Thursday, April 28, 2011

Runaway World...(Reimagining Detroit + Urban Roots)

^GBV - friday nite! - in Grand Rapids~
That aside...
Here's a couple other things I've been digging through:

Reimagining Detroit - site - facebook - by Free Press reporter John Gallagher - examining "a host of strategies at making Detroit a smaller, but better city."

Also - playing this week, Tuesday May 3rd - at Ann Arbor's Michigan Theatre - as part of the Do Something Reel festival ~ Urban Roots... ...from the makers of The 11th Hour - charting visions for "locally grown, sustainably farmed food in a deserted, collapsed city cut off from real food and limited to processed fast food..."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Phantasmagoria + Jon Zott; Weekend Ruminations; Color & Colour

Electro-spheric indie-pop alliances:

Detroit's Phantasmagoria will be doing a musical (re-)mix and mingle with New York based producer Jon Zott, for a forthcoming split digital release... that has them trading their respective recent singles.

This is a good match, as both bands conjure dreamy, beat-percolated drifts that aim to dynamize both the ethereal and the effervescent...

This is likely going to be out the first week of May, maybe even as early as after the weekend... Meanwhile, in the days leading up to their weekend performance, (Phantasmagoria will be at the Atlas in Hamtramck, Saturday, 4/30) -Christopher Jarvis, (who helms majority of the duo's synths and back-up vocals) will unpack and rework Zott's bleary, shuffling A.M. anthem - "Rise & Shine (listen)" - while Zott will transform the Detroit duo's latest release of organic/electronica, the lightly-haunted/just-short-of-summery vibed "Empty Houses (listen)"

~Also - Phantasmagoria have yet-another 7" single, coming out in a month, on Five Three Dial Tone.


Addendum: Whilst we're in the electro-pop mood... whether this has already bustled and buzzed its way through the Facebook channels enough to already be old news...regardless, I'd still like to direct more ears and eyes over to take in some of Radio Wire Empire's Color & Colour EP - particularly:

"The Insistence of Dawn -or- the Battle of the Backs and their Beasts (-listen)"

Punchy beats sway, numinous whirling chimes churn along only to be cut away for just an acoustic-and-voice pairing that seems to take in a few breaths at a staticy synth-streamed forest.... All the while, showing a fine sense for texture and a stirred-up ambience.

Let's see where that goes...

More info from Radio Wire Empire

May Days - Art + Music ?

Lisa Marie Krug, co-director of the Whitdel Arts Gallery, said bands are often apprehensive to "play an art show..."

"Sometimes they're just not sure if the crowds will intermingle..."

As Krug expressed verbally and physically, months earlier, when she and artists/co-directors Jennifer Clare Garwan and Lauren Montgomery opened their gallery with a fundraising concert featuring half a dozen local rock bands, the worlds of art and music, in Detroit, "do not cross enough, normally..."

She had said then and echoes now, counting herself amongst it (as she herself is an artist and photographer), as she gazes across the deceptive, mostly-imagined gap between artists and musicians, "We need to see how we can work together."

And so we come to May Days - a collaboration between two band-bolstered entities: the Loco Gnosis and Ghost Family collectives, along with Krug, Montgomery, Garwan and nine other local painters, sculptors, photographers, installation and graphic artists - to celebrate and acknowledge the vibrancy of both "sides...," but mostly to weave them together, into two different venues on two different evenings, in a very subtle way. To merely put the two creatures in the same cage and to demonstrate how well they can get along...and in what ways, Krug said, they end up needing each other.

"Give it a chance," Krug said, speaking out to any musician or band who might cock an eyebrow at playing a gallery. She admits that many galleries can come off stuffy and any shambolic, torn-jean, guitar yowler with punk penchants can sometimes likely seem out of place. But it can depend on certain venues - which is a big goal for Whitdel - not just a gallery, but a place where anyone can come to learn about art, learn about the potential budding artist inside them - an opening of minds.

Krug shrugs off the often zealous resume screeds that certain artists from around the country march around to various galleries, haughtily rattling off all of their New York-connected credentials and the prestigious schools where they studied... At the end of the day, they come in and "...they're painting Pancakes!"

Bands should remember, Krug said, that these artists are "the ones that are going to your shows, listening to your music...that are inspired by your music... We can be inspired by each other!"


~click here for a full line up (and day-break down) for the two May Days this weekend~

Both May Days poster art by Kerry Trusewicz

Whitdel is a division of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit - It also features the Ladybug Studio and Media Lab @ 1250 Hubbard, Suite B1 (Detroit).

Whitdel hosts two solo shows, this Saturday from 6pm - 10pm - also:
Ideas for Detroit on Napkins:

Ideas for Detroit on Napkins is a group show of $50K ideas for Detroit illustrated on napkins by 22 Detroit and Detroit area artists. These artists include Amy Green-Deines, Annette Barbara, Benjamin Miguel Hernandez, Bethany Shorb, Brian L. Nelson, Cedrit Tai, Christopher Gorski, Clinton Snider, D. Timlin, Danielle ~ Doxie Kaltz, Darcel Deneau, Dave Roberts, Davin Brainard, Graem Whyte, Jason H. Phillips, Jean Wilson, Mary Beth Carolan, Meredith Louise Adamisin, Milan Filipec, Nick Tobier, Sabrina Nelson, Sean Bieri, Stacey malasky and Jerry Paffendorf.

"May Days" - Sounds coming Detroit's Way: Buke & Gass / Dead Rider / Timber Timbre

We can't judge books-by-their-covers anymore, -I should know better... In this overflowing assemblage of music -otherwise-known-as-the-Internet, MP3's and video clips await any diligent harvester willing to reach up and pick them...

Here's hoping you find something like Buke & Gass... and here's hoping you don't glimpse their latest album's cover art and conjecture that their either a screamo band or a Tool tribute band...not even close.

