard and Moustache Club is hosting this event along with the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau and local Lions Clubs. Bob Gengler, Club President and current Mr. Fur Face, states that he "is very proud to be showing the rest of the world our great State and our long history of beard contests."
"They have each registered to compete in the contest as well so we will have to see if anyone can bring home the Gold Pan trophies and the titles to Michigan," said Bob GenglerPresident – SCAKBMC. "Who needs the Pistons or the Tigers, when you have Childbite and their facial hair…"

Gengler is an avid facial hair grower, enthusiast and competitor. He tried growing his first beard at age 23, but, "It looked like I had leprosy." He once held hairs upon his chin for almost 5 years, with his current crop standing at 2 ½ years. In March 2008 he took hom the title "Mr. Fur Face," a local competition. "Even in Alaska, beards, especially long beards, are very much an acquired taste," said Gengler, who works at Providence hospital as a Physical Therapist, and doubles as a wildlife/nature photographer. "When you meet someone for the first time, they form an opinion of you based on their first glimpse."

SCAKMBC was founded in 2003 by David Traver to "promote the acceptance of beards and to bring bearded men together for social and charitable purposes."

"The contests" said Gengler of the Beard Championship "are a weird mix of testosterone and estrogen… The WBMC has 18 categories split between moustache, partial beard, and full beard styles. Categories are defined with specific descriptions and judges are instructed to judge based on these objective guidelines, but obviously subjective impressions come into play. The Full Beard Natural category tends to be the most competitive. For a silly concept, these contests have grown into serious competition and the Germans have excelled at the contests in the past as they really do take pride in their facial hair."

Said Knight: "The festivities will run from Wednesday May 20th to Sunday May 24th, with the Main Event taking place on Saturday. There will be a Kick Off party Friday night with a local Alaska Grizzly Beard Contest and music by the Australian band The Beards, who play "songs about beards, for people with beards."

Contests:Winner"Best Beard in Alaska" contest at the Willow, AK Winter Carnival in 2009
Yukon Sourdough Rondy - Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada - 2/2008
"Best Old Growth" BeardMr Fur Face Contest - Anchorage, AK - 3X
Mr. Honey Bear - 1X Mr. Fur FaceWBMC 2005 Berlin, Germany - 5th place Full Beard Natural


Adding of the drama and competitiveness of this international event, Gengler said, "You would be amazed what goes on behind the scenes at times - General Hospital or Days of Our Lives have nothing on some of the stuff."On the subject of Child Bite –and their beards, Knight summarized: "I'm really not sure how this facial hair thing started. Aside from Danny, we've all had something going on beard-wise from time to time. Clancy's beard & hair was pretty infamous during the Rescue days. When I first met Zach he had the mustache-less beard look that he will be revisiting for the competition. I do remember the day I started growing this beard. It was June 2nd, 2007 @ Uncle Fester's in Bloomington, IN. I jumped off of the balcony there during our lastsong and hurt my ankle. I was on crutches for a month or so after that. I stopped shaving that day in some sort of misdirected anger/revolt against my body. People started asking how long I was going to let it go, and eventually I found out about the WBMC. That seemed like as good a goal as any. When I told the band that I was planning on going to Anchorage, we decided to base a tour around it and all go. That was probably 7 months ago, so everybody has been officially in training since then. I can't say that I'm a beard enthusiast though, just like how I'm not a tattoo enthusiast or a fashion enthusiast. It's just some thing attached to my face for the time being."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shows coming in May: The Horrors; Peaches; Holy Fuck! Mega Fauna; The Kills; And more!

Where to begin? It’ll be a busy month o' May, comrades. I’ve broken a couple of chairs and shouted at impassive glowing screens over the fact that I’ll be out of town this week – specifically for events like The Satin Peaches, May 8 at the Crofoot with JSB Squad, Mick Bassett & The Marthas and Gigantic Hand. Not to mention Vivian Girls, Crystal Antlers, Lee Marvin Computer Arm and Gardens – May 7 at the Crofoot.


But then, wouldn’t ya know it – a veritable orgy for posturing mostly-black-clad indie/artsy-slightly-punksy types who dig on lots of hypnotically acerbic reverb, wavy bass grooves, hard slammed hollow drum beats and an overall smoky-dancey-sexy pop vibe – dig on UK psych/shoegaze/dream-pop sensations The Horrors pairing up with noise-pop-sex-pots The Kills, May 8th at the Magic Stick. The Horrors just put out their fine Primary Colours LP on XL – making damn fine electro-atmospheric dance pop with an undeniable psych-noise-buzzsaw edge – something like the middle ground of Interpol and Radiohead that could potentially draw in those cool-hairdo-fans of The Killers.

