Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ryan Dillaha - Love Alone ~~ Elephantom - Beautiful Bird

Ryan Dillaha makes it clear before you even open the CD - heart - breaking...hits...

And these honky-tonk-ish waltzes and Americana rustling's hit you right smack dab in the center of that invigorating, cumbersome, whimsical organ behind your rib cage, the one that, when punctured, makes any otherwise rockin' whippoorwill "too blue to fly..."

But as the twanging, shuffling title song suggests, a lonesome-on-lonesome sandwich can often make it right for two lost souls. His resolute nasally warble coos its way through such a relentless relay of eulogies for love; proclamations so poetically pummeling that you may as well be dicing onions while you're out there on your backporch rockin' chair sippin whiskey between gnawed up wheat stalks.

He can take back his sunny days, but hey, those are his, anyway - But that's kinda the point; at least, I feel - as a listener. The greater Detroit area bluegrass songwriter (and Wayne State English instructor) is sort of putting on a clinic of how to craft the ideal heartbreak ballad ~ warmed, if faintly, by the metallic hums and tinny prancing of pedal-steel and mandolins and atmospherically edified by the producing ear of Jim Roll, along with Tim Rios providing harmonic back up vocals and auxillary instrumentation throughout.

The idea migh be something close to~ every song, as he sings, being about one's broken heart. Think about that. If that is the impetus for every ostensible great song - i.e. emotional devastation -and the subsequent search for healing; that, through writing and then singing a song, a hurt soul becomes whole, again? Something like that.

"Detroit City" is the Dilaha song that sticks with me. For me - my heart isn't exactly broken, maybe just a bit numbed, by the disintegration of antiquarian preservation (if even just nostalgia, for the old world). Which is why I'm charmed when Dillaha deals in jukeboxes for his imagery, and talks about how the record player's "needle" will always "find the broken part."

No matter if, "late at night," how "thumping" it gets out there in the city streets, out there on the internet in my case, or out there in the eerie ether of all-powerful iPads, it's still "the radio" ~the comfort of the classics that understands me.

It's possible... "Every song's about your broken heart..."


Elephantom, meanwhile, would likely fit that mold as well - a search for catharsis through musical expression ~ their distinction is a considerable range of style and aesthetic.

This up and coming quartet will slide from dreamy acoustic lofters (given an increased vibe of stargazing lullaby with its airy whistling crackled through the choruses)-> straight into a big, booming rock tumbler, girded by whipcracking hooks and sprinkling spacey synthesizers from the ceiling cracks.

Take a listen:

Elephantom - Rocky & Adrian by DC/Milo

It's not that they don't know their sound yet, it's just that they don't have a ...sound. The vocals, even when they're hinting are often bristly, but the steel wool brush is softened by the elegiac beauty of diction, the quintessential melodrama of literate baroque-pop.

Take those melodiously masochistic theatrico-indie-rock composers like maybe a Sunny Day Real Estate or maybe a bit of Bright Eyes - and factor in a whimsy for a smorgasbord of other genres, -a hint of punk, a mashing of rock and a pretty rounding whisk of cursive-lettered folk.

~They have an album release for their latest ^Beautiful Bird, August 11th at the Berkley Front

Camp Out Comp / Nancy Snotra / Odd Future

Last year, pan-Michigan music cultivator and indepdent promoter known as e. hosted a Camp-Out Concert Series in Merrill-MI set Barn called The Last Resort - and it was pretty much what it sounded like, the camp-out part, for both listeners and performers, with a succession of splendid Great Lakes-grown live music.

It was shut-down by police and thereby wrought some considerable legal trevails upon these humble booking agents, who had cultivated unconventional and refreshing musical evenings featuring the songs of Ian Saylor, Alan Scheurmann, UltraMark, Those Transatlantics, Marco Polio & the New Vaccines, Gardens and many many more.

On August 15th, the Camp Out Compliation # 2 will be released, with pre-orders starting on August 5th. (More info here). Stay tuned to Whoa-Rangler site for more info and eventual song streams...

With proceeds going to "free" the original Camp Out organizers and thus secure the future their commendable local music profilgation, it features songs from Shelby Sifers, Tinyfolk, World History, Dick Wolf, Fahri, V.& the Nicotine Machine, The Danny Phantoms, To All My Dear Friends, Matt Giles, Lightning Love, R. Stevie Moore, Jim Cherewick, Edgar Cayce & his Guitar and the Ruggs... well as Grand Rapids/Chicago- electro dance-pop quartet Stepdad (whose Ordinaire EP is out this week, pictured above). Get a visual taste of their live show ~here and read about them in Revue Magazine's "Ten to Watch."

This comp also features Ypsi/Arbor folk auteur Nathan K.

...Nathan, along with Stepdad, perform @ Woodruff's in Ypsilanti tonight - with Detroit's Phantasmagoria and Lettercamp.

Sunday night @ the Lager House - A bit of stylistic frivolity, sparkled-up-grime and heartfelt pop excursions will echo through the cozy glowing clubhouse vibe of the Lager House. This is the debut of long-rumored artcunt/kunstpunk/bitch band, Nancy Snotra... (likely featuring, at least, Scott Masson of Glossies, Phreddy Wischusen of Golden and filmmaker Katie Barkel...) we'll see... - more info?-here?

Slow Giant, Anonymous
and This Piano Plays Itself will also perform.

A taste of atmos-smearic shoe-haze bliss awaits via TPPI's recent album As The House

News Bites (from out there, in the world):

"Goblin" rap growler Tyler, the Creator, the most prominent delegate of the nefariously captivating hip/hop collective--Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All--let slip in a recent interview with the Guardian (UK) the most appetizingly headline hyperbole fuel: incanting, essentially, that his raw, rad, radioactive group were the new Sex Pistols.

