Saturday, October 30, 2010

Currently Listening: Nick Baran - "Superficial"

Oblisk has nothing to do with KISS, ... ...not sound-wise, apperance-wise or partying-eva-ry-day-wise.


The former is a Detroit-based quartet that blends in atmospheric psychedelia to propulsive, groove-heavy shoegaze rock. Sort of like (the latter,) KISS, they have a quiet, unassuming, virtuoso-type lead guitarist who doesn't sing much with Oblisk, if at all... But that's where sort-of's cease.

But, my silly self can't help but picture some Ace Frehley trip when I heard that said-Oblisk guitarist, Mr. Nick Baran, had been working on a solo record over the summer. Now it's done.

And, just like, as I understand it, KISS fans were pleasantly surprised when Frehley did the same solo thing in 1978 (alongside the less impressive three other respective efforts of KISS members), I was equally taken aback by the freshness and the beauty of Baran's compositions. The space, the delicacy, the clattery synth-n-drum shambles...


Heretofore Oblisk records and performances had the tall, lean guitarist slipping into Greenwood-esque trances as he tore into the instrument, blurring but percise, with blazing guitar solos that would swirl out with head-swimming tone modulation and growl with the stomp-released fire from a platter of peddles.

And yet, on Superficial - (a self-release you can check out here) he ends up going deeper into the trip-hop and ambient pop; darker, ethereal realms that mash together cymbal shears, clattering sequenced beats and a bending/swaying resonant bass groove. Sensibilities akin to the cloud-surfing chill-out nocturnes of Massive Attack get mashed up with scuffed, clangy noise-pop stir ups ala Jesus & Mary Chain. But what really throws me for a loop are the wafting, soft-brushed rainy day gleams like "Sleepwalker." The guitarist gets to heavily flex his penchant for the fuzzy magic of the synthesizer and showcase his own disarmingly pretty baritone croon.

Check out this fine centerpiece

More info

Happy Halloween

(Here's to SE MI's glorious, freak-ish, energetic, one of a kind, talented music community!)
(photos - mike milo)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Eve of Hallow's Eve


7th year of the Zombie Dance Party

DJs Haute to Death. Midnight Snack. High Strung. Pop Project. Robin Goodfellow. Magic Stick.

Show up - with or without zombification - if without, visit the Zombinator.

Catch up on history.

And watch fun videoz



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sweeping Spell of Faun Fable's Light of a Vaster Dark

Fable has always been an appropriate evocation to this music - with the solemn beauty of clarinets, mystical ghostly coo of shakuhachi flutes, troubadour-ian acoustic strums and a poignant yet haunting vocals.
The deep booming envelopment of Dawn McCarthy's psychedelic gypsy folk vocals can easily compete with the galloping drums and booming bass of this album's more rousing tunes, and can transition to a thinner airy breeze for the more skeletal acoustic pieces.

Faun Fables latest (on Drag City) is a refreshing balance: mysitcal folk freak outs that seem to accomodate spirit journeys into enlightening yet hallucinogenic nether-realms of deserts, mountains and jungles <-> with a tribal, drum pummeling, chant-facillitating vibe that crackles away the indie-folk frame into the night sky via a dark framed pyre <-> into an austere and beautiful orchestral, rainy-day balladry that flexes McCarthy's commendable sense for storytelling - ("O Mary").

Personal Favs: the drum-circle conjuring "Sweeping Spell" with it's intoxicating blend of Flamenco, sanctionious chants and a playful, dirt spackled, bluesy troubadour storytelling style. Or the Morricone styled, drifter conjuring acoustic cold shoulders, jangly tambourines and ghost locomotive harmonica of "Violet."
McCarthy is joined here by: Nils Frykdahl - with: Meredith Yayanos, Kirana Peyton, Cornelius Boots and Mark Stikman

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Currently Listening: South South Million - ("Fold Mouth")

South South Million: a quasi urban legend type "recording experiment" brewed behind the scenes. The project is overseen by two meticulous mad scientists, Trevor Naud and Daniel I. Clark; their well-matched, devastating gossamer harmonies resonating up and around the gothic style lancet arches of their secret underground laboratory while they mix together loops, samples, brass and beats into varoius beakers labeled -ambient-pop- -trip-hop- -bossanova- -ethio-jazz-

Wearing protective goggles and enhancing headphones, mixed all these serene wavy sounds and sensibilities together together to form a dizzying washed-out sound that floats dreamily, rocks gently and shunts in a few curiosities of cosmic noise.

