Sunday, December 29, 2013


The High Strung site
and on Bandcamp

I know that we're in a basement, that the ceiling looms, stiflingly just six inches over my skull as I stand beside a thin beam, some uneven tile and a large, blaring amplifier. I know it's just another day. And, I know that this is only a rehearsal - but this sounds like The. Perfect. Rock. Song.
Or, at least, perfect rock song... brought to life by a band that just knows how to do it...
Been doing it, really, for 15 years. So they oughta know... 

There's no samples to stream, yet, for the songs on The High Strung's seventh album I, Anybody, so you'll just have to imagine the aural equivalent of base rock n' roll, with its kicking back beat, waving chords and cresting choruses, lionized into a ballet, on-point, arched, twirled and taut - where the suspense inherent to a crude punk outfit fraying their strings off the neck and missing downbeats threatening to have the song fall to pieces before it can realize its beauty, is now a novelty more than a decade behind these guys. They're savvier in their song-making, sure, but it's something more mysterious - like the weird telepathy akin to brotherliness. You wanna make a song together? Let's make a song together... A song about changing, about new points of view, about being awake all night, sleeping all day and having some kind of rattling re-awakening altogether.

I, Anybody
The High Strung

I, Anybody will be an album that runs up to your door, flings it opens, pulls you outside and leads you by the hand, initiating, imploring, declaring with a downplayed shout, that the time is now, so can we get on with it?

Its lyrical themes and propulsive tempos, its mustering of major keys and warm tones and all its cresting crescendos suggest the charting of new course. These aren’t drums you could dance to, but you could certainly run with them, caper and pogo, even. Pianos and percussive bells bring a cheery radiance that garnish reverb-sopped guitar solos and silky bass swirls. Now, this makes I, Anybody sound as it it may be something overly exuberant, but not so much – it’s more like an assuring Eureka! An exhale...that's trundled out with feedback and bass-drums.

 At this point, they've amassed an imposing amount of chemistry that burns brightly, right off the record, with cool charisma. They’re not about to waste their time or yours making disingenuous, clichéd or perfunctory record of faux-soul-searching. They’ve got their craft, their character and their karma firmly grasped.

I, Anybody is coming...January 10th

New Fortune Records 

Release show - Ferndale's Magic Bag -with: Oscillating Fan Club, & Pewter Cub. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mittenfest 8

Friday, December 27, 2013

a Gypsy Chorus and some Cavemen

It's (almost) Saturday and you might be in need of some more celebratory noise, some punk-splashed plastic cups of egg-nog and some tumultuous tidings of good cheer...
Who better to deliver -than Caveman Woodman?

Actually, Woodman (pictured above, Left,) will be inviting his musically-gifted family members onto the stage for a more traditional, er, less primal... recital of rock tunes - with Bam Bam Moss (aka Brandon Moss of Bars of Gold) on drums. 


And a few days after that... If you're in need of a destination for your New Year's Reverie, a place to push the old away and reel in the new... why not The New Way Bar, in Ferndale?
That's where George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus will be hosting an end of the year blow-out. Well, it's intended to be a blow-out... It's dependent, possibly, on you, whether it gets that exuberant enough -to warrant formal blow-out status!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Major Part(s) of the Mittenfest Experience

I write about Mittenfest every year because it brings the music community together, into Woodruff’s adhoc “living room,” to recite crackling rock tunes, folk ballads and even some hip-hop. Nestled around the fireplace, it’s an inspiring 5-day-long-moment of explosive camaraderie. But, let’s not forget, there are dynamic displays of the local talents from our fine indie-music scene.
Really, each year, I’m writing about 826 Michigan
Read more from last year's Mittenfest musing via the Ann Arbor Current 

A toast to 826Michigan and Mittenfest

Thus begins a marathon of really long days and blown out ears and one hangover supplanting another but that's a major part of the experience. --Matthew Milia (Frontier Ruckus)
Read on... The Soundtrack of 826Michigan via the Ann Arbor Current 

Friday, December 27


ILL ITCHES - Detroit, MI


IN FACT - Ypsilanti, MI

SKULLLS - Pinckney, MI

ALEXIS - Grand Rapids, MI



Monday, December 23, 2013


Staving off cynicism just as anyone else is at this time of year; telling myself I should be a better human being just as anyone else this time of year; thinking I could do a just as much of a better job at showing the people in my life how much they mean to me as anyone else is likely feeling this time of year; feeling lonely, maybe, just as anyone else this time of year, and then feeling utterly lucky to be alive, just as anyone else is this time of year. 

I’m typing my way towards the difference between Happiness and Joy.

Happiness is what’s on television. Happiness is sold to you, cajoling you, a false sense of you-name-it, security, confidence, esteem. There’s nothing wrong with Happiness, it’s just something that you spread more akin to the saccharine preserves from a factory-sealed, machine-stirred jar you bought from a store that was loaded off a truck and produced by a corporation.

