Sunday, April 29, 2012


Steve asks me when I'm gonna write the book and a saxophone roars like a guitar and we can no longer hear each other.

My throat goes soar shouting over the organs pressed down, the players hands forceful like he's slamming shut a window hard enough to shatter it. And rattled up between it all are meandering melodies, fleeting and flitting along for only 16 measures at a time. The drums make it punk, maybe a bit jazzy too, the sax makes it post-bop, the synthesizers make it nightmarish, oh so sweetly nightmarish, with their wheeze like some spooky, post-apocalyptic circus tent and the lyrics, hitting sharp, flat or just sometimes raw, are playfully cadenced and sluiced with surrealism.

I could tell you why you should, or potentially may- enjoy the avant-garde mutant-melodies and dreamy/scary-skidoos of Detroit's the Beekeepers - but I'd rather just keep listneing to it and not try to hem in my wandering thoughts with word-fences.

Nothing's coming today. Only those sweet, weird, wild sounds. Sounds of the Beekeepers.

No words. No need for them much more it seems, these days. This post is going to be 200-times larger than your typical status update and 194, roughly, times-larer than your last give up now if you're already distracted or, just settle down if you're already too eager for the next sentence, it's coming any-word-now.

The Review, as a practice employed by ostensibly professional critics, those with educated opinions, died somewhere in, oh, let's say, 1998... Maybe '95. It'd be old news if I sat here and lamented the uselessness of them, the begrudged uselessness of actually sitting down to listen to Santigold or Gotye and contributing descriptive words for you so that you can decide whether or not you should

You've already decided.

The subtext here is that blogging has inflicted a crack upon my brain, a potentially mortal blow upon the recreational-listening nodule...and neon-pink ooze spills out every time I endure another spin of the sellable fluff... Some music is so trite and insultingly formulaic that it can be a vacuum upon intellectual rumination - the beat and the synth and the auto-tune... Fuck it. Put it on the radio non-stop, give it that big-label-push, pedal it on the defenseless ears of those not yet as cynical as I - and you'll have yourself the #1 Feel Good Hit OF THE Summer...

You're just a song that I used to know...

Blogging is so of the moment that I didn't even realize I'd suffered that hemorrhage on my MusicBrain - hustle through the latest hot and hip and happening and you won't even realize that you came dangerously close to listening to music for the wrong reasons...that's what that pink ooze on your collar is... You should get that looked at, son.

The blogging has caused me to either leap back or fast forwrad...

The hour-glass view... No time for the past below you and unable to consider the expanse of the future above - only squished down to the narrow, bottle-neck-of NOW-ness.

I could stop and go back, just go way back, man, to a dusty antiquarianism - forsake tweets and tumblrs and wallow happily in Luddite lake - I'd dive back to the old records, and properly educate myself on the Blues and folk, like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, or Odetta, or the first Muddy Water cuts in the early 40's, educate myself on 70's noise and avant-garde electronica -dig back into Throbbing Gristle, or thoes Kraftwerk albums I forgot to pick up like Radioactivity or what about Merzbow, educate...educate myself properly on the left-field hip hop movement, Yesterday's New Quintet, dig back into all the J Dilla works and find a bridge to Four Tet...

And not get so anxious over falling-behind... behind the trends... Losing One's Edge. Who's defining your edge, its sharpness? The modern critics? They're just going to tell you to listen to Santigold or Gotye and you don't really need to be doing that right now. Relax, they'll tell you that you should, nay, need-to be listening to some other SomethingOrOther-OF-THE-summer in a few months.

Either I wanna leap back and swear off trends --Or, or just get it all over with already and be there, out, ahead, forward, at the edge of time, under purple-polluted skies of scarce stars and barren fields besotted with broken down Jet-cars, the victory-buzz of those few surviving cockroaches drowned out by the thrum of flame-spewing cell phone towers and lightning-storm-gathering industrial-strength wi-fi adapter stations. Desktops and conscious living practices and democratic discourse and plants and animals all gone... If we're going there, that digi-dream-future, then let's get there already. Blogging's become too much of a diary on-our-way-To...whatever kind of doom we're fossil-fueling-our-way-towards - as if the next MP3 single is really what you need today.