"You really should (hear their records)," wrote the Guardian's Paul Lester. "For sustained and diverse brilliance, only the Wu-Tang Clan, with their numerous side projects come close, and even they weren't this precocious (Odd Future are aged 17-23) or prolific."

Murky, menacing, freaky and frank, their music is clearly evocative. The Queitus' John Calvert wrote: "Droog-rap founded on stubborn, off-sync beats and deformed, bug powder-production - elephantine, electric... ...Imagine if the Butthole Surfers hallucinated a purple Jaberwocky with the head of Eminem and the third eye of any number of trailblazers: Flying Lotus, Madvillain, RZA, Liars, John Coltrane, DJ Screw, Public Image Ltd, Boards of Canada...

So...when hullabaloo hipsters Pitchfork cry out, this morning, via a fleeting headline, that Odd Future are touring North America with the tacit tenseness of Revere warning of the inevitable landing of the British, it reminds me about the gloriously volatile marketing boon (and fracturous boom) birthed by Malcom McClaren strategically sluicing the above-referenced Sex Pistols into the land of guns, bibles and whiskey-- the Deep South would prove to be the infamous punk quartet's introduction to American audiences.

What kinds of (mis)adventures and revelations shall be wrought by OFWGKTA's forthcoming tour? October 16th @ Royal Oak Music Theatre.

In other news:
Vinyl sales are up 55% in the UK, so far this year. Take that, Spotify.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Love Dictators (+ Mittenfest)

The Washington Post's Political Bookworm Steven Levingston wrote a thoughtful piece on this recent Daily Show clip~

~I was tempted, strongly, to post it upon another blog of mine, for the public library - but felt trepidation at pissing off possible pockets of said-public. Though, Levingston does help put it into context.

In other news:
Mittenfest 6 is coming (...well, not until the New Year's Weekend, as always) ~ Bands from all over the state should start applying - the deadline August 1st.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Jon Zott...electronic music composer/producer/performer ~ is moving back to Detroit.

He's been steadily establishing himself as an impressive auteur of earthy daydream suites through intricately layered electro-pop, working his way through it in New York over the last year.

He dropped a few singles, already, via the art propulsive online label, Intuition LTD.

Jon Zott - "Brothers"....soothingly sways with wispy organs, while a shuffling synth and tree-branch tapping percussion form the base for an easygoing groove. The swirling choruses are built up to by an arresting punch from a low-fuzzed bass.

This song's made all the more poignant when Detroit audiences consider their familiarity with the works of his actual brothers, be it Philip (in The Great Fiction) or Daniel (in Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr). Just as possessed by melody as his siblings, Jon's distinction might be that he's, as Myspace put it (not I), the more "synth-happy" of the bunch... But I'll leave that argument for the Zott family dinner table.

Listen: "Work" shifts from blissed-out acid-folk to an increasingly bouyant trip-hop beat, with the chippy-chopped beats intertwining with more lilting synth brushes making it so that one could either dance fast, or dance slow, to this one...

Let's hope he gets settled here soon and we can hear these jams in some of our regular venues.

The songs are up for download today, just as Intuition often does, on Wednesdays.

Insight<->Incite (Kickstarter; Cloud; Nirvana)

Do blogs have any other use these days, other than to incite?

Do they even do that much?

My remaining hope, here, is merely to stir even just a momentary shift in perspective on certain matters, while delicately balancing my tendencies to embellish my usual inclinations-- those being, a.) an over-exhileration wrought from musical experience, -or b.) an alarmist's ax to grind in the face of a world where 1-out-of-every-3 adults now own a "Smart" Phone.

Maybe I'm too old fashioned; the luddite's bone structure just too brittle for my extremities to grip the rails of the internet roller coaster, but I find it startling to read statistics marking the biggest selling digital single of all time, (belonging, this week at least, to David Guetta, who's the biggest thing in the world right now, if that means anything anymore)... Or the most successful world tour of all time (that being U2, who, even though they're all 50-something, and half-parents of what could be the most expensive Broadway flop of all time, raked it in, during 2010, with their 360 tour).

The startling part, for me, is that --of course we're going to see more and more of these biggest ___ of all time; because everything I'm dwelling upon involves the recording of consumers, i.e. people - There's just more and more people out there, ready, willing, hungry to consume.

But what are we consuming? Downloads of crude or inane ballads, bleating and blathering over saturaed synthesizers and tired samples about saving the world by dancing at a club or missing an ex lovers crotch...or the Red Hot Chili Peppers attempt to keep their sizzle by singing about wanting "to rock you like the 80's..."

It's 2011? Should we be asking more of our music? Or is this just how it goes, (as T.S. Eliot wrote about how the world would end...) that the ones asking those questions are also the ones turning away from all the noise, turning away from mainstream music, thus that it never gets fixed?

Because you can't tell me that the critics, today, are asking those questions--I just skimmed through a Rolling Stone and found all of them giving 3*** and 4**** stars to all

And so, I echo the rallying call of one of my favorite current locals - the slick synth rock quartet Crappy Future - this is...our crappy future. Where motion sensor water fountains are out of order, where paper shredders jam, where escalators eat children and where ostensible smart phones are found lacking...

It's also where much of the mainstream's current crop of music is actually found to be repulsive. Or, like a total eclipse of the sun (or of intellect), you can't stare at it too long, or you'll go blind (deaf).

Sliding over to SPIN Magazine, there's a nice editorial/feature article from John Walsh that calls into question the need of the Cloud Music Service, wherein he recalls a friend's proclamation that content in this plugged-in-world-of-ours, is as readily available (and, perhaps, equally taken for granted) as water from the tap.

Content isn't quite like water, Walsh responds via this article, because we "will not die" if we "don't have reliable access to (content) at all times."