You'll know Naud and Clark as guitarist, bassist and duel-singers from Detroit based quartet Zoos of Berlin. The two have, after nine years of sound crafting, readied an album's worth of material (A Wind Hand Caught in the Door) which is being readied for a forthcoming release.

Have a listen

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween at the Crofoot (10/29)

The incidence of bands "dressing up for Halloween" as other bands...(from Strokes to MC5 to Yeah Yeah Yeah's to Weezer)... went from whimsical larks of inner-dork indulgence to a solidified tradition, (endemic even) in just three years time.

With such a fertile music scene here in Detroit, the "concerts" themselves blur into invigorating costume parites for musicians, with parades of bloated bills showcasing 6, 10, 15!! bands in one night. Understandably, local performers bottle-neck their way in and onto these seasonal spooktacular line ups simply because it's so much fun. Not only the opportunity to dress up, to perform for your local music scene on such a characteristically freak-exploding night, but to also enter the minds, bodies, and choruses of some of your favorite bands from days gone by.

Live Guitar Hero...almost.

(Mummies pic by Lo-fi Bri)

And yes, nostalgia plays heavily into it... but nostalgia inevitably plays into any of our 20/30-something office day job-fried minds who continue to get a renewed thrill this time of year for Halloween-angled goings-ons.

Because, face it, you air-guitared to "Say It Ain't So" by Weezer... and you know all the words to "Boys Don't Cry" by the Cure and would revel at the chance to belt it out... and, wouldn't it be weird and cool at the same time to hear a local band cover "Tonight Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins?

In any case - nostalgia aside - I have to incant: The last two Crofoot Halloween extravaganzas provided me with a handful of performances that I still regale, to this day, some of the best I've seen in years...

1. Bars of Gold as Talking Heads... just a staggering performance, start to finish, whilst also putting their own characteristic touches upon these tunes. We all tripped out on some "Stop Making Sense" transcendence.

2. Child Bite as Nirvana... people lost their shit... Because, realize: A.) We had a crowd that'd been downing High Life's for four hours - B.) with many of them at-or-under 25 years of age and thus having never "seen" Nirvana live and thus are quite influential to see this experience through drunk-goggle-hallucination and suspend their belief for it to be the genuine article... and C.) these raucous rockers get up in costume (with blonde wigs) and rock through some mosh-friendly Incesticide material. (no video survived).

Ever see a band cover Outkast for an entire set? Did you miss Pixies on their reunion tour? Wanna see along to "Peaches" by Presidents of the United States of America?

10/29 - Crofoot in Pontiac

Child Bite- Black Sabbath
Cold Men Young - Outkast
Silent Years - Madonna
Prussia - Pixies
Silverghost with the Kickstand Band - the B-52s
Marco Polio and the New Vaccines - the Cure
Grand Dad Crunk and Gary Indianapolis - MSTRKRFT
Fawn - Smashing Pumpkins
Macrame Tiger - The Presidents of the United States of America
Back to the River, Back to the Forest with Jameson Blade - Spinal Tap|
Von Pontiac Family Singers feat. Members of Wilson, the Deltas and Erno the Inferno - Beastie Boys
Woodman - The Mummies (pictured above^)
The Marvins - Cake
Big Mess - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
School of Rock - Blues Brothers

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Drunken Barn Dance - Video: "Ain't No Weather Fouler"

Happy Halloween.

Here's a Night Of The Livng Dead-inspired video from the Ann Arbor (and sometimes NY)-based Drunken Barn Dance. This shoegaze-glazed Americana quintet just wrapped a string of shows through CMJ and are currently still supporting their recent LP Grey Buried (on Quite Scientific). Here's a special seasonal music video, (and kudos to all the enthusiastic local actors):

More Info:
Drunken Barn Dance
Quite Scientific

Burrito Monster

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Theatre Bizarre, Halloween, 2010

Theatre Bizarre's renowned carnival-style Halloween celebration will "most likely" proceed this week after being shut down by failed inspections.

The latest Detroit Free Press report says the multi-stage concert/variety show/freakshow wonderland will instead be hosted at the Fillmore Detroit. Ticketholders planning on attending the mandatory-costume outdoor concert were asked to stay tuned to Theatre Bizarre's Facebook for further updates, as The Detroit Fire Department and the city's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department weren't budging on allowing the event to proceed tonight, as previously scheduled.

