Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Hello all...

a few random Halloween notes:

The Graveface label has released "The Marshmallow Ghosts" - a holiday 7" featuring members of Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Appleseed Cast, Dreamend and Casket Girls

- it's ideal spooky nocturnal wandering music - effectively setting those crinkly leaf-less branches swaying over your head with creaking doors swinging to let in chilling roaring wind and all that good time ghost-story 'round the campfire with a flashlight up your nostrils type stuff.

By the way -
If you don't feel like being a zombie in Detroit or listening to bands as other bands in Pontiac, you can always check out the Lager House show (below) - Rue Moor Counts / Doop and the Inside Outlaws / I, Crime / Electric Lion Soundwave Experiment (10/31)



Then after Halloween, (11/3) if you still want more, or if you were just waiting for all the kitschy holiday stuff to get packed away - then you can get more of a punk-rock freak on - at PJ's Lager House - with Kommie Kilpatrick opening for Lover! and Bass Drum of Death.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview: Fred Thomas - City Center (11 / 13 - Leroy St Records Collaborative Show at East Quad Music Co-Op)

“Of the very few people who have talked to me about City Center, almost all of them seem to focus on how it's incredibly different music than Saturday Looks Good To Me, and to some extent that's true.”

Fred Thomas grew up around the Ann Arbor area, attending punk rock house parties, working at Encore Records, starting numerous projects with fellow A2 musicians, helping forge Ypsilanti Records and finally gaining widespread local and considerable national interest through the early 00’s with the sunny, bopping, whirly-echoed pop of Saturday Looks Good To Me.

With 2004’s Every Night and 07’s Fill Up The Room (both on notable Polyvinyl records), Thomas became something of a local fixation or cult hero due to his industrious drive as a songwriter, producer, and label chief and for being as gracious and enthusiastic for the local scene as he was a collaborator on various friends recordings.

After Fill Up, he started a new project with Ryan Howard, a more electronic affair called City Center: melodies waft and feedback surfs its way over sublime and swirly musical landscapes batted like neon butterfly kisses over sparse guitars-acoustic to clanging, and schizoid rhythms-spilled out to danceable.

“I think of it as pop music as much as any of the other bands I've been in,” Thomas said. “Maybe just a little more underwater.” Thomas returns to Ann Arbor this month – performing with City Center at the East Quad Music Co-op (“The Halfass”) on November 13.

With Thomas, it’d be ludicrous to hold SLGTM in one hand and City Center in the other. “There have been endless projects, bands, recording sessions, shows, tours, and other conceptual endeavors in between which make the two bands seem like they're all part of the same patchwork to me,” Thomas said, “but it's likely that not many other people have been paying that much attention to the progression. The point is, there's no way to take it but out of context, and taken out of context it could seem like we've suddenly disavowed the Beach Boys for Arthur Russell and are never looking back, but really, there's been no shift in how we feel about sound, rather the constant excitement of a constant shift."

The Deep Cutz Interview: Fred Thomas - (City Center)

Milo: How has your year gone? Wh
at have you enjoyed, or been digging, be it music or otherwise...

Fred Thomas: `The year 2009 has been incredible for me so far, as well as a lot of people I've been talking to. It seems like there's been a universal shedding of baggage or insecurity, and in general people of all ages are kind of growing up in a sense. Getting serious about themselves in a way that's really cool, even if it's just "getting serious" about having more fun and living a better life. Things seem to be moving faster, but people's responses to that accelerated motion have been moving just as fast, and a lot of things seem really surprising to me this year. Music, community, health and ideas are all bursting in a really positive way. It's great!

Milo: So what's your current status? Full time resident of new york? Are you still connected to Ann Arbor? Reasons for making the move? --and perhaps that also leads into-- how City Center got started?

Fred: `I lived in New York for about three years up until May of this year. Since May I've been touring without a home for the most part. I spent the summer in Ann Arbor cause my sister recently had a baby and I wanted to spend more time with my family there, but also because Ryan, the other half of City Center, still lives there and we spent the entire summer jamming, playing shows, hanging out and working on new music. There was no real reason in my mind to move to New York ever, except it is a really exciting and cool place, and I wanted to see what would happen to me there. I could end up back there at any time, I met a lot of amazing people and took part in so many new things there. City Center was part of a reaction to the lifestyle and the new energies I experienced coming there. I just spent so much time recording in my room with very minimal means; acoustic guitar, delay pedal and sampler basically; almost as a kind of audio diary of what was happening to me every day.

Milo: Let's heavily unpack the technical/creative aspect of City Center - what's the live set up? How do you approach it, in terms of song construction?

Fred: `It's not too complex, but maybe a little on the boring side. Me and Ryan write songs together, mostly on guitar, but also with electronic instruments; samplers, drum machine, etc. We generally have a practice of refinement, writing dozens of songs and parts that we eventually distill into a single song. We'll start 40 songs before completing one, in a way that's more like finding the purest part than it is not being able to get going.

Milo: How do you regard it, in terms of the musical landscapes it inhabits, if SLGTM was, vulgarly simplified--an outlet for more pop-leaning explorations, what are you exploring here?

Fred: `I think of it as pop music as much as any of the other bands I've been in. Maybe just a little more underwater. Everything has been recorded at home. We're trying to break that habit a little bit, recording a single for K Records at Dub Narcotic studios on this tour, and hopefully working with Chris Koltay at his insanely pimped out High Bias studio in Detroit for some of our new album.

Milo: Has your philosophy changed, in terms of what you want from recorded music, when you piece it together, lay it out and record it... Were there beliefs you held as a producer/recorder or writer in terms of how to do things, or what you preferred--and has that changed or how have they changed--particularly with City Center?