Freak-fuzzed acoustics, jabbing hooks and tribal drums veiled with the vibe of inverted baroque-pop ala Dirty Projectors, this experimental duo went so far as to invent their own Frankenstein-ish instruments in order to dispense their brand of stirring, stretchy indie-rock-frays. They play the Pike Room on May 11th... joining Prussia and tUnE-yArDs!



Find them on Brassland!

next-- For Detroit fans... I'd have to say that Dead Rider could come close to sounding like the potential prog-glossed, noise-shredded, guttural throat-clearing chimera that could only be forged by Zoos of Berlin forged with Child Bite... least that's what you'll glimpse on this single...

But there's more of a grimacing, hair-raising guitar screech leading the more stripped down strut and stumble of this next statement:

You can find out more about 'em on (formerly known as D. Rider) from Tizona Records. Their Raw Dents is out on May 3rd - and they visit Detroit's Bakery Loft on May 10th!



Any band that has origins in a cabin in the woods...let alone has had material recorded in a cabin in the woods... and, on top of that, is inspired by a cabin in the woods in Ontario... is likely going to make some provocative music. Timber Timbre ->

Take the eerie and poignant moments of Bon Iver's debut album and give it a much more gothic-twanged allure; trump it up with a spookier rumble; and wring it with a quirky, trilling vocal... and you'll get something like this:

Find them on the consummate experimental-pop label, Arts & Crafts. See them live, at the Pike Room, on May 19th.

Listen: Timber Timbre: "Creep on Creepin on"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lennon - part three (of 3) - May 2 @ Club Bart


Today, I've been Atlas...under the Earth of the Beatles...

If the subtext of this blog's dialogue with music was to explore the nuances of one's experience with music... as a listening experience and both a living experience... then the Beatles are beyond merely a chapter and beyond merely a series of three posts... they become a book onto themselves.

The tricky area is stirring up the debate of how much of art, really, is reactionary? Does all pop-rock-etc--music flow from the Beatles' tributary, in some way or another? Can all art be linked back to Da Vinci and Michelangelo?

How certain are you, of the extent to which the Beatles really have impacted you? Does it come out in your songs? Or do you hold "All You Need Is Love" in a similar regard as a more pious church-going Christian might regard the beatitudes, or the commandments?

Can you hear it, in your heads, that thumping, clanging, crescendo from the middle and end parts of "A Day In The Life"

Horns and strings and drums clasping together after the 24-measure build up of madness: CLUNG!!!! It's like all the bands and all music made has been reverberating with the mesmeric punch of the Beatles, shaking our heads, looking back, trying to readjust ourselves to the quake that they left behind...

We live at what feels like the end-of-music-history... a dizzying throng of branched-off branches upon branches...all branching upwards from the roots of modern/contemporary pop music... The Beatles are the soil, really, and the longer I write about it, the further I'll drive myself into head-scratching, heart-swooning madness.

It comes down their eerie ability to unite us... No matter how comparmentalized our Facebook profiles make us seem, deceptively displayed via book, movie, tv preferences or jobs or single status or whatever, wh: Hipster, Melodramatic, Romantic, Republican, Democrat... Still... if there's anything... it's Beatles.

The mother of all Deep Cutz philosophical rants... I may never pin it down...


"We had a hard time picking our songs," said Eleanora's Julia Stephenson, because her band was split equally between favoring Beatles-material and Lennon-solo material. "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! is a fun one and John himself was split on whether he even cared for it. It's complex and has a lot of room for musical interpretation, which, as a five piece already using some unusual instrumentation, makes us very happy."

Their 2nd pick, "Norwegian Wood" was chosen because "(the song)'s style reflects our own. I feel as though this song represents John as a human; people often talk about him as some infallible force when he was just as much human and guilty of being-so as anyone else. He wrote (Norwegian Wood) while on holiday with his wife, about an affair he was having. So, for the women in our band, there's a degree of bullshit that we get from the song, and yet he ended up falling in love with a very complete woman. In that sense, we feel like we picked an ignored aspect of John's life, but still important in telling his story, just as much as the whimsy, the politics, the true love and the anger."

Stephenson claimed that Lennon's "life and work shaped world history, in music, politics and art, and as a band we're influenced by his different facets. Personally, I'm moved by his relationship with (Yoko) Ono and the passion of their collaboration."


Anthony Retka, of Tone & Niche, will perform "Crippled Inside" from Lennon's solo catalog. "It has classic American elements in it, something John was accustomed to doing - which is ironic since he was so obviously British. It's about not allowing 'appearances' to take over who you are. It is classic Lennon in its social awareness, but is not so heavy in its ideology, which can sometimes alienate a listener." With "Crippled," Lennon "achieved message and style." Afterwards, they sing "Strawberry Fields Forever...this IS my favorite Lennon song. It is a wonderfully dynamic tune. It came just before Sgt. Pepper and was one of those 'one-time-only' moments for Lennon and the Beatles. A song like Strawberry Fields Forever is truly a work of art."

Retka concluded, "Lennon remains my favorite songwriter because he wrote from the heart, sang from the gut and didn't let any walls stand in the way of his creativity. Niche and I are looking forward to it."


Jeff Howitt, of Duende, said that his band's selections were influenced by a period of Lennon's life where he became intertwined with the legal travails of Detroit's renowned writer, poet, activist, John Sinclair. They'll do a duet with Illy Mack's Jen David, on "Yer Blues" and "John Sinclair..."

The band, through a handful of recent collaborations, established a friendship with Sinclair. "Lennon actually got Sinclair released from jail and vicariously helped change the marijuana laws in Michigan," Howitt said. "Ultimately, that kind of show of influence on the public worried Nixon as Lennon and Sinclair plotted to follow him around during his re-election bid, doing protests." (See: The U.S. Vs. John Lennon).

"That's when Lennon started getting harassed for his immigration status. His story is very tied up with the Revolution Politics of Michigan of the time, but where he faced a militant, anything-goes-opposition, he was an intellect with compassion for every day people."
~ the end...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lennon - part two - (May 2 @ Club Barts)

Here's the thing: I'll ask YOU now...