The cloud based music storage system launched by Amazon, Google and Apples two months ago might be a big, shimmering, expensive presentation of something we can do well enough without--especially when one considers Walsh's noting the statistic that most average music consumers only listen to, at most, 19% of their current uploaded libraries. Do we really need it, everywhere?

Consider also, that you are allowing various unknown eyes in shadowy hallways at Google or Apple to see the stuff you downloaded illegally (or may have obtained through a deluded ricochet of past uploaders onto various blogs). Not to mention that, by paying an annual fee, your actually paying to access something (particularly the CDs you bought and ripped onto your PC years ago) a second-time over, or as Walsh puts it, re-renting($) something you'd already paid for--like, say, your original Nirvana Nevermind album...

Speaking of SPIN~ They celebrated the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's universally/repeatedly-heralded Nevermind via a collection of 80-word diary-esque snippets from various artists, musicians, producers and comedians, commenting on what the album meant to them.

We all know the extent of influence, large, small, vital or trivial, it had upon us...We all know "where we were..."

Here are two of my favorite anecdotes: From author Sam Lipsyte (the Ask): "It's too obviously a counter-intuitive, snobbish thing to say In Utero is better, so let's just say that it is."

Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), speaking of the inspiring-and-awkward days of 91/92: "'d run into normal people woh'd say, 'I like Nirvana,' and you're like, 'Six months ago they were a cool, freaky Sub Pop group, and now Joe Sixpack at 7-Eleven is into Nirvana.' The time was "great and phenomenal and weird and sad..."

~All that said. -I really appreciated a recent column posted on MotorCityRocks, from Ethan Milner (Arbor/Ypsi-area social worker and sometimes local performer via Mittenfests and past show-organizer via the East Quad Music Co-Op). "Shtick Starter" will likely make a few local songwriters and bands a bit resentful, as it is, essentially, an indictment of their recent reliances upon the funding site Kickstarter, to finance albums or tours.

I,...not being in a band, nor being able to fully appreciate the pocket pains of DIY-self-production, still have to appreciate where Milner's coming from, especially when you consider his thesis being tied pretty much entirely to his personal experience observing the neglect of society's least-well-off.

There are even times I find myself thinking, -gee, it'd be great if this $5 I'm dropping at the door of ___-venue for whichever 3-4 band line-up of the week could be going to charity.

Milner concedes that musicians' reliance upon Kickstarter is still morally acceptable. Still, it is a subtle calling-out-of the middle class musician. Inciting and Insightful.

"We live in a world where nobody has to give anybody anything; I recognize that. But if a musician can conjure ten grand in a month by virtue of asking, shouldn't they use that power to help the guy who can't even get enough scratch for mood stabilizers?"

Not being a musician, I don't want to judge. But I'm glad for Milner having, enhanced my perspective.

If that's all a blog can do these days...then I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Houston, We Have a Party

A duo of alien lifeforms abominably spawned into bipedal, flesh organisms from their original rock forms via extensive laboratory experiments, have come to the conclusion that planet earth is a "total shithole."

That doesn't mean they, The Moon Rocks... still don't want to win our admiration ~ in fact, it seems to be one of the remaining goals for their highfalutin intergalactic tour, trekking their own creations (curious musical melding of danceable krautrock kicking rhythms and electro-wrung new-wave grooves) from planet to planet, system to system, --with said-performances having initially commenced as a quasi-scheme to earn enough cosmic capital to finance an escape from Mars (from whence they had initially shipwrecked, along with their two devoted/captive human astronaut/scientists)...

...or something like that. They should be treated, initially, with a similar trepidation mixed between the stiffened distrust and quick bellicosity of the D.C. citizens from Day the Earth Stood Still (51) and the curious, reach-out-and-why-not-touch-em approach of Close Encounters of the Third Kind...

Making peace with these aliens is probably arrived at by merely dancing to the sounds they make...

For more of the story - click here.

To see them and hear them - head to Northern Lights Lounge, Aug 6 ~ with one of their captive human explorers will also be performing in a band of his own, known as Space Toilet. ~ Electric Fire Babies and TOMBB will also be on hand to greet the Moon Rocks.

Axis Mundi - Aug 5 - Northend

Artist success through artist collaboration... so goes the mission and mantra of local Label Collective Axis Mundi, a quartet of small underground/DIY labels made stronger through sharing resources and propping each other's featured works...

Sutured considerably into the murky and mesmeric patch of Detroit's sonic quilt, Axis Mundi culls lo-fi tape fuzz, ambient shoegaze, country rock, minimalist folk and psychedelic pop, via the works of artists under varying label banners~~

And on August 5th, each of the Mundi delegates will co-host a gathering that features various works rendered over the last calendar year, located at Northend Studios (spanning the 1st and 3rd floors). Non-musical works include: paintings and photography by Mundi-members and contemporaries, Alana Carlson, Gabriel Banuelos, Christian Richards, Mike Ross, Eric Peiti, Steven Gamburd and more.
Live Musical Performances from label members

Communist Day Care hosts: Dinosaur Monster's "psychedelic instrumental onslaught" and DandyLyon Whine's haunted country grooves.

Forget hosts: The mutant pop charm of the wooly psychedelic rock quartet Pupils and a new project from poet/record-head/Mother Whale-drummer Richard Wolhfiel called The Belle Isles.

Sonic Lullaby hosts: the atmospheric drifts of spaced-out improvisation/exploration via Kindle and Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

Algae Tapes hosts: Lizzle Temple Black, an "atonal, abandoning structure and coherency," paired with the minimalist metal-shredding post punk of Sound and Fury.

