Monday, September 30, 2013

Lee Ranaldo & The Dust

Lee Ranaldo is utilizing the time of Sonic Youth's hiatus, touring tirelessly through 2012 to support his last solo album Between The Times & The Tides and recently forming a proper backing band for his latest solo material, The Dust, to record, release and, now, tour in-support-of, this month's Last Night On Earth (Matador).

They'll be at Trinosophes on October 12th. 

Tedx Detroit

TED Talks (Ideas in Technology, Entertainment and Design that are "worth spreading") will be talked about and hopefully, from there, spread throughout the city of Detroit -on Wednesday (info here) inside Cobo Hall's newly opened Grand Ballroom -Journalists, business owners, inventors and artists will be among the numerous speakers -including Leo Gold ("Hardcore Pawn"), Kevin Krease (X-Games Detroit), Jason Hall (Co-Founder Detroit Bike City / Slow Roll Detroit), Amy Kaherl (Detroit SOUP). 

Also invited?
 Indie-rocker turned synth-dabbling, neo-new-waver George Morris (currently fleshed out with a full band of performing musicians called The Gypsy Chorus). So there's your musical (/"entertainment") portion of TEDx-Detroit (X= the locally-based independent organizers who brought this event to life).

Follow TedXDetroit on Twitter
Check out their YouTube page later for updated live-streams. 
And keep your ears and mind open - as these talks should be particularly referential towards the tense and extraordinary times this city is currently working its way through (i.e. declaring Bankruptcy). 

About TEDTED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Keep Up: The Woggles Can Save Your Soul

The Woggles have been at it a while, but who's got time to "look back" when you keep moving forward?

The Georgia-based gentries of garage-pop and boogieable big-beat jams that sandwich scuzzy Nuggets-nicked janglers into some soul-sweetened British Invasion-type bits, blew right past their 25th anniversary without really noticing...

9/28 - The Woggles play Small's in Hamtramck with Amy Gore & Her Valentines ~ wsg Duende

Younger groups opening up for the rock outfit stop them back stage after shows and remark on how they likely couldn't keep up all that energy, especially at their age...

"And they mean this as a compliment," says singer/spark-plug Mighty Manfred (a.k.a. Professor Mighty Manfred). He chuckles warmly at this, saying: "And their wondering how we do it, how we can keep it up and keep it going. I sometimes tell 'em, 'Yeah, you're right, you probably couldn't keep up with me...'"

A year ago, if any music fan or writer wanted to take note, would have marked their 25th anniversary as a touring/recording/performing rock outfit. But they really didn't make a big to-do over it. They just went into the studio (with their guitarist Flesh Hammer at the boards) and banged out another record (The Big Beat on Wicked Cool Records).

You know how that guitar hook bends your ear, throttles your collar and kinda pulls you close for this exciting moment of romance and danger? But then the drums kick in, slewfooting you onto your ass leaving you no recourse but to get back up and rumble-boogie your way through the dancefloor? It's that kinda music - raw, rigid, celebratory...soulful, slinky, front-and-center freakouts...

"It was when I heard 'I'm A Man' by Bo Diddley," says The Professor, pinpointing a key moment when he saw the light of rock n' roll and knew he'd wind up spending his life making music. "None of the contemporary stuff I was listening to back then, I guess you'd call it 'new-wave' at that time, had the depth and the power, the vibrancy and the immediacy that Bo Diddley demonstrated. It sounded far more new and fresh to me than that more 'contemporary' stuff. That was the groundswell, for me!"

Presence...vibrancy...immediacy... That pretty much sums up the Woggles' signature style of the jam - in and out in under three minutes with plenty of snaky guitars decorously distorted and the big beat relentlessly chopping down a danceable rhythm -

There's music that grooves. And then, there's music that just hits.

When Diddley's "primeval" and "otherworldly" songs sounded new to Manfred's ears, it demonstrated to him the timelessness of music, that it isn't confined to any period of time.

Be that as it may, most blogs or zines will sling words around like "60's" or "garage" or even "revivalist," when writing up this band.

"Revival?" asks Manfred. "Well, if you're talking something like a Church Tent Revival-thing then, yeah. We're saving souls!"