What do the Beatles mean to you?


Do you...immediately...know how to answer that? Sure, eventually, you'll get your thoughts together. But it should be emphasized that no one comes to the full comprehension of this mere pop band's impact, or influence, upon their lives with any great ease or articulation.

Is it because it's innate?

On the Facebook profile page for local singer/songwriter Jesse Shepherd Bates, under Religious Views, it reads: "...Beatles..."

And that effectively sums up the gravity of the band, in his life, and why, on a night like the Lennon Tribute Night (May 2 @ Club Bart), he'd be nowhere else, but on the stage.

It's cheesy and it's hyperbolic.

The cliche for bands in their songwriting processes would be: "Oh, well, the Beatles already did it..." -The same goes for any dope attempting to WRITE, merely write and reflect, in essay-form, about the Beatles... because most of THAT, in turn, has already been written, or said.

Or just merely felt.

Bates' earliest memories include soaking up Beatles records and tapes, "listening to them all the time." When any kind of "Beatles debate" arises, he "can't really participate. Because it's like, if you're born believing in Jesus, then nobody can tell you that Jesus is made up or if you're a jihadist follower of Islam, it's hard to argue with you against the concept of martyrdom. I'm just really hardcore about the Beatles..."

Bates quickly notes: "What a John Lennon tribute night means to me is that Paul (McCartney) gets a really bum rap! He's never mentioned as one of the great rock n roll bass players of all time!"

He breaks it down: "Paul was more wrapped up in the stardom, maybe, while George shied away from it and found his own inner peace and Ringo was maybe sort of a dude along for the ride--who had an awesome backbeat. John figured it out early, not that the world's a stage, but that this "showbusiness" thing...was a circus. He never took himself overly serious. I think that's what people relate to...but I also think people look past a lot of his antics, especially through his solo career. He actually became a bit of a douche-bag through the mid 70's...pretty ridiculous actually."

"I don't know if I'm being Devil's Advocate, one of my deities, I have to look at all of Lennon's aspects. I challenge people's fixed views of him, while also saying that I completely worship him...well, I worship his brain, really."

The key, Bates echoes many sentiments: people can relate to him.


Matt Luke (of Legendary Creatures/Pupils), performing And Your Bird Can Sing - "You feel like (John Lennon)'s songs are something all your own, maybe even yours-only. And yet, the Beatles are/were the biggest group of all time. To this day, if I'm feeling happy, I put on some Lennon and the joy swells. Or, if I'm feeling down, it's like he's always on my side."

"Even his early work with the Beatles, which some people dismiss as fluff, is so masterfully composed that the notes themselves carry their own message."

Indeed, as Golden's Phreddy Wischusen put it later on-- if you read the lyrics from "In My Life" as though they were stitched onto a pastel doiley in your step mother's house, you'd probably roll your eyes - what is it about the full SONG that hits you....?? The Notes? The Melody? What?


"Throughout his career," Luke continued, "John became progressively more candid about his lyrics, but even early on there was always a sense of, 'I feel things quite deeply, and this is how I'm trying to let you know!'... "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" and "I'm a Loser" are good examples of this......So then, I chose "And Your Bird Can Sing" because Revolver is the first Beatles record I actually owned, and I can remember sequestering myself away in my bedroom as a teenager for hours at a time, and just singing my heart out along to it. To me, that was where I felt free..."

Say the word and you'll be free

"And," he said, finally, "I chose to do "Grow Old With Me" because it might be the most beautiful love song ever written..."

May 2 @ Barts - Ferndale

Lennon - part one - (May 2 @ Club Barts)

"Lennon is one of those people that everyone takes really personally..." Illy Mack's Jen David says, certain that she still can't put into words the relevance of the Bealtes to her life, even after spending the whole afternoon pondering. "Here, let me show you my Beatles tattoo!"

You know, it's almost scientific fact that you could play the Beatles as background music, at a party, in a car, or bring them up in a group of strangers, and not only will no one protest, they'll likely perk up in a peculiar and very particular way... It's as simple as this: if you're into music... you're into the Beatles. They're not "the start of it all..." in absolute terms as some incontrvertible Big Bang genesis of rock n roll or pop music... but at the same time, for many listeners, musicians, writers, DJs, singers, they are, still, actually, "the start of it all..."

Somehow, to find oneself in music, is to find the Beatles. Whether you're a songwriter, a guitar player, a singer, or someone who incessantly writes about (and listens) to music... the Beatles are your baby-steps into that world - your happy place or your playground - your own Oh-I-Get-It-Now-revelation...

Everyone has a personal investment in the Beatles
- and, inevitably, many of us have a personal investment in the life and work of who may very well be, (garnering some lingering debate), the most influential-member (of what is already the most influential-band)... singer / writer / musician / father / activist / asshole / clown / hero / iconoclast: John Lennon

While Elvis just seemed like he was from another planet, and while Dylan wrought a more worldly anthem that poetically framed just-how-fucked-everything-was/and-is... Lennon laid it out for you: he was unsure of himself, he was a loud mouth, his parents didn't love him, he had a chip on his shoulder, he had flares of bellicosity and anger teased by confusion and rejection... If it was on his mind he said it: The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now..." He said it.

Bring up the Beatles in a crowd of strangers and see what kind of reaction you get - compared to bringing up Jesus... Tell me which one ends up being unifying and which ends up being polarizing?

So then - May 2nd - @ Club Barts in Ferndale - Jen David will have her own night for her biggest hero, John Lennon, as she curates Lennon Tribute Night - featuring: Atacama / Darling Imperial / Chris Degnore / Josh Achatz / House Phone / Mick Bassett / Duende! / Max Daley / Pewter Cub / Tone & Niche / Eleanora / Deadbeat Beat / Matt Luke & the Pewter-Ono-Band / the Handgrenades / Jesse & the Yoko-Gnomos / Illy Mack


David still couldn't think of what to say, on the Beatles or on Lennon. "Those two Daniel Johnston songs sum it up better. Johnston had the same charm that Lennon had: the ability to make things simple. These sort of artists exist to help people say what's in their subconscious out into the real world. I feel like when people say they love the Beatles - they sincerely LOVE the Beatles."