Fred: `My philosophy, if I have one, has not changed in regard to what I want out of music. I want the same thing now as I have since I started jamming on my dad's busted guitar when I was 11 years old. I want music to be exciting and encompass the unencompassable, become bigger than all the elements that make it up. Of the very few people who have talked to me about City Center, almost all of them seem to focus on how it's incredibly different music than Saturday Looks Good To Me, and to some extent that's true. The songs feel different, and there's a social context of more experimental pop music rising to it's highest popularity in the past five or six years, so the difference is more striking and could signify a drastic change in philosophy or style. The thing is, these bands aren't the only things I've been working on for the past ten years, just two of the best known and most visible. There have been endless projects, bands, recording sessions, shows, tours, and other conceptual endeavors in between which make the two bands seem like they're all part of the same patchwork to me, but it's likely that not many other people have been paying that much attention to the progression. The point is, there's no way to take it but out of context, and taken out of context it could seem like we've suddenly disavowed the Beach Boys for Arthur Russell and are never looking back, but really, there's been no shift in how we feel about sound, rather the constant excitement of a constant shift.

Milo: I listen to a song like "Cloud Center" and it makes me curious of your thoughts on more ambient, atmospheric music, trobbing soundscapes, what-have you...

Fred: `That song was the hardest song to mix for the record because it was so hard to sequester the different parts and sub-parts for something so formless. The other day we were driving and listening to Built To Spill and I was thinking about how compartmentalized and bite-sized their songs are. Every four measures something new was going on and there was no overlap from the last part, just a straight up change, like different colored Lego's fitting together. When you start working with sounds that only spill over, crystallize and evaporate into one another, it could seem like a gooey, whatever-happens-goes kind of situation, but I think it's really a lot more intricate and difficult to reign in exactly what you're trying to say.

Milo: So then, what's new with Saturday Looks Good to Me? How do you, now, regard it--as a project - scan a montage of record reviews for the band, one will come across constant remarks like, "retro" "nostalgic" "classic pop" "Spector" "B.Wilson" and on and did you feel about the music you were making with Saturday Looks Good To Me and were all these music-journo-jokers coming close at all - and if not, how did that make you feel?

Fred: `Saturday Looks Good To Me isn't recording or playing shows anymore. I can't say there will be no presence or that the band will never play another show or anything drastic like that, but our last show was in London on June 15, 2008. The band existed in some form for almost ten years, be it recording in my basement, driving around the country to have people sing on my songs or touring 9 months of the year at certain points. It was a great thing that opened up endless doors for me and a lot of other people, but I'm happy to be moving forward with new ideas now. To answer your question about the Phil Spector call-tag, etc... Those comparisons were super flattering, if a little ridiculous. In some phases of the band ,I won't lie, I was trying to sound as close to the production styles of Phil Spector, Joe Meek, Brian Wilson, etc, as possible, and that's a pretty heavily nostalgic goal in a way. In another way, I looked at it as a challenge to myself to make music as careful and beautiful as those people did. The thing is, those producers were stars and millionaires. They had limitless money and resources and their records sold hundreds of thousands of copies and defined different points in popular music. The context was invariably skewed not just by way of my place in time, but also because I had a four-track and some talented friends and neighbors to make my pop masterpieces. I was never under the delusion that SLGTM was trying to be or going to be the next Beach Boys, or whatever. I was more interested in working with the concept of some strange imaginary band that might have existed along side but got buried in the ground for decades. It was all kind of in my head.

Milo: What were some (or one of your most) formative experience(s) - or when/how did you really start to become motivated as a songwriter?

Fred: `I guess when I started going to basement shows when I was a teenager, all my formative moments came in a gusty rush. I remember being 14 and standing outside of the Lab, a punk house in Ann Arbor that was one of the first in my memory and one of the first in the early 90s to have shows after what I'm told was a long drought. Laughing Hyenas were playing and over 200 people showed up and had to be turned away, myself included. Much like I imagine the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show was where the real party was, the vibe on the back lawn of this house was insane and electric, unlike anything I'd ever experienced. The house was inhabited and the shows run primarily by teenagers, so it was a true-to-life teenage freakout, and people from local bands I recognized were cracking 40's with homeless punk kids I would see on the main drag asking for change. It was a lot to take in, but I knew in that moment I wanted to be part of it for as long into the foreseeable future as possible. That was more than 15 years ago.

Milo: The last proper interview we did was about iTunes and record stores - that was 2006 - now things have changed even more, and wildly at that...leaks are common place, buzz bands are epidemic, and the City Center blog constantly has free stuff - what does that do to the music world in your eyes - to the local performer (namely anyone in/from Ann Arbor, or Detroit)

Fred: `I might have an-always-changing-perspective on this stuff as well, but for the moment, I think it's kind of a good thing that music and business are kind of at odds with each other. Whether it's resulting in a leveled playing field of sorts or just making people more aware of more music, I think there will be a lot of different results of music not costing money anymore. If one of them is that you can't get rich or be thought better of just because people are talking about your band, there might be a lot less annoying and time-wasting music made by people with nothing to say. That would be cool.


11/13/2009 at the East Quad Music Co-Op in Ann Arbor:
730 Church St., Ann Arbor

City Center News:
The Cops Don't Care 7" is done - info here
And now that the band is back from tour - they're going to get started soon on a full length album.
Download some live performances here


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

DC Up and Coming: Jetpack On!