Also performing: Beekeepers, Freak Ache, Creepy Crawlers, Grass Grass Grass

To hear more music from Axis Mundi, check out No Money Records online.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blair ~ (Saturday special show at Circa 1890)

I've been behind on my blogging, so this is news that most-already-know. I would have gotten it out this morning, but, frankly, I wasn't sure how to put into words this past weekend's sad news:
Local award-winning poet, singer/songwriter and performer David Blair (known in the music scene for fronting Blair and the Boyfriends) passed away...
The Metro Times post
Words from one of Blair's many friends, Jay Carroll

And many many more words found on his facebook page.

There are musicians and performers around this town who wouldn't be doing their own thing now, if not for the influence or encouragement of Blair. Many of them will likely share some words, between brief live performances during this Saturday's The New~featuring Eleanora and Emilio Basa at Circa 1890 Saloon, a concert initially planned as a showcase for what was going to be BLAIR's new project, Reasons for Leaving.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Writing about Zoos of Berlin, I feel that I should be dressed to the nine's ala a Wolfe-like white three-piece suit.

The Detroit quartet's edified by four minds that respect the visceral impact of harmony - often to the point where it sets them to extended periods of acute in-studio refinement, (the resulting sonic aesthetic results thus wrought being additionally benefitted by the professional ear of in-band-engineer Collin Dupuis and their impressively equipped studio above a Recycling center).

It's a little cruel for this to merely be an EP - only because it's the most together, or focalized stylistic statement, due in considerable part to their first two releases being more vault-clearing affairs--long awaited recorded unveilings of songs they'd forged in their first 2-3 years.

Pallister Chant, up for download at their bandcamp, feels more like the official beginning of the next chapter, but still echoing their penchants for dual lead vocals (the pulse-steadying glamor of "Kingston Gates"), or their knack for an alluring rhythmic shimmy that hints at a disco-dashed space rock ("Haven't Eyes"). Here, we have some distinctively rougher hews, like the fuzzed-up funk guitars and hip/hop beat of "Tamarind," with the grimier, groovy chug continuing with the sax-bolstered "Sheets of Solid Gold."

When you sound as tight as a post-rock band, but as mesmeric as a prog-rock band, twist it up with newer zings of jazzy funk and top it off with those syrupy vocals - it makes one sit up straighter and tighten said-Wolfeian-white-tie before trying to explain what it sounds like ~ with Zoos, the tired truism of getting-out-what-one-puts-in...holds true. I'm not sure if that's part of why they call this "pop-art..." that's for another over-analytical essay.

The band have a whole other EP's worth of songs ready and mostly recorded ~ but busy schedules leave any solid completion date shadowed, for now.


P.S., Scott Masson, with the humble click of a mouse, unveiled a bit of a revelation: GLOSSIES' debut LP Phantom Films, "as it was meant to be heard/experienced" --the proper remastering!!!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Infinite Sense of Value

Ann Arbor's own Chris Bathgate was recently featured (via interview and in-studio performance) on NPR's World Cafe Session ~ take a listen. He plays the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, August 6th.

The post below concerns music festivals. And the Crofoot's August 3rd show is a kickoff-ish shindig for one of the quintessential fests: that being Lollapalooza. Only this one's called LollaGagger~ and it features a slew of locals, from Computer Perfection to Golden -to this band:

And, quickly, more soundtrack-ing for the read-below: Pitchfork has offered up its overlooked records of 2011. Take some notes! One entry:


Curse my hyper-analytical nature
~ these are the latest fuzzy cerebral particulates to waft here upon the "page," having been dusted up by the mere announcement that The Onion's entertainment magazine The A.V. Club will be curating its own music festival... ala the influential hipster music site, Pitchfork.

Pitchfork, the site, tickles the sneezing out of cliches like "cultural phenomenon." What began as an online zine, a proto-indie-blog, was perceived with considerable esteem as a shrewd, sober, even prick-ish outlet for music criticism, with a steady news feed and subsequent features unpacking, in sometimes legitimate, sometimes faux-- scholarly manners, the nuances of music theory.

Now, as the blog Hipster Runoff satirically refers to it, Pitchfork is "a brand." Brands are dangerous. Criticism should be considered, takin into account, but always held in perspective - whether it's Lester Bangs or Susan Sontag or the Motion Picture Academy; i.e. respected as an informed analysis and appraisal...and yes, as an opinion.

But Pitchfork, as I'd noted with said "phenomenon" wagering^, has created a culture. Not that anything more than a few vital percentages of what one finds on the internet should be considered more than just mildly remarkable, Pitchfork Hipster is apparently spelled out with its own definition on some urban dictionary site.

Nothing's shocking, Perry Farrell once sang. Is nothing remarkable?

I used to get dubious, now and again, when I considered how religiously I, myself, followed this site just five years ago, eating my Kashi and soy milk in front of the glowing computer screen in the few tranquil moments before my day of classes commenced...that Pitchfork was a menace for it being too much of a King-maker, for bands. Who needs to read the review or really take the band into account, if it scored lower than a 6.7 on their scales than it was probably a.) underwhelming or b.) not worth any hipster-cred capital to bother stuffing into your hemp wallet.

And now, just as the A.V. Club is getting started in the "websites curating music festivals" game - we see Pitchfork hosting music festivals in Paris)...

The criticism, at that point, are the soggy pickel slices pathetically splayed at the side of your order of a double cheeseburger flambe with spicy onion rings and a french vanilla milkshake.

Or maybe it's not so severe.
I'd already warned you that I over-think things...

We're hearing headlines like: Did Borders expand too fast, or too wide? etc etc - in the wake of its onsetting liquidation.

But there's other questions, more cliched questions, that get recycled.
Do we have too many music zines on the Internet? (Do the local bands play out too much? Do we have too many venues?) --Often these don't seem to get an answer and thus pop back up every few months for a "columnist" to opine upon. The answer is just lost in the white noise of refreshed brousers and forwarded hyperlinks - the answer is often: yes.

It's like realizing your stomach's full after you've already eaten the entire plate...
But did you leave those critical pickels?