But then - BUT THEN dear reader... I would never dare to suggest that music is useless, though obviously the fluff glossed upon most magazine covers, inevitably, will prove to be... And I'm not saying we're doomed, either - I'm an incorrigible optimist, especially when I've had enough coffee. I'm just saying that - The Review is dead...and so is blogging.

Waiting for the great leap forward, as Billy Bragg sang. And yes, that song and so many have stuck with me over the years. The writing, my writing, this sop of words will evolve into something else... How has it continued to always be about music? I don't know. Too much in a hurry to consider it thoroughly - too much in that mindset of being ready for the next post.

Here's the sticking point. Reviews can and do matter - when they're able to communicate significance, rather than spin insipid snark or halfhearted witticisms implying that you should just listen to this...

Where was I?

There are really four kinds of reviews in my foggy eyes: The first is hard to classify - that being the negative / tear-down review - only because it can sometimes serve some good (depending upon if the artist or work is swathed in the Emperor's New Clothes) or serve bad (if its a blog that's brought out the thesaurus-bolstered long-swords to cut down a range of artists/works -maybe some being flashes-in-veritable-pans or maybe someone's just that much ready to say that a certain artist has finally dropped a dud after years of success. Hah, take that!)

The second: Soulless dribble: those that imply that you should like this - (i.e., sell you something so that you can be ready to gobble up that next single). The third: Crusading dissertations: those that are spurred by the fiery inspiration the writer has found in a work by a band, typically one barely known, if at all, across the mainstream, it depends upon endearment and that hard-to-resist urge to show somebody what you think deserves to be the next big thing.

Then the fourth: the one that qualifies the significance of a work - sort of the Giant Defender to the first kinds' Giant Killer.

And that would bring in Jack White and his new album, Blunderbuss.

This week could prove to be a rewarding study in how reviews can prove their worth. Mr. White has scored his first #1 Billboard 200 spot with this new album - a notable accomplishment, especially for a solo artist, but perhaps not so surprising considering how long he's been working, how many albums he's contributed to, how long we've all been listening... Rooting?

The thing: Everyone is going to want to listen to this album -whether a reviewer praises it to the mountains or lampoons it into swiss cheese -and it's all going to spin the same, re-worded story about what White's place is in musical history...

What is going to give it it's staying power... What gives it it's worth?

This week, there's a review on every blog or music zine you'll likely link-to, concerning Blunderbuss. This is where the worth of music criticism can survive  -whether or not they can prove the worth of a work that transcends fleeting, feel-good-single-of-the-summer - something that equally sways the squares as much as the indie-hipsters - something that can be rocked in a hole in the wall bar or bastardized inside a commercial or flash action/comedy blockbuster.

Blunderbuss. Put it in. Track one. Press Play.

What am I listening to? Tell me.

So, since blogging has kind of driven me crazy - I've decided to consider this my 4th-to-last-blog post upon this web site... Ever. (Does "ever" mean anything anymore in Internet-time standards)?

4th and counting...

Start the countdown...

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Computer Perfection (<--film by Dan DeMaggio)

Orange Roughies (<-reunion show on May 5th @ Paychecks)

High Strung (<--album release show for their latest, 5/19)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy to be here...

photo: Andrea Zarzycki
Chris says Pink Lightning spoke too soon when they called their 2011 debut EP First Rodeo, implying, with roll of weary eyes, and soft heave of sighs, that this time, with their new full length album, Happy To Be Here, they feel “seasoned,” feel the actual saddle sore. Butterfield admits though, he’s probably “the more obsessive one…” of the quintet, including founders drummer Neal Parks, bassist Everette Rinehart, and accordionist Leo ("Mike") McWilliams 

Cut from quirkier formative influences like karaoke cut-ups and stand-up comedians, the suspender-strapped, shimmying shout-singer is prone to embrace improvisation – but get him in the studio and he has to do epic, nerve-wracking battle with his “constant-revisionist”-side. “I’m very critical and particular about my parts and you’ll hear a lot of dubbing on Here, but that’s ‘cuz I worship Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson and Michael Jackson. There was a lot of room on the songs, so, then I said, oh, let’s bring in the horns!”