"People say you should kill your heroes, but, I'm glad we hvae heroes like them--who were hard workers, cared about the world, were sensitive, were literary, didn't just talk about love, but every kind of love, love for yourself, love for your home, love for beauty, for the world. You wanted to be them so bad!"

"He definitely does fill you with a lot of hope. But it's a weird kind of hope; not a hope for a better future, but a hope that people still have feelings. Who the fuck makes you even feel anything, that makes music today?" (As she finishes this sentence, Adele comes on the jukebox nearby).

I bring up Lennon as the quintessential rock icon or quasi-deity... (but even beyond that, the magic that we're reacting to is that we relate to him...mingling and muddling our otherwise pious worship)... But wasn't all the fervor over Cobain tied to an inherent kick in our guts or our hearts that we might have some kind of new Lennon?

"Guys like that lived and died for us," David said. "Their insides are out! Lennon said, in his later career, that he just cared about himself and his family and not the public...but he lived and died for the world, same for Michael Jackson, to give htis beautiful gift to the world that really made people feel... be able to say these things and make us weep and make us laugh and be our clown and be our...well, I sound like a psycho if I say 'Friend,''s weird, you do feel that!"


David would add... it took sitting in on a rehearsal by James (Linck) and the Rainbros...listneing them cover "Yer Blues" to give her this revelation: "I gotta make a fucking band too! Because I wanna sing like this for people! I wanna do Beatles songs!"

5/2 - @ Barts - a parade of Lennon covers from local musicians -

Come Together.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Invisible City

Welcome to a meandering post...

If you need a pop fix, Stereogum provides you a download for newly-remixed track from Detroit native Alex Winston's Sister Wife EP...Starslinger cuts away the warm resonance of her acoustic guitar and accentuates the somewhat military-march of the original percussion, thereby giving it a surreal, as well as a spacey, vibe.
But anyway...

Exhibit A.) - The eclectically clacked and swooning pop of Here We Go Magic will bring their mix of sweet, spooky, altogether dreamy melodies to the Pike Room on May 10. The band seems particularly energized/inspired after having built their own studio in an upstate NY farm house to record their brand new January EP (Secretly Canadian).

Take a listen: Here We Go Magic - "Hands in the Sky"

On the road:

05.07.11 - St. Louis, MO - Firebird

05.09.11 - Chicaco, IL - Schuba’s

05.10.11 - Pontiac, MI - The Pike Room at Crofoot

05.11.11 - Toronto, ON - Horseshoe Tavern


Exhibit B.) - Crystal Stilts are celebrating the recent release of their 2nd proper LP (out on Slumberland) and bring their jangled-up shoegaze pop to the Magic Stick on May 21st.

Crystal Stilts "Through The Floor" from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

Here's a review for In Love with Oblivion - (with MP3)

And they're road schedule.

Thu-May-19 Madison, WI High Noon

Fri-May-20 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle

Sat-May-21 Detroit, MI Magic Stick

Sun-May-22 Toronto, ON Sneaky Dees


Exhibit C.)

A band I'm still musing on is Growlers - a somewhat buried and nicely grimed gem from Costa Mesa CA - who was most recently welcomed, here in Detroit, last year, by our friends at the Bakery Loft in Mexican Town. Take a listen here. Dark psyche pop, weirdly twanged punk and good ol' jangling/stomping rock n roll!

Take a look:

And catch them on the road - (Look for a forthcoming 7" on Everloving records).

5/25 - Rock House - St. Louis, MO

5/26 - Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL

5/27 - Museum of Contemporary Art - Detroit, MI w/Rodriguez

5/29 - The Frequency - Madison, WI

5/30 - 7th St Entry - Minneapolis, MN

5/31 - Vaudeville Mews - Des Moines, IA

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hey Hey We're the Ashleys - May 7 - Belmont

I think a measured amount of recklessness is a necessity for wellness, - both mental and physical.

Sweeping, sublime works of beauty and grace certainly have their place, and we all gnosh, now and again, on the guilty pleasures of pristine, sun-soaked patchworks of pretty, poppy, pirouets. But, I feel imbalanced if I go very long without being properly shaken up. Times like those: I go to Detroit duo, the Ashleys - tightly wound rhythms and maelstrom guitars, churned out in rubbery, blues-inflected roars and fuzzed out vocals blurting and howling out monosyllabic taunts. Essentially: the essence of what many perceive as "garage rock..." Whether that's a lingering ghost or a hot-button topic in this town is for another day's debate...

Take a listen:


Tom shrugs. "(It)'s hastily put together, but...the songs are like us."

The Ashleys' singer/guitarist goes on about their debut EP: "It's a good representation of where we are and I think it shows our songwriting capabilities and promise of what's to come."

Their penchant for facetiousness is never far, though, as drummer Steve assures explosions of "pure awesomeness in your face" to describe their live presentation.
Also: ""

"Volume," Tom nods, folloiwng up, "pagaentry...sheer sex."

The Ashleys are the most punctual band I've ever encountered. Not just on-time, they were early. I felt tardy even though I, myself, was one-minute early for our interview--let the record show.

There they were, somewhat rail-framed, dirty-blonde tussled tops with shadows at their young jaw lines, chatting casually together, settled at the rickety cafe table and adding a few pinches' worth of calories to their self-proclaimed-pocket-lint-scrounging daily diets by toasting mugs of coffee and stirring in plenty of their signature sarcasm-spiked charm between sips.

Being cousins, Tom Bahorski and Steve Olshove share resemblances, both in physical appearance and conversational mannerisms. "It's in the eyes," Olshove quips, "and our mirthful smiles...our smirks..." But obviously, their kinship goes deeper than blood and the forthcoming Can't Take It EP is a fine representation of their musical bond. Fine, loud and fast. The EP - recorded at Jim Diamond's Ghetto Recorders - gets a proper unveiling, May 7th at the Belmont.