This haunted house meets backyard bonfire as presented as a serial killer's escapist fantasy world through installation art and performance art, has been a renowned Halloween institution for 10 years, on West State Fair. The downfall, said organizer Ken Poirier, was due it's elaborate (and largely-attended) event being hosted in a residential area, coupled on top of the hazy area of serving alcohol (with disputes going back and forth as to whether they are "selling" it or "giving (it) away."

While this morning's Free Press used the word "likely," the Detroit News reported that the event "is moving" to the Fillmore.

Best to check Theatre Bizarre's Facebook regularly, especially if you're a ticket holder, as the passes are "non-refundable regardless of circumstance."

Theatre Bizarre Facebook

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dark Dark Dark - Wild Go - (10/27 - Bakery, Detroit)

Throw out the guitars.

Bring in the accordion.
Bass? Sure. Make sure it's that big burly fiddle kind, not the electric.

Drums. Okay. But some bongos too.

The ornate tones and flitting buzz of the accordion could set you at a Paris Cafe, the soulful croon of the vocals over a rich and sonorous piano spill may set you inside some candle-lit lounge.

The swell and swoon of their harmonies atop the roaring saw of the strings may trip you out and off into fuzzier, ethereal daydreamy realms.

With half it's members culled from all around the country, (thus utilizing the unique jazz, folk and blues sensibilities of both New York and New Orleans), it's founding members and main writers came out of Minneapolis. For almost 5 years now, they've established themselves as consummate crafters of a gothic folk style, stalwart orchestral gypsy pop balladeers.

With Wild Go, their 3rd proper release, they are, for the first time, sufficiently bolstered by six contributors/collaborators (where as before it went from two, initially, then to a quartet). With bass, trumpet, clarinet, violin, and, of course, the accordion and piano, they're able to establish that soft-brush beauty with a blustery-crescendo brio, and then transcend it with an even more layered sound, more of an atmospheric surge with these spruce crafted string instruments purring, these piano tones, delicate but commanding with their lingering echo, and the cheery moan of a trumpet or clarinet.

"In Your Dreams" bounces and shimmies over bongos and an arresting accordion sashaying it's unique buzz under the groups harmonizing "ooohs." You think you're on some fun chamber-pop kick until that violin swings in and just cuts into you and they throw in some charming finger-snaps.

Charm? While the beauteous vocals croon and nod along atop a rippling cello pluck with "Celebrate," we can also experience the most mesmeric of accordion melodies, yes--that's right, get into it!--and the whole steadily wobbling/shuffling beat is warmed by their harmonies.
While they can certainly make a song dressy and ornate, they know when to push the poignancy of minimalism and just let the pianos and vocals lead the way.

It's an old-world-y type trip, yes, but the strength here is the intricacy of their (still yet evolving) songwriting.

Where the Wild will go... 4303 W. Vernor - Detroit

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Small Black - New Chain - (11/16 - Magic Stick)

Do enough reading up on this band and you'll find recurring buzz words like: 'melancholy' or 'nostalgic'... or 'dark...'


And... yeah, sure one of their best songs talks about rising up (again) like a ghost (Listen: "Photojournalist") still ...on it's surface it's still that fuzzified sparkling chill-wave groove that, in blogger-world, has already been melodramatically moaned as some played-out vexation. But, really, it is, for the moment, (repeat, for the moment,) not going anywhere - so we should just take each new Neon Indian-y/Toro Y Moi-y styled buzz crackled tilt-o-whirl pop project at face value.

Which, by doing so, would vindicate a band like Small Black...

This Brooklyn based quartet could risk falling in with the rest of those day-glo electro-pop darlings of the bedroom-composer-heralding blogs, but, as a fleshed out live band with drum n' bass sutured into their synth storms and accentuated by echoy-loops and fuzzed out vocals, they seem to reach a bit further back than their contemporaries, father back than a mere reconstructed and recallibrated ebullient 80's dance pop.

There's is more towards the murkier, proto-electro-pop sound; perhaps, a Low-era David Bowie (take the weird, nauseating intro of "Photojournalist"). Or, even better, if you want to loop 'em in with anyone - toss them closer to Future Islands' lot (the shimmying beat and shining guitars of "Search Party" - (listen) )capture a sound that makes them seem like potential distant cousins). But still, other songs will just feel too "drenched" by a Washed Out-type sound ("Goons") or maddeningly toe-the-line between distinctive and derivative ("New Chain)."

It's a "bedroom" composition that deserves more than a glance - explore it, look under it's bed, in the closet, on the shelves and out the window. How soft is the pillow? What kinds of posters are on its walls?

Info - Jagjaguwar - out 10/26
Playing Magic Stick - 11/16 - Detroit

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Heavy - How You Like Me Now?

