Tuesday, August 30, 2011



A.) Hamtramck Labor Day Festival

Music line up....
...featuring, among others - the Sugarcoats
(Listen to their Cass and Italy singles, respectively)
(photo cred: Ruth K. Synowiec)

B.) Arts Beats & Eats

Music line up...

...featuring, amony many - Dutch Pink -
(Seek out their recent LP, Times New Roman, here).

W A V E ~

Disturb. Travel. Transfer.
Reflecting so thoroughly that I crash back on myself.
All stirred up…
Getting misty in northern Michigan, traipsing private roads spilled with the tawny turquoise glow of a sweet, serene sunrise, squinting over at those begrudged grime-shirted scrapers and knee-padded painters beautifying the garish, boxy homes owned by those of the beachfront property privileged, …front doors locked tight behind mailboxes staring out with haughty obsolescence at the frothy shore.

Dazzled by the whisper of waves that unfurl delicately upon smooth sand
The tide not yet churning with its splendid vigor
Trying and trying to scatter and dismiss this waking dream of being a wave that’s long ago crested and crashed into some dubious disorientation

And then trying, trying still, to channel detachment into a new resolve
A new thing – a confident bewilderment, a gaze off into the new weird wilds and unclear paths
Steady footing has only lead to a worn down whimsy – dreams diluted and feeling as scattered as the flakes of seaweed and chipped shells of zebra mussels that wash up at my feet.
As the sun rises higher...
(~~~new tracks and ruminations to dig, via Estuaries, which inevitably inspired this poetic rant~~~)

No, no…you pack your bags back up. You listen to that song again and it feels, not new, but like it once did before, long ago.

And you realize, despite the hard facts of anatomy that say otherwise, that you’re not like water – not made to flow and splash in similar fashion
not like the waves of tourist-laden Torch Lake, but more attuned to the whipping rebound of a sound wave, a theremin’s howl or a moog’s sonic slither… resonating, oscillating, humming pensively then yowling with proud, bombastic exertion.

There should be no fear of the crest, of the crash, of the next batch of kids and their waxy boards raring to ride atop the next new nifty need, the next fascination, the next wave, new wave, no wave or now-wave…

No one sees the effects until years later, anyhow,
and meanwhile we just get so antsy for definition, for the browser to load, for the page to print, -just for a communicated meaning of what we’ve all been rolling for, rolling towards – Why be a water wave – when all you’d really accomplish is erosion…

~~So ebb and flow like the warbling coil of sound – sing yourself out – undulate at lower velocities when you need to and flit up when your veins start surging, again…

~~Rich baby boomers jog past me as I sit at the edge of the road, watching the water. Sport Utility Vehicles honk as they whiz by. And I just continue, thoroughly, scrupulously…and now, resplendently… reflecting upon myself.

The tide starts coming in. The pulse, the voltage, the oscillation – gets dialed up.
Disturbed. Synthesized. Harmonized.


In other news:

Scandanavian punk rockers are turning heads (IceAge):

Psyche-folk flourishers Blitzen Trapper have released American Goldwing

Washed Out has been testing the waters to see if the internet hipsters are still afraid of what-resembles-what-used-to-be-known-as-chill-wave, with new stuff (and a show, at the Majestic in Detroit, Sept 16 @ the Ingenuity Fest and 17 @ the Majestic Theatre): Washed Out - "Eyes Be Closed"

Lo-fi soul rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra will be here on Sept 19 (Majestic)~~

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekend - War on Drugs / Phoenix Cafe / People's / Florence

War On Drugs – Slave Ambient – Secretly Canadian

Perhaps distant (overlooked) cousins of Fleet Foxes or My Morning Jacket, War On Drugs might be the thinking man’s neo-Americana fuzz-folkers. Singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel’s vocals are too much of a nasally honk (him being a confirmed Dylanite) and the airy feedback and drifty, fuzzed instrumental stretches are too heady to work MMJ or FF’s outdoor arena circuits or woo average Starbuck browsers.

The blend of rootsy, road-trip folk rock and ambient, day-dreamy shoegaze is quite complimentary, in fact, pleasingly listenable, rousing drums tumble under lulling guitar howls, washing together to make the churn of various pedal effects sound earthy; a campfire vibe under kaleidoscope skies.

They play the Blind Pig (Ann Arbor, tonight, 9pm)
Listen: War On Drugs - "Come To The City"
War On Drugs - "Baby Missles"


tomorrow (/Friday)
A new band blending electro-soul with controted dance-punk, offers Hazel Park a taste of The Ferndale Acid Scene, bringing its merry musical pranksterism into the Phoenix Cafe

Here's a demo to sample (Ferndale Acid Scene: "In Love Again")

Also: MNSTRS and Divorce Party

Saturday - after you've spent the day getting cooked and cultured as you traipse open air alley between the Russell Industrial Center for the People's Art Festival (p.s., here's the music schedule) you can then conclude your evening down in Hamtramck - with Detroit's Duende, to commemorate the vinyl release of their 2nd proper LP Florence to the Mad Man - potentially the most ambitous/fully-realized sonic statement from the blues/punk/psychedelic spinners of tie-dyed-yarns and mythic musings.


The album's bolstered by Dave Feeny's ears and board-work as producer (Tempermill) as well as contributions from Ray Thompson (Oscillating Fan Club), Dustin Leslie (Dutch Pink), and Jen David (Illy Mack).

Fur and the Blueflowers open up...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Dialogue -with Music

Now look here, my good man... it's got to MOVE you.

If you aren't turned on, then turn away.

So it goes.
The Internet's marvelous and ill-mannered museum of content, CONTENT... blurs by the clicker, the scroller, the digital seeker with such quaking accessibility - why waste time if a work is over-staying its welcome with its verbosity or encumbering you with over-conceptualization, or worse, insulting your intelligence altogether... a vapid wolf, recycling tried and true form but shrouded in the sheep's wool of hipster-christened credibility.