Monday, July 18, 2011


Cleaned out all my personal files and cluttered drawers, shredded obsolete papers and re-shelved dusty books, lost Zine drafts and various mix-CDs...

And wound up finding this curious note, written in my mother's handwriting (seen above^)

It felt worldly...and potentially cosmic, if I could embellish it's application to the wildness of anyday-life...

That aside - Sunday, the Loving Touch in Ferndale will be hosting an all day party. It begins with Barbecued Dragon Dicks--The vinyl release of The High Strung's latest album via New Fortune Records
4pm--8pm-ish -with The Electric Fire Babies and Betty Cooper

Then... California's EMA breezes into town for a free show (9-ish or later) with Prussia opening things up...

Not a bad way to spend a summer's day...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Living Stereo (Technicolor Electropuke Nightmare Part 3)

True punk should spew from the ID... the basic drives! Food. Sex. Anger. Alcohol. Un-acceptance.

Gruff, guttural expressions, spat out tight and terse as though the orator is holding back from potentially punching you (and thus, doing it with their howling, instead).

Er...true punk should also maybe just do whatever it wants..., but I digress.

Nashville's Useless Eaters seem to understand, on their newest, Zulu (on Gold Tapes) that, as much as they can effectively tumble out a hiss-furled mosh-able anthem, but they also don't shy away from the appealing groove of a new-wave-tinged rhythm, low on the bass and bulled along in a swiftly snaked shimmy. The guitars have a nice reverb-smudged clang and ever present ferocity.

It's actually quite charming - the best of all worlds, be it three-chord Ramonesy chugs, to Fall-like confrontational tear, one hears hints of bellicose hardcore-punk, to more melody-shined new-wave punk, to the more experimental rhythms of that amorphous cult known as post-punk.

But maybe we shouldn't even call Useless Eaters punk... Maybe you should just liste

Useless Eaters - Radioactive by Gold Tapes

They drop by on the 25th - at the Painted Lady - with Twine Time (featuring familiar faces from Kommie Kilpatrick and the Deadbeat Beat) as well as Tyvek's Kevin Boyer.


Jeff Nolan's been keeping busy, whether it's with Steve Barman in a collaborative production of MCR(MotorCityRocks) TV, or if it's with Macrame Tiger's Sean Shea, with whom the duo forms a song-sculpting videographic project called SuperFucked. Check out some MCR-TV via this link.

The soundtrack, composed by Shea and Nolan, is soaked with synthy atmospherics and sequenced beats clattering out sturdy grooves and features plenty of guests, including Mister and Ill Ego. The visuals are a kaleidoscope of grainy, over-saturated snippets that seem to span almost the entire 20th century's stock of remarkably random footage,, as far back as a 1910 version of Frankenstein, and as obscure as 1970's infomercials...

It's the kind of party album you put on to pleasantly weird out your guests - and even if they aren't watching, they can hear some interesting electronica collages... this:

DVDs are floating out there, somewhere - more info from Northend.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lingering Musings (Pains of Being Pure At Heart~ "LollaGagger") + Life + Frustrations

I was just bouncing around the internet, seeking any enlightening tid-bits on the Pains of Being Pure At Heart that might aid in my likely-inevitable scrawl about their latest album, Belong, when I (re-)came-upon this link, from the Guardian (UK):

Is There a Link Between Indie-Music and Gnosticism?

~A bit old by internet-standards, I know, (how dare I?) but, still a valuable read if you'd missed it... -"Gnosticism would work with arguments that elitist knowledge of arcane bands confer "cultural capital."" --And, read about this "shoegaze revivalist" group's ^connection to Puritanism... hmmm...

Compliments of Mikel O.D. (of Most People Are DJs), a video of Pains - as a prompt for their show, August 3rd, at the Crofoot~ with: Legendary Creatures, Computer Perfection, Gardens and Villa, Craft Spells, Noman, K.I.D.S., Golden, Lauren Deming, Water Cops and Passalacqua...

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Now, I promise this will be my last bit of mild marveling over Keith Richards' autobiography (Life). It's just that it proved to be a lot more insightful than I'd anticipated. I was never a Stones' man. I loved my own subjective selections, from "Paint It Black," to "Mother's Little Helper," "19th Nervous Breakdown" to "2000 Man" (<-thank you Bottle Rocket), even to "the Singer, Not The Song..." ...I was always into their songs, but never truly their albums or their big hits, even.

Now, through Richards' words, I'm learning. ..

But I'm also applying it to my own perspective of the general experience of a-life-through-music.

"They weren't reacting to the music," he wrote of their first big crowds of 1,000+ through their first UK tour in 1963... "The audiences didn't know any different because they couldn't hear us." (We've heard that argument before, justifying the Beatles' eventual end-of-touring. But Richards reaches a notable eloquency, for me, when he says): "What they were reacting to was being in this enclosed space with us, this illusion... ...the music might be the trigger, but the bullet--nobody knows what that is-- Usually it was harmless, for them, though not always for us."

Earlier, when Richards recalls the group making their first record, the gravity of it, "Shit, we're makin a record!" he admits that there "was also a sense of doom. 'Oh my god! - If the single makes it, then we've got two years and that's it! Then what are we gonna do? Because nobody lasted! Your shelf life in those days, and a lot even now, was basically two-and-a-half years. And, apart from Elvis, nobody had proved that wrong..." (That's 1963).

Is it not surreal to imagine such insecure thoughts from someone whose has been seen as, for so long, an ostensible Music God? (er, or...devil?)

It's sobering to realize that that nervous perception of having such a small window of opportunity, such a short shelf life in the "music biz" already 50 years old! Reading Richards recounting of how the Stones were initially marketed in a similar fashion (matching suits) as the Beatles, reminds me of the machine that churned behind the music, -the Marketers that helped create the beastly tide of screaming, privileged teenagers, comparatively more flush with disposable income with which to flutter upon record stores and concert tickets, for the bands with the sensational posters.