When your sonic stage is only as big as an EP will allow, you better hit the ground running, better not let any listener catch their breath, and better keep all those fiery elements, particularly drums, bass and brass, -blaring for all of your 19 precious minutes.

The Heavy deliver, again, as they'd done already with last year's The House That Dirt Built.

But, it's probably nothing that new for already-established-fans of the English neo soul rock group: - booming and arresting beats that bridge hip/hop to garage grit; gleaming guitar chords conjuring some Stax recalling funk flare under these high range groanin/croonin vocals oozing attitude that bridges James Brown's breathless belting to a more playful/fantastical Screamin' Jay Hawknis trip.

This EP effectively trims the fat of the 09 LP, redelivering their brass bolstered, strutting dance hit, "How You Like Me Now?," featuring the dapper-as-ever Dap Kings (the funk collective that backs Sharon Jones and also provided the music for Amy Winehouse's breakthrough record). This EP is pretty much a sustained explosion of booming beats, stylish bass grooves and rousing brass attacks (but "Strong Enough"'s sort of bluesy grind slows things down a bit, breaks it down for an attempted hand-clap-along ballad type thing to mixed results).

The song this EP''s named for has spread like wildfire, featured everywhere from car commercials, to sports arenas to the MTV Movie Awards.

But check out "That Kind of Man" for a taste of what the EP has to offer, beyond just being a bit of a 2nd-helping for a world newly enamored with this group's sound.

How You Like Me Now EP is like Dirt Built's encore - feed them with more funk while the band finishes their current tour and gets back down to buisness of another LP.

News: The Heavy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elle & The Fonts - 11/13 - Northern Lights Lounge -

The voice of Elle.

It hits three ranges - this low, commanding croon with a soulful ooze; this higher, more timorous air; and this more punk-ish belting at the crashing crescendos of her poignant pop songs - bolstered by keys (Paul Kokeny) and drums (Adam LeRoy).

Musically, these ditties can be quite melodious. They can amble with shuffling drums, warm toned buoyant keyboard flares and gutiars that go from a grinning, shambolic jangle to a more disonant feedback fuzzed shred.
But they can also brood, get down into some dark moody murk. Like when that feedback flares higher and the tones go low and minor. And both Elle (Sawa)'s voice and words embody catharsis. (Though, in fashion of heart-wrenching twilight-folk baladeers ala Elliott Smith or the austere soulful yet stinging shuffling of a Cat Power, the ponderances of her own blue day ballads stray from sugar-coating and leave an even more pain filled elipses, see: "Our Apocalypse").

"Go" is a guttural toe-tapper that forms a clenched-fist resolution ("broken hearts pounding streets...I will go when I go..."), with pummeling drums, offsetting sunny-toned keys and duel gutiars of fuzzy scrapes and a golden toned bluesy wail.

"Hallucinate"'s dreamy sway of tight acoustic strums under that electric guitars bewitching, bending bellow embodies that weird blend of: tired, pissed-off, yet free and relieved feeling one would at the end of the shitty day-job work day from hell.

There's a lot going on here. Booming bass. Found sounds. More atmospheric-leaning pieces. It covers a lot of ground with sixteen 3 1/2 minute chapters.
"Small Faces" starts out with this low, trepidatious sort of shoe-gaze sizzle but coalesces into an open the gates type of jammy spill out of drums and keys unfurling forht - and that will slide into the haunting high-strung jitter of overdubbed guitars purring atonnaly over "At Your Best" which wavers in and out between a loungey wafting serenade and back into spacey, simmering guitars.
Dig in. There's blistered beauty and interesting blends: minimalist guitar pop, fractured new wave, brooding folk - plaintive, gut-punching prose...
Find it on CD and mp3 - 11/13 - Northern Lights

with: Sheefy McFly and the Deloreans & Switch Palace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Carjack 10-23 in St Clair Shores + "B-52's" - 10-22 at PJs Lager House

Above are only some of the images likely to be on display at the School of Rock in St. Clair Shores (29635 Harper). The commendable School of Rock House Band will open things up, leading into their own personal pick for a Halloween performer, Carjack - on 10/23


The day before that, back in Detroit, we will witness what is now the third year in a row of bands taking to adopting their own "costumes" via cover performances (of other hallowed bands, like the Cramps, or Talking Heads...or...pictured - Silverghost as DEVO).