My long-winded point: blogger is broken. I'm dubious of the effectiveness of posting quick videos and MP3s to the masses, anymore - now that, in a way, that's what Rolling Stone and Spin have reverted to by assembling lists of "songs you must download right now!" But then what? How many of those songs, of those bands, actually stick with you, become new favorites or make it onto your special mix tapes?

Isn't it more worthwhile when your admiration is earned?

This lil blog, here is guilty, or at least dabbles (as it will, below) with posting the quickies/ i.e. quick news updates:

Say, for example - this item:

This is one of the most vital of this state's (this scene's) "fests." It can be fraught with musical eureka-moments, live, on-stage chemical reactions and creative/stylistic realizations(/revelations) for those performing as well as those attending.

Five Days. Fifty-some-odd bands. A fair-sized space made disarmingly welcoming with its body-heat warmth during what can be a dagger-chilled, frost-numbed time of the year (especially during a smoke-break under a sun-less midnight sky).

Mittenfest info
826 Michigan

Yes, yes...
news items aside... I hope you'll allow me to self-delude myself into (stubbornly) clinging to the old guard's style of shrewd unpacking of works (CONTENT)... in the face of mad-world blogs, blogs, blogs' posting a video, with two sentences acrobatically summarizing a new hot band's new hot single into a series of sugary/sardonic slogans.

Because aren't we a generation that just tunes out after 20 seconds if we're not digging it?

Oh? El-P released an uncensored version of that song that I heard on Adult Swim for 20 seconds? Cool... ("Drones Over BKLYN") I'll check it out...

Because then I feel disingenuous when I make a wholehearted attempt to prop a band like Philly's War On Drugs, by posting some videos.

This is a project currently spearheaded by songwriter Adam Granduciel, originally founded as a duo years back with Kurt Vile. Wagonwheel Blues was their debut for Secretly Canadian - and it charmed me from the get-go with ditties (like the one below)

...that would display the early gestations of both Vile and Granduciel's penchants for a more psychedelic rock's shambling upon the troubador vibe, the twang of Americana with the fuzz of shoegaze and sort of head-swimming haze of dream pop.

With a new line up, and a new album (Slave Ambient), The War On Drugs are currently On The Road ~ stopping by here, (in Ann Arbor) on August 25th (the Blind Pig)

Here's a sample of the new stuff:

The War on Drugs - "Come to the City" (Official Music Video) from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

But, I'm growing ever-more self-conscious about the quick-and-dirty aspect of that - the degredation of the art form of writing thoughtful reviews, flourished by the emotions conjured (be they positive or negative, mesmeric or boring) by the work-in-question.

It's just so easy in the internet age -

Blogs bursting at the seems to show you what they think is cool!

It's time saving, sure, but it's also a bit fish-in-a-barrel-esque - Some day I'll find the time to expound upon Little Blu House, the Fat Possum release by Unknown Mortal Orchestra - A band, I'll admit, was one of the few to "stick" in my library, after I scanned them in the glossy pages of Spin...

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - 'Little Blu House' from 4eyes on Vimeo.
They'll be here (Detroit, Magic Stick), on Sept 20th, by the way - with Toro Y Moi.

~But still
at least for a few more months, I'll allow myself to believe in the literary power, still yet remaining, in a music review - that power to actually stir curiosity in the reader to seek it out. (I"ll be rambling about Malkmus asap... and Prussia? Poor English? Of course that'll be rambled and ruminated upon...)

In any case, if you're still reading this... I'll do one more quickie news bite:
There's a free Poetry in the Park event this Thursday evening at 7pm Remembering Gil-Scott Heron with acoustic performances - at the Charles H. Wright Museum

Another example of the Internet's eerieness? Or is it just surreal? That Heron's famous "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is streamed on YouTube with adds from Coca Cola - clashing with the famous lyric: "The Revolution will not be brought to you by..."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Dialogue With: Bones (Ben Christensen)

Bones -is the musical moniker of Ben Christensen -
Local audiences will recognize him from various Scrummage collaborations and Just Boyz ~ His singature electro style is dazzled with his pure, somewhat fragile wafted voice and features flairs of spacey funk, dreamy drifitng dance, pensive pours of fuzz and meditative beats.

His songs and his perspective have come to be the sonic representation of that particular revelation gained from the synthesis of different people -as players and listeners of music. The Hamtramck-based songwriter has an ear for subtle melodies but, lately, began emphasizing instrumentation - particularly the unique blends rendered by inviting a large handful of friends into his recording space to, in essence, find sounds...together.

I spoke with Christensen on the eve of his latest album being re-released on cassette.


There’s mixed sentiments, in music, that I’ve been noticing. Local audiences have been responding to a return to straight forward music (however anticlimactically radical that sounds) and sort of turning their noses at music that is overcomplicated, or maybe overly impenetrable? Too esoteric? Perhaps even too electronic…

What’s your thoughts on that and can you tie it into how you approach music?

I actually do like a lot of straight forward music. My brothers and I grew up on Townes Van Zant and very singer-songwriter, lyrics-based music. I was talking to a friend today who’d said that art and music might not be so much about the end product, but what, instead, you’ve spent your time doing—how it fills your life and how it fulfills you. For some people, I think music gets complex—not as a means to confuse other people or be overly esoteric, but maybe because it comes from a desire to work on stuff, build and rebuild things up. I like that style of music, like Van Dyke Parks Song Cycle, where it reveals itself to you, new things every time. The funny thing is that dance music is simple and very straight forward but that can piss people off from being too straight forward.