Between their intermitten spin-offs onto inside-joke jiving tangents, ripe with pop-culture references and warped by various screwball/surrealist reflections, they shared a bit about their band, The Ashleys, and their music...

"We started as a two-piece 'cuz we couldn't find anyone else to play with us," Bahorski said. The pair have been "jamming," working out songs together in basements for almost 10 years now.

They "rocked numerous projects" in said-basement, inviting a revolving cast of defacto third members to join veritable one-night-only recording sessions, documented with audacious band names like The Ledgemen or Working Class Stiff's, stringing together entire album's worth of 2-minute tracks of slamming, slopping, fits forged in the heat of the moment.

"Always us-two and some bass player..." Bahorski shrugged, "like Spinal Tap."

It was about two years ago when Olshove implored his cousin that they should finally get serious and start "a real band" one that plays "real" shows. "I said I was 'in,'" Bahorski recalls his response, "as long as you do all the work, find us a singer and a bassist."

But here we are, today, finding Bahorski as both the lead singer (if somewhat reluctantly) and the bass player (if somewhat indirectly or unnoticeably). If you go to an Ashley's show and close your eyes, you'll think it's a quartet. You also might then get smacked in the face by a venturing-Tom's guitar neck, so don't keep them closed for long... In any case, the four-armed-cousins haul three separate amps with them from stage to stage, facilitating Bahorski's subtly inventive patch work splitting his guitar's sound through multiple amps (thanks to his bemusing octave pedals, bolstered by a digi-tech whammy upgrade).

"That's what it is," Olshove said, "him with a digi-tech whammy, playing bass guitar and whatever else, simultaneously, and then me...going crazy."

"We don't do well with metronomes," Bahroski said, "(Steve)'s got some of the wackiest rhythm. That's the benefit of having just two people, if one of us screws up...then...yes, half the band has screwed up, but we can come back really fast."

"We always seem to recoup," Olshove said.

On their songwriting process-- Bahorski: "(Steve) comes up with a lot of ideas, I don't like them. Then I come up with a lot of ideas...and Steve doens't like them. Then, we end up doing the same songs again."

Olshove: "That's how we end up getting better material, being our own harshest critics. We call the other one out if it sounds like shit."

Bahorski: "Or the other person just starts ignoring the other's song... Usually the best stuff happens when we switch, when Steve writes on guitar and I'm on drums. See, I can tell him what I don't like because he won't get mad...He'll huff and puff. It don't matter. The next time he'll come up with an awesome song and then the next time we'll play that..." So goes the advantage of dealing with family. Family-band-members will often tend to be much more forgiving...

Asked, finally, to surmise their live presentation: "It's like a constant ending," Bahorski said, all too ready to conjure cinematic visuals. Like the Death Star blowing up on-repeat...for each song. "It's one big finale. Some people have the strong opening and then slow it down. This one is just the whole time..."

"It's like Vanishing Point," Olshove says. "It's one big car chase...but then at the end, it blows up finally."

Bahorski: "And then you wanna watch it again."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where are we going?

BP Oil Spill - One Year Later (PBS Newshour)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

May Days - Woodruffs + Park Bar

Celtics, Pagans, Unions workers and Communisists, Anarchists and Anglo-Saxons.... -across the world -across religious sects, cultures or countries... everyone and anyone celebrates May 1st for myriad reasons through myriad rituals.

Many of them, however, involve music and dancing!

Fittingly, Detroit's veritable master-of-elaborate-celebrations, the Loco Gnosis Collective, will be hosting it's own May Days Celebration - alligning with the rising Ghost Family Collective - forging two nights (at two different venues, in two different towns) featuring more-than-20-bands and including installations from artists of various visual mediums.

"May Day is a worker's holiday," said Loco Gnosis chieftain, Jeff Howitt (also of Duende). "Also, it's the anarchists holiday. Loco almost goes into community service by spotlighting those who have worked with us to create and contribute their sense of experience. But, though, not 'accomplishment,' it would be closer to their 'reason for doing it in the first place.'"

Commendably, LC - paired with the Ypsi-based Ghost Family Collective (JWPP+Sharky & the Habit+Err...) have managed to top previoius LC festivals, in terms of size and scope.

“This really is the purest of the Loco shows," Howitt said, "by openly combining visual arts, poetry and music within its framework. Somewhere, fashion and performance split. So did content from the words. Everyone has photoshop and can DIY but what about actual art? --things recovered from the mystery? It's more tribal and archaic and hard to classify. This is one way of giving back and reminding ourselves we have split from one another in the arts and communities we live in; so it's not just entertainment and a drawing of a soup can. This is how we take our temperature and sweat it out a little bit."

It'll be subtly momentous (subtle in subtext, if not presentation), as this is acknowledging the rise of the 'new class' of bands, from Phantom Cats, to Macrame Tiger, to Illy Mack...and giving proper nods to other performers and creative minds by shining spotlights on visual artists and performers. As artist/photographer Lisa Marie Krug once exclaimed to me: we need more intermingling of mediums! Music - to Artists - to Poets - and beyond.

The May Days event is also tacitly representing a quasi-torch-passing from Loco Gnosis to Ghost Family, as the former transitions to working more in distribution (less so the grind of record label work) and the latter starts to realize its own vitality and potential.

4/29 Night 1 - at Woodruff's in Ypsi: reception that begins at 6:00 p.m each night. Artists: - Lisa Marie Krug, - Emily Whitehead, - Tracey Tilley, - Lauren Montgomery, - Kim Hoxworth, - Juicy Jacapo, - James Hittinger, - Brandon Robinson, - Jen Clare Gawaran, - Chad Stocker, - Steve Gamburd, - Kelly Kaatz & Angelica Perez, - Lisa Posywak & Jaye Allen Thomas, - Kayleigh Rose, - Dave La Fave, - Cre Fuller and more.....