Pink Lightning’s been honing their strange danceable rock brew for two years now: tribal post-punk rhythms with destructo-disco-romps in the garage, like post-bop jazzheads got jibing with some pedal-inclined neo-psychedelic space-rock shredders. And then there’s that zazzy accordion; ardent performers preaching the New Weird of music melding – something akin to a circus, at the very least, affecting a tilt-o-whirl aesthetic with their energy and song structure.

But capturing that energy, all their experimental tempo-shifts, Parks said, means “WORK,” claiming to have lost three lbs. after slamming skins for hours on end in a “sweatlodge” sound-proof room. “Loved every second of it, though. This album means a lot to me.”

artwork by Ryan Standfest
Tom Bahorski (of The Ashleys) joined last autumn, recruited to fill the departure of original guitarist Matt Paw (who you’ll hear on Here). Bahorski recorded the brass section (Thomas Gilchrist-tuba, Stephen Bublitz-trombone) in McWilliams/Parks’ home, an Eastern Market loft doubling as PL’s rehearsal space, only to lose the first demos with an ill-fated file corruption on the computer.

But that worked out. All that re-working, re-recording – Butterfield, Parks and Rinehart all see the light. “(Butterfield) completely rewrote one song and, honestly,” Rinehart says, “it frustrated me at first, but once I heard how it paid off, I knew I would have to just be patient…”

Hard to stay patient when post-punk rhythms sound like they’re in all your bloodstreams. Bahorski’s anticipating Here as a fan, first and foremost, but now, as a member: “It’s just exciting being around exciting people…and handsome lads to boot…We build excitement.”
Album Release  4/28/12 @ Old Miami (Detroit)  w/ Mexican Knives, Beekeepers, Robin Parrent


Local Music news
This just popped up... -a new music video for a single from Phantasmagoria's forthcoming album (Currents)...

Streaming HERE
....-bolstered by the production efforts of a talented squad of students from Detroit's College of Creative Studies

....-Speaking of CCS... The Student Exhibition opens about two weeks from now - featuring 3,500 student works of art - on display at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in Detroit's New Center, running Saturday, May 12 – Friday, May 25.

....-Speaking, also, of Phantasmagoria - they play Saturday night at the New Dodge in Hamtramck -celebrating the release of a split 7" single - with Coyote Clean Up - with both bands covering hallowed Nirvana tracks, out on FiveThreeDialTone. 

....-Also on that bill is new band The Vatican, -"new," yes, but packed with tried and true players, along with Coyote Clean Up, of course - and, electro-pop duo Revoir (who just released their own split 7" with the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre...streaming below).  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Noise I wanna hear...

Inevitably I'd be posting this...
Let's see where it goes...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Record Store Day Rap Up

Have you gotten your proper dose of local rap yet today?

If not... slide up for a slice of bread, compliments of eccentric EmCee Doc Illingsworth - (one part of rap-trio Detroit CYDI) who, just a month ago, put out a solo album documenting his faithful leap into the world of being an independent musician. The first thing he learned was that, from now on, he'd have to subside on a staggeringly humble diet... what you can win! And some fuzzed-out Nintendo-tinged synths and punchy, ambling beats...

Part of the New Weird -in Detroit hip-hop, Illingsworth is cut from the crew who rapped about ringtones and binary code. And now he's tackling pancakes...pretzels...and a bit of his take on the history-and-future-of rap. It's something like the opening entries of a charmingly satirical diary at the dawn of new-independence for a musician - come get a view of things from Doc's perspective.

But ALSO- Single Barrel Detroit are back to their local-cutlure-documentarian-ways - this time framing hip-hop quartet Clear Soul Forces down at Hello Records, down at Trumbull and Bagley. This is a trailer for a full SBD show featuring a performance by the group who were also recently pegged by Red Bull Soundstage series as Detroit's next "rising hip-hop" act. For your listening pleasure, or to get an introductory sampling, head to CSF's bandcamp to hear "Detroit Revolution(s)" -from the album that came out at the start of this spring.