Jetpack On!'s sound has a lot of muscle to it, with those relentless burning guitars and radio-ready rhythms; at it's heart it's really just rock - a very angular, hard-cutting pop with guitars that shimmer like fist-clenched boxers ready to sweat and scream into the cavernous innards of an arena. It's youthful, it's rollicking, it's guitar-heavy, but the vocals are smooth and it's full of hooks.

Jetpack On!

The current quartet started when singer/songwriter Ryan Hoger, a young Commerce Township guitarist who'd banded around the metro area for a while, decided to start working on his own stuff for once - and avoid all the headaches of, well, ya know, dealing with other people.

One person Hoger did end up dealing with was fellow musician Mick Maslowski, who offered Hoger his studio to record. Hoger recorded seven songs, with Maslowski producing and mixing and Hoger playing everything.

"After that," said Hoger, "we basically had the 'Lets fucking do this' mentality, and formed the band, with my close friends Nick D'agostino (bass) and his brother Vince (on drums)."

Listen on their myspace and find out how to get their EP

Black Heart Procession - 11 / 6 - Crofoot

So it may be coming a week after Halloween - but, if you still didn't get enough goth, enough spook, enough grimy grooves, enough macabre music - then maybe you can head up to the Pike Room to check out the broodish spaced-out atmospheric indie-rock of The Black Heart Procession - 11 / 6 - at the Crofoot in Pontiac. The band (started by Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel) started out of the recently reunited Three Mile Pilot.

Last month they released the long-awaited Six full length. Their latest release features bristling ballads like "Rats" and "Witching Stone" and devils and alleys and blood and staying alive. They're joined in Pontiac by Bellini - more info at the Crofoot's myspace

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween - Photo Recon

(photos: mike milo)

Wildcatting and Prussia from their sets opening for tUnEyArDs at the Pike Room

Black Lodge at Small's with Blase Splee

The Garbagemen (as The Cramps) at the Lager House

Silverghost (as DEVO) at The Lager House (PJ's 2nd Anniversary)

Happy Halloween

Reviews: Spiral Stairs / Elvis Perkins in Dearland / Cold Cave

Spiral Stairs – The Real Feel – Matador

Listen: "Maltese Terrier"

On “The Real Feel,” Scott Kannenberg, (former guitarist/singer for indie-sanctities Pavement) seems to have a self-revelation; after two full lengths and an EP under the Preston School of Industry moniker (a name taken from a Pavement b-side that would initially seem a misfit to longtime Pavement fans who already knew that Spiral Stairs was, already, his long-held nickname/pseudonym ) he uses "Real Feel" to put PSOI on the shelf, and puts the old jacket back on, dusts himself off and says, Here I am, sorry I’m late.

PSOI’s recordings were sort of schizophrenic records tinged with capricious flings into space-rock and weird fuzzy bass-booming southern rock, only providing flashes of those dizzyingly delicious pop ballads Kannenberg would occasionally lead on with Pavement; but it wasn’t enough to just re-hash new "Date With Ikea's" and "Painted Soldiers," listeners still weren’t getting to know the man who was often shadowed by the more flamboyant/more-lead-writer of their previous band (Stephen Malkmus). With “The Real Feel,” Kannenberg matches Malkmus not only on intricately woven indie-pop, but surpasses his former/currently-reunited-collaborator’s respective solo work on levels of emotional, pensive and melancholic lyrics (aided by the atmospheric engineering touch of Jon Auer) and gives us, finally, the most intimate look into Kannenberg, as a songwriter and as a man.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Doomsday EP – XL

Listen: "Slow Doomsday"

Mystic folkie Elvis Perkins debuted his songs in 2007 with Ash Wednesday, after which he assembled a touring band christened as the very storybook-sounding Elvis Perkins in Dearland with whom he would not only record the 2009 follow up, but name the album after the band.

So it's probably safe to say the Los-Angeles raised recording artist has established an identity or world for his writing. So now he can relax and open up a bit, allowing listeners an intimate revisiting of a standout track, "Doomsday" from the 2009 self-titled, with an EP’s worth of unreleased material. Perkins clearly cherishes ornate older-styles that bridge dusty Americana (the cathartic whoa-ohs over woozy acoustic guitars of “Stay Zombie Stay”) to jangly late 50’s cruiser pop (the slap-back bass and the freewheeling rockabilly guitars of “Stop Drop Rock And Roll”); but the girth of his charm may lay in those gloomy New Orleans funeral march-recalling drinking songs that warm and whirl their way into marching pop ballads (the Scottish-folk flavored jive of “Weeping Mary” to the sleepy-to-surreal trombone affair of “Doomsday”).

Cold Wave – Love Comes Close - Heartworm / Matador

Listen: "Life Magazine"

Even the most pop-leaning, hook-filled, admittedly danceable moments of this record are still made gloomy when one weighs the experimental and confrontational ferocity of the trio’s other projects, which include hardcore bands like Give Up The Ghost, arty noise bands like Prurient and scrappy unsettling fuzz pop like Xiu Xiu. You’re like, whoa – these cats (project initiator Wesley Eisold, along with Dominick Fernow and Caralee McElroy) are into some heavy stuff when they’re not set to their Cold Cave-provided synthesizers and loop pedals, is this just some sort of capricious lark for them to take on synth pop?