What a week…holy fucking shitballs (as George Carlin would say…)

A couple weeks later, on May 20 – Austin Texas’ Megafauna drives up for a more intimate setting (The Lager House) that will feature locals like The Electric Lions and a brand new blues-inflected, Detroit-friendly (in sound and influence) rock band from Nashville, Redeye Raccoon. Check out Megafauna (here) and dig a track like “Fun at the Apocalypse,” which aptly captures their hard-driving math-rock meets erratic avant-garde indie-rock deconstructionists sensibilities, sets a great groove and loves to bend those solos into noise-pop glory, with hard-hitting rhythms. (They’ll also be in Lansing a day earlier, 5/19, Basement 414, for my fellow Spartans).

On May 21, the intrepid Peaches (Merrill Nisker), renowned for her raw naughty noodling rap style and hard-pounding fuzzy beats, is touring around her latest release I Feel Cream(XL) – Touted to be a much more pop-leaning album for the punk-inflected Peaches, Cream amps up the production, lays on more dreamy fuzzy layers and infects more melody over her characteristic ballistic beats. Peaches plays The Majestic Theatre on May 21.

Peaches - "Talk To Me"


Spasitc popsters and cosmic math-rocky/krautrocky warblers, Holy Fuck, will continue their restless touring. Which is for the best, because they probably want fans of their whirling, shambolic, electro-tinged onslaughts to get a taste of songs from their upcoming album (potentially due out this fall). Not that I want to support this malignant inanity known as twitter, but—if you’re interested, you can follow this fine band on it…if you type it:

You can see Holy Fuck ‘round these parts, on May 29 at the Magic Stick .

Holy Fuck - "Jungles"

Taking Hold and Standing Ground: The Satin Peaches - 5 / 8 - at the Crofoot

Interview with bassist Aaron Nelson

(Satin Peaches - May 8th at the Crofoot with: w/ Mick Bassett and the Marthas, Gigantic Hand, and JSB Squad)

(words: jeff milo)
more info

Like so many other long-established industrial sequoias, be it Wall Street, the big auto companies, newspapers or republicans – the music industry is now starting to feel the basilica pillars holding up its top floor suites crumbling away thanks to the undermining might of wholesome DIY revolutionaries.

It hasn’t come like a thief in the night or some Bolshevikian ruthless decapitation-fest…but it’s come from bands like The Satin Peaches – who causing change simply by holding their ground, however frustrating or nerve-wracking, against the shoulder-padded bigwigs who took them all around the country and the world when they were only old enough to drink in Windsor, telling them they were the next big thing, recording their songs and flushing a glittery shower of rock star party lifestyle upon them…and then…stopped talking to them.

Attempted murder by ignoring… As the story goes – the band formed out of high school, amongst long-held friendships growing up in Commerce Township. As co-founding member Jesse Shepherd Bates said, he and singer George Morris were looking to make pop music but never wanting to stray into that under-whelming, over-done territory of revivalism. Based on myspace demos, they were contacted Oasis manager Marcus Russell – floating in something like contractual limbo based on a hand-shake for a while, before actually signing to Island Records and getting down to work in a studio.

Wined, dined and whisked from their hometown of Detroit, the band (currently: George Morris, Aaron Nelson, Ryan Wiese and Jeremy Smith) slid through an odyssey of one somewhat erratic recording session and then more of a cleaning up and getting-down-to-business session, eventually finishing up what would become the Morning Maid EP.

The tunes were shimmering with warm fuzzy guitars, driving rhythms and an unstitched art-punk-inflected splatter that gave it a voice of up-all-night weariness yet cutting enough, both in lyrics and in hooks, to sound like a band that knew it needed to watch its back. The songs fell on deaf ears at Island, who signed a band that was in the middle of a growing period and evidently fired the A&R folks who originally brought them in. Needless to say, the rest of Island weren’t sure about the new creature that had unsheathed from its cocoon. According to singer/guitarist Morris, Island essentially stopped talking to the band. Those kids will probably just get bored and probably go back to college or something—maybe wind up working at coffee shops and dealerships or some other random gray blurred cubicle job.

But the band stayed together. They kept touring when they could and they continued to write. They became tighter as a band, growing out of their original Radiohead-ish /Strokes-ian leaning penchants and galvanizing their classic 60’s Brit-pop and more mind-bending experimental post-rock pedal-pushed adventurism – which lead to an even stronger live show in presentation and chemistry.

And they made the bold decision to "quit" their label. They weren’t dropped. They quit – and stayed together. And, they kept their friends – namely Shepherd-Bates and fellow singer/songwriter Mick Bassett – who were starting up a fledgling label of their own, online, called Sleek Speek.