Their constant touring and festival gigs brings them before a wide range of audiences, in terms of age, further communicating rock's reach across generations. Younger crowds, some not used to "cutting loose and letting abandon-take-hold" might not know how to react, initially, Manfred admits. "We're up there speaking-in-tongues, the tongues of rock n' roll - but it's okay! You can come down to the altar, you don't have to stay back in the pew."

No one in the group (including Dan Eletrxo and Buzz Hagstrom) sets out to recreate any period or live within any period except this one, says Manfred. Everything they write comes from their own perspective and own frame of reference. In other words, "it's what we dig..."

"We do count our blessings, though," Manfred says, "for how long we've been able to do this." He's not about to call them "rock stars" in the cliched conception, but acknowledges that there is an endearing fan base out there, around the country, for the Woggles style of magnificent maelstroms.

"We've always had terrific times in Detroit," Manfred says with audible reverie. They played the Gold Dollar and bowled in the Magic Stick with Ko Melina. They've partied at Johnny Hentch's house after shows and even crashed at Willy Wilson's joint when needed...

"Let's rephrase that," Manfred says soon after. "There's not a fan-base, so to say as there is an 'extended-family-base.' There's always a niche, or a nod, or a heart...out there, of long-time fans that we sort of build our relationships with over the years. The families still there. But, of course, we're always looking to include new family members."

"You're showcasing the music," says Manfred, explaining their amped-up stage shows. "It's a soul-driven music. So let's say it's a soul-driven experience and it just seems in order to properly perform it, to write songs in this vein, then there's this passion that's drawn upon. And that's the thing....If you have this love and are possessed to do it, then that's a well you gotta keep digging deep and keep drawing up the water."

The Big Beat came out in March on Lil' Steven's Wicked Cool Records.
Meanwhile, the band set their sights on Small's in Hamtramck.

Sea & Cake

Mon 10/28/13
Majestic Theatre; Detroit, MI
w/ Toro y Moi

Goodbye Summer
Hello October
& Hello Sea & Cake...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


In Utero @ Small's (Axis Mundi Collective)

The first "album" I bought...
I know, you've heard cliche fan anecdotes like this before...
...Yep, it was even on Cassette, too! From a record store that's long-been closed...

In Utero -by Nirvana-
The Empire Strikes Back of grunge-albums. The Pinkerton of misunderstood, subtly-genius-follow-ups to major breakthrough albums.

"Teenage angst has paid off well..." sung a band that had decimated (for better and for worse) the MTV Generation with that song about deodorant.

Oh, I could go on... But I'd rather have Axis Mundi go on...

Mary Jade (New Video)

Singer/songwriter Mary Jade - the terrific and soulful voice atop the mercurial synth storms of Lord Scrummage - 
has a new music video for her song "In The Mix"

If there aren't enough keyboards in this mix, then there's even more in the backgrounds... (After they park the bicycles, that is...)


Javelins (new 7") 9-20 (in Ferndale)

Javelins ....are back ? Did they ever really leave (...your hearts, your minds?) Do you remember them at all? Are you incensed that it took them this long to get the band back and going again, with a new release? Where do you land on the whole Javelins thing?

See, I could tell you that they attained renown, particularly around 08-09 and into 2010 - with their nifty, nervy stoking of post-punk's elbow-snapping, neck-whipping rhythms and space-rock's slathering of UFO-gurgled guitar effects upon subtle-and-substantial solo shreds. (The bass was pretty groovy, to boot).

But, maybe you should just listen to their new stuff - coming out this Friday on Suburban Sprawl.

9/20 @ The Loving Touch ~ with Haunted House - and Psalm9pm

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Autumn now

This was Michigan.

Measure this first episode of autumn as just chunks of hours –as opposed to the systemic coordination of “days”- and it’s perceived, properly, as a neck-kinking fast period of time in which we’ve…

…been steamed by heat and humidity, showered with rain and thrummed with thunder, and now, there’s frost on my front lawn and the leaves haven’t even changed color yet! 

Let Autumn begin! 