Well, even if classically goth-tinged new-wave/techno ballads like “Love Comes Close” or dizzying fuzz-sways like “Life Magazine” with it’s minimalist bass moans and 8-bit percussive claps will easily bewitch those of us whose hearts melt so easily for 80’s dance-pop, there are certainly creepier moments. “Cebe and Me” opens the album with steady tapping beats like silverware delicately scrapping pot lids just hits and hits for four minutes under hissing synths and meditative bass along with monotone-sing-speak vocals. To call it synth-pop would conjure New Order – and that would mislead. Some moments are, as they say, infectious, and danceable, but others are cerebral blood-shot dazes, with stretched tones and scraping synths – but the key is balance. A healthy balance of cute and creepy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bishop Allen - 11 / 1 - Crofoot Ballroom (Pontiac)

Brooklyn based indie-pop collective Bishop Allen (which centers around a pair of Harvard grad songwriters: Justin Rice and Christian Rudder) seem to be in that spot where they can make a very reflective, grown-up record; they put out their endearing debut in 2003, then steadily got the mini-spot-lights of various blogs to coalesce upon them when they ambitiously aimed to release an EP every month (for the first half of 2006) which came to fruition in form of their 2007 full length The Broken String. Thus they had their arrival record, their attention-grabbing spat of recordings and their oh-well-now-that-we-have-your-attention-check-this-out record, respectively. Now on this seasons' Grrr, the band assures all its steadily garnered fans that if they've worn from all the miles of road traveled or if they've wisened from all the songs wrung from their literate minds, that above all, they just no how to write a good pop song.

Bishop Allen - "Dimmer"

"The Ancient Commonsense of Things"

To use lightness-conjuring words like laid-back or freewheeling for the often celebratory-vibe of these sunny sonnets underscores that much of what the pair (joined here by Darbie Nowatka and Michael Tapper) done with so little, or, never over-done - minimalist pop: a bass, an unassuming acoustic strum, the periodic warming coo of violins and a nice stepping back beat - where much of the effect is in the human element, the pleasing mid-range tone of the vocals (the la da daah's that synch up with the strings on "Dimmer" or the soaring back and forth over both marching drums and subtle computerized beats on "South China Moon.")

The tightly wound drums and woozy humming guitars of "The Ancient Commonsense of Things" is quite the reflective track indeed - (going through the history of ingenuity) - but it isn't that it's a reflective album - it's a stress free record that captures the duo at a point of realizing what it is that they share as songwriters that makes these easy-sliding hooks and grinning sunny swirls so special. Much of what is layed upon the landscape is there to massage a mood - a measured sensibility for pop construction, not far from a Paul Simon at his peak or a Stephin Merritt at 69-love-songs minus all the synths. That's not to say there aren't moments of invigoration, often coming together in the rising visceral releases of those harmonized ooh whoas and la da daas of various choruses and refrains.

more info at their site

11 / 1 - Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, MI
(photo: Sebastian Mlynarski)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Heads Will Roll - Crofoot Halloween - Covers Band(s)

Last year at the Crofoot, way past the witching hour on Halloween, a sweater-clad straw-haired Kurt Cobain took the stage, following 80’s new-wave pop saviors Morrissey and Johnny Marr apparently making amends for an exclusive Smiths reunion.

Set aside appealing to our dark sides, Halloween is, above all, escapism – and for local bands like Child Bite or Prussia (the Nirvana and Smiths referenced above) the Crofoot Halloween showcase provides them the unique treat of not only dressing as other bands (classic to contemporary) but also covering all of their favorite songs. For fans, they can easily lose themselves as well, transfixed by the illusion – as a dozen wide-eyed Nirvana fans—most of them too young to have ever see Nirvana—embraced it and started moshing to some classics from Incesticide.

So while you may be a Count Dracula or a Bride of Frankenstein, you’ll be front row in front for what looks and sounds like Rage Against The Machine. Let’s review, as well as throw out some favorite scary movies for the helluva it.

The Cold Wave (as Weezer): Fuzzy rhythmic indie-rockers grew from trio to quintet (Allan James, Sean Sommer, Ryan and Scott Allen and Gjon Gjavelini) while writing and preparing for an early 2010 full length recording. James toured with Javelins and Sommer joined The Friendly Foes with Ryan. “We are covering Weezer because we love Weezer and so does everyone else,” said James. James admitted “We’re not much for scary movies.”


Child Bite
(as Rage Against The Machine): noisy-poppy-metal-ey rock quartet had a “biggie” of a year; they released a series of split 7”s and toured with each “b-side” featured band; they wrote and recorded a new album with J. Robbins and aim for an early ’10 release; they toured the west coast and took their renowned fuzzy faces into competition in Alaska’s World Beard & Mustache Championships and now they head east. About RATM, “Like most good ideas, it started as a joke,” said singer/keyboardist Shawn Knight. About scary movies: “Way too many good ones to choose from; I’d probably have to say the Shining, or maybe Susperia—that one is fucked up too. Gotta love that score by Goblin!”


(as The Velvet Underground): space-folk/west-African-flavored-doo-woppers spent 2 months on the road this year and released a free EP in January. They’re working on their 2nd proper full length. “VU have always been one of my favorite bands,” said singer/guitarist Ryan Spencer, “all of ours, probably.” Scary movie? “The Shining!”


Bars of Gold (as The Talking Heads): Gaunt grooved, big booming indie rock quintet (four-fifths of Wildcatting) are working on their debut full length. Since their first show in March, “we’ve been chugging along, awesomely,” said drummer Brandon Moss. Talking Heads was a mutually respected band, specifically in sound. “I’m looking at it as a bit of a learning experience, that is, coming from the bombast of Wildcatting.” Favorite scary movie, a dark horse: “Monster Squad!”