This year, on 10/22 at the Lager House - the B-52's are unveiled featuring Silverghost, the Kickstand Band and esQuire-

Also, look for another performance from the B-52s and about 15 other "costumed" bands - at the Crofoot, on 10/29.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Long Whisker

Growing Up On Nevermind
Long Whisker - Huge Power

Part of my own personal thrill at finding songwriters like Lou Barlow or David Berman was the feeling of finding a new kind of voice. Though their voices were low, somewhat limited and plain-ish, it might be weird to imagine them feeilng revalatory - but they did, for me.

It was like a new kind of folk style - wrung, dusted and matted with this haze-laden aesthetic (now so characteristic to percpetions of a 90's sound) known as "indie..."

A new and, in fact, refreshingly weird-ified kind of blues style.

A new blues style that spoke to the myriad pockets of post-college heart-heavy drifters scavenging food-court-like city streets for part time jobs to facilitate their incorrigable love for writing or recording or singing or playing.

A new blues that smacked of the burnt crusty residue along the pot lid of the post-everything-music-stew, and a new folk that could help this Generation-Why find it's own kind of voice and it's own musical transendence. That's what I heard in Barlow's everyman sing-speak style, resonating with a punctured heart (be it from the fury of a lady, personal finances or the universe) and that's what I heard from Berman, a true poet, whose words could cast portraits so tangible they'd be like snapshots in my back pocket or conjure surreal metaphors so evocative that it'd felt I'd seen them in my dreams one night.

That everyman voice. Those portraits evoking bittersweet imagery of smog churned city streets and a warm comforting shower of golden acoustic strumming intermingled with the more spurring burn of the electric guitar. It's what I've found in Long Wisker.

Particularly moving is their spill of words that, like the indie aristocrats named above, make the austere and the brooding quite relatable, lyrics that coat the age-old tales of heartbreak and blur them beautifully with equivocal poetics.

Heartfelt. Bare-bones. Guitars and Harmonies.

Huge Power's packed with toe-tapping, hook-based, folk-ish rock songs, with the lead singers/guitarists/writers Jim Cherewick and Reagan Sova achieving that unique kind of harmony (with their voices already sounding somewhat close in range and tone) less that percise Beatlesy-hold-your-hand-type mark and more of a feeling, a semblance, a sitting around the campfire type of belting, less traditional harmony and more a duet.

A shambly, surfy sound; strutting and strumming, but subdued and serene - Americana dashed with indie-pop, a filtration of those literate 90's troubadors and their weird takes on folk and blues, a straight from the gut--or the heart-- type of sound.

Motorcity Special

Detroit's new live recording project continuse to spin -

Press "stop" on Part 3 (from last night's Northern Lights Lounge line up) and now get ready to press "record" (again) for Part 4 - featuring the "Lovely Ladies of Detroit Rock" (in February, at the Smalls in Hamtramck.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sun Airway - 10/27 - Magic Stick

Night Owl's Delight - I should probably give you more credit and admit that an album title such as this probably gives it away, that this is a dandy night album.

Sun Airway - "Put The Days Aways" (from Dead Oceans)

Sun Airway find that mystic clearing between the forests of shoegaze and dream-pop, where they galvanize and embody that sort of magical time of night where one feels as though they could fray, fuzz and fragment away into a lulling, trancey daze - some sort of half-exhausted natural high, just past midnight when sleep is surrendered and we pause at otherwise disregarded marvels like gaping ambience of faded-glow star sheets above...

Heh. Rather - it's a very evocative, smooth waving sound, drenched in ethereal electronics. Where this Philly duo (and touring quartet) could set themselves apart is the distinctively indie-rock sound of it's production; the vocals, inevitably recalling the sort of mumbly urban poet drawl (of a Reed or the more recent cribbings of a Casablancas), are, with some exceptions, often up front and clear(ish), avoiding the over-drenching of vocoder or echo - a nice balance; while the more ambient sawing drones of the synthesizers may wail in a dizzying atonal storm, they never incur the noise-ish rath of feedback indulgence or a too-heavily spread reverb layer.

It's swaying hooks, easy going/driving beats and subdued, drifting melodies sever it from the murky n' mystic pools of druggy dream pop (even though its effervescent electronics and bedroom-dancing facillitating beats may bear certain resemblances), the heart of their sound and song crafting, instead, seem to be lean closer to the melody devotee movement of the upper end of our most recent decade - which is where early comparisons, only somewhat justified, to Animal Collective come in... But one could take A Sunny Day In Glasgow and wipe away that sounds sometimes foggy reverb and disorienting echo-loop - and combine that with Delorean but tone down some of the more sugary or bombastically dance-pop pulsing beats - and just find a nice middle ground... a clearing in the dreamy electro woods.

out - 10/26 on Dead Oceans>

And this is, indeed, an album for the night. These layered churning sounds of synthetic crickets and droney shushing of digitized tree branches swaying evoke an airy detachment towards "Infinity"...and being "Swallowed By The Night.... wish(ing) to be swallowed by the moon...just a couple astronauts who won't be coming home soon..."