Seemed like the perfect vehicle to release their purgatory-bound EP – as a digital download (released last March). Hence, the Peaches and their EP’s final release are just another, albeit considerable, domino to fall against the un-rooted music industry and its archaic, miser-like ways of trying to bind artists in an unfeasible system of commerce. What happens next?

The band returns to touring in this early summer – and kick of a series of shows this week that take them through Hamtramck, Lansing and over to Mt. Pleasant and Kalamazoo – as part of a reintegration back into their home town and home scene.

It all starts May 8th at the Crofoot with: w/ Mick Bassett and the Marthas, Gigantic Hand, and JSB Squad

Here’s an Un-Cutz Interview with bassist Aaron Nelson – from late March, regarding the Morning Maid EP, thoughts on the music industry, the state of the band and…whatever’s happening next…

What's new, what's the word? Sum up last year and this year (so far)...

Aaron Nelson: 2008 was a very stressful year for the band. We had gigantic goals for ourselves that were all suddenly turned upside down by the events which unfolded. The plan was to be releasing our EP 'Morning Maid' on Island with 'Still Sour' being pushed as a major single all over the world... It was too good to be true! When things didn't go as planned it took us awhile to reassess our situation and come up with a fresh game plan but by the end of [2008] we had things figured out again. The highlight of 2008 for me was our tour with Alejandro Escovedo in October. Easily one of the coolest people I've ever met.. Every single thing about him said 'rock and roll' yet at the same time, completely professional and respectable. We learned a lot from him and became a better band because of that tour. [This year] we were able to print 1,000 copies of 'Morning Maid' (and released digitally, March 27th on Sleek Speek). We're excited to finally be able to put something in the hands of our fans, something we haven't been able to do since we were in High School. We're very focused and ready to invest all of our time in bringing national attention back to the Detroit music scene. I'm confident it's as strong as it's ever been before and that's really saying something.

What’s the status of your Island connection? What’s the story there?

AN: We're completely free and clear of Island now. The story behind all of that drama is basically the exact same story you've heard a dozen times about major labels from other bands... They're not exaggerating! In the beginning they treated us like we were a guaranteed smash hit and wouldn't be able to walk down the street without being recognized, no doubt about it. Being 18/19 years old and confident in our music, we ate their bullshit up even while we heard all those horror stories from other bands about major labels. I don't know if there's any other way you can take it when dozens of British people are spending thousands of dollars on just your food/drinks while they tell you about the famous bands they worked with.. As soon as the honeymoon was over though, everything went to hell. First, Island fired the A&R staff that found us and actually liked our music. The very people that were the deciding factor for us in choosing Island over other labels, just vanished... I remember when we got that phone call from Marcus(our manager), we knew things might start getting crazy from thereafter and we were dead on. From that point on our budget consistently shrank for recording, tours, and promotion... With the funds cut off we couldn't finish our record, so we had to make it a mini-album. None of us really liked the idea of that, but we had to settle and convince ourselves it could work... Still though, things got worse. About a year went buy and while Island kept telling us good things and had plans for a release/promotional campaign, nothing ever materialized. Nothing was organized and it took days, usually weeks, to get a simple question answered. Last summer we reached a breaking point and agreed with our management that we needed to get out of the deal, so we terminated the contract. Yes, we were the ones to quit! Technically no one can say we were dropped... The accurate way to describe it would be 'forced to quit'. Hah. We couldn't wait around anymore doing nothing while these business people sat on their asses and treated us like a negative asset. Thanks to our management, we were lucky to fully retain all the rights to 'Morning Maid' and we are once again free! Free to be a band... not a stock.

Can you detail the story of morning maid? how/where it started and how the recording experience went?...if you can remember back…

AN: Morning Maid started with Owen Morris flying out to Northville for a week to see what we were like and if he thought we had enough strong material for an album. He didn't know if he wanted to work with us and we didn't have any clue who he was really... just that he had produced Oasis records. He came to George's house and watched us practice in the basement while taking notes on everything we played for him. Most songs he said were shit. Some songs he said were boring. Honestly I don't remember if he liked anything we played him during that first practice ... but I think he just got along with us. We did this for a few days and slowly Owen admitted us that he liked our music and thought we had enough material for an album. I think he was just playing weird games with us... I'm convinced he's an insane-genius who's so bored with life he's constantly inventing new ways to live... Ways of living that most people wouldn't ever want to experience but to Owen... It's the experience that is living. Anyway, we recorded 4 tracks with Owen and then flew out to L.A. to finish 2 more with Dave Sardy, he also mixed the 4 we did with Owen. He was great, very professional and quick.. He knows exactly what he wants to do and does it effectively.