Silverghost (as DEVO): New-wave electro-pop duo (sometimes trio) released a free digital EP, toured the west coast and played the Henry Fonda Theatre two sequential nights to a sold out crowd, with Murder City Devils. Locally, they headlined a Cityfest stage and the Hamtramck Blowout pre-party. Next month they’ll combine both of their EPs with new material on up and coming The Few Records and work on a full length in December. “DEVO” said singer/keyboardist Deleano Acevedo “made us believe it’s our duty-now-for-the-future. We love their punk and anti-establishment mentality.” Movie? “Exorcist (unedited) or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Marco Polio & The New Vaccines (as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs): no-wave leaning/techno-leaning electro pop duo is now becoming a trio, adding a human drummer (Scotty Stone of Rogue Satellites joins Steve Puwalski and Michael Langan) and swears they’ll have a disc out before they die (keep your ears peeled in ’10). “We were going to do DEVO but found out Silverghost had it covered. The YYY’s came out of the cosmos and hit me in the head from space,” said Puwalski. “(Singer Karen O.) is a big influence for me.” And he picks “Signs,” since it triggered intrinsic fears of aliens.

10 - 31 - Crofoot - Pontiac - 1 S Saginaw

Reviews: The Big Pink / Times New Viking

The Big Pink - Brief History of Love

Our modern day electro pop often reaches back to the fuzzy, stylish glory of new-wave - a genre nestled in a time when flashy singers could simultaneously be tough-looking and confrontational, yet glitzed out in androginous mascura or Alladin Sane lightning bolts. And, even though Big Pink lifted their band name from The Band's debut record (reaching back to that rootsy Americana strum of the 70's) it still effectively qualifies that paradox - to be big and booming in your buzzing guitars, stomping drums and shifting bass grooves, yet still back it up with these wispy harmonies or howl out a bit of melodrama into your vocals over frilly synth dressings.

Their rough edged guitars and punchy drums clench fists beside steady wafting fuzzy electronics - a fairly minimalist approach that might compare to a Handsome Furs or even at some points, newer acts like Girls - but Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell, both long-time banders and long-time engineers, come off a bit more educated in the craft of electro-pop - reaching back to more austere influences like Echo & The Bunnymen or the burning, free-wheeling strut of the early Verve records - the mix of delicate computer-y blips and starry eyed synth-fuzz meditations given a kick by danceable drums and roaring guitars.

Times New Viking
Born Again Revisited

Blown out vocals, trash-can drums, three-chord shreds and sleepy stretching melodies - we all know the recipe for this new millenia's fuzzy punk avant-pop thing, but it all depends on whose lo-fi loving hands hold the crinkled sauce-soaked note-pad of ingredients. For Times New Viking, on this, their fourth record in just over that many years as a band, the inevitable reference point is still Guided By Voices - but one hopes most writers qualify it - whereas Robert Pollard was all about the British invasion - Times New Viking are way more into the Primitives' take on pop or the claustrophobic and self-destructive style of The Fall.
They have their Bee-Thousand moments ("2/11 Don't Forget") but they also have their shrieked, disorienting no-wave leaning riccochets ("(No) Sympathy"). Some moments have melodies wandering in a haze over dreamy beach-side guitars ("These Days" - not a Nico cover), while other moments are down-right apocalpytic in hair-pulling kart-wheeled anxiety ("Born Again Revisited" or "I Smell Bubblegum"); the key is to combine those two, the melody and the mayhem (on tracks like "Something Moore"). If you've already dug what Black Lips or the Strange Boys have been doing in terms of sloppy-blues and ultra-fried punk-r&B in the vein of vocals so blown to hell it's elucidates your own broken ear drum right beside the amp during an actual live performance (this was recorded to VHS), then you'll be in comfortable--and at times, more exciting--territory here, with Times New Viking.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Review: Computer Perfecion

We Wish You Well On Your Way To Hell – Le Grand Magistery

“All through space and time, we’ll go, you and I, pushing past familiar names and faces we’ll forget.”

I spent an entire road trip with this record, driving through tunnels of yellow trees. I kept telling myself I wouldn’t open this up harping on the same old things about Computer Perfection – such as the echoed press-release-esque recital that the formative trio, Gene Corduroy, Bem and Nathaniel Burgundy IV, forged this band out of the ashes of their recent tenure in pop-powerhouse Pas/Cal – or that, cringed and clichéd as it may be, this is a record for them to find themselves, to find their own sound.

My windshield, mirrors and windows swathed by the papery flippers of oranges and reds, the pavement rolling by like LTD’s girded, motorik rhythms, under shimmying synths warming and fuzzing the palette for those angelic harmonies – the imagery facilitated my revelation that it should, or could, be the lyrics that I unpack. “We pressed in closer listening to the distant ringing cathedral bells,” sung in “Able Archer” under chiming synthesizers that set a very heralding, church-bell-esque glow) “…the trees have lost their leaves for good and the skies become a carousel.” Sigh.
My knee-jerk caution would be that I could say so much about the music – clicking, gurgling synth dressings, ornamental upon the emotive sweeps of electrified strings and jaunty bass grooves; rich piano tones taking turns with guitars that never settle between the banks of surf and space and silky vocals as smooth and comforting as your ageless blue cotton hoodie. And harmonies?…well, I mean, cripes…perfection is part of the band’s name…but I digress.

Computer Perfection will take you on a journey from krautrock (think a much sprightlier Kraftwerk via Man Machines on “Strange Echo Part 2” – or the staggering Neu-like marathon of “Sweetie Pie”) to club-ready synth pop (think those cherubic-feeling synth-n-bass affairs of New Order on “Blue Blood” with echoey drums and choir-like vocals), to naïve and freewheeling indie-pop (take those wispy tones and UFO-sounding whirls with bob-n-weave drum and bass on “How I Won the War” and you’re thinking haughty-arty-pop like Stereolab, until that beautiful cutting surf guitar swerves and takes the lead).