A refreshing kind of escapist pop. Where we escape into the night. When all the lights start to turn off and all the humans go to bed - that, that is the time when the electronic music always seems most appropriate, melodious machines turn on and replace the noisy mechanized bluster of cars and fluroescents and air conditioners.

Turn on your synthesizers, "Put The Days Away!"

"...drowned in the moonlight eyes..."

10/27 - Magic Stick

Watch: Sun Airway - "Infinity"

Sun Airway "Infinity" from klipcollective on Vimeo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What's In It...for someone with nothing to do...on a Tuesday?

Avi Buffalo - an indie-rock-leaning, golden toned, southern-twanged delicacy. This Long Beach quartet's the refreshing burst spilling off the buffet table of similarly set folk-ish flared indie-popsters (be it their perennial name-drop references from Shins to Morning Benders). They'll be bringing their surfy, jangly, inverted Americana flavors to the Magic Stick - 10/19

Paired with the heart-heavy indie pop of The Cold Wave, and the bluesy spilled out ebullience of Illy Mack.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sufjan, adjective

Music journalism has many arguably inane alleyways issued out from it's soon forgotten pages - how profound can a "concert review" be to the readers who weren't there ? - how does one craft a compelling story around what otherwise seems to be the same old 4 dudes out of their garage origin ?

And, why bother writing about a show that's already sold out?

Well, that's to be expected when it's one of Michigan's favorite sons.... at least the son that dabbles in quirked out baroque-bolstering austere-ish, splendorous poetic folk pop. Sufjan Stevens.

His latest releases, first an 8-song EP (the staggering orchestral wobbly willow of the All Delighted People EP - "a dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence"") + and a full-length LP (the echoey beat-laden, electric fuzz spilled waft of the Age of Adz LP), stirred a considerable tilt of the head, cock of an eye brow, scratch of the head, from those who'd come to associate the songwriter with some sort of post-apocalyptic internet-scorched Folk reimagining.

Read the review from Paste where Stevens details the effect of last year's BQE project for the Brooklyn Academy of Music upon his perception of a song and his approach to writing.
Age of Adz is an interesting listen. I dread the day anyone tries to make a dance-mix out of "I Walked." "Futile Devices" hits such sad tones with those pianos and his lyrics emmulate a wound (a bit mopey, defeatist, heartbroken stuff), but, on a deeper level, it seems his self-questioning (as a writer, or...perhpas, self-deprication) comes through: "It's hard, so I won't say it at all.... / I think of you as my brother...although that sounds dumb."
But, instrumentally, this is not anything like the Illinoise record, where you could play some tracks for your mother, and far from the breath-stealing tragic portraits of the acoustic/piano-led Michigan record - (see: dizzying gurgle and glitch (over strings) with "Too Much")

<a href="">Too Much by Sufjan Stevens</a>

This was a healthy jolt, in the end. Stevens' sound, particularly the coalescing perception, style and shared sounds of the Michigan-Illinoise records, had made his name into some sort of quick and dirty descriptor to sum up the followers of the considerably unique neo-folk trail he blazed.

Now... what do you call him?

Tonight - Royal Oak Music Theatre - (got a ticket? It's sold out)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Naked Myopia (& Other Poems) by Drew Bardo - Oct 26 - Loving Touch

Musician, writer, songwriter and poet, Drew Bardo has opened himself up through his work before via various formats, in song or on stage. And yet he remains a bit of a mystery. His strength has always been -the word, -both written and spoken. The poem format is both the purest delivery and comprehensive experience of his voice and talent.

With his name translating to an "in-between state" (from Tibetan Buddhism,) the writer has, through his work, embodied a vacillating, bridge-like aura.

This bridge, a moment of fleeting intersection followed by transition, from one life to the next and into a "mad experience" of rebirth, could well be the overarching motif of The Naked Myopia, (Lo & Behold! 2010) - a longtime coming debut of collected works. (available for pre-order at L&B's site)

Bardo has bridged rock n' roll to his experience in slam poetry via the bluesy "junkyard stomp" of his band The Questions and he helped bridge his own musical sensibilities to a house-band styled accompaniment to a burlesque show - but, whereas those formats had him merely poised upon "the bridge," tied to their suspension cables, the freer splay of Myopia's poetry, feels more natural, as though he has dove into the self actualizing river below, swimming the true unbridled "in-between."