Joy is something…brighter, warmer, fuzzier, unknowable.

Why mince words? The thesaurus will tell you that both words mean pretty much the same thing.

But why, this being the Christmas season, is everyone suddenly aware of the word Joy… Why is it in so many non-secular X-Mas songs, the ones about Jesus and what-have-you, going on and on about bringing Joy to the World? It just suddenly started driving me a bit ponderously mad – thinking, now, that that might be the most valuable thing about the whole Christmas Season. Joy. 

(And when I use that phrase “season,” I don’t mean something meteorological, I don’t mean something evocative as leaves and sunshine and snow and insects, I mean something more crass like Oscar Season, or Baseball Season…I mean something that’s more perfunctory).

Happiness is something you have, I think… And Joy is something you give.

The emphasis, though, is that Joy is something less tangible than a new pair of headphones or pre-paid tickets to the Car Wash… 

And that’s when I, just like every other Mickey-Mouse-Charlie-Brown-Yukon-Cornelius-Christmas-Special…enter the clichéd refrain of having this intangible “joy” be something you keep…I don’t know where, maybe in your heart? Let it be something that leaves a mark upon the people you know and love, like delicately carved initials into the bark of their heart or abstract paint scrawls upon the canvas of their soul… You pick your visual metaphor.

Leave your mark. Leave joy.

And leave Happiness on the shelves of the department stores. Save your money…for more meaningful causes.

“I’m not…cra-zy… It’s (almost) Christmas Eve. It’s the one night when we all act a little nicer. We….smile a little easier. We…we…share a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be…”

How in the name of whatever-sanctified-spirit-Above, did I wind up quoting a movie? That’s my own weakness, a muscle atrophied by the distraction prevailed by the digital age…Because a movie is probably playing right now on your television, telling you about happiness and joy.
The impact depends upon whether you just re-quote it or whether you try giving it out…

“Oh, by the way… here.”

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Year in local Music Videos

First, here's a teaser of a video that'll be premiering soon, featuring The Jamaican Queens
Jamaican Queens 'Wellfleet Outro' [Trailer 2] from The Right Brothers on Vimeo.

In the meantime... Here's another video by videographer duo The Right Brothers (who are wrapping up the JamQ clip streaming above):

Mic Phelps & Britney Stoney - Burn
Mic Phelps & Britney Stoney 'Burn' Live from The Right Brothers on Vimeo.

Also, there's a new music video for the Hard Lessons' lead single of their forthcoming album Finish What You Started Stay tuned to their main site for updates on that as well as info regarding their 8th annual Post-X-Mas Concert (12/26) at St. Andrew's Hall. 

More Videos on the way in 2014 - from James Linck and Mic Write
Okay then--- Some, if maybe half, of the sensational videos that were released by Michigan-based talent.
At a time when the Facebooks and Twitters of the world have palpably wobbled our attention spans, music videos have re-risen, not just as creative outlets for bands, cinematographers and directors (not to mention enthusiastic extras), but also as a means for bands to get their songs out there, into the ominous, quaking Internet ether...It's disconcerting that the music generation coming up, out of their teens and into their 20's, now, are more attuned to a musical-intake alike to a stick of chewing gum, just streaming something once or twice and moving on... I don't know where we're headed, if that continues to be the case, but I do know that some exceptional videos were produced this year, here, in and around the city and throughout the state, by our homegrown talent.

A video is always twice as enticing as a bandcamp-stream, after all - Zap our eyes with imagery, local artists... Dazzle us, and we're sure to keep that song you wrote stuck in our heads for the rest of the day, after the embedded clip refreshes.

On with the videos:
Odd Hours - Khaleesi

The Silent Lions - Terrible Days

Carjack - 2013 Theme
CARJACK - Theme 2013 (Music Video) from Mike Rozman on Vimeo.

Eddie Logix - In The Meantime (feat. Mister & Benjamin Miles)

The Kickstand Band - Still Thinking Of You Tonight

Double Weirdo - Tame Tame

George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus - Fuck It

Clear Soul Forces - Ain't Playin

Black Milk - Sunday's Best / Monday's Worst

Jamaican Queens - Can't Say No To Annie

Frontier Ruckus - Black Holes

Eddie Logix & Doc Waffles - Painting Of Cats

Pewter Cub - King Baby

Johnny Ill Band - Used To Be Confused

Microphone Phelps - Ambitions of a Writer

And, finally...
Bars Of Gold will, at some point, be premiering a proper music video for their next single (off of Wheels) called "Blue Lightning." It sounds (and looks) like the video below.

Two more...