“What if you came along with me?” they sing on “Sans Soleil” only to add in its b-section “follow me…” Not that I want to go back to that cliché about finding-their-own-sound, but it becomes as much a journey for us, particularly coax by their lyrics, as it is for the band, forging a path, musically.

As the trio noted in a recent interview, and to me in person, that Corduroy and Bem’s pre-school age daughter is essentially in the band and contributed to each song somehow – then I can’t resist indulging that this is a very storybook-ish affair – not far from magical, imaginative, bed-time-stories, (where we’re sinking into dreams and dancing on pale white moons) – even the cynical-sounding album title sounds like a nursery rhyme. Perhaps some of it is allegorical (another incantation that “this is not the end…we can start again,”) and perhaps, for the sake of the bright-eyed kid in all of us, some is merely escapist fancy-free, (to sing along with, hand-in-hand on a grain of sand, upon a fantastical island just as the seasons turn). Damn I’m glad this came out in autumn, and that I’m in a car with all these leaves falling– and the sky becoming a carousel… Sigh.

Computer Perfection on Myspace
more at
their site

Rally to save Michigan film incentive


"Help Michigan Get Back To Work" and stop legislation from cutting the Michigan Film Incentive

Supporters of the film industry will join Big Screen Michigan on Monday, (10/26) at 7pm in the Crofoot Ballroom (Pontiac) to address the action needed against legislative efforts to cut the current Michigan Film Tax Incentive - which threatens to curtail movie, television and video game production from being made in Michigan. This is a free event, open to the public. The effort is organized and sponsored by a coalition of filmmakers, television prodcuers and video game designers as well as business owners, tax payers and Michigan workers. Learn how to help save the MFI. Doors at 6 - Rally at 7

more info at: or

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lightning Love Interview Part 2 (10/22 at CMJ)

Interview: Lightning Love

Photo: Trever Long

Continue from Part 1...

“There are a lot of bad things that happen when we all hang out together,” Ben offers and in my mind I snap my fingers for that almost being a quintessential quote in the conversation regarding Lightning Love. The trio are like a gang – you’ll often find them dangling from the bar together, hanging out on the sidewalk for a smoke together, and just embracing all the mess of daily drama together and laughing in its face.

You kind of have to when you all live in a house together.

But they take it all in stride – all the various slings and spills of the nightlife from the fun and the wily to the duress and the heartbreak – to headaches and glare of the day time, from day jobs to songwriting to figuring out the next move for the band.

This echoes in their songwriting: the sprightly humming pianos leaping like hopscotch over shimmying rhythms and cutting guitars providing a bit of grit and muscle to the outfit – Leah’s incorrigibly “cute”- voice spewing anecdotes of trespassing all the nooks and crannies of the city under a haze of heartbreak and alcohol; setting some mischievious scene of these three shoulder-locked blonde-haired youths standing in the shaded corner of the after-school special throwing crab-apples at the pony-tailed chicks in pleated skirts and emasculating the convertible-driving varsity quarterback with cutting Freudian commentary in their worldly wise-ass way.

Leah said she thinks the forthcoming album is “more grown up. I wrote (November Birthday) without thinking about releasing them or having people hear them. It was just a fun experiment for me to write songs on my own. This time it was more the mindset of, people are going to hear this and, I have a greater knowledge of what it’s like to be in a band. I think we’ve grown a lot.”

“It’s filled out better,” Aaron said, “because we arranged (the songs) as a band.”

Ben also noted that the minimal guitar dressing on November was a conscious choice for aesthetics – but now the full band will pulse through most of the album.

“I think the first record’s kind of sad, more, and this one’s a little more…” Leah pauses, “angry, or something.” She chuckles. “Not that my music ever sounds pissed off, but…it’s a little less sad and a little more…”

“More intensity…” nods Aaron.

“As Leah and I get to be better friends,” Ben says, “her music gets angrier and angrier.”

Which brings us back to their thick-as-thieves dynamic as band mates, house mates, drinking buddies, et al.

“If we didn’t have just a whole shitload of inside jokes…” Aaron shakes his head, “we talk in our own language.”

“That developed very quickly,” remarks Ben.

“We’re silly,” Leah shrugs, “we like to have a good time.”

“And none of us are too egotistical,” Ben adds, “It works well; if we suggest something to each other, nobody takes it personally. You’ve got to develop a song, not a part.”

“I’ll very happily admit that I can write songs,” Leah offers, “…for the most part, but I’m not a great keyboard player.”

“No, you suck ass,” Ben cuts in.

She continues “…There’s some shit that I fuck up at and I know that, so it’s really good – I’m happy if Aaron’s telling me, just today, that I was rushing.”

“It’s not like I’m calling her out or anything,” her brother says.

Over the last year or so, interest is growing – be it measured in growing crowds at their local shows, their invitation to tour with the Von Bondies, a headlining slot at City Fest or heading down to Ohio to play with Bad Veins. That doesn’t mean the band didn’t work their asses off that first year, playing a lot of rough and random nights to gain momentum.

Leah says they were lucky to become acquainted with fellow musicians who instantly appreciated and supported them – including, of course, their “adopted older brothers,” Millions of Brazilians, but also Greg McIntosh from Great Lakes Myth Society and Brandon Zwagerman – helping them obtain a formative slot at Mittenfest in Ypsilanti.