You open with an instrumental track and there’s only three songs on this with lyrics…

I was teaching at Youthsville, for music technology and my life was just surrounded by instrumental elements. And I also started listening, more so than before, to Detroit techno

A genre that can be thought provoking without being over wrought in its construction

Completely. So…I wanted to tour and I wanted to make this album. I stopped working at Youthville in April and took on odd jobs. I had so much stuff that I was working on, writing so many songs for Bones, and two other bands, Just Boyz and Lord Scrummage…I was kinda stuck, not able to focus. I took a halt on everything. But this was the same time that a good friend, Kyle, passed away, in January. It was a huge wake up call to me, when it came to morality and how important it is to go after things. That’s what Kyle did, he went out and did it, he started his own theatre group. So that winter after, I made this album, with lots of friends coming in to collaborate on it. I wrote the song, “Kyle’s Song” the night he passed.

That’s just one thing that is so invigorating about music is that, potentially, 80 or 90% of the time, for an artist, there is this deep cathartic story behind just one song. And that song can be just one book off the packed shelves of a library of songs.

I had somebody tell me recently, this girl I’d dated for five years, that what really got her about Kyle’s Song was that it sounded like weeping. I have this sample, like 2 second sample and she said it sounded like voices weeping. It blew me away to realize what I was doing, I’d felt it and was feeling it but I just never put it into words.

The song did…

Lately, I’ve been working part time at this clothing warehouse and with all my free time I’ll write three songs a day, every other day. Onto my laptop, there, they sit until I reconfigure them, running in and out of amps or with the sampler. It’s something that one finds fulfilling, with their time. Then I’d invite my friends to come in and add parts over what I’ve been working over. You can feel these unique sounds, horns, synths, playing off each other in a new way, rather than if someone just played it all themselves. Interesting counterpoints materialize. I like to take samples of what they do and snip it together.

What is the creative process like... with Bones, compared to your other bands (Just Boyz, Lord Scrummage)

It might be a melding of the two... Just Boyz is about musicianship, playing with really talented musicians and Lord Scrummage would...be...just, insanity. We'll (LS) have a show, practice for a couple days, intensely, but it's gonna be something brand new because it'll feel like mostly improv. That was difficult for me to do, at first, with electronics and with certain constraints of sequenced drums, it can almost feel, with the improv element, sorta jazz-like.

Jamming, or Jazz?~is that at all close to your musical background?

Yeah--no! I'd played with Connor Edwards since high school, in bands, since he was my next door neighbor. He went to Seaholm, I went to Lahser. We've always been playing in bands together, like no-wave rock kinds of things, but everyone in them always had their own solo stuff, to indulge their own interests and to keep themselves sharp. That's how I started calling myself Bones, for what I was doing.

What I've learned from Lord Scrummage is, especially with electronic music, to really trust the impact that the music is having on you. You can't just have a work ethic, you can't just go in and work on it. We would go into smaller shows where we'd have just a few ideas, harmonically, rhythmically, and we'd have sounds and patches and tones that we liked but we would not try to find anything that wasn't completely permanent. If something's not going your way, especially if it's electronic, ditch it--you can make something else. That sharpened me.

Ø - what does that symbol mean?

It's a Danish letter. I'm part danish. It, by itself, means 'Island.' (He moans a low bark, to demonstrate its Scandinavian pronunciation). I took time to myself for this album and felt like I was just on an island. I had friends come in, visit, collaborate. But, mentally I was on an island.

I've always been more so on my own island, even when working with (Scrummage, Scrummage University / Lord Scrummage / Scrummage Vision). When it comes to Scrummage, they're my family. But this is an old idea that's so fundamental to me. I love having a group and a group of friends, but I just don't like the idea of identities.

Identities are open to manipulation. Or, worse, identities can be adopted through waves of culture. People might think they're Smart Phones identify them. On another level, back to bemoaning songwriters who are accused of over-composing, whether its Panda Bear or Washed Out, or what... these two who had buzz going into their last albums and got ripped a bit for the end results. Did they both get too conscious of their own identity? Because, when I think of identity, I think of me sitting at home, wondering, what's my identity--that really, almost, means I'm asking-- how do people perceive me?

That's another thing. With musicians or artists, they feel comfort from being in that school of thought where: 'Oh, yeah, he's this, so you'll like it.' Or, 'He sounds like that...' There's a certain comfort provided by identities...

For me, for example Panda Bear's new album--I can still appreciate what the guy's done, because he's recorded himself and found innovative ways of recording that don't require a studio or a lot of money to do something amazing. There's merit in some things... I just like ideas. I don't like identities or want to assume one, I just like a whole lot of different music. I like ideas.

Is the song creation process a meditative one for you?

Yeah. That's a word for it. I just find so much pleasure out of something where I can really turn off chatter. Sometimes it can be hard to turn off the chatter, to where the meditation is the chatter. The stuff I've been making lately, after having a break up, trying to live, doing all these different things...

So much on your mind, all at once, plus with you being into so much different music... so it's like, what? -Why not open up all the windows?

Yeah. Exactly.

Your live process?

There's so many pages of samples and I'm building one song. I have different parts of beats on different loops, so I can build up a beat. It can be to a click- or to a midi--. It's a ridiculous amount of work for one song. Everything that somebody would hit with their hands or touch with their fingers, I have to build it (with synths, loops and samples). I can't do it the same way, even if I wanted to, it's not even possible. I have outputs, five outputs that go into different effects pedals (guitar fx pedals) that mix through, building different loops, going into a different function, playing them with certain samples. It's a lot of work just to do one song.

That's the thing, I feel like through the last five years, there was still a lingering leeriness from audiences, maybe just indie-rock audiences, when they see a laptop...they see button pressing and might scoff, but maybe they don't realize.

I think that's just an American thing. In the rest of the world, electronic music is a legitimate thing.

We had the Beach Boys; they had Kraftwerk.