But the Internet has erased shelves... or at least redefined "shelf life." There's no marketing machine behind a band, and quite often there's no Label for which to jump through hoops. The next generation of laptop-bolstered DIY-musicians can Phoenixify themselves every other year, if they please, regardless of how many of their current bands fall apart. You're not trying to sell a single, you're just making the music because... because.

Just start another band, another solo-project - and put the songs up on the internet and someone will hear them. There's no one-single or one-band to push anymore, for a musician on the make... Because the hope, now, is that the utter chaos of fleeting, inane blogs can breed devastating democracy.

But that may only be small solice.

Strange Days...
A blogger can say - 'hey, check out this MP3 from ___-- they sound like ___ meets ___ with a dash of ___. They're cutting edge because they take ___ and mix it with ___ and inflect it with ___.' The that you choose, now, whether to believe the mad ramblings of one solitary blogger. That blogger might actually have found the next big thing - or he might be full of hot air.

Alright... too much coffee.
More later, listeners...

In the meantime:
the Frustrations (see below) are playing a show, July 18,- at the Lager House to kick-off a tour.
They'll be joined by the Wiccans who have a new LP, Skullduggery and Kommie Kilpatrick (who have a new cassette).

Spotify and other jittery thoughts... (and music)

What are you listening to, right now?

Ease of access! Ease of access! We won't know what to do with ourselves... My mind is already huffing from having spent the day doing laps, uncertain about what to pay attention-to-next...

Welcome to Computer World, everyone. Netflix has offered a streaming-only service. Google+ wants you to have a duplicated Facebook experience (only better?), not to mention that "the most popular web site on earth" also wants you to upload all your personal music into its cavernous digital innards so that you can listen on your iPhone...

Now, we have the alluring beast known as Spotify. It just recently "landed" on our shores from Europe and it's quickly buddied up with Facebook. This is already a supplanting of the service that was initially coaxing you to listen to music off your computer(-device), (i.e. Pandora).

The Swedish music service start-up seems to be covering all its bases as it lurches its revolutionizing utilities upon our shores, having secured a contract with Virgin so you can get to your spotify through your cable television and telephone lines --should you so need--

Having all this music so readily available through legit services like Spotify and big labels like Virgin, could, potentially, cut down on music piracy.

Surf's up...

Superchunk - Learned to Surf from Merge Records on Vimeo.

Hangin ten on the future wave.

(Oh, and that's right - Superchunk put up a new video^ on the internet. An old favorite of mine (the band that is, -this is still quite a new song^). Seeing them jump around with such energy and sound so vigorous is inspiring. I'd highly recommend this memoir ~ Our Noise: the Story of Merge Records)

So anyway... What am I listening to?

This Nashville band that's putting out songs like the world's about to end...
Useless Eaters just put out "Zulu" on Detroit's own GOLD tapes...

Useless Eaters - Telepathic by Gold Tapes


Whilst cruising Mr. Lzr's blog (where you can shimmy over to a review of the new Human Eye album), he also reminded me of a band that recently scrolled past ye ol' Satellite radio that hooked my ear...
Shannon and the Clams~

Meanwhile - Toro Y Moi (the recently band-ified/formerly-solo-project of Chazwick Bundick) - will be coming to town (Majestic) in mid September. But, until then, you can listen to new song (albeit a cover) "Saturday Love" (via the all powerful Pitchfork). The Freakin Out EP comes out a week before their Detroit show... remain plugged in...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Icons of Summer (Cold Cave...EMA...King Tuff)

Summer is reaching it's steamy, sinewy pique this month... Jonathan Richman once sang about "staying up later, when everything's outside." Varying energies are percolating 'round these parts from different disciples:

-> be they touring bands from mythologized art meccas bringing the stylized wilds and symphonic strange (i.e. cerebral catacomb dwelling doom-popsters Cold Cave are coming through on July 15th--tomorrow--supporting their 2nd LP Cherish the Light Years -from Matador)

- > or be they from the hauntingly alluring noise-pop expositions of "California"-based EMA, who are gracing the Loving Touch next Sunday with a surprise show (at least for as long as "surprised"-feelings last on the internet)

-> or be they the heartening news that the guitar weilding ruler of Brattleboro, Vermont, King Tuff, has chosen the factory-looming alleys and gutters of our own humble, cluttered mix bag of a back yard.

Cold Cave has quite the intriguing back story that one should take the time to mine, via the Quietus online music magazine. (Hard core punk and confrontational no-wave evolves into disarmingly poppy fare unafraid to utilize the exuberance of cheery brass). 7/15 @ the Magic Stick (Detroit)

EMA started bending ears earlier this year with a provacative presentation of sparse to cacophonous explorations of teased, torrential guitar sweeps - unafraid to let the darkness swirl for upwards to 6 minutes, if need be, on her debut LP Past Life Martyred Saints. 7/24 @ Loving Touch (Ferndale)

EMA - California (Official Video) from Souterrain Transmissions on Vimeo.

Wax Ocean

Swinging jazz music from a full orchestra resonated throughout the library Monday evening.

I'd already been wrung pretty well by yet another characteristically malnourished morning of a lunchless, coffee-slurped skitter up nine mile under raindrops without an umbrella.

The usual rigmarole of a workday and the steady parade of the public understandably leaves anyone, especially the mildly sleep-deprived, a bit worn at the end of days like these...

But, walking into the library's community room and hearing this music, thrumming from a full orchestra, it put the warm and fuzzy all about me and it, -as the late Gil Scott Heron said of of Billie Holiday or Coltrane-, washed my troubles away.