“There’s a degree of confidence now, I guess,” said Ben, looking back, “but it’s slightly nerve-wracking. I just don’t wanna fuck up what we’ve already done.”

“I know it’s not realistic to do the band thing forever,” Leah says, who, just as her lyrics reflect, is often looking toward her future. “I work shitty jobs, now, so that I can be in a band, that’s my first priority, but with my other goals in life, it can’t always be my first priority. So, right now, is like, the time for us to be doing this and I really want to do it, cuz I’m never goig to have this chance again.”

Ben, like a 2nd younger brother, verbally elbows the girl, “Yeah, you’re getting older every day.”

“Anyway, we have dreams,” Leah advances, “but as far as goals, we’re trying to be realistic.”

Their forthcoming album is not titled yet. Though their hovering around simply self-titling it.

“Yeah, Aaron sold the naming of our album for a beer,” Leah shakes her head.

“I thought it was for your soul,” Ben points to him.

“No,” Leah answers for him, “He sold his soul for a beer too.”

“Oh, and then he sold the name of our album for another beer.”

“The girl who bought the beer named it ‘666-69’.”

“Heh,” Aaron rolls his eyes, “for a Bud Light.”

Ben looks at me, “Yeah, what do you think?”

Lightning Love--playing 10/22 at CMJ - Brooklyn, Spike Hill - part of Quite Scientific's showcase, with: Frontier Ruckus, Chris Bathgate and Drunken Barn Dance

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

DEVO / Cramps / Modern Lovers and more at PJs (10/23) - Beggars and Carjack join a book club (10/24)

10 / 23 - PJ's 2nd Anniversary behind the counter at the Lager House (in Corktown)
from Lager HQ: ....
"...Detroiters from bands like Body Holographic, Boogaloosa Prayer, Charlie Slick, Danjee Flesh Nation, The Decks, The Hentchmen, Heroes & Villains, The Johnny Ill Band, Kommie Kilpatrick, Lee Marvin Computer Arm, Silverghost, The Sugarcoats, Timmy's Organism, Woodman and MORE/OTHERS will be paying homage to those who have come before."
Which includes covers (and costumes) of:
The Velvet Underground, Suicide, Spinal Tap, SheRex, The Stooges, rAMoneZ, Thin Lizzy, The Modern Lovers and DEVO
Meanwhile at the Ferndale Public Library - continuing their incremental foray into making a haven for dusty Faulkner collections and new shiny Dan Brown scribbles a much hipper place (that particularly supports the local music scene) - the Library is hosting another free all ages early-show - this time, Halloween themed - with the classiest party band you could find, The Beggars, along with an electro-punk who lives for this holiday, Carjack (pictured) - 10/24 - 6:30 - Ferndale Public Library


Monday, October 19, 2009

Interview: 800 Beloved (playing 10/25 at Cliff Bell's and 10/31 - Magic Stick - Zombie Dance Party 6)

Sean Lynch and I cover a lot of ground – from coffins to lollipops.

“You’ve been in love with someone before, right?” he asks me, “or you’ve obsessed over someone or something?”

I stutter and stall, momentarily disarmed.

“It doesn’t much matter who or what or why, but you can’t give one reason why…” he goes on – and it aptly answers for the songwriter’s perceived over-meticulousness regarding the recording of his current main music project, 800 Beloved’s debut full length, Bouquet – as well as submit inability to explain that the strange, haunting dreams that came to him through the dead of last winter bringing images of bodies of water and the color purple – subsequently inspiring his current recorded work, Everything Purple.

He is aided by bassist Stacey Metesheva and drummer Scott Masson.

DC Interview: Sean Lynch (800 Beloved)

Sorting through the dark dreams and inexplicable illness that befell him in January (setting aside that a coffin had been stored near the foot of his bed during that time), Lynch, after returning to health with less cloudy dreams, quickly started laying out the subject matter for Bouqet’s follow-up, titled Everything Purple.

“There’s really only two sorts of underlying themes in the whole record and it’s this competition between what people instantly think of when they think of the primary blue—you associate water with it—then you take red and, there’s a lot of things you can associate with the color red, but one thing that might make your list is some type of desire or temptation. You get your painter palette out, you mix the two and voila…Everything Purple.”

“It’s one of the things I’ve ever done in my life, be that with painting or writing or music, that I’m not entirely sure I’m really that responsible for any of it,” said Lynch, who reveled that he had recently returned to painted canvases for the first time in ten years. He returns to those initial dark dreams, speaking of them as, almost, a period of trance. “As much as I’d love to dream about lollipops, and, I dunno, juts wonderful things, you can’t really control your dreams. So I had no idea why I was dreaming of these things.”

“I guess it’s more of a record about knowing where the painter fits into the landscape. I can paint a pretty landscape but to participate in that landscape is a whole different sort of activity.”

For Lynch, who also works as an engineer (having self-recorded Bouquet, as well as fellow-Milford-ite Deleano Acevedo, with Marcie Bolan, on Silverghost’s Equine EP), the reflections upon music are never as abstract as some writers who talk about influences or the “feelings” of songs – for Lynch, the lines blur and his mind often toggles through the entire experience, from idea, to writing, to playing, to recording, to mixing (even though their latest single was purposely left un-mixed—more on that later), to releasing, to returning, to reflecting…

“You know how labor intensive the last record was,” Lynch says to me, as I first met him in summer 2006, while Bouquet had already been started and had already been an intense experience, let alone the two years that would follow. He shrugs off Bouquet, humbly, admitting that three years doesn’t necessarily equal instant masterpiece. “I was writing to write, writing to make sense out of things that happened in my life,” he says, going back to 2005 when he stayed, temporarily, at his family’s funeral home in Milford. “I didn’t have too much to make sense of then, except that in 2005 I had a broken heart, and then in 2006 I became so hyper-focused on something that seemed impossible to finish that that seeped into 2007. Before I knew it, it was 2008 before it had a copyright date on it.”