"...into the great blue mystic / captured the reckless ambition / for the sake of controlling chaos and manipulating the mirrors of mystery." (Junkyard Spytactics p.41) - "Swim in the river of the absurd with me / wash my eyes blind from this mask I wear..." (Naked Myopia p.13)

Many of Naked Myopia's fifteen part introductory poem call out to the "Starry Eyed Angel of Eden..."

"...return to the womb of our existence / swallow the unborn dream."

Echoing his name's Buddhist connections, he conjures images of birth, rebirth, and fertility deities, with dreamlike verses incurring in-utero imagery. "The Naked Myopia" (opening poem) revolves around a strange love-hate relationship, a repudiate-yet-implore duel pronged calling out to this angel, who is simultaneously the "Eurydice" to his "Orpheus" and yet, also, a "passion thief" and "insatiable lover" with a "parasite tongue."

Myopia describes the "chimera of cruel fate." There is disappointment for what man has become, what man has done to this world, which results in expressed longing to transition to the next "birth." He sounds repulsed as he paints the apocalyptic imagery on display, whether across the montage pages of history or, live, daily, in front of the gas station down the street; and he bemoans the murderous greedy missteps of mankind

"...evaporating morality in wars for gold / oil for the political killing machine / strangling the pulse of our existence..."

In "Myopia," Bardo's angel is both an "executioner" and a "mystic healer."

In fact, she may be a tri-fecta: -at one end she will detach him from one existence and at the other she will purify him ("as she paints my dull canvas with sophisticated strokes") and, eventually, (thirdly,) completing the rebirth as Bardo slides out ("leaving me bare-assed / in puddles / to mirror the reflection of myself / the dying shepherd").

Through lines like these ^ Bardo's "bridging" can feel more like a see-saw. Certain circuitous lines amplify the dizzying "mirror" metaphor.

Bardo is candid about his feeling "alone and confused" and repeating a "reflection" back upon himself. He may return to childhood, via dark displays of pedophile haunting urban landscapes where prepubescent Bardo hides in refrigerator boxes from the fright of his fighting parents, or it may be more amorphous and stomach churning as he looks upon his current circumstance and his more recent past.

Many 30-year-olds could identify with such see-saw-esque transitory states:
"I've committed to death as my fathers son / so have I commit ed to life as my children's father."

But his own self-contemplation amplifies in a guttural wracking of the nerves and an overwhelming echoing of questioning; how to respond to the unnerving stare, coming back at you from the mirror.

His influences range from the vagabond poets at the fringe of Paris Salons, to the "mad to live" Beats of post-war America. His words, showing flares of romantic reverence for those lost "subterranean symphonies," are like a slow drip bleed; a tortured elegance with provacative bluntness, molded by styles and insights spanning 150 years from Rimbaud to Ginsberg, and finally up through today, ("this twentieth century strange") to galvanize his own voice. Through Myopia, he butts up against his own feelings of being "trapped by the image staring back at me in the mirror."

The bridging morphs, the reflection distorts. It becomes a mobious strip - "with death lights life / life lights with death / a fool fit for a disguise."

We return to his opening poem, calling upon the angel to "wash my eyes blind from this mask I wear..." And while he grieves over man's "breaking down nature like a silly science" and draining it's beauty "like a used condom" he, himself is painted with the mud of earthly imagery:

"cleanse my dirty water / / clean my tongue in your purified waters."

The mirror - that amorphous, clean, light reflecting, space of intersection; -

-the man looking back upon himself, the world looking back on itself-

-a thin layer between worlds that shines back -beauty and -horror equally, with earnestness.

..and through these poems, (some wallowing in despair, some seething with venom at corrupt systems, some singing out the crushed voices of hope and peace, some incurring the potential of rebirth,) it, the mirror, motivates toward transformation.

More info

Release Party - October 26th - Loving Touch (Woodward & Troy) - Ferndale

Available for pre-order

Ypsi Fest - 14th--16th-- Savoy

YpsiFest goes back to 2003 – when Anthony Anonymous (of Jehovah’s Witness Protection Program) aimed to stir up a “two day music blowout…(or) ‘fest’ for lack of a better word, that focused on bringing Ypsilanti bands together with some of the best bands in the Detroit-and surrounding-areas.”