CLEAR SOUL FORCES: Record Store Day Trailer from SINGLE . BARREL . DETROIT on Vimeo.

This is part of SBD's partnership with Detroit Ca$h Mob -in attempt to help "direct traffic" -the vinyl enthusiasts out there- to their nearest record shops. For more info, check with SBD.

But, then...also...
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - the songwriting duo, Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein, a duo synonymous throughout the city's indie/underground-pop/rock community as being the exemplary "break-out" band of the moment, have been receiving some warm receptions throughout the hipsto-bloggosphere and other various pockets of InternetWorld, but today, to prop their Apr. 21 performance at the Majestic Theatre (w/Phantasmagoria and the Hard Lessons), there's a piece inside the Detroit Free Press documenting the behind the scenes production of their new music video, for It's a Corporate World single, "We Almost Lost Detroit," a sunnier-synth and funk-flared cover of a Gil Scott-Heron song. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fans and Friends

The "whooo's" crackle away. Echoed claps fall to the wooden floor. Hearts were poured out and voices were lost and ankles are left sore from zealous stamping; strings broken or wound out of tune and we all feel, or at least hope, that what needed to be told, in song or in shouting-ear-shots-at-bar's-edge, was told...and told effectively.

And the traffic lights steadily shift us all back to abodes and when the morning makes its deceptively swift arrival, it's seemingly quiet.

Sunday morning rain storms' so beautiful. The bodies of the bands are bedded, their amps are off and though their mouths are agape, no sound, no song, no shout, is coming out. Maybe a slight, gargled snore. It feels sacred outside, not just because it's Sunday, but...because it IS Sunday it means that there's no cars bustling around, yet. No one is mowing their rain-drenched lawns. No one wants to walk their domesticated dogs. There is no human noise outside - and yet it's noisy as hell.

The rain is the applause now. The wind is the ambient fuzz from the amps and the birds are picking their own melody. It sounds like a concert out there, a clamor, a buzz of conversation. But the Blue Jays never try singing like the Cardinals...

Proceeds from Detroit-X-Detroit-II a "DETROIT by DETROIT" Scholarship at the Rochester School of Rock!

Hours ago...before last call...we, the characters perpetuating the dramatic/comedic/inspirational coming-of-age mystery of Detroit's Music Scene et al ...were all dressed up as each other and singing each other's songs, embodying and incanting not as ourselves but as fans of other bands, be they Alice Cooper or the White Stripes.

But this marks the chrystllization of a new sensibility, one of rampant camaraderie. Last weekend, at Detroit X Detroit (where a dozen groups performed cover sets of Detroit bands -whether long-gone legends or contemporary cut-ups) we saw something surreal and endearing, weird, yes, but also remarkable - that we know each other, are...into each other's music, each other's live shows, each other as writeirs and singers, to such a level, that we can zero in on each others idiosyncracies, from clothing to nuanced mannerisms. Cardinals and Blue Jays are on their own out there, in nature's concert. Perhaps, in a way, we've blurred together into one unwieldy band as some way of support - surviving not just the waves of the music biz together, not just the waves of a music scene together, but just...hey, this Recession-ruined world where Art is bastardized by Google-demons, we're just surviving. Keeping warm together.

Here, in this fleeting era, the New Weird of post-post-post-Millennial music in Detroit, there's no jockeying - and the line between "fan" and "friend" has been obliterated. This was like a 2nd Halloween...

Tom's really going all out, I told Steve, joining his side as we both watched the Ashleys recreate a Pupils set, seeing Tom go as far as mimicing Steve's scant appearance, barefooted, only in bicycle shorts.

Indeed...says Steve. Those are actually my shorts, too!

(<--pic by Lisa Joan)

WATCH: Pupils - performing "Glue Your Eyelids Together" - as ADULT. - video

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Deastro - Incinerator

I've been writing about Deastro's music, now and then...for almost five years and each year I've thought I was, at least somewhat, sure of what it was, what it sounded like....