The Bridge Project, an ensemble of trained musicians dedicated to interpreting the works of Michigan jazz composers, churned out the smooth, shuffling grooves, bolstered by the saxophones; a charming sound, the kinda stuff that makes you feel like swiveling.

It reminded me of the allure, the guttural communication, of live music...and being right up in there, next to it. It's easy to forget, sometimes, when you're hoofing around a gleaming, hip little enclave like Ferndale, where it seems, lately, we have live performing musicians coming out of our ears.

I could have camped out at 9 mile and Woodward last weekend and seen eight or so bands in less than three days - and that's with Club Bart being closed. Dutch Pink are making a go of it, now, at Howe's Bayou, with their Sunday stints of day-drinkin' blues and refined/raspy rock n roll.

One should keep their ears and eyes on them - they're working on a new LP. The band has recently been ameliorated with two of the mitten state's most effective 'secret weapon' players - Joel McCune on guitar and Scottie Stone on drums. Should be interesting.


Other musical musings:
Sound and Fury, a gnarly minimalist trio with deceptive capabilities to pummel-and-shread, have a new tape of live recordings out (captured from a handful of Detroit venues).

Equally mutated metal urchins as they are noise-embellished surf stompers - Their new cassette Songs to Make ___ To (Algae Tapes) - unfortunately lasted only 20 seconds in my tape player...

"Hi, we're Sound and Fury" singer/guitarist Keith somewhat breathlessly greets an ethereal crowd through my headphones before he slides into a fierce assault upon his own guitar... And then the audio gets all watery, and then it sounds like the Chipmunks are being steamrolled in a greasy garage and I realize...the magnetic tape is coming un-spooled

...which I'm hoping was more the cause of the tape player I chose...

These things happen - welcome (back) to the risks of the Tape Revival - what's old is new...

Red China was a somewhat storied, somewhat sludgy, somewhat sardonic trio that were heavily invested in meandering, noisy aesthetics. Deconstructing traditional song systems, they were a daunting, if not tangy, pill to swallow.

In fact, I've seen them clear some rooms a few times.

Half the time, though, and often in their last few performances (having been reactivated last winter as a quartet), they could coax you in with steady growling riffs and tight rhythems under an eerie sort of croon, nothing any obscuro-digging indie-rocker couldn't get down on...

And now--after three years or so of on-and-off auditory assemblage, their long-rumored LP Wax Ocean is ready for a proper release. July 15 - at "Sparklewood" (Northend Studios on Grand Blvd, Detroit) - with Crappy Future, Scare Bear and Jeecy & the Jungle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tree of Life (...that any given thing could reveal...)

"...that any given thing on the face of the earth could reveal the history of all things. One could open a book to any page, or look at a person's hand; one could turn a card, or watch the flight of birds. . . . whatever the thing observed, one could find a connection with his experience of the moment. Actually, it wasn't that those things, in themselves, revealed anything at all; it was just that people, looking at what was occurring around them, could find a means of penetration to the Soul of the World." (Alchemist, p.106)

I admit feeling subconscious quoting a book that's so heavy on God as a guide or mysitcal helper of some kind --in connection to a film I see as being so heavy on questioning (if not, repudiating or even defying) God. Ah well...

The Tree of Life affected me, -as I'm sure it affected anyone who saw it (or at least sat through it). For me, likely similar to at least half of you and (opposed to the other half of you), it hit me in a very good way.

Or, maybe I should say, a positively disturbing way. Not Lynch disturbing, not Japanese horror disturbing. More like disturbing (or redistributing) grains of contemplative sand or rustling up the buzzy bees of my brain.

It was, for me, an achingly private or personal experience. I don't even feel I should be recommending it because I like it for my own, hyper-subjective, reasons. I'm not sure if I even connected, (in a traditional filmgoer's sense) with the characters on the screen so much as I connected with the collective experience of human kind.

Right, it's just that kind of a heady movie. This was, originally, going to be a movie about the universe, not about a mid-20th century family in middle-class/middle-America's sleepy suburbs.

I enjoyed how episodic it felt. The jittery cutz, swinging pans and patient tracking shots. It was detached in such a way where you felt you, yourself, were having an out-of-body experience, where the laws of physics melded into the chaos of dreams.

The scope of this film, with its staggering montage on the history of the universe, and the birth of the Earth, made me feel nauteously small, fleeting... in a good way, or at least a way that makes one appreciate the air one breaths when one leaves a theatre in the middle of a summer's day.

I'm quite glad I saw it in a dark theatre, front to back, settling in for it's duration like it was a plane flight with a locked door and a pressurized cabin.

The only downside is, like any flight, there's a whiny baby on it that kicks your seat.

I know Brad Pitt's in it, I know Sean Penn is in it, and I know that the studio wants to lure you into this film by deceptive trailers that paint a very Academy-Award-friendly illusion of a coming-of-age-period-piece of Americana pie...

But, I really don't think much of the mainstream can appreciate this film, (pardon my zealousness) least not in the way I did...

In an invigoratingly haunting way, I felt as though I drifted, perceptively, from the film screening live in front from me, and started letting my mind muse over my own life, my own experience, my own view of things and my own memories...

And yet, to still be able to see myself in the rough-housing/naive boys on the screen, startlingly spliced with shots of primordial ooze and supernovas.

It's just wrenching in a way, because I feel how much we've grown away from old fashioned theatre conduct. People chatted as the Big Bang exploded in front of us, or they hmphed out confused noises when they saw a dinosaur...When the screen faded to the credits during my first screening of this film, a baby-boomer-sounding male half-groans in relief and says: "...finally."

Thanks Facebook, I really miss society's inner monologue!

That said - I thought this was a beautiful, and yes, challenging film. In fact, that it even had the courtesy to challenge me, is what I appreciated most.