Art by Jim Cherewick

Khaleesi: Odd Hours - 9/28 @ Loving Touch

Odd Hours started out as a trio mutating rock, post-techno and power-pop into a more calloused creature, with a snaky, sharp and enticingly sinister-sound. But now, with a new bassist (Clint Stuart) and a new drummer (Randy Hanley Jr), the founding-guitarist Tim Jagielo says they’ve gotten far from any kind of stripped-down, trashy garage rock thing and have turned into a “bigger, louder, meaner, darker, dirtier version of itself.”

Odd Hours diverges from your normal conception of “a band,” because they’re also essentially the flagship group for Gold House Media, the Detroit-based video-production house co-managed by its lead singer, Natasha Beste.

Gold House co-manager Kevin Eckert directed the video for their forthcoming single, “Khaleesi,” a royal freak-out of a gold-clawed fever dream, dressing Beste in an elegant white dress and gold stilettos upon a 7”-high throne. 

“My looks were flawless,” Beste says, complimenting the collaborative vision and design of stylist/creative-director Tunde Olaniran, with costumer Christina Tomlinson. Sculptor Tim Whitehead helped design their set, while Summerset Salon & Day Spa provided make-up for their starkly sublime aesthetic.

“Tim’s usually in his underwear when we perform,” Beste says, “but this time he had to wear a thong and be covered in make-up, head-to-toe and the whole crew just made it happen like no big deal.”

“Let's just pretend Khaleesi’s an actual word and not made up for ‘Queen’ by the creator of a popular fantasy series show,” says Beste, “becauseI didn't know it was made up when I titled the song, "Khaleesi" means "queen" and our song is about feeling powerful and confident and wanting to be in full control, then realizing that having full control is not the best thing.”

Beste says inspiration spanned: “wanting power but also wanting praise..." while also reflecting the unique relationship she shares with Jagielo, as a creative collaboration - while writing/recording and performing.
"(Tim) lets me do what I want, but is always very aware of everything and keeps me grounded. He's the structure and I'm more emotional."

There's also elements from "...the 90's punk/Americana look of the artist Ssion, the dark look of the black dance scene from the 80's movie Legend.” Lakes, fires, thrones…and homages to the 90's "Americana-punk" look

Should be interesting. 

Eckert directs the narrative through a lake and fire, into the "black room" and finally into the "gold room." 

Olaniran and Beste wanted wanted to create something luxurious but at the same time, cold and gothic. 

Beste says she feels spoiled with the amount of talented and professional people she's able to work with on projects like "Khaleesi."

"Tunde and I have worked on several video projects together and it always leaves us with a huge satisfied and happy feeling of accomplishment. And having Kevin be in control of everything technical allows me to just focus on the performing side. Working with them is an amazing experience, it's motivating and energizing."

Their tentative release date of the video is December 6th... Stay tuned.

In the meantime
Sept 28th at Loving Touch: Odd Hours- with Paperhaus (DC) and Lord Scrummage

Past works:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview: Tunde Olaniran (9/28 @ New Way Bar - Ferndale)

Photo by: Kelly Ardito 

It wasn’t nerves or anything, but for the first time in a while I wasn’t sure what I’d say after the show…walking up to a performer, away from the stage.

TundeOlaniran is just an outstanding presence and not merely because of his elaborate costumes. The young artist is certainly approachable, don’t get me wrong, and quite affable in demeanor when he’s down at ground level. But up there on a stage, under boomlights and amplified with soundsystems, he’s something refreshingly strange and transcendent, akin to traditional ideas of an iconic pop star similar to, yes, Madonna (a key influence upon the Flint-raised artist). This is classy showmanship reimagined to zazz some vigor back into the post-apocalyptic-youths yawning through this post-Internet-era; an out-of-this-world play or surreal opera, swirled with flavors of 80’s dance-pop, neo-techno caustics, R&B balladry and almost rapper-esque reeling of compressed, declarative lyrics.  

Tunde’s musical style (or genre) goes all over the place, ...but then – that’s exactly “where” this singer grew up – from Nigeria, to England to Flint, MI. The young Tunde listened to Madonna’s Immaculate Conception repeatedly as a kid living in Germany. “I wasn’t quite old enough, then, to be finding things for myself yet,” says Olaniran, “and anything we bought that was English-language was through the store at the Army base nearby, filtered through this very narrow-viewed American culture. But somehow I got Madonna on cassette and I remember thinking: this is just an artist’s regular album, I didn’t know it was a Greatest Hits…”

“Being on my own and so young and dancing around, jumping around and playing out music videos and performances in my mind, like, ‘We’re gonna put on a show for you!’ I spent a lot of time by myself, growing up, pretending to be in certain moments and really having a vivid imagination, in my own world.”
In Tunde’s mind, in his own world, the creative landscape is always varying. His debut solo album has the telling title: Infinite Modulation.

“I know a lot of people probably have that same kind of experience as a kid, but having this rich imagination in my life and being alone a lot and doing music on my own, without a lot of external input as to what I should or shouldn’t be listening to…”

This assured not just a wild, wonderful vision and a diligent pushing of envelopes (in terms of what’s capable in presenting a live performance) but also a resolve – When inspiration strikes Tunde, it’s something like the Star Trek Genesis Device – terraforming the vision into full-fledged life, a new planet of pop, with a staggering swiftness and surety. He knows what he wants – and it’s often something you’ve never seen (or heard) before, so just let him bring it.

Piercing gaze, swooning vocals, and a commitment to choreographed dances, surreal set-pieces and ostentatious costumes – Olaniran shuffles through metallic techno-beats, spacey synth-loops, even some raw guitar riffs. It’s stokes some primal ceremony vibe with its riling rhythms but then jettisons to futuristic soundscapes with its more electronic elements. His voice, as soulful as something from the 60’s studios of legend and as anthemically arching and poignant as something from the 80’s pop paradises, is the bridge between, the eye of the storm, the thing that soars above all the varying modulations of his music (and his performance).

“I think I’m kind of a mimicker, actually,” he admits. “I would mimic anything, accents I heard, different characters in movies. I was in some choirs in school but never the one at Regionals. I was never the star. I became a good singer because I was always around really amazing singers through that choir. It wasn’t until I got into a really fun, funny rock band and sung for hours a night in bars, doing covers and just having that experience of being a lead singer …that, that was when I finally started just singing all the time and ended up getting a stronger voice. So, it was mimicking, and then bootcamp style, through choir and then a punk band. That got me whatever vocal experience I can claim to have…”

Olaniran thinks some listeners might not immediately realize the sizable influence up punk, metal and rock, upon his musical creations. His first band members exposed him to classic hard-rock and punk – from Sabbath, to Priest, to Fugazi (even though he complained, initially, on those long car rides on tour).
I get into phrasing, intonation.. just the character that certain voices and accents have on a track. And above all else, I love a killer synth!”

“Maybe it’s to my detriment, but I don’t set out to make a certain genre. It all usually flows back to the same well. Honestly, if the music is completely mine, and not as a feature for someone else, I only make music that I can imagine performing. I will be listening to the track and imagining how I’ll move onstage and what the choreography will look like.”

But the goal is to make it memorable.  I also want to make something that sounds a tad different than anything else but is still memorable in some way

Olaniran said some show attendees have described experiencing his live presentation as “spiritual.”

“Or…that they felt I was drawing from a deep ancestral well! Basically, if people are feeling themselves during my set, that’s the best encouragement. If they somehow feel sexier, more powerful, more connected, more dangers, that’s what I want…” 

with: James Linck & Miz Korona

Monday, September 9, 2013

They Live

Happy Autumn, Detroit music scene followers, revelers, critics and contributors...

Illy Mack - are back! (Did they ever leave?) (Did you?) (Where's this blog, been, for that matter...)

Somewhere, this nervy blogger hopes, I still have a recording of this song, on an acoustic guitar, strummed out and sung (still prettily, if in its raw form) inside the living room (/recording studio) of drummer Steve Kenzo-- as sung by singer Jen David. But oh, that slightly out of tune acoustic guitar doesn't stand up to the dreamy space-rock FX sprinkled upon this new version's closing solo...

Perhaps I'll go dig that up the same way I just dug-up this here ol' blog, again!
More posts to come...