A year ago, I realized, that even as I try to decipher whatever-his-latest-work-was, or is, I'd have to throw out any preconceived notions... The mind alters, indeed...continues to alter. Randy Chabot is responsible for some of the sunniest and enthusing songs I've ever heard, as well as some of the murkiest, twisted-up and turbulent... Album to album, sometimes song to song, or dissonant movements/choruses/broken-bridges within the composition.

Chabot began garnering attention with his 2007 demos, a 21-year-old computer composer poking his head out in the golden age of electro-auteurs such as Caribou, M83, Fields, and still-prominent veterans like Four Tet or more fickle flashes like Cold Cave. In those 5 years, he's regenerated his airy, synth-saturated song-cycles out to widely scattered points of sonic sensibility and musical mood - techno, goth, space-rock...

But, as I started, this shouldn't be about who Randy Chabot was, or even is now - he learned long before Incinerator not to force himself to write the album that someone, anyone,, or I, might expect him to write.

"Prisoner" opens up with a jittery jogging bass, a funky growling thing over haunting drones and spliced up vocal-bursts. This is just one movement of up-to-four, inside a nearly 10-minute loping marathon. Hand-claps clatter atop the snuffling burst of sequenced beats while our singer raps this anthemic, chant-like chorus drenched to near-indecipherability by silvery coats of reverb. It's like searing through the stratosphere when you pass the four minute mark, the swell of layered elements pares back a bit and the song turns into more of a musing Krautrock churn, our vocalist turns cold, tinny, his humanity fuzzed-out to where he sounds like a Transformer...and then it all cuts away, right at 5:31... seven blissful seconds of just these tribal drum beats...meditative...
we catch our breath...
and a new movement begins, a new voice comes in, a cheerier bass groove starts jumping along under warming piano chimes and a sprite sprinkle of synth hooks...

Song to song...movement to movement...One thing, then something else. 

Perhaps best, then, to go with your gut. Follow the beats - don't be unsettled by those haunted-house-shrieks coming from down the hallway of the opening measures to "Tokyo Parasites..." Because, good god, just get into the whirlpool of those gravelly synths and your head starts spinning at the layered drums, the steady pulsing disco beat spilled over with those deep booming fills slamming onto the floor're hooked, this is dark shit, yes, but, like all effective specimens of dance music - trance-like.

And just as you're getting cozy into this nostalgic LCD-Soundystem-trip, eye-closing dance-out-freak-out, he swerves you hard to the left for a grating, guttural, drum-n-bass-toying interpretation of noise - "Experiment" - mystifying, erratic and, by comparison, brief barrage of laser beam cascades, chilly clicks, clacks and cathartic tonal wrings, beating along and bouncing to wherever...

The late-arriving drums of the title track welcome you back slowly from cacophony to a steadily waving hymn, the drums awakening under his voice as the synths hum steadily into this metallic hook...but you'll be sluiced down into a whole other song before the 3 minute mark...and, as we know, somewhere else entirely before this 9-minute closer finally burns away...

At just four tracks, Incinerator feels as though you've mined more than 10 different songs per-se... What Incinerator is, what it sounds inherently something less tangible, thronged...untamed. Free to go somewhere else, three minutes from now...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What I Could Do

Shuffling songs together - Odd Future into Orpheum Bell - now that's a zesty and refreshingly-disorienting blend. "We Got Bitches..." into "Cuckholded Wren..."

I'd advise you to try something similar today.


Songs on my mind this week...
The sweet snarl to Mick's voice, "raving on the corner, out of my mind..." those haunting, icicle-drizzles of piano and the way that guitar feels like its being punched, more so than its being strummed...

...what I could do...
And then there's this song, which speaks to how scattered my mind can much to do, so little time... Sparkling with that jittery synth-bass and weirdly wrung by words like "...anomolies anonymous connected to the mothership..."

"...bonfire on woodbridge, hangin with a bunch of kids....spaced-out..."

The Anonymous just put out a disc on Woodbridge Records, the same label housing The Summer Pledge, who have their own album, Vessels -coming out next month (stay tuned). Bassett,  meanwhile, has some physical copies coming of his recently-digi-released album - and he's working towards some solo shows, -first up: May 8th at the Crofoot.