Or maybe it was what I saw inside of it... The history of me, the history of you, the history of all thought, of all life... Even in the images of the family, the car they drove, or the grass on their lawn. I saw so many things...

Which is what made my current reading of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist that much more stimulating, particularly the passage that opened this post^

I'd like to talk more about it... What'd you think?

Monday, July 11, 2011

More insights from LIFE

...still wrapping up LIFE

It's been one of my very few audio-book experiences and I have to say, this one of any seems fitting - considering Johnny Depp is your narrator.

This insightful chunk is concerning Robert Johnson's brilliant burst of work having given a platform for seminal blues musicians to work upon...

"What I found out about the Blues and music, tracing things back was that nothing came from itself. As great as it is, this is not one stroke of genius..."

This is in the midst of Chapter 3, detailing Mr. Richards' "monastic" dedication through the barely-eked-out days of 1962, studying blues musicians, namely the records of Muddy Waters, as well as the guitar idiosyncrasies of Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Jimmy Reed, whereupon he stumbles across a painfully obvious truism that still, somehow, always bares repeating:

"This cat was listening to somebody and it's his variation on the theme. And so you suddenly realize that everybody's connected here. This is not just that he's fantastic and the rest are crap. They're all interconnected. And the further you went back into music and time, and with the Blues, you go back to the '20's, because you're basically going through recorded music. You think: 'Thank God for recording.'

It's the best thing that's happened to us since writing..."

I even woke up this morning, bleary at 5 am and a bit hot n' bothered from having lost our electricity, with Depp's voice softly bellowing through my mind, with the characteristic inflections of Richards. It made me wanna write just as Richards write, maybe, just as Depp read...

That's the trip of influence. It's devastatingly pervasive. You see someone else freaking out during their song, on the stage, and it puts a bit of the beast in you, to bring it onto your stage, into your song - you wanna feel that too.

I started dancing because I saw you dancing, that kinda thing...

It reminds me of my interview with Dutch Pink, a few years back, when singer/pianist Dustin Leslie started to follow the zigged and zagged yarns of influence from one decade, one style, one school of musical thought, back and back through time... Throwing his arms up in submission, he presumed everything to be merely a rip off of The Epic of Gilgamesh...

And why not?

Remember how much flack these guys got, when they first arrived? How they were revivalists, or just cribbing other bands' styles? (Look how the Stones started, strictly as a covers band!)

And now, ten years on, bushy tailed bloggers actually tag something as having a "Strokes-y" type sound without blinking a digital eye.

Ah well...
Here's their latest:


In a bloggishly un-related side-note, (or at least just out of recognition that this is one artist/album particularly haunting my headphones, as of late), Cass McCombs is hitting the road to prop his well-received gloom folk odyssey Wit's End.

No Michigan date, but still some Great-Lakes-friendly dates, if you're up for a road trip:
07-24 Indianapolis, IN - White Rabbit Cabaret
07-25 Chicago, IL - Schuba's *
07-26 Chicago, IL - Hideout*
07-27 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry

ONE last thing - ... tonight (7/12) at the Loving Touch in Ferndale, is the first of Dave Lawsons' Detroit producer/engineer series via his (and Richie Wohlfiel)'s Tuesdays in the Forest parties.

Still here?

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Rhythm and Blues was the gate..."

Currently reading:

"Totally pointless categorization of something that is the same shit -- it just depends on how much you lay the backbeat down or how flash you play it."

...from - LIFE - Keith Richards...

...Being of the afflicted-classification-quibbling tribe of music-journalists, desperate or deluded or determined as we all are, that line really struck a chord with me.

This has been, as they say, a richly rewarding read, so far... The quote above is snipped from its context, concerning the earliest incarnations of Mick and Keith's musical endeavors, and having to "soften" up terms for "purists..." It was rhythm & blues, ...not quite rock n roll.

More later...

“For many years I slept, on average, twice a week. This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes.”
-Keith Richards


Still killing time until I get my laptop back... And, yes, feeling self-conscious about my dependency.

In the meantime:

A band I've been watching for a handful of years now, notably for their blend of Americana to shoegaze - The War On Drugs have a new video (below), an awkward-sounding song title, "Baby Missles," from an equally awkward-sounding album title, "Slave Ambient," (out in mid August on Secretly Canadian). They'll come to Ann Arbor's Blind Pig on 8/25, by the by...

The War on Drugs "Baby Missiles" from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.


Also...what were you listening to, 10 years ago? A particularly formative album for me was this schizophrenic blender spew of triphop, turntablism and avant-garde ambient pop that came from Australia - The Avalanches Since I Left You -
This song kinda sums their 2001 LP's surrealist kaleidoscope tendencies - snotty, savvy, charming, off-putting, -it took you through the ringer.

You can read about their eventual re-issuing of said-album from Tiny Mix Tapes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Or the Retro

Two quick things--
Fucking Awesome Fest-- 8/10 --throughout the Majestic Complex


While you're here - Magnet Magazine is reveling in the recent opening of the 120 Minutes vaults. This was the reservoir from which bright eyed alterna-hipster/proto-Indie-rockers of the early 00's drank in their culture via the fading format of the Music Video. Thus we have the current aristocrats often propped and proselytized by Pitchfork-ian outlets, be they TV On The Radio, Beck, or the Flaming Lips. 120 Minutes, proper, started in 1986! - featuring acts like They Might Be Giants, Dead Milkmen, or Sonic Youth...or featuring special guest hosts like Robert Smith, Joey Ramone or Robyn Hitchcock.

Here's the vault link - dig into your formative years -
And, hopefully unlike me, you wont' come out realizing how there's a disconcerting amount of your old classics that wound up being coopted for car commercials... (see below, a trio snipped from Feb. 23 2003's episode).


Do you realize ? - The Flaming Lips by leiloute