How, if in any way, songwriting, as people, or whatever…have you changed, as a band, since your first steps into those recording studios with Island…the first week or so of recording Maid...

AN: A lot has changed since those first recording sessions with Owen at Allaire Studios. We have a lot more material that we consider album-worthy. We now understand how to shape a song to reach it's full potential. Every song we write now has something special about it that makes us like it, besides it just being a good song. We've learned how magical dynamics can be. George has learned a lot about singing. Ryan and I have just naturally gotten better at executing what we hear with our instruments. Jeremy has learned what being a good drummer really means. It's really night and day for us looking back. We can't wait for another chance to record a full album with a great producer... I'm confident it'll come out amazing... More amazing than anyone really realizes.

Talk about the move forward with Sleek Speek?

AN: Well really the decision to release it online started with the cold hard fact that we weren't going to be able to release 'Morning Maid' physically on a national scale. The more we researched how the music industry has taken shape online, the more we realized that this was actually a very good thing to be doing... with unlimited potential. It could actually turn out to be the superior path to what we're trying to accomplish. The blog community has exploded in the past few years and are now, in my opinion, just as relevant for success as exposure in major music magazines are... Sleek Speek is a label Jesse Shepherd-Bates and Mick Bassett thought up about a year ago and I'm excited to see where it takes us. 'Morning Maid' is officially being released on Sleek Speek and you can expect anything else we put in the near future to be as well. I think you can say the same for Mick Bassett and the Marthas and JSB Squad. Sleek Speek is really more than just a label though and I think you'll be seeing it take shape throughout the rest of 2009 and into 2010. If all goes to plan it's going to evolve into something unique. I guess you could say Sleek Speek is our answer to how the Internet has taken hold of the music industry across the world.

What's coming up next, what are you looking forward to in 09?

AN: We hope to be recording the beginnings of a full album this Spring and are setting a goal of having something finished by Fall 2009. Depending on if anything happens with a label from now until Summer(Recording budget?), we can't say for sure yet what exactly is going to be happening for us. We've started laying some tracks down at Erik Roosen's house(Detroit Hollywood Studio) who is the drummer of Mick Bassett and the Marthas but it's evident we have a lot to learn about recording ourselves. After recording 'Morning Maid' with such accomplished producers we've set the bar pretty high for how we expect our recordings to turn out. At the very least we hope to lay down the foundations of the next album but we're hoping we'll be able to get it sounding good enough to record and release ourselves. Who knows though...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interview: Scarlet Oaks - 5 / 9 at Berkley Front; 5 / 15 at the Downtown Hoedown in Hart Plaza

Scarlet Oaks, Detroit-based souther-swathed folk and gutteral indie-rockers, had an industrious 2008, playing consistently throughout the south east hand-shaped-state, including City Fest and releasing a debut EP, Innocence Isn't Easy. The debut was a mix of the harmonious and the rough crackling, the shuffled pop and the gritty grind, the swooning and the spook.

This year's bringing on considerable changes for the band. Started by Steve McCauley and Noelle Lothamer in late 06, the quartet has solidified its line up with James Anthony on guitar and Joe Lavis on bass. They'll release their latest, Canadien Dew EP, in July on Bellyache Records.

"All the songs on Innocence were pretty much written before Scarlet Oaks was even band," said McCauley. "The new record has all been written with the band and it's musicians in mind. And, Noelle wrote a really great duet for us to sing. Plus, we're recording it totally different. We recorded Innocence over a year. It was a tough and grueling process with member changes and a lot of rerecording. The new record is being recorded pretty much live(at Ghetto Records) with the exception of the vocals and solos. We are hoping for a more "authentic" and "raw" Scarlet Oaks sound."

Asked about the source of their sound, often read as penchants for southern murk as refracted through the scuff of cement jungles, McCauley said, "Like the South for other artists, living in the City of Detroit is a pretty big part of my lyrical content. It's hard to be "sentimental" and "upbeat" a lot of the time with all of the economic problems and decay. So that cynicism makes it's way into the songs. Still, I've made a lot of strong bonds and great friendships, and have had a lot of great times in this City, and that is definitely a part of the new EP."

Coming up next for the band: I've been trying to defy my own conventions as a songwriter," said McCauley. "So hopefully people will hear some different sounds from Scarlet Oaks in the near future. This year is the year we get out of Detroit! Now that we have a more stable line up, we're going to be able to get out of town more. It's great to play here, but we're trying to expand our audience and not wear out our welcome. We're currently putting together some Midwest stuff as well as a swing down South."

See them live at 5 / 9 at Berkley Front; 5 / 15 at the Downtown Hoedown in Hart Plaza. More info: