Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Sounds from Britton - Lager House on Saturday

Self Sounds.... Tim Monger -... "Marathon Man..."

"I guess I'm at my best when everything is going on at once..."

The stately singer/songwriter said this has "been the winter of solitary projects," where he finally wrapped up his 2nd proper solo LP, New Britton Sound, honing his hybrid of quaint, charming, provincial pop ballads onto elegant musical milieu’s of urbane baroque pop whimsy.

"I'm not really sure how I ended up running a marathon and releasing a new album within a month of each other," Monger said within his makeshift recording space, at home in his rural, reserved HQ, in Britton (SW of Detroit, in Lenawee).

"It was kind of a rough winter, but running helped keep me focused," Monger said, deep into "training," having just run 18 miles before this interview, in preparation for an the upcoming event.

"Running helped me keep focused and I was able to get a lot of work done by just staying home and being anti-social." New Britton Sound is the follow-up (more than 6-years-in-the-making) to Summer Cherry Ghosts, a rich and ruminating record that galvanized the middle ground between Bejar's cerebral conceptuality and Newman's nostalgic pop; between 70's solo McCartney's percolating charms and Meloy's more august and theatrical sweeps.

Now, his hermit-esque winter has allowed him time to finish Britton from home (with a bevy of collaborating camrades adding their accoutrements) as well as join in the re-energizing of his flagship band, Great Lakes Myth Society.

Not to mention, he worked on "the business side" of his music, thus starting up a Kickstarter fund for Britton that met its funding goal, with help from donors, in 24 hours!

" I finished mixing (Britton) in late November, but during the holidays and early winter I just didn't have the time or money to get it mastered or move forward with it." Kickstarter seems to be the best route for those who are sans-label to move these things forward.

Monger understandably had trepidations, since he'd spent the years since Cherry's release trying to get out of debt that he didn't want to "screw" himself "all over again." Monger said he needed to build up some "nerve" to go the route of Kickstarter's "fan-funding" platform. He'd recorded most of Britton by himself over the last three years, mostly keeping it behind closed doors, thus, to ask for support for it in such a public manner was somewhat scary for him.

"The response was unbelievable! I'm so happy."

Listen: Timothy Monger - "Sunday Night Swing Dancing Lessons" Mp3

"A lot has happened..." Monger said, since Cherry. "Playing with my brother and friends in Great Lakes Myth Society has taken up the bulk of my artistic efforts and time over the last six years, but I knew I would get around to doing another solo album and the material slowly built up." Britton's songs: "very personal...and quite a bit darker in subject and tone than (Cherry).

"I worked with some great people on the recordings, but much of it was just me in a small farmhouse in rural Michigan working on my craft." "Now that I've established my ability to record at home with good results, I want to keep all of my projects active and as prolific as I can..."

Timothy Monger State Park will perform regionally and nationally through the Spring, with Britton coming out in June. Also, watch for the third Great Lakes Myth Society album sometime this year. More info

Closing Thoughts from Brunch Rock


April 6th (11-band-bill at PJs Lager House) is Tom Bahorski's Birthday... (as well as Jesse Shepherd-Bates')...

Bahorski plays in riled-up rock duo The Ashleys...

who also perform April 9th, at the Belmont, with soul/funk quartet House Phone...

who, during this year's Blowout... performed as live backing band to hip/hop MC quartet Cold Men Young...

one member of CMY collaborates with another MC, Mister, for a side hip/hop-bizarro-pop project called Passalacqua...

that duo once opened up for heavy-metal party stompers Wilson...but, beyond that...

Mister has also cameo'ed for Carjack sets and Duende sets...

the latter of which has a guitarist who plays in poetic blues balladeers Dutch Pink...whose drummer plays with dimesionally-defiant electro-pop quartet Marco Polio & the New Vaccines....

and it just goes around and around and continues to spread off into different webs...

regardless of genre...

regardless of...almost anything... we wave together...

And I know the latest bit of census data news makes Detroit look just-that-much more of a bleak underdog... we can't let it feed fatalist sighs of futility.

So... here's the last bit of ruminations stirred loose by the Brunch / Roundtable / "new energy" discussion... ...transcribed from Fur bassist Michael O'Connor...speaking on the camaraderie between opposed to "years-back..." ~

"I sense," said O'Connor, going deeper than any simplified 'White Stripes effect,'... "that in a world of increasing economic and political turmoil, where the Haves and the Have Nots are being ever more separated and defined, there brings an unspoken and perhaps unconscious unifying effect. Just as Unions are now telling of empowerment like they haven't seen in tweny years due to the recent overt assult on them....the artistic community grows together due to a reaction to the corrput and less-shrouded malintent of our supposed leaders in policy and currency."

O'Connor said that the prevalent sensibility is: "...these are our brethren; it doesn't so much matter what sounds someone is trying to make or express so much as that they are doing it. Creating rather than manipulating, listening and supporting rather than talking-at or controlling... There is a relation, familial-like, in spirit and togetherness," said O'Connor, that exists between Detroit's bands.

" not to over-romanticize, -as we know there is and will always be the standard hate/envy/and shit-talk, etc, -but the margins may have moved a bit as an equal opposite reaction takes place and a grander appreciation leads many to see themselves as being in the same foxhole as opposed to being on different sides of essentially the same battle."

"...everything feeds on itself, widens and produces great work..."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Further thoughts from Brunch Rock - "uh huh, her"

"I'm a musician the same way I'm a woman..." ~

One hopes that, in 2011, we're way beyond dwelling on exhausted cliches of spotlightning, or...perhaps, isolating an emphasis... upon the role of girls ( "the rock n roll band" has, for so long, been seen as more of a boys club scenario...) It's a story older than the stories of Kim Deal, or Kira Roessler or even Nico...

"I spent most of the day (afterward) trying to piece together what it's like being a female in the "brunch-rock" scene," said Kickstand Band bassist/singer Allison Young. Indeed...after that long rambling post where we tried to unpack the current state and current character of the local music scene...there are still other questions of how it measures up or how it distinguishes itself to sufficiently show substantial progress...

"Even outside of the brunchers, I've gained so many valuable friendships in the punk/noise/garage/indie scenes of Detroit - especially with other female musicians...which is a little weird since I haven't had many of those," said Young.

She has also performed, for years on trombone, with Mick Bassett and Jesse Shepherd Bates bt started up Kickstand Band with guitarist Gordon Smith a little over a year ago. She said she always thought there was prominent female representation in Detroit music, but recently it seems to be increasing.

"Maybe it's another part of being in post-garage-rock Detroit," she wonders aloud. "We're part of a scene where theatrics and rebel-without-a-cause attitudes aren't quite as important as they used to be. It feels like the post-garage scene is a bit more relaxed. Girls don't have to seem like they'll kick your ass with their guitar anymore. They can simply be the 'young-person-trying-to-be-a-musician-in-a-sucky-city/sucky-economy'..."

"I wouldn't say that female musicians now have less to prove than (dynamic/theatrical rock groups like Gore Gore Girls, Detroit Cobras), but maybe there's more camaraderie between bands rather than competition that produces the laid-back attitude."

Young regales a disconcerting anecdote of Kickstand Band's recent Ohio trip where a sound guy ignored her (even leered a bit at her) until she plugged in her guitar. "Yep, I've been denied drink tickets and asked to leave backstage areas based on my gender in the past."

But, Young sad, "I don't think there's a better place than Detroit to be a female musician right now. Especially one up-front, leading a band. There's more support within the scene than any other place."

~ "...very well put, Allison," chimed in Pewter Cub singer/bassist Regan Patricia Lorie, who suggested that female musicians are pretty much the norm around here. "Scott (PC guitarist), Dave (PC drummer) and I were talking as we left brunch about lots of things and Scott made the statement that most bands around here have at least one female member, including two of the band's he's in, (which includes Duende)."

Lorie said that everone seems to simply want the same freedom to be themselves, musically, and as people, regardless of gender or race.

It was discussed at brunch that there's no "single sound" with which to name or label this scene. "And that ties into this," Lorie said, "I think we're all just trying to make something unique as a band by fusing together what's unique about us as people."

Pewter Cub, said Lorie, often talk about how special this scene is and how lucky they feel to be in its embrace, spurring pride...feeling "proud and blown away that this little thing that Scott and I started in his basement years ago has actually taken on some life of its own. And it's really an honor to be in such fine company."

"I second everything Regan and Allison said," Deadbeat Beat drummer/singer Maria Nuccilli said. "I know we all have so many experiences like the one Allison spoke of - playing a show and being ignored/overlooked by the venue in favor of what seems to be the more obvious interaction with men."

Hinting at her own batch of ridiculous stories; "I always get asked 'Are you the lead singer?' by people who have never seen my band before." There's nothing wrong, Nuccilli said, with a woman being lead singer, ("that is hard work!") but for one to assume that a girl must be in the band because she's "the leader" or the performer or that her "voice must be her only instrument" is interesting in itself.

"What is it about playing an instrument that can be construed as un-feminine?"

But, Nuccilli said, it gets to the point where none of that matters... "Because every single band she I've played in (including The Decks), I've never been treated as anything less than an equal by any gender. I've played in so many bands where I've been the only girl in a room full of dudes, and it's incredible to know that I'm there playing drums because I have the musical respect of my band mates, not because I'm adding to their image."

Nuccilli said experiences like those helped her become more comfortable in her own skin, as both a woman and a musician. Starting out around the Detroit scene, back in 04/05, she admitted she didn't feel comfortable at all times expressing her femininity and musicianship at the same time, admitting to a lack of role models at that time. "Being a woman, wearing a dress and make-up (or not!) and playing drums seemed to be at aesthetic odds at times, but I do it because that's how I feel."

"I'm a musician the same way I'm a woman. I'm sure it's the same for all of us....It sounds cheesy as hell, but we were born as woman the same way we were born as artists or songwriters or bassists or guitar players or drummers or singers or whatever. Just like any man."

"I'm thankful for everyone in Detroit who recognizes that and sees all of us as musicians and women equally, not one or the other."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everyone I Know

"Built in real time..."

A roundtable discussion, over brunch, concerning the latest flares of energy in the local music community...

Wake up and smell the coffee...

photos by Amy Palomar


There’s something in the air and it’s not the burnt sausage.

I’m having brunch with eight Detroit bands. It doesn’t take long for the White Stripes’ name to come up, but, still, we quickly raise our bloody mary’s in some audacious, but necessary, impromptu séance. It’s 2011. …And though we admit at the onset that it’s ludicrous, especially with the internet fluctuating buzz bands on kaleidoscope conveyor belts, to think any writer or magazine can incontrovertibly say, yes – this is it, or even a kind of an “it” – we still can’t deny a certain energy in the air. And, hey, as one musician shrugs, there’s an old cliché that rock n roll is saved every 10 years or so.

So…A dozen musicians from seven different bands cluster in the kitchen of singer/songwriter Jesse Shepherd Bates, (who, himself, leads or contributes to four other bands), and we all sleepily congregate and converse throughout the Woodbridge duplex, steadily yawning and stretching as the quick and casual catching up refracts any likely scenario where these bands would be anxiously tuning themselves up to trade sets on a loud stage. But it’s 11:30 AM, …not PM and instead of swilling Genuine Draft, we’re sipping organic fair trade coffee.

And of course, we’re scarfing Bates’ renowned waffles. Eventually, Frank Woodman (fire-topped dad rocker) saunters in swathed in a purple fuzzy bathrobe, with donuts, with drummer Max Daley in tow. Bates’ kitchen has become tantamount to the local rock scene’s underground Sunday diner. Usual attendees include band members from The Satin Peaches, The Kickstand Band, Deadbeat Beat, The Ashleys, Phantasmagoria and the HandGrenades. And breakfast usually leads to soundboarding ideas and inevitable collaborations.

“I think people are tired of not being friends…” Deadbeat Beat singer/guitarist Alex Glendenning posits.

“I guess I’ve never really felt more accepted within a group of like-minded people than I have in the past few years,” Kickstand Band bassist/singer Allison Young said.

The occasion: Pewter Cub, Fur, Lightning Love, Woodman, The Kickstand Band, The Ashleys, The Deadbeat Beat, The Satin Peaches, The HandGrenades, Phantasmagoria and Jesse & the Gnome are playing the Lager House April 6th.

Ostensibly, it’s for Bates’ 24th birthday, but essentially, (and, from my begrudged “press” angle, irresistible to proclaim) it’s a spectacular exhibit, a sample, a showcase, not just of the current local rock lightning rods, but their unique sensibility.

Paring back competitiveness, Pewter Cub’s singer/guitarist Regan Patricia Lorie said, and instead incanting: “I wanna be as awesome as they are! …the sincerity and quality of the people in this scene and the music itself automatically eliminates the need for one-upmanship.”

“That’s why they had backlash,” Woodman, a decades-long supporter/attendee of local music, said of days from 10-years’ prior, that of the music-press mangled “garage explosion.” “But,” he looks around the crowded breakfast table, “I could never imagine there being backlash with these bands.”

Bates suggests the “White Stripes-effect” and Deadbeat Beat drummer/singer Maria Nuccilli sardonically feigns a groan, “I was hoping we’d get through this without saying ‘White Stripes.’” Woodman shrugs that there’s no way around it, until I suggest Bates lead us in the séance, since, after all, that band recently officially broke up.

“This whole competitive boom or whatever happened then because the impression was, ‘Oh, shit, people are gonna be paying attention, we’ve got this shot! So, everybody started competing with each other. Then…we figured out: ‘Oh, wait, that’s shot’s probably not gonna happen…so, maybe, let’s just actually support each other and …make a web.”

Woodman: “I think there’s a lot of joy in playing. Lorie: “And we’re all just really digging each other’s bands.” Bates: “…and it’s all just really fun and it’s positive!” Nuccilli: “…and facilitated by waffles…wait, are we being paid in waffles now, for the show?”

Asked what they get (and what they give each other) in their ricocheting roles of performing and supporting each other’s live shows… Nuccilli: “I think… ‘I need to write songs as good as Allison’ (of Kickstand Band).” Woodman: “The youthful energy helps…it changes the songwriting. I think everybody tries to get crazy too. I think we all want to shine in our own way, that’s not a bad thing, as much as we love each other I think when we play together there’s that air of: I gotta bring my A-game cuz I know they’re gonna bring their’s.”

“We’re really just getting a taste for it,” Phantasmagoria’s Christopher Jarvis said, a few days’ prior, the night before he and counterpart Lianna Vanicelli left for a Midwest tour. “There is definitely an energy. It seems like everyone we’ve met has such a good attitude. It just seems positive. Everyone’s really cool and supportive of each other.” Jarvis, himself, also contributes to a DJ collective, Detroit Produce.

When or how can a scene become more…what's the word...?... movement…? Since the internet having killed the rock star has sobered our dreams of major labels scooping us up, it seems the Ego is likely the persistent/remaining encumbrance to overcome. We have our moments of cattiness, and, sure it can be vitriolic – especially when it’s splayed out by faceless Eat This City posters, often incurred by one band getting attention from, I dunno, say, the local rags around here? (It was in the air when Deastro made Real Detroit’s cover…and I’m not sure yet, but I can guess that it wafted around a bit when Phantasmagoria made Metro Times’ cover for Blowout)... or from something more fickle...

...Or maybe someone at some laptop somewhere doesn’t feel that enough people share in their beliefs that: ’this band sucks’, to the point where they’re compelled to soap-box their blunt, bellicose criticism… This is where the brunchers shrug off Eat This City’s posts as “the Sunday funnies…” “…Crank Shaft…” “…Mary Worth, even.”

Indeed… and I don’t intend for this to sound entirely negative but, We’re still here… and since we are…still here…it’s hard not to think about what happened here (or who used to be here). We, or at least I, and, maybe by organizing/releasing that White Stripes’ Cassette Compilation, that FiveThreeDialTone/Eat This City does too, at least tacitly, still…fixate, in a way…on what this scene is, or what this scene could be…

Here we are, we’re all still here…many of these musicians still under age 30 and if not, then maybe they hadn’t ever gotten into this scene till 06-ish…thus, renewed energy. The new class, if you will (though, now... not all that new, in a patronizing way, anymore).

All we have, then, is history to look back on; the ‘Garage Explosion’ –the off-setting moment where all these characters (bands) gathered, an intricate ensemble of performers on a boomlit stage with its fabricated sitting room, swilling the brandy of rock n roll in front of fake windows showing painted backdrops of stormy nights …it was a riveting drama, a theatre that helped many find an identity – and then, in classic whodunit fashion, the lights went out, a shot was heard and the White Stripes were off to England, then off to MTV…

It’s like the murder weapon never got dusted for prints or ever even removed from the stage…and music journalists, guilty as charged, were meandering around like some cockamamie, ad-hoc Columbo or Poirot, trying to find out “who did it…” or even who…or what…died? If at all?

Glendenning recalls an article he recently read about how ‘the internet has killed regional hits/regional singles.’ Nuccilli counters, that, if anything, ‘the internet hasn’t, it’s been commercial radio and that happened a long time ago.’

Nuccilli: “I feel like the internet can sort of bring it back, but instead of it being regional hits, it’s like different hits for different sub-scenes. In mainstream radio world there usually aren’t regional hits. I feel like it’s sort of human nature to have certain things that appeal to certain types, so, having regional hits or specific hits or specific things that you like and appreciate…it’s just gonna happen…cuz that’s what people are like!” (She sings the last few words with a rising sing-songey melody fitting for some Sesame Street sketch).

I suggest that their activity has had a small hand in shaping community culture. Those of us essentially outside-of-the-music have reacted to your burgeoning activity: Jon Mosher’s ‘Modern Music’ (Fridays, WDET) often commits considerable chunks of his playlists to local bands, as does Ann Delisi’s 'Essential Music' (Saturdays, WDET)…and me, 95% of what I listen to, in the car, in my headphones – is LOCAL music… 95% of what I write about is local music and it keeps me unfailingly busy.

Allison Young references Baltimore’s music scene – and the energy there in 07-08 surrounding a Warholian-esque Factory-type scenario via a cluster of turned-on electro punks and noise-rock geeks collaborating inside what they called Wham City – and even hitting the road together to perform epic ‘Round Robin’ performances reeling through 5-6 bands in one night.

So where could we go? I ask… What could we do?

Bates: “I think we’re doing it.”

Michael O’Connor (of Fur): “Right here,” he looks around the table, “this is it.”

Glendenning: “Keep-on…keepin-on…”

Bates: “What I’m trying to do this year and what I think everybody should do is say: ‘Fuck all the rules.’ Everybody’s always talking about: ‘Don’t play more than two shows in a month or people won’t come out…don’t play with the same band twice…you might not make as much money…’ It’s not about that, we’re all at the point where we’ve realized that we need side-jobs or day jobs if we’re gonna consider this, music, as are main non-paying job…it’s not about money. It’s about playing and experiencing each other, not as fans, but as listeners…and being an active listener. I think you should just play all the time.”

Glendenning: “At CBGBs…they used to have bands that would play ‘residencies.’ The Ramones would play for 14 days’ straight, every night…”

Bates: “Why doesn’t that happen?”

O’Connor suggests local psyche-blues quartet Duende’s hosting of ‘Duensday Nights’ at Club Bart as a possible paradigm, where they rotate a different guest band to pair with them on a simple two-band bill. This makes the conversation meander into Woodman asking Pewter Cub guitarist Scott Sanford (who also plays with Duende) for lyrics…as the band Woodman is going to perform Duende songs…at a forthcoming festival called Detroit by Detroit with Detroit bands performing as other Detroit bands…(4/2 - Magic Stick)

And I pause, mid-article…taken aback…what a spectacular expression of family pride that night could be… But, simultaneously, one wonders if this is something like the wave crashing back on itself because,

well, we’re all still here… (maybe only the size of Columbus, OH, but,

When the internet dictates such empowering-yet-chaotic circumstances to where listener's attention is fickle, success is redefined and often-defied, and no one is going to come sauntering in to your basement with a big check…When the blog epidemic made it thus that every little thing could be celebrated, it fostered a multitude of legitimate niches – niches upon niches under scenes stitched throughout communities inside cities that churn along uncaringly as the world keeps on turning and powers keep on lyin, etc etc…

As Bates suggested, that magical ‘shot’ doesn’t seem to be coming…, so why not celebrate ourselves?

If we’re a niche upon a niche, then we no longer need Spin, Rolling Stone, or even a blog or even a writer to tell us that we’re cool… Allison sees Woodman who sees Ryan (from Fur) who sees Tom (from the Ashleys) and everyone just looks around the room and there’s this eerily encouraging glint in each eye… Like it’s no longer about who’s going to win the ribbon at the science fair…we took over the laboratory and just started mixing all our beakers together…The scene doesn’t have to be a posturing talent show where only one band gets the spotlight per-half-hour to impress everyone else or show everyone else why their better or cooler…no…we tore the curtain down and now everyone can be on stage playing together…or smaller makeshift performances are starting to the side of the stage, or someone’s writing a song in the orchestra pit or someone else is playing acoustic out in the parking lot…


Think about the economics… DIY is one thing, but it is inherently a strung-together existence. Our comparatively humble stash of usable income (gas, new equipment, hotels) means touring is a special kind of updraft a band needs to save-up for and wait patiently to catch and then ride when it comes. Committing oneself, er, one’s band, to that, means the inevitable cycle of staying here (to work here…) and keep saving…to fund your true job…the music… Who has time for Ego?

Competitive urges are all too natural – but they can be channeled in a way that doesn’t feed insecurities or self-doubt or bitterness, it can be channeled into inspiration.

“I want to write songs as good as Allison…” Exactly. “Bring you’re A-game, to match theirs…” Right.

Call it Voltron-theory… unification of our talents in, firstly, a complimentary manner, and secondly, and most importantly, as an entity that can stand, reach, walk-forward, together… a community…a robot made of other robots who can fly and swing a sword… Work against hang-ups, work against potential dissuasions…work against cynicism.

The Detroit cliché was that we could remain big fish in little ponds…but, while I’m not sure the pond itself has grown that much, there, nonetheless, seem to be an increasing amount of fish…

Hey, we “live by the River” too, (just like Strummer)…if we start tailing and flopping over each other maybe we can figure out a way to move as a school of fish, through the channel, to other bodies of water….

Sorry for all the metaphors.

It was an inspiring breakfast.


Anyway… this is nothing new. This is nothing revolutionary. The ever-pursued dream is that, wherever we go, we go together…that there’s not just one golden ticket, but enough golden tickets for everyone to get in…

The idea should be…(as Pewter Cub’s recent album title echoes momentarily in my mind, “the door opened, you got in…”) …forget doors…or as Bates said, fuck the rules… no door, no ticket… we’re already inside. There’s no stage… we’re just here. Plug in and play.


Meanwhile: the Ashleys have “gotten louder,” having added a third amplifier to their two-man garage rock tumble and will be releasing a self-titled debut EP in May. April 6th is also singer/guitarist Tom Bahorski’s birthday.

The Deadbeat Beat have finished an album with producer Matthew Smith to be released on Kommie Kilpatrick drummer Zak Frieling’s cassette label, Gold Tapes. They’re also working on a split 7” single with Ann Arbor’s Secret Twins (recorded with the Kickstand Band singer/guitarist Gordon Smith.) Their guitarist is also starting his own label.

Kickstand Band are currently wrapping up recording their own 7” single to be released later this year. They’re hoping to tour asap.

Fur, likewise, are wrapping up new material and are “talking about doing” a 7” single soon.

“I’m sure I’ve drunkenly yelled this to you before,” Bates interrupts Fur singer Ryan O’Rourke, “but your recordings are like the best-sounding…they sound so fucking crisp.”

Woodman, Frank that is, is currently trading mp3 demos with his son, guitarist Derek (who lives in Ypsilanti) as they piece together material for a forthcoming album of sorts…Papa said he wants to get to the point where he, himself, Derek and daughter/singer Hillary have the same amount of contributed songs circulating through their repertoire. Frank said he hopes to solidify a recording appointment with the budding engineer and Lightning Love guitarist, Ben Collins.

Pewter Cub, also, will have a 7” single out soon, to compliment their EP (released last October), while they look forward to plotting future “mini-tours” with their new brother band, Pink Lightning.

When it’s Bates’ turn to report on his projects, be it The Satin Peaches, the gaping/revolving JSB Squad, and/or Jesse & the Gnome, he twitches initially, realizing the background music (Radiohead’s King of Limbs) has stopped, and he asks Glendenning to play it back again, otherwise he won’t be able to think properly. “(The Satin) Peaches are at a turning point…Gnome are at a turning point…I’m just constantly turning…Satin Peaches are working on a 7” but haven’t figured out how to release it. But,… the band has been going for seven years non-stop…we wanna release the songs, they sound good and really intense. I’m working on a rap project also for some day…

Lightning Love, meanwhile, are wrapping up their 2nd LP. The HandGrenades put out their Three Cheers for the Wonder Years EP –hear them live on WHFR’s Motor Live Drive, 3/31. Phantasmagoria are putting out a single on FiveThreeDialTone this May, with one song from their digital release Spirit plus a new song.

“There’s a lot of possibilities,” Jarvis said, “…when you get all the people together in a community and they just try to do it for themselves.”

“Sound, talent and songwriting ability increase due to wanting to say in such a space with your comrades,” said O’Connor. “By bands getting better and staying motivated, partially by others around them, everything feeds on itself, widens and produces great work.”

Glendenning is bold enough to address the table, asking everyone to admit their own favorite local bands. It goes around…

“All my favorite bands are playing my birthday show,” Bates proclaims.

“Can we all wear birthday hats?” Maria asks.

“Uhh… ‘can we all wear birthday hats?’ –Duh!”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Current Listening...

Powdermilk biscuits... heaven's they're tasty...and expeditious

So then... you can hear a tune from Ferndale's breezy buzzy pop rock trio The Deadbeat Beat - which is 50% of a split 7" they recorded with the Kickstand Band/Sights' Gordon Smith...that features the Secret Twins on the flip side.

That's all...

I'm off to interview them as I finish this post, so.... more info soon.

Reverb storm...and a bit more of a raucous turn for them...punching it up fiercely through choruses that welcomingly spruce up the minor key sway of the verse - all that, with a lovely lo-fi fuzz across the whole tinny, jangly, clattering affair.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lightning Bolt - 4/2 - Neutral Zone (Ann Arbor)

A lot of fierce adjectives flank any fly-by of this revered (feared?) noise-rock duo.

Indeed, count Lightning Bolt as one of the most integral molders of this modern experimental (er, noise...?) music, particularly when it comes to the disorientingly dazzling orchestration of loud, roaring feedback.

After five albums blending industrial to free-jazz atop quaking guitars and pummeling drums, their "guerilla-style" live performance has attained legendary status. They're joined by Ohio's Capillary Action and Ann Arbor's own Wolf Eyes, inside the cavernous Neutral Zone's performance space. 417 E. Liberty St, Ann Arbor;

Take a listen to "Colossus" from their most recent Earthly Delights (on Loaded Records)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fear of Light

5 am....
AJ's Muisc Cafe

...When Jon told me about his atmosphero-pop collective, Song From The Moon's latest performance, I was instantly intrigued.

It happened when most of us were probably asleep... between 5am and 6am... at AJ's Music Cafe - part of the latest "Assembly Line Concert"... just one hour out of 360 sets of bands that are rolling and rocking across that humble stage, even at this very minute...

It got me thinking on the nuanced effects of time-of-day upon the experience of a listener and as a performer, particularly when one flirts with sleep deprivation and, just, the considerable disorientation of your body's sense of temporal rhythm.

Why is there a specific allure, a curious and somewhat spooky bend to the aural architecture of a song when something about your momentary experience (your body, your tricky mind) feels... so off...or displaced... It's that very subtle invigoration you feel when you watch the sunrise, or when you're out for a walk in the wee hours of the morning when it seems like nothing else is active save the flickering traffic lights...

Put yourself in that special sort of... I shouldn't be awake right now-headspace and delve into this track that finds the swirled-out space rock collective seemingly unaffected by the bleary-eyed blahs and stabbing stretch of a cold glowing morning upon the dawn of Spring...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Woodstand Bandz and Boyz and Tigers

So...this is a happening of sorts...
with lots of assured energies and fuzzed-out pop music played at raised volumes...

Detroit pair, Kickstand Band and Woodman, journey west, meeting Ann Arbor's Boys Themselves and Grand Rapids' Valentiger inside the humble hallow of Woodruff's...

I bring this up because it allows me to encant that the tawny bearded dad rocker from Woodman crafted what I thought was one of the most distinctive contributions to Five Three Dial Tone's recent White Stripes compilation... a pared back, gothic-folk fogged, mellowed musing on "Dead Leaves & the Dirty Ground." But I think the link to that particular track's stream is broken... thanks internet.

This is at least something...

It also allows me to attempt linking to this track from the Kickstand Band...

Along with this fine video of the dynamic pop/rock display of the Boys Themselves...

Thursday Documentary 10.21.2010 from Desmond Simmons on Vimeo.

And, an MP3 for the Eastern Mitten music types to get a taste of GR's Valentiger - "Leaving Town"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Black Lodge - Moon

(I was just beginning to think out loud, whether this band was close to attaining something like urban legend status... a comet that burned too brightly in its all too brief stream across Detroit's skies... here's the original manuscript of my review of this album, written a few months back...untouched...running on pure inspiration, with headphones and multiple listens...)

Black Lodge lives - get the album here.

Well, I don’t know…really, how to start; I’m going back, in my mind, to the first time I saw Black Lodge and how I couldn’t talk to my friends at the show until they were done. How…I was drawn by, I suppose, their conjuring of a cathartic dark-edge, a keyed-up, blistering brutishness, bending it all into a stunning tightness as an ensemble, each corner and crevice of the sound’s engine seemed to spit a bit of its own fire.

I couldn’t tell if I was watching some completely ratty post-punk thing or a more late 60’s surf-toned psychedelic thing…everything was so distinct, the clanging cutting guitars, the bass blurts, the drum bursts, the fast bawling, incanting deep-boom vocals.

The Detroit quartet got into a room with Chris Koltay and worked to capture their natural strengths: …Strong rhythm section – surfy guitars – soulful, beat-punk gut-punch garage – somewhere here in the music is the reason why this seems to transcend the rest of the derivative crop – and it’s something much more than just Kyle’s throaty howls and low-croony-screams, it’s something more than Steve’s break-neck kit jitters, something more than Matt’s slick r&b-by-way-of-post-punk bass waves and something more than Nick’s devastating, pedal-torched rain and roar soloing sashays.

Maybe it goes back to their live shows: touched with an equal amount of atavistic rawk-vile and soul as much as it is with undeniably dancey-grooves, blanketed with a sobering and disarming, theatrical goosebump-gorging anthem thing but also twisted with a bit of a society-mocking sneer wrapped in a style both dapper-sage and rebel-yell. And, as a couple of the seven-minute-plus-entries here display, their live shows can also grow into these wall-destroying swarms of guitar fuzz, unrelenting-‘till-the-end-o’-the-line’-drum-pounds.

Black Lodge have come close to making that idyllic rock record that seems to be clanging around in the heads of so many over-cribbed-aristocrats of music’s Olympus, yet never seemed to coalesce

… guitars gracefully lily-pad-leap from jangly strums to fuzz-fucked-furls to striding sun-soaked surf (“The Rats”)…the drums flex a supplemental march for the building jams that can easily tip over the top-arch of the roller coaster and accelerate into a body-arresting tremor (“You Leave Me Waiting”), …the bass grooves can ride a brooding wave like those wavy post-punk hunched subdued shimmy thing (“Love Is The Answer”) …and just as easily brighten into a more playful and bending-groan ala new wave or a more classy soul/jazz thing (“Who You Gonna Run To”)…. and the vocals…a sing-speak-howl, low-to-mid groan that might initially conjure Morrison at points but with more fragility…but that fragility comes paired with a fervor and the sense that the word’s singer is truly losing himself, not just in the fire of his three mate’s soul-punk-sunshine-rampage – but in the theatricality those words demand.

Apocalyptic, as rock n roll should be, but all-inclusive, as MUSIC should be, intelligent as any societal commentary should be, but sometimes uncontrollably burning, as love should be…

And maybe Black Lodge isn’t all this to you – but then, why does this listener find all of these words from listening to this album.

"...if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect will utterly annihilate you."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


...I guess if we could do it for Robo-Cop...

Deep Cut-perrennials Prussia picked up some considerable local backing, as the cultural documentarian/videographer collective Single Barrel Detroit set up a Kickstarter page about a month or so ago and recently reached their goal (just a shade above the $5,000 needed) to organize an ambitious cinematic campaign to stir up publicity for the band and its still slightly etheral yet most assuredly completed album, Poor English.

What's also likely to stir up attention for Prussia (the olde-fashioned way) is their east coast tour, through April, with Child Bite. See the five Prussians, this Thursday evening, as they expel any potential pre-tour jitters, by jamming out some Poor English ditties amidst the dimly lit billiard hall ambience of the Loving Touch. The Kickstand Band open things up...

Prussia sounds somewhat like this


and the Kickstand Band sounds a bit like this...

Prussia's tour...looks like this...

3.30 Cafe Bourbon St.- Columbus, OH*
3.31 Bugjar- Rochester, NY*
4.01 BATV- Boston, MA*
4.02 Machines with Magnets- Providence, RI*
4.03 Cake Shop- Brooklyn, NY*
4.04 Death By Audio- Brooklyn, NY*
4.05 Danger Danger- Philadelphia, PA*
4.06 Golden West- Baltimore, MD*
4.07 TBA- Washington, DC*
4.08 Caledonia Lounge- Athens, GA*
4.09 Highland Inn Ballroom- Atlanta, GA*
4.10 TBA- Knoxville, TN*
4.11 TBA- Nashville, TN*
4.12 TBA- Louisville, KY*
4.13 Ottawa Tavern- Toldeo, OH*
4.14 Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL with Bobby Conn
4.15 Mexican Sans Frontiere- Grand Rapids, MI
5.10 Lincoln Hall- Chicago, IL with our buddy tUnE-YaRdS
5.11 Crofoot- Pontiac, MI with our girlfriend tUnE-YaRdS


Monday, March 21, 2011

Gun Lake - Balfour

Gun Lake makes the kind of music that spurs your anxious feet towards the door, out, into the world, through the woods and into the range of nature's sensations, from stinging breezes to austere overcast haze to warming sunshine - as the acoustic guitar strums, piano plodded acoutrements, fuzzed and clattered atmospheric corners and tumbling rhythms can mimic the same kind of uniquely earthy exhilerations...

Layered vocals soar atop wistful melodies with words altogether heartbreaking and nostalgic, earnest and poignant...with a steady pounding beat and intricately percolated guitar picking - it's a resplendent LP's worth of ethereal takes on Americana and neo-folk.

As singer/songwriter Mark Fain writes, "Balfour is a place so worth going to that you will put yourself through hell to get there..." Download it for free here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

tUnE-yArDs' Bizness

Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) makes some of the most animated and eclectic music and it's doubly heartening that she's getting her genre-defying piquant pop clatters catapulted out from the underground by the likes of 4AD.

The singer/songwriter with pipes as apt to growl flames or flutter out lullabyes steadily turned the right heads through 2008, arms with her ukulele and multi-tracked vocals, with their distinctive yodeling/scatting/belting/crooning, captured onto a digital voice recorder and humbly rolled onto the reels of a cassette (BiRd-BrAiNs)... "...the little record that could..." as Stereogum dubbed it.

Next month, Garbus gives us W H O K I L - her comparatively beefed up follow up (on 4AD), with balanced levels, warm guitars with plenty of feedback roar, less lo-fi clatter and disorienting splays of sparseness and girded grooves... and of course, those raidant, rousing vocals, looped in dazzling displays and oozing her usual quirky charm.

Take a sample:

tUnE-yArDs - "Bizness"

Read the sTeReOgUm iNTERVEW!!

Look for W H O K I L (4AD) - 4/19

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mountains, Dark Red, Blank Dogs - 4-1 @ MOCAD

Sound storms abound... on April Fool's Day...@ the MOCAD. Brooklyn's ambient feedback teasing, drone delving duo, Mountains, are on a tour that finds them attempting to pare back the electronic aspects of their ultra-fuzzed conjurings...

...which should pair interestingly with Detroit's own grimey-glam shoegaze churning duo, Dark Red...

Listen to Dark Red here (from Beehive)

and - Listen to Mountains here (from Thrill Jockey)

Ah, the epiphanies found in strident sounds...the guttural grace of manipulating noise...

Take a listen to Blank Dogs, as well...
Mountains, meanwhile, have a new album, Air Museum...out in May, on Thrill Jockey...
And, in similarly cacophonous-culture news... God Speed You Black Emperor's Mar 29th Majestic Theatre, yes, happening, but also, expectedly, sold-out! Hope you got your ticket...