Future plans?

Making music with my friends. Hoping to put out a Bones Live thing. Music, to me, is a really fantastic thing - just the ability to live and appreciate it in every way, every realm. Like, going through a break-up - I was thinking how funny it was, that I know that Townes Van Zant, if I'm in that spot, I'm gonna listen to Townes Van Zant and I'm gonna feel great. I'm gonna feel this great connection to love.

Bones (Bandcamp)
Lord Scrummage

Just Boyz

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brilliant Violence

Early on, this last Spring, at the Atlas Bar...I was handed a burned disc inside a crinkled sleeve of cardboard, with BRILLIANT VIOLENCE -VOL. 1 scribbled fervently upon it. It was miniamlist, spacey, guitar pop, intermingled with airy, scuffed up noise experimentations.

It looks like it's blossomed into Detroit's murkier answer to Twin Shadow -via The Spiritual Forest - - bolstered by the rawn, fuzzy eloquent guitar tears of Justin (Audio) Walker - often seen riding the sidecar of musical motorcycles like Black Jake & the Power Crystals and the Electric Fire Babies - but also spearheading the loud, tumbling blues psychedelia of High Speed Dubbing.

"Spiritual Forest" is hazy Velvet Underground spliced with sedated Faust; "New Pattern" prances along a cute new wave beat with wavy surf guitar's jangle and "Not So Secret Beach" is raw, sometimes atonal shimmy, with a keyed-up gutiar riff keeping pace with gurgling synths - with Walker mostly staying in his mid-range croon throughout.

Here's what I was digging:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Unreadable...unread" ~ Summer's End (Scrummage, MotorCityLive, Malkmus and Wilde)

I'm applying a bit of quality control by allowing myself to shut off this golden-shackle, this sleek and sordid scope, this computer, and give myself a bit of a vacation. A road trip. A re-submergence back into the works I love and the new works that keep pouring out...

Because Oscar Wilde's words echo in my mind: ("Oh!, journalism is unreadable and literature is unread"... or, for that matter") ...and I've just been longing a period where I don't feel compelled to throw something up here. I don't want to throw it, per se, -for it might shatter. And I don't want to be compelled, because that makes me think of compulsion, which makes me think of the word obsessive and I don't want this blog turning into a floor mat that I'm ritualistically lint-rolling.

I'm gonna go listen to the Zombies and Jimi Hendrix and A Tribe Called Quest and Buddy Holly and the Ettes, even, too, and definitely some of the new Malkmus album and maybe some Wild Beasts with a side of John Maus and then back again to the Beatles. And more Beatles.

And I'm gonna read Moby Dick, g'dammit.

And I'm going to write about the Armageddon that never happened.

By the way... Spotify just told me to "...enjoy the ride."

This, it seems, will thus bring order to the chaos once wrought by internet pirates. And a convenient order, assuredly. An annoying voice in my head wonders if this will ring anything close to Imperialist Powers supplanting pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries by establishing their own Trading Companies...

What does this mean for labels and artists? ->

And what will it mean to the listener? Music plays a role in our cultural and social maturity - but what will such great access do to our minds? - Does ease of accessibility mean we get bored quicker?

I'm gonna go sit down and listen to some songs. I'll report back what I find...

I want to find out, once and for all, whether nostalgia still exists... whether true weirdness has become a myth... And I'm just going to let myself get carried away with sounds and music...

"I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood" (Oscar Wilde)

Albeit the following bits are only germane as long as its still August 11th - but you all know this- between Google+ and Facebook, we all have our own blogs now - just click "share"

In the meantime, keep your eyes set and ears bent towards various outlets, elements and artisans around Detroit ~ Scrummage has seen a flair of activity, particularly with their new location, Scrummage Vision - show tonite: Blastoids, Sheefy Mcfly and the Deloreans, Religous Girls and Prophet Nathan.

MotorCity Special Live continues its weekly broadcasts from the UDetroit Cafe. Zoos of Berlin perform live, tonight, along with an array of special guests...

There's Ypsi and Ann Arbor to look out for as well - like, JWPP have an album ready and they're cuarting Ypsi Fest ~ Rumor had it that Lightning Love were working on an album - but in the meantime, some of its members have formed a band called Liquor Store and have a double LP out (Yeah Buddy) -

Beyond that - If the Woodward Dream Cruise isn't enough to keep you away with the exasperation of baby boomers thronged into downtown Ferndale, then - well, why not settle into that-city's New Way Bar, (Sat 8/20) for what should be a loud and sweaty evening of music, with: The Sights, the Handgrenades, the Party Stompers and High Strung...

FernCare Free Health Clinic has a benefit show, also, on September 10th! Head out to DB Coopers that evening to help spur on the launch of its permanent location. More info here (with a performance from Sheefy & the Delorean)

Also - former Prussia(n) Andrew Remdenok has some music out there on the net - dig it.

That's about all I can tell you for now.

More musical musing up by the middle of next week.

Duende (new LP coming), Malkmus (thoughts on his latest), Prussia (Poor English and their glossy Single Barrel video are coming soon), Wild Beasts (playing Detroit in September), St. Vincent (I'm in love with her new single, and just like every indie-boy--in love with her), Jesse & the Gnome (new music video?), DALLY IN THE ALLEY (2nd week of September--whose playing it?) -
all kinds of cultural curiosities and goings-ons...both locally (MI) and nationally...

What does the Panic in London mean for music and labels? "Independent record labels fear ruinous stock loss in London riots fire" (from the GuardianUK)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

...never know if I'm pushing or pulling. (But), I'm definitely dancing...

"I am a tattooer by trade, which is my 2nd- dream job. The 1st is the reason why you're interviewing me..." (-guitarist, Matt Paw)

Meet Pink Lightning...