There will also be music by Teenage Love during the reception. $5 at the door. No cover before 8:00 p.m. Buffet food provided........ -

8:00 Nomeus / 8:40 Err... / 9:20 Pink Lightning / 10:00 Sharky and the Habit / 10:40 Lawless Carver / 11:20 Man at Arms / 12:00 Jehovah's Witness Protection Program / 12:40 Beggars

4/30 Night 2 - at Park Bar in Detroit

Featured Artists:

Lisa Marie Krug, Emily Whitehead, Tracey Tilley, Lauren Montgomery, Kim Hoxworth, Juicy Jacapo, James Hittinger, Brandon Robinson, Jen Clare Gawaran, Chad Stocker, Steve Gamburd, Kelly Kaatz & Angelica Perez, Lisa Posywak & Jaye Allen Thomas, Kayleigh Rose, Dave La Fave, Cre Fuller and more.. $10 at the door. No cover before 8:00 p.m. Buffet food provided.

Featured Bands:

John Sinclair –with Elliot Levin / The Oscillating Fan Club / The Questions / Marco Polio & the New Vaccines / Illy Mack / Duende! / Oblisk / Dutch Pink / Electric Fire Babies/ Macrame Tiger / Rogue Satellites / Mister / The Beekeepers / Tomb Laser / Phantom Cats / Alan Sowinski -


"With what elevated, -(with) what triumphant feelings unseen and unnoticed by the world my life is filled! ... I swear I will do something that the ordinary person does not do. I feel leonine strength in my soul, and I perceive clearly my transition from childhood spent in school exercises, to a young age..."

-GOGOL -at age 27, (a letter to V. Zhukovsky, June 1836)

...Inevitably, I've been thinking about age, as my birthday week subsides and we drift, bemused and still bundled, into a persistantly chilled late April lull.

In an ominous year (1984) on an ominous day (Friday the 13th,) I came into being under devestatingly endearing parents who would later reveal to me that, yes, I was technically an accident.

I don't believe in over analyzing anything that isn't music - and that goes for life, my work, my, er, ..."legacy...," my manner of speech or my bad jokes, my missed opportunites and varying motivations. So this is me, absolving myself of worrying about mortality...

Though, sometimes I feel self-conscious that words are not enough... either mine, Gogol's (or Neil Strauss, -below)... so here - take a listen to last week's Sound Opinion's Podcast, where they replay an interview with renowned grunge-galvanizing producer Butch Vig, on this, the month of the 17th anniversary of Cobains death, (again, age-27 feels ominous)... But, Vig's words are releveant also because this is the year of Nevermind's 20th anniversary (and the release of a new Foo Fighters album, helmed by Vig).

That said, I'm musing on a collection of interview snippets from writer (and proclaimed Pick Up Artist) Neil Strauss: Everyone Loves You When You're Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness. The book, featuring recovered revelations pocketed into numerous interviews (for Rolling Stone and New York Times through the late 90's and early 00's) reads like an impressive resume of: look-who-I've-gotten-to-hob-knob-with - from Johnny Cash to Lady Gaga to Led Zeppelin to Tom Cruise to Madonna to the White Stripes...

The thesis of the journalistic anthology is that there are truly telling moments about one's true self often subtly slipped out and sutured sleekly within the shrugged off shuffle of passing conversation...perhaps developing a better picture than the one the public, or mainstream, or whoever in the big pop-culture-gobbling ether, thinks they know...

"Everyone Loves You When You're Dead," he writes at the books conclusion. "Because, when you're dead, your happiness and accomplishments are no longer a threat to their belief system and self-esteem. You've been appropriately punished."

What does it all mean? I'd rather not dwell... But I'd recommend it; an interesting read... (see: White Stripes interview, circa 2001...harping upon the scab of their origins (Detroit) being a focal point of their fame...and Jack White tangoing with Strauss over whether he's overly defensive)


But let's move on...

Singel Barrel Detroit -documents the arts exuded by this town's current population, tossing various musicians and performers out of their natural elements and into the more wooly and wild locales of it's multifarious landmarks of curiosity and historical relevance, however faded/proud/pounded/preserved they appear - which makes for dynamic short films.

The cinematic collective recently debuted their latest episode, featuring Bars of Gold inside the Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit. Now, 80% of Bars of Gold is made up of members of another, somewhat similarly styled band, called Wildcatting.

Listen to MP3's from both bands and watch a live clip of "both bands" performing in the middle of a narrow restaurant (pleasingly well populated despite this having been filmed rather early, on a cold Sunday morning, following the last day of an already-demanding/late-night-dotted local music festival).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rock Lottery on Earth Day (@ Magic Stick)

It's essentially a no-brainer that any town with such a verdant crop of musicians should host its own Rock Lottery -harvest these music heads together and make some mixed salads! Don't let it go to waste!

This will be a mixed--mingled-and-improvisational event picking 60 musicians from various local bands and throwing them together to form 15-one-night-only-bands (four members each). Each band will perform one cover song and one original song (having had just one-week to prepare/rehearse...let alone get acquainted with each other's musical idiosyncrasies...)

This happens on April 22nd - Earth Day at the Magic Stick- The Rock Lottery originated almost 15 years ago in Denton TX - It would also be a no-brainer to have the energy and enthusiasm of this special event not be channeled into something beneficial. I mean, as much as we may grouse about the price hikes, it'd be selfish to have all this fun go towards merely stuffing a wee bit extra gas money into a musician's back pocket.

-So, just as we saw recently with Detroit by Detroit's proceeds going towards Japan's Disaster Relief Efforts, Detroit's 3rd Annual Rock Lottery's proceeds benefit The Greening of Detroit.

Learn about the Greening of Detroit here - "The not for profit organization works to guide and inspire the community to create a "greener" Detroit -through planting and educational programs, environmental leadership, advocacy, and by building community capacity."

Learn about their current projects here.

Learn about Greening's workshops here. - And volunteer here.