Anonymous, one of just two shaggy beardy shredders comprising JWPP (with Jehan Dough) was, back in 2003, playing with Rome For A Day. The inaugural featured bands like Thunderbirds Are Now, Few and Far Between, and Charlevoix. “It was a celebration of Ypsi!”

Now, some of you might know Ypsi as that grayish trading post type town, an strewn with old (or closed up) auto plants and a lackluster skyline besieged by a blushingly phallic water tower. Ann Arbor’s eastern, less hippy-ish little brother and once-home of teenage Iggy Pop.

Come… discover… how much more there is to celebrate – through three consecutive music mashed trounces through the still new-car-smelling elegance of the Savoy!

2006’s show was the actual birthplace of Anonymous’ current band, JWPP. The last two years (08-09) there were no such Fests for Ypsi. Anonymous noted his appreciation for Leighton Mann (of Chapstick)’s assistance through the Elbow Room years. This year, Andy Garris (of the Savoy) was “in immediately” when approached with Anonymous’ proposition to resurrect it.

So this is it-

A commendably flavorful line up

Blues…Blues n Rock…Blues n Punk….

Punk – from all angels

Electro – Dance

It’ll be interesting and weird and fun and celebratory.

Blue Snaggletooth, Lettercamp, The Muggs, The Satin Peaches, Silverghost, Beggars, JWPP, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, Fur, Destroy This Place, Err..., Buffay, Sharky and the Habit, Red Iron Orchestra, The Wolfs, Marco Polio and the New Vaccines, Wrathgate, Annie Palmer


Red Iron Orchestra wowed at their Dally performance. Err…should be quite interesting. Beggars and Blue Snaggletooth and Electric Fire Babies are pure energy.

And Satin Peaches – hey, take a listen.

They’re going on tour soon – so, as they say, ‘see ‘em now!’ (with a 7” on the way, stay tuned).


Thursday October 14, 2010

The Boys Themselves 1:10->

Annie Palmer 12:30-1:00

Muggs 11:40-12:20

Electric Fire Babies 11:00-11:30

Ola Ray 10:20-10:50

Rust County Electric 9:40-10:10

Wrathgate 9:00-9:30

Woodman 8:20-8:50

Marc Cogman 7:40-8:10

Friday October 15, 2010

Blue Snaggletooth - 12:40->

The Satin Peaches - 12:00-12:30

Beggars - 11:20-11:50

JWPP - 10:40-11:10

Sharky and the Habit - 10:00-10:30

Buffay 9:20-9:50

Fur - 8:40-9:10

The Wolfs - 8:00-8:30

Saturday October 16, 2010

Lettercamp - 12:40->

Silverghost - 12:00-12:30

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor - 11:20-11:50

Destroy This Place - 10:40-11:10

Red Iron Orchestra - 10:00-10:30

Marco Polio and the New Vaccines - 9:20-9:50

Err... - 8:40-9:10

Lawless Carver - 8:00-8:30

YpsiFest - tomorrow - Check it out - the JWPP are pure heart and a wellspring of camaraderie for this state's music community.

More Listenin!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Euonym's Reunion EP

Blogs love to name things. To classify them.

This Ypsi-based quintet is named for a noun that means an apt name-for a person or place, something that seems to fit.

And here, with Euonym, I can't quite give you a name.
I can give you elements...the senses...
a brooding, brushing mystery, stoked by a stirring acoustic guitar and a stirring low boom vocal that winds upwards into a bristling electric guitar that accelerates alongside the clattering drums while a synthesizer flutters this way and that like uneasy avian surveyors darting across the shunting song...

...and that would be "Decibel 1903..."

<a href="">decibel 1903 by euonym</a>

While it's tempting to embrace the gut reaction for naming: indie-rock... be it Barlow or Brock... one would also throw in Byrne... you could throw around as many names, be they songwriters or be they nonsensical mish-mash catch phrases often utilized by the shoot from the hip style of blogs -

But Euonym can be as raucous as they can be meditative - as fuzzified "indie" as they can be ambient electronic - The landscapes are often wavy, jittery even, warmed by strange spacey tones of synthesizer and flitting pianos, the vocals are a pensive, autumanl-tinged musing and the guitars vascillate from delicate to deluge. It's a dark-ish, rough-ish, taut sound that often gleams a coaxing pop sound underneath a sort of spooky-folk vibe, rusted or roiled by the tinge of a spilling feedback or made luminescent by it's electronic accoutrment.

What's in a name?
Look for a physical EP later this month