When they first bounded their shaggy selves out from the cluttered cavern of their Eastern Market loft and into the clearing for the scene's scrutiny, they were, perhaps prematurely, tagged with laying down a gypsy-punk sorta thing...

Well...maybe a little.

In fact, "Gogol Bordello made me want to play music again," Paw admitted. But, also, "Dick Dale, the Ventures, they're sweet. Zappa too and Curtis Mayfield was like my Godfather."

As part of the crowded line up for the recent live local music documentary, Urgh: A Detorit Music War, they did a fine enough job distingushing themselves amongst 17 other performers, each with aiming for a stop-at-nothing / healthily competitive drive for topping each other's vigor. (One would have to, with all those cameras spurring you on...)

And that's the thing ~ this band, despite the fact that they rock an accordion and mash a danceable vibe into a punk rock blender ~ is still yet becoming whatever it's going to be...gypsy, punk, or even some radical new kind of lounge-apt acid jazz.

Through tattooing, said Paw, he can change people's lives (not just their epidermis) - and that the goal is to acheive that through music, also. "...to be a positive service and effect the humans and world around me in a positve way so your love will outlive yourself..."

This band was born in a busking manner, through a vibe that blended "rag-tag"-ish, rusted-folk and Tin Pan Alley zazz, emanating out on the sidewalk near Suppino's Pizza (where almost-half-the-band day-jobs), complete a gut-bucket bass.

Whatever it's wound up being, (after one EP) is, if nothing else, "fast," says Leo McWilliams. "That accordion must be like 40 lbs. and Neal (Parks, drummer) just goes crazy. I never know if I'm pushing or pulling. (But), I'm definitely dancing."

Parks has a favorite memory that he thinks sums up his philosophy on life (and perhaps a fine enough perception of Pink Lightning). Traveling with a friend, they decided to test the rumor/myth that one could walk around the streets of downtown Las Vegas with open alcohol containers. They stopped in and bought the only cold thing they could find - a bottle of Chardonnay - and uncorked it, sipping it from a seated spot on the curb.

"...once we mustered the courage to continue our walk with some wine, we got about 30 ft from where we were sitting and a random stranger passing by had just enough time to say: '...give 'em hell, boys.' ...so we did."

Sure, they're motley. Singer Chris Butterfield cut his teeth on karaoke and brandishes a verdant reverence for provocative envelope-pushing stand-up comics, but then you have professionally trained players like bassist Everette Rinehart, who was taking music theory lessons and joining jazz bands before he could drive. While Rinehart honed his fluidity through jam band experiences at Virginia Tech, he eventually started the fateful instrumentla busking band (agreed upon at the commencement of a volleyball game on Wayne State's campus).

"I reckon, now, after performing with intimidatingly good bands and consecrating bonds with a slew, that we're developing," Butterfield said, "somewhat. Last year was Spanish 1, now we're entering Spanish 2 - Enunciation."

-"Stage presence...showmanship is the bottom line."

News, then?

Butterfield, after his collaborations with Fur's Michael O'Connor, Pewter Cub/Duende's Scott Sanford and filmmaker Brandon Walley via the Urgh organizing, is getting into show promotion. His first night is August 13 at The Old Miami~ a benefit concert for Detroit Public Schools music program featuring Marco Polio & the New Vaccines, The Ashleys, Divorce Party, The Anonymous and DJ Ayo Sniggs.

Mark your calendars for "relatively soon" in terms of a release date for an LP (currently in post-production). Tour is also being discussed, they're still "waiting to hear back from The Edge."

Also, McWilliams is considering the addition of a keytar -as soon as possible.

Panic (Sony Warehouse burns)

Pitchfork reports that:
"A Sony distribution warehouse in North London was burned to the ground around 4:00 a.m. GMT this morning"

For more information on the UK's unrest
Rioters Spread Trail of Theft and Destruction Across London...
(from the Wall Street Journal)

"...the trouble spread outside of London as police clashed with rioters in Birmingham..."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Trying all night to say it

"Music scene is crazy... bands start up each and everyday...
I saw another one, just the other day..."
(Pavement - Cut Your Hair)

Darling Imperial are putting it in Park, decelerating into their last stop, the Berkley Front, Aug 13th

As a heartening gesture (and feeling a bit like an Estate Sale) - they've put all their songs up for free download from their site.

Though, this being Internet World, we expect everything music-related to come to our ears for free - that's why this farewell show is also free.

Stop by and say 'so long' to a solid rock/soul/pop group as they, the collective, no doubt move on to the next musical adventure...

See about getting this commemorative poster from Perfect Laughter

Mix Tape

Listen to Detroit

Handful of sounds tumbling out, just last month:

Odd Hours (Off Pills, On Ice):

SelfSays & D-Bit (Gotta Be Something):

Doc Waffles (Seizure Suit Farms):

GLOSSIES (Phantom Films):

Rogue Satellites (Six Sweet Lips):

~~And then, my personal favorite (that which Jon Moshier already rocked over this last weekend):

Zoos of Berlin - Pallister Chant

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Sounds: Computer Perfection ~~ Match By Match

Computer Perfection's Merry Microbes EP

The Detroit quintet forges five summer jams of intergalactic chamber pop on their most recent release, indulging a wayfarer's whimsicality exemplified best via its synth-percolated, drum slamming 13-minute-long-6-movement trip-out of a closer.

That this is the soundtrack to some kind of journey is palpable in the swirling synthesizer's mimicry of a revving UFO's tubular engines, with airy feedback rising along with us as we ascend through the celestian buzzing the opening "Ivan, I Know." Gene and Bem hold it down, harmonically, just as well as newcomer Alex (on drums) holds it down with a soulful, clattering punch. Stevers finds just enough room to flourish a grinning groove on his bass, oozing through the porous squalls of Burgundy's warbling synthesizers. Gene's guitar, meanwhile, gets to flex its muscle via a growling hook across the cosmic waltz of "Proxima Pt 2."