The Day-of Earth Day...visit The Detroit Zoo or dig on "Earth Appreciation Day" at Clinton/Huron Metro Parks throughout Oakland County (free admission! + might I encourage you to participate in a park clean up?)

And are you keeping up on Green Week in Ferndale?

News: "One Year Later: Assessing the Lasting Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill" - via marine biologist Carl Safina's Environment 360 blog.


So then - back to the music -

The line up (see below) was arranged by Virginia Benson...
(my personal bet is on # 4...and # 8 (Steve's a preternatural 'wild card'...and then maybe # 1...Jen has extensive experience with on-the-fly covers): ~

1. Kevin Herron (Esquire), Jake Culkowski (Conspiracy Of Owls, Magic Jake & The Power Crystals), Bobby Colombo (State Lottery), Ben Luckett (Magic Jake & The Power Crystals)

2. Jennifer David (Illy Mack), Andrew Hecker (The Displays), Ryan Felton (Louder Than Bombs), Alex Chisholm

3. Stevie Michael (Grande Nationals), Allison Young (Kickstand Band), Steve Shaw (The Fondas), Maria Nuccilli (The Deadbeat Beat)

4. Scott Dunkerley (Frustrations), Gordon Smith (The Sights, Kickstand Band), Vince Mazzola (Gardens), Ryan Spencer (Prussia)

5. Laura Finlay, Chris Cox (Brave Riffles), Steve Nawara (Conspiracy Of Owls), Todd McNulty (The Sugarcoats, Lee Marvin's Computer Arm)

6. Leah Diehl (Lightening Love), Dale Wilson (Octopus), Jackson F. Smith, Beren Ekine

7. Liz Wittman (Lettercamp), Dan Clark (Old Empire, Songs From The Moon), Bill Kozy (Speedball), Dave Malosh (Wolfbait)

8. Steven Michael Puwalski (Marco Polio & The New Vaccines), Lianna Cecil (Tyvek), Mike Hubbarth, Jesse Shepard Bates (Jesse & The Gnome, The Satin Peaches)

9. Marcie Bolen (Silverghost), Chris Housholder (Replicas), Alia Allen (Mirror Twin), Shelby April Murphy

10. Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive), Nick Chevillet (The Handgrenades), Erik Maluchnik (Sha Diamond La Freedom), Jeff Klein (Vargas)

11. Amy Gore (Gorevette, Amy Gore & Her Valentines), Steevo Jolly, Johnny Ill, Trent Desenglau

12. Loretta Lucas (Mirror Twin), Bryan Brozowski (Solar Temple Cult), Craig Brown (Terrible Twos, Brownstown Gals), Erik Roosen (Jesse & The Gnome)

13. Sean Spencer, Melody Malosh (Betty Cooper), Alex Glendening (Kickstand Band), Matt Becker (Easy Action)

14. Andrew Beer (Noman), Stephen Palmer (Back In Spades), Anthony Selph (Vargas), Billy West

15. Chris Campbell (Terrible Twos, The Johnny Ill Band), Nick Cicchetti (Millions Of Brazilians), Fabrizio Costantini

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jet Rodriguez - Mourning Days / Morning Daze

I talk a lot about the eclectic range of sounds and styles coming out of the band's in Detroit, but it's often limiting, as I'm essentially comparmentalizing bands, whether intended or not, into one sound or another...

With certain bands, you can hear substantial eclecticism within one album's worth of songs; as the Jet Rodriguez open things up on their forthcoming LP Mourning Days/Morning Daze with what sounds like theatric, rustling indie-folk displaced onto some surf-tinged/Morricone-conjuring spaghetti-western ("Fountain of Youth"), but, later on, bring in a murkier groove that feels bluesy, or perhaps almost gothic-bluegrassy?--on the title track.

"Hold Your Footing, Back Down" is a stirring, twilight folk and bluegrass drifter, showcasing their knack for harmonies and bringing in the tinny charm of banjos and mandolins. (That same mandolin can shine for you, again, on "If We Want To (We Can Stop This)" -a more pared back folk ballad bolstered by its steadily-building percussive boom).

You can name your price for their LP through the month of May - and they'll be holding a proper release show June 17 at the Crofoot.

Almost Free - In/Out - 4/23 - Pike Room


When the sunshine of pop over-scorches the trouncing crescendos and angular riffs of post punk, when the keyed-up pop sensibilitiy just sweeps up the other wise daydreamy-grooves and dreamy synth glistening of new-wave, crashing it all together and carrying it forth into unabashed anthems, that quicken pulses and set heads bobbing and feet stomping - you get Almost Free - a Detroit trio that's been honing that popped-out brio and bluster for their new EP In/Out. Almost Free's sound is certainly got a glisten to it (it should, having been produced by Marc Jordan (Velvet Revolver, The Cult) and Todd Weinstock (Glassjaw), a duo that also recently remixed the Klaxons), but there's an undeniable scuffed and tumbling zing to it all; it's just fun, really, to hear a song that hooks you right away, yet sets this urgent vibe to it that hints, or howls that, to this song: we just gotta get up and start running ...or maybe dancing...or at least just jittering... This is what happens when indie-rock sensibilities don't shy away from pop, (see those that came before: Tokyo Police Club, or Tapes N Tapes); you get grittier grooving new-wave basslines blend with a tightly wound space-rock aesthetic ("Don't Bother Me Now") or the instantaneous hooks and mellifluous balladeer belting atop gushed-and-almost-rushed guitars and synths ("Really Don't Know About You")

More info

@Pike Room - 4/23

Revoir - 4-30 - Atlas - w/Phantasmagoria + Rough House

"Words can sometimes fail..."

For Jason Revoir it seems the ambition, the heart and particularly the voice, were always there... But it was a matter of finding that certain whimsical sonic spark that might illuminate some kind of epiphany of comprehension, or even merely an allure, in a substantial audience of listeners.

"I think I struck a nerve this time..."