“So really, the last five years of my life, I don’t know what the fuck I’ve been doing. And, it feels like the last, maybe, year, I had a clear idea about something and I just needed to make a couple of changes in order to be sort of free to experience some of those things.”

“And it hasn’t been until, maybe, the last four months that I felt like someone broke all my equipment, broke all my guitars and everything, all my tricks and then they taped it all back together and said, ‘Here, now play it!’ and…now, it just, to me, (the new songs) just sound better.”

Whereas Bouquet touched on all sorts of dark and dreamy musical shores – such as gothic-tinged new-wave, dystopic dance-pop, atmoshpheric shoegaze and clattering post-punk – Everything Purple on the other hand is almost entirely live instrumentation – very little computers and almost no sequenced drums. The feel is looser, more upfront and earnest, or “preciousness without the sake of it being cheesy.” There’s acoustic guitar, the vocals and guitars aren’t fuzzed by any pedals and has something like “75%” less synthesizers than Bouquet. There’s also hardly any mixing - maintaining a rougher hew, but still not punk, no, in fact Lynch even uses the word “folkier” and “janglier.”

Which runs the risk, he acknowledges, of alienating the crowd that attracted to Bouquet. Or maybe, “they don’t give two fucks about it, but they might wonder, ‘Oh why aren’t they doing ‘this’ anymore?’” Which leads to the optimal balance of the name 800-Beloved – where as Bouquet could play into the chillier dark space of the insensitive info-mercial dial-up recalling “800,” then Everything Purple could play into the more sacred, or near-and-dear side of the “Beloved.”

“In past interviews, a lot of funny things were written like, Oh-Lynch gets his stuff from teen vogue magazines and pop culture and…that is all true but at the same time, it doesn’t mean that I’m not moved by something like a love song, or I can’t believe in being entirely haunted by something that I don’t have a reason or a definition or any tangible evidence as to why. (Everything Purple) does challenge; it calls to mind to what end people can be patient with, or focus on, subject matter. It deals with, either obsession or hyper-focusing on something to a point where it seemed most people’s attention spans would just crumble.”

Along with writing and demoing Everything Purple, Lynch has spent the second half of 2009 adjusting to his recent entry into The Hounds Below – Jason Stollsteimer’s re-started project from 2007, originally a sort of side-project for the Von Bondies—now a full fledged band with four other area musicians – Molly Jean Schoen, Brandon Macdonald, Ben Collins and his old friend Jeremy Freer.

Seemingly nonchalant about the collaboration, Lynch surmises, “It’s another way I can be out there, playing with musicians and trying to be, I guess, to be democratic in the scene without having to only hide out in Milford and paint pictures and write about…I dunno.”

That phrase ‘hide out in Milford’ sticks with me and I pursue it. Sean’s local appearances (be it live with 800 Beloved or just out for shits and giggles in the audience) are often limited by the demands of his work schedule – often putting in ten days straight at the family funeral home before getting a day off.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing how music sounds live and I like the interaction between the crowd, but I feel like you could do that once every couple of months and it could be much more magical and you could put much more into the production of it. There’s only a couple of motivators when it comes to rock n roll music: one of ‘em’s getting laid, the other’s getting fucked up, the other’s getting paid…and the other’s probably just good old fashioned—hearing-stuff-loud. So, all of those things, I don’t need to go and put on a guitar to go and do…” He pauses, “Like, the last time I checked, jerking off is a pretty solitary activity and I don’t expect people to pay five bucks to watch me do it.”

So implementing the funeral theme, attracting the more gothy electro kids and momentarily storing a coffin in the house, have been set aside for the more precious “purple” aesthetic.

“I feel too many of the younger kids have…, the ones that listen to us, they look at me as if I’m like this dark character and…no, I have a kitty-cat, and I like really light fluffy things. Yeah, I work in a funeral home, but that’s what I do to pay the bills. And then, they don’t know how to digest us live, because Stacey has a very interesting character, very in her own world, and Scott looks just far too good to play with musicians like us.” (He would add later, of his longtime friend, Masson that, he could probably start, write, record and finish an entire pop album in one day if he really wanted to…)

In regards to his never giving “the live thing a fair shake”: “…the misconception is that you have to show up on a stage, four feet in front of someone to…(affect) people. Maybe it says more about the fact that you didn’t do your job right when you recorded the song – it’s an argument of proximity, really. If I can affect you and I don’t even need to be in your same state, than I’ve done a much better job than the person who goes and plays 40 shows in 40 days…”

Lynch gets elusive when it comes time to pin down future plans, particularly regarding Everything Purple. The recordings are coming along, he said, thanks in large part to the help (and sometimes much needed nudge) of Masson. He hints at, potentially, a December release for “EP” (originally titled for it’s acronym, as it was meant to be an EP…though there are currently seven or so songs on it, in some form or another). Then again, he says at another point that he isn’t entirely convinced he’ll release it, yet, if at all. What is certain is that he will continue writing, he will move onto the next thing (song, album, painting, anything)

They play Cliff Bell's with Blackbird Smile and Haute to Death on 10/25 and

the Zombie Dance Party 6 - 10/31 at the Magic Stick - with Electric Fire Babies - and The Garbagemen (Cramps cover band)