Then there's this diddy...

A playful looping synth prance over hip/hop beats and a marching bass line with vocals that almost feel like they're playing a game of tag with the listener. Sunny elements pour in for this mild house-party vibe, hand-claps and a warm, wavy organ... until, just like any good time, its over sooner than it should be and somewhat abruptly...

Meanwhile, Match By Match's American Crowbar came out about two weeks ago...

Initially, I don't wanna call what this duo does merely folk, nor do I wanna say something like camber-pop. Many of their compositions are so damned precious and ornate that it just exhibits what must be called "orchestral..." Indeed, there's four times as many instruments dressing these rustling ballads of Americana/melancholia as there are permanent members (though this production, set down at Ann Arbor's Backseat Studios, features many cameos). But it's not just the violin or french horn or warm harmonies - it feels "orchestral" just by dint of its poignancy, like the pristine pianos spirknling down over autumnal strings and achey/wispy serenades on "Dead Dead Stars." Indeed, much of American Crowbar feel best suited to be heard within an old theatre house, soaking into red velvet curtains and resonating off of dusty, worn woodwork.

They seem to be following steadily behind the schools of Monger and Bathgate - maybe not as earthy or rousing as the former or as-yet-experimental and cathartic as the latter - but striking their own path, girded by the male/female harmonization and inclination for evocative crescendos, shimmering acoustic guitars and chilly strings... Dig deep enough into the story behind these two troubadors (and their sound) and comparisons to serindipitous story and bittersweet sounds of Once is hard to resist.

Then,...also, in local-news-you've-already-heard / a friendly reminder / a solemn farewell:

Car City Records, our east-side trove of dusty treasures, is closing its doors.

(from the internet)~ "After moving out of state four years ago, the owner finds it difficult to give the business the attention it deserves. Next two months, please stop by for a last chance to get your finger tips dirty as we spell off inventory at bargain/basement prices. Starting on Friday, Aug 5, all used LPs, CDs, 45's, cassettes, DVDs, books, 78's, 8-tracks, etc in the store are being sold at 50% off marked price!!! New LPs and CDs are available for $3 off marked price..."

Fuxa, Motown Blood, Hunx/Punx, Matthew Dear, Edward-George

It's the weekend...what are you doing on the Internet?

Since the most recent post mused on Detroit's current psyche-rock scene - it'd be fitting to include Fuxa -initially an experimetnal post-rock duo that was tied to comparable progenitors of modern-motown-psyche, Windy & Carl, back in the mid-90's -and continues to record and tour as a collective revolving around founding member Randall Nieman (who recently moved back here after spending some time working on music in New York).

Recently, Nieman's been working on translating his ambient space-rock signatures to the more primal scrapes of the Stooges:

Which leads me into this:

TheMotownBloodTVEye by Jason Garner

^Here's a group, Motown Blood, featuring Justin Walker (High Speed Dubbing), Scott Sanford (Pewter Cub), Jason Garner (Karalavara) and Zach Pliska (FUR) ~ who formed to record a Stooges cover - a submission for a forthcoming Tribute album (as a nod to the memory of Ron Asheton).

Hunx & his Punx~~ blushable bubble-gum psyche-pop belted by a flamboyant gay male signer, backed by an all-girl group, recently released Too Young To Be In Love - an inaugeral collaboration of songwriter Seth Bogart and his accomapnying Punkettes. Here's the single via video, given a grainy cinematic realization tumbling through a surreal basement prom, provoked by ghastly severed hands, ears and noses...

Hunx hits the Lager House - with local openers Swimsuit and the Pizazz - on September 15th.

Listen: Hunx & His Punx - "Too Young to Be In Love"


Ann Arbor-bred goth-ish electro dream pop composer Matthew Dear finally has a video out for the single from last year's Black City - dig on "Slowdance" (as envisioned by Charles Bergquist)

Matthew Dear - "Slowdance" by Charles Bergquist from Ghostly International on Vimeo.


Also, while you're here, you can learn about the latest sonic gem excavated by Chicago-based Drag City. You'll recall two-ish years ago, that they did justice to the recordings of Detroit's long-lost garage-rock power trio Death... ...This month, the label let's the light shine on another unheralded obscurity forged in the Motor City ~ the fantastic freakdom and synth-streaked psychedelia of the George-Edward Group.

Edward Bailan on guitar and Raymond George on percussion, this pair cut their teeth performing alongside Detroit's now-legendary psyche and hard-rock scenesters of the late 60's, from the Rationals, the Frost and Ted Nugent. Monastic study of the staples: Beatles, Cream, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, but also Traffic and Jethro Tull). Remaining shrouded in studio secrecy, the duo began as a strict recording project in the early 70's (and crafted their quintessential 38:38, here in Detroit at their own Sine Wave Studio,); and as that decade progressed, they became particularly smitten with studio technique and equipment, (notably on Drag City's forthcoming Archives, they flourish their penchant for the Moog synthesizer and multi-tracking tape recorders).

Archives (out, Aug 23rd -released by DC and Galactic Zoo) displays the duo's sensibility for hazy, psyche-tinged baroque pop, dazzled with day-dreamy melodies and strutting pianos, but they'd been marked by experimental murkiness that formed the early days of prog--from pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd, to King Crimson, thus what might seem like wiffs of Strawberry Fields or some waltzy, strummy AM Pop trip is given an surreal, synth-infused iridescence, accentuated even further by buzzy guitar storms under disarmingly pretty and poignant harmonization.


But it bears echoing...

Psyche-rock's never been stylish.

The moshing's always topped the mesmerizing.
Often, it seems, listeners would rather want a cathartic kind of escapism; an escapism they don't have to think about-- and where merely bobbing-your-head beats feeding-your-head.