The just-into-his-30's day-job dad has an interesting history that includes cutting his teeth via prog-metal in the late 90's (Arizing) after having been raised under a preacher in a house where secular pop-songs were sternly discouraged. Through the late aughts, Revoir dug a more electro-tinged indie-pop/rock groove (with Cougar the Tiger) while penning two solo album's worth of ambient folk ballads.

"I called one of my earlier albums Intangible," Revoir said, "because of all those times in life when you are trying to explain to someone how angry, sad, happy, ecstatic, are, about something, and end up feeling as though you haven't made them fully understand."

Whose to say we understand now? But I think we're, at the very least, listening... As Revoir, and his music, departed the heavy metal circles and started sounding something more akin to rock, pop, indie, folk...or seemed, heretofore, to hover, aloof, near the edges...Maybe it's simply symptomatic to facebook ameliorating the interconnectedness (or inter-connectivity) of a local music community, but for whatever reason, local music writers and fellow local musicians (like, say, similarly electro-set dabblers like Phantasmagoria or Rogue Satellites) have seemed to pick up on his current batch of buzzed and blipped, shimmering synth serenades....

It'd certainly be ludicrous to turn an elevated amount of blog buzz or facebook-likes into a news lead, but perhaps there's some worth to wondering whether or not Revoir's latest, This is the Album has the fateful, supernatural, or whimsical features to make it a breakthrough for listeners... even if it's really just the next step for an unassuming, passionate and contemplative songwriter.

"I wanna see where I can take it," Revoir said, "as far as--as many different styles."

This is the Album's style, predominantly, is darkly beautiful synth-pop, driven by an intricate cascade of danceable beats and adorned by Revoir's stirring, quavering, baritone croon... Chiming, symphonic synthesizers surge and soar, punchy beats percolate a steady shimmy under a voice that balances fragility with heart heavy fire - yes, somewhat close to the almost operatic belts of a Rolan Orzabal or a Dave Gahan, but yet, the aesthetic of This admittedly easily invites new-wave and dance-rock comparisons. Let's not forget he came from metal, and also proved himself via folk (and is even up for some experimental noise!)

Revoir plays, Saturday Apr 30th, at the Atlas Bar, synched up with Phantasmagoria and Rough House.

"Music is a more universal way of communicating," Revoir said. "I feel music connects people on a different level."

Revoir said he always liked that "feeling of community" one can find, particularly with live music that inspires either dancing or inherently invites compacted audiences (the latter including the mosh-days of metal, or event-like performers like Girl Talk or Lightning Bolt).

"Just being in the mix with other people." Which was hard to come by through the aughts, said Revoir, with Cougar the Tiger playing to the sometimes all too incorrigible shoegazing hip crowds, standing stoic, even if they are present and listening to a show.

In mid 2001, Revoir departed Arizing (just as they neared completion of an album) and started a solo project, embracing more of a folk tract. He put out a solo album in 2003 and would perform occasionally at Xhedos/(AJ's), but "nothing really happened."

Two formative songwriter-moments included 1) his discovery of Beck's Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave (- the uninhibited (veritable DIY-) aspects of both spurring him on to start recording his own stuff -) and 2) switching his major, while studying at Oakland, to music, in 2004 and joining a steelpan band, delving into the musical traditions and history of Trinidad and learning to appreciate, even more so, music as being a form of communication.

Revoir, it should be noted, is a fast learner. "I feel like I got a late start in a musical education." While some may take Nirvana for granted, as a cliched rite of passage, it was, for Revoir, exactly what it's played up to be, a shining light of sorts, to shake him into some new musical consciousness and show him the world outside that of his comparatively sheltered, and restrictive upbringing. "It was a shock. I used to hide my cassette tapes from my parents in my closet. My parents sat me down when I was 17 and said they didn't want me being in a band anymore. I argued with them. I'm not rebellious; I wasn't trying to be. I'm pretty obedient."

It's just that Revoir "fell in love with music and had to defend it."

(He's subtly rebellious. His dog's name is Sagan, to honor Carl, the man behind the Cosmos documentaries who himself was viewed by some as anti-religion and Revoir's often read works from the famous/infamous atheist Richard Dawkins...He also lists Joseph Campbell and Bill Bryson as non-musical influences)

"My interest in writers and thinkers informs my music, but itsn't a direct result of being a musician." Revoir said the Bible taught only one side of humanity's story, where as the writers/scientists/philosophers noted above helped him go deeper into the story. "I like anything that makes me feel connected to the past, present and future of that story; music does that for me."

And so, after Nirvana Revoir found Tool, being particularly moved by songs like "Third Eye" and its forceful documentation of a galvanized awakening. After Tool, it was on to Dylan and, Neil Young (the latter of which has served as an inspiration of late to always keep trying different things with music). ""Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" is near perfection. The White Album is (also) perfection. Anything that I can get lost in or emotional about..."

And emotion plays into it, for Revoir, as any listener can discern the voice crackled/tear-jerked/goosebump vibe of some of the more evocative crescendos and pained choruses from This is the Album. "Songs that make me cry really strike me, and make me realize how temporal things are. 'So Long' is about that. Eventually no one will remember any of it, so I think that drives me somehow, but also gives it some perspective. It makes music seem more truly in the moment."

The Moment...for Revoir, is This is the Album.

"I never made a totally electronic album. Crystal Castles' new album made me want to. Some people had bad reactions...but, it's synth-pop, it's like it or don't eat it. I just hope people enjoy it."

Album was enhanced by his collaboration with John Dion (also of Cougar the Tiger) who brought a keen sense for recording and layered electronic accouterments. "John brought the recording quality up and added a lot of interesting layers to the live show. He added a lot of guitar sounds and played that Korg-Micro, and added some vocoder stuff." Dion performed with Revoir at his "first" show, at the Belmont in March. (First show in this incarnation, anyhow...)

Album was then mixed by Jon Weier at BGC Studios.

Revoir quoted Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, that "half of the listening experience is the creator and half is the audience. I agree. It's up to an audience to draw what they will from the music. I hope my music hits people in the gut and brings them out of time for a moment."