Regardless, Detroit has a commendable "psyche-scene" (for lack of a better word), and many of its contributors will be congregate tonight at the Lager House for the 2nd annual Echo Fest...

"Music is the harmonious voice of creation; an echo of the invisible world..." -Giuseppe Mazzini

The Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor (recently interviewed in the Detroit Free Press) are, once again, spearheading this fest of sorts, centered around the almighty echo pedal -and its various implications, be it in rock, punk, pop or shoegaze-styled music.

Bad Indians / Pewter Cub / Fur / Rabble Rabble / Haunted Leather / and Oblisk are also on the bill - starting at 9:30 pm.

I know we're sated with fests around here, but this is a chance for Detroit audiences to broaden their palettes away from 3-minute pop songs and explore the transcendent capabilities of sound.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

F_cking Awesome Fest ~ 8-10 -- 8-13 (Majestic)

In 2007, a 21-year-old with a laptop, squirming dance moves and a voice like wailed sunshine, stirred considerable interest for his performance, -mixed into a late summer's local music fest that was hosted by the now-defunct online culture zine, Detour.

This fest -coinciding (if you will) with the "birth" of Deastro -was, ostensibly, the primordial model, in vibe, size, date and venue, for what is now known as The Fucking Awesome Fest (8/10 -through- 8/13 throughout the Majestic Theatre).

And...the electronic music composer, known as Deastro, came to be one of the more dynamic scene-sensations of recent memory, initially spurred by his prolific output, then roiled by the amplification of cynical blog posters wielding long-knives from behind the shielded anonymity of computer screens.

Deastro, the songwriter whose also been known, if briefly, as SX-8 Columbia and/or Mirror Image... still seems possessed with positivism. "Stay excited about stuff, for sure," he incanted, in closing.

Having warmed back up via a solo-set opening for Matthew Dear last week, he's now readying a new (however transient or permanent) line up of colalborators to perform this week for the 3rd Fucking Awesome Fest ~ tacitly commemorating five years of churning out music, here in Michigan and out to the world (via a tenure under Ghostly International in 2008/2009).

"It's gotten to a different point for me, now," he said, hinting, indeterminately, at the latest Deastro-incarnation's tilt toward rawer, political-tinged punk rock. "As I'm getting older, (I see) there's so much other great music out there that it makes you change the way you write."

Mirror Image -Let Me Go by DC/Milo
(a long lost Deastro demo and fleeting favorite of mine...)

After five years in Detroit, "...nothing's really changed. It's, just, mainly been about the same things: -making weird music, jamming with friends, and trying to find a place where you fit in..."

Deastro went from a solo-act, to a computer and live drums hybrid, to a full on space-rock realization, and back down to just one--having recently drowned the sounds in heavy atmospherics and noise experimentation, whilst also fostering a reverence for no-wave, drone and avant-dance via participation with Something Cold and the burgeoning noise-community.

"There's tons of good bands coming from that, (the noise bands have) an amazing music scene, here. I really got into that, it was a really cool thing. I think that there are bands, like Aphasiacs, that are just gonna get better and even Wolf Eyes they're still very active in organizing shows and creating a DIY-scene in Detroit."

DIY, indeed... Such can be the struggle to maintain motivation in the current climate (socio-economical or otherwise) for upcoming musicians. "You gotta do your own thing on the side," came Deastro's recent reflection, as he still slogs it out via an often 12-hour work day, doing maintenance for supermarkets. "If you really wanna do music these days, you can't expect to get paid for it, rather that can't be your goal, at least if you wanna make music you like..."

"I'm not trying to sell anything," he said, having gone through a few nationwide tours to promote an LP (Moondagger) in 2009. "I just wanna make stuff people really enjoy, but also just, kinda, kicks a bit, ya know?"

While the Moondagger whirlwind died down, so did Deastro (as a four-piece), leading into a disbanding and the songwriter's eventual retreat into a more behind-the-scenes role of show promotion (via the C.A.I.D.).

"I think I was just tired, more than anything, just being a little exhausted from a lot of things. I think everyone goes through a period in their lives where everything falls apart for a minute, but then winds up having fallen apart for a good reason. It causes you to question everything. Then, once you restart, you find out some of them were right and some of them were wrong and at the end you come out a better person...hopefully...I'm not claiming I am, but..."

The key for Deastro seems to be continuing to foster community. "(I'm) just trying to hopefully get my shit together so I can help out younger kids, coming up, doing their thing, 'cuz that's the way it works. There were older guys in Detroit that have always helped me out. It's a cool place to be where you can be making music and you can hook up bands you like with shows and bring other bands into town. I really wanna do that, and I'm just figuring out how to do it right."

"I'm really doing this, making music, still, to meet people. There was a point in my life where I feel like I lost that and got bummed out about some things, it got me down. The things that you go through, living in the city, in the scene, making friends, they have an impact on a bunch of other people at the same time."

"Everyone's kinda in it together, the whole thing, ya know? It's good to see and think with a clear head again about life and about, just, what's important; I think that's mainly: loving people, loving your friends, learning how to be good to people and just knowing that life is definitely sacred, and people are really important. You can't really think too much about yourself."

The current incarnation of Deastro remains amorphous, save for a drift towards punk and a return to guitar-bass-drums.

See them Wednesday - Aug 10th - at the Magic Stick...

...Stay excited...
..."there's plenty of energy out there, in the world."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some things of note...

And, having just written that blog-header^, I realize how ludicrous that statement is, when it rings out into the hyper-transient conveyance of information, here, on Internet-world... medium over message, and all such nonesense.

For the modest permanence that this blog post will provide - please, should you be out and about this Friday evening and near Ferndale, MI - consider this crowded collusion of chaotic musical performers -to be crammed inside the Hybrid Moments punk boutqiue (which...I'm guessing off the top of my head, can hold maybe 49 people, -uncomfortably).

Still! Take note(s)!

Child Bite welcomes Hume and Dope Body - along with local openers, Pupils.



Grand Rapids-based synth-proffering dance pop quartet Stepdad have been charming local (and midwest) audiences with their cool/dorky theatrics and their ebullient, colorful tunes - The tinny, digi-wrung tones and bouyant rhythms of this single from their forthcoming EP capture a stylish kind of giddy, as punchy as jumping-beans infused into gumballs that are winding their way down dayglo plastic twirly slides... ...such came their charm upon audiences; keyboards and high airy vocals are effective at getting listeners to not be so self conscious over letting-loose...

Stepdad - My Leather, My Fur, My Nails by DC/Milo

But with the EP, listeners can now dig into the subteties of their songwriting sensibility - away from the boom of amps and the rush of the crowds... It's out September 6th on Ann Arbor based Quite Scientific...


Remember The Horrors? Primary Colours?

They have a new record coming out this week on XL, Skying could be what the Guardian (UK) is considering the "the feelgood album of the summer)."

For your consideration:
The Horrors - "Moving Further Away"

So, now, then... (no Michigan dates on this tour, though they fly through Chicago on 9/25, but still - sounds abound on zee internet)

more info from XL

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Go Do

An insightful interview, tipped my way by Johnny Headband~

Cameron Crowe~ Music Matters: A Candid Conversation via The Uncool - tied to the news that Sigur Ros' songcrafter Jonsi will be scoring his forthcoming film.

I love hearing the songs that people connect so hardcore to that they have to share it. Someone will play you a song that you will blow you mind-to, and then you’re off and running again. It’s the greatest cycle in the world.

Monday, August 1, 2011

This Month's Ann Arbor Current

Checking in, West-of-Detroit, with some our Washtenaw music-makers:

Here's video of Blue Snaggletooth, live, during their recent vinyl album release show (@ the Vault of Midnight, last week). Read more on Dimension Thule and learn about Arbco Records.


And onto this month's musing on the cassette-revival and how it might (or might not) shape music production as well as collective music experience.

This month's "rock" column from the Ann Arbor Current

Cassette Your Sights: Tapes far from novelty, they’re sensible

8-Track Cartridges will never be punk rock.

I can’t see them coming back anytime soon. Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t speak too soon. They said the same thing about vinyl in the mid-90’s, but now most bands consider it a sort of pinnacle, or ideal preference; a once-discounted medium regains universal recognition for its elegance and grandeur. Now cassettes, they might be punk rock.

Over the last year or so, the same thing has been happening for cassettes, sort of. While the hip/hop community has still kept the “mix-tape” tradition strong throughout the last decade, it seems to be catching on as a popular practice for releasing “LPs” in the enclaves of rock/indie/noise/and punk music.

Far from a trend, cassette releases are seen as the inevitable result of the Internet’s glorious/lawless industry shake-up that inevitably devalued music’s physical product – thereby initially spurring some bands to release their songs for free (as countless Arbor/Ypsi bands do, via Bandcamp). But cassette tapes are considerably inexpensive to produce and, at first, yes, beheld as a novelty or at least nostalgic.

Consider: Ypsi’s LifeLike nearing its 40th release (featuring bands like Bad Indians and Daytime Television), Ypsi’s Ginkgo is nearing double digits having chronicled a few lo-fi fuzz rockers, Ann Arbor’s Zen Tapes cultivates the area’s ambient pop and experimental electronica artists (like Chrome Sparks and Medicine Hat) and last June they released (digitally) an Aural compilation of Ann Arbor bands. Any bi-weekly scan of Ollie Café’s Ypsi Music Shelf will alight new releases (often featuring spooled magnetic tape snapped inside handheld plastic)—with noise punk project Strange Brew recently selling out a recent limited edition.

Such is the new strange norm for local musicians; the expectation of “fresh ears,” i.e. a potential audience coming to your record release performance having not yet heard the very songs you’re “releasing” on a physical format, is as outdated as the 8-Track. Vaudevillian-punk-strung bluegrass rockers Black Jake & the Carnies had their songs for their newest LP, Sundry Mayhems up and streaming (on bandcamp) more than a week before their wild Woodruff’s show.

The romantic purist in me, the one who still has room for revering auditory artistry of engineers like Phil Spector or meticulous crafters like Brian Wilson, or even for local sound-sculptors Brandon Wiard, Jim Roll or Geoff Michael, wonders if devaluation of product has triggered depreciation of “the experience” of listening to records. Some may say – ‘Duh, that happened long ago; just go out to the show and get the rush and roll of the live essence!’ Or some may say – ‘Not yet. Cassette or MP3, it’s still rock n roll to me.’

Things coming up: The 3rd Annual Michigan Roots Jamboree will be the place for bluegrass, folk, some jazz, some blues and a considerable amount of rock n roll. Look for: sublimely stark and richly lyrical folk rock quartet Frontier Ruckus; the healthily raucous fuzz-fire rock preservationists Drunken Barn Dance; the eclectic world-music tapping swing/jazz-blends of progressive rock-tinged groups like Ella Riot (formerly My Dear Disco), NOMO and October Babies. Black Jake & the Carnies are also on this bill of more than 20 bands –spread across two days (with camping), hosted by the non-profit Roots Jamboree group, at Ypsi’s Riverside Park.

With room to spare, find engaging listening experiences via Little Island Lake’s glistening brand of banjo-meets-electric-guitar under smooth, airy harmonies; or get rough and tumbled by the post-hardcore/math-rock musings of Graders; or go to a dreamily-fuzzed soul/brit-pop realm with Jeffrey Freer’s online Demo Party.