Christopher Jarvis - Star Tetrahedron

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - If You Didn't See Me...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cassanova by Loretta Lucas - 12/28 - WAB (Ferndale) with Violets / Laura Finlay

I listened to Loretta Lucas' 2012 performance at the annual Dally in the Alley in midtown and, walking away from that in a subtle daze, the song that stuck with me the most, haunted me the most - turns out to be the flipside of her forthcoming single: "Cassanova."

The song of which I speak, though, with its enticing melodic swirl and strutting-Spectory-back-beat, is "Interim." And I employ the tired, cliched descriptor: "haunting," only because its Lucas' signature - something like purposefully tipping framed art crooked on the wall or bringing orchid flowers under the sinister glow of neon black light bulbs, the allure of making what would otherwise be a blend of folk and early 60's pop into something more, (again, a tired, cliched descriptor:) "gothic..." It's in the graceful use of minor keys, a bent or hollow sound from the acoustic string and the minimalist percussion, or in the way her vocals loft down like a beautiful ghost at the chorus of "Interim..."
"No one can own my soul...."

But again, that's the flipside. "Cassanova" will be the lead-off. This stout, brooding bass churns with the ever-more-distorted and ever-more insistent hits upon the drums while Lucas, double-tracked, harmonizes a duet with herself to a dazzling effect, with her breathy, fluttering incantation invoking "up and away..." Up, up and though the vocal melody is trying to break free and fly away from the comparatively dark, dirgey sound of the rhythms below.

Jesse Shepherd-Bates (...of many projects and passions) directed a music video for "Cassanova," which should be online by the time of the release concert:

12/28 at the W.A.B. with Laura Finlay and Violets.
22646 Woodward Ave

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

(Don't) Let It Go: Malkmus & The Jicks in Ferndale (in February)

I wasn't a Pavement fan for very long before they broke up... 
But, I still think I can say I was a Pavement fan before a lot of other Pavement fans. 

Then again, I can't say that I was a fan of the Fall before a lot of other higher ranked reputable fans were...
I liked Captain Beefheart before Jack Black was throwing around his record in a scene from High Fidelity or before Mark Maran worked the quirky maestro into his set as an awesome, surreal existentialist joke.
But I'm only so old, it's not like I could have been see Guided By Voices on their 1994 tour or to be bring Sebadoh III CD up to the counter at the record shop to buy it in its first week of release. I started listening to the Velvet Underground the first week I could drive a car, for however much that counts.

Why is it that we get so...protective, or edgy, about losing our beloved icons to a mass of new listeners who, god forbid, didn't get to know the band in the same special way, be it in person or be it in their early stages or be it during their darkest-of-unknown-dark-horse days?

Stephen Malkmus has been with the Jicks nearly as long as he fronted the Pitchfork-deified indie-rock outfit Pavement. And with Wig Out at Jagbags coming out in a few weeks, listening to some jams like "Lariat," "Shibboleth" and "Houston Hades," with their distinctive piano phrasings, eerie bass grooves, strutting beats and embellished guitar freak-outs, I've come, fully, to terms with Malkmus now being separate from the past. The past is past. Lou Reed is gone, Sebadoh are moving on and I know that their shouldn't be a Van-Vliet-V.I.P. punch card to prove how cool I am... Malkmus should be for the masses, no matter how long they've followed him or Pavement for that matter.

But the bigger point is... "Let's go...Don't Let Go...Let go!" Mac McCaughan penned lyrics in the opener of his group Superchunk's excellent 2013 LP I Hate Music... Nostalgia should only be one very small part of the Pyramid of your music diet - If you indulge too much, you become either elitist, cynical, distracted, disillusioned or just grumpy...for the precious past that only you can understand in just this special way. Let go.

Malkmus said, in a recent press release, that influences for Wig Out include: Cologne Germany, Mark Von Schlegel, Rosemarie Trockel, Von Sparr and Jan Lankisch, Can and Gas. Imagined Weezer/Chili Peppers, SIc Alps, UVA in the late 80's, NYRB, Aroma Charlottenburg, inactivity, Jamming, Indie guys trying to sound Memphis, Flipper, Pete Townsend, Pavement, the Joggers, The NBA, home life in the 2010's…

The Jicks (Jake Morris, Mike Clark, Joanne Bolme) said they found Berlin (where they recorded this album) to evoke a strange, liberating feeling of isolation, or seclusion, despite it's size and thrumming creative energies....And, after two years, they felt as though they started "to cease to exist..." And that, coming back out of the studio was a kind of a re-birth.

Jicks reborn!

So let's not bring up Pavement. Let's not even bring up Malkmus' particularly sensational 2005 LP Face The Truth. Let's just ready ourselves for a Wig Out at Jagbags! 

Let's ready ourselves for Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks actually coming right to the veritable doorstep of my hometown - to the ever burgeoning hub of contemporary hip - The Loving Touch - on February 21st.   

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Addendum to "Top 50"


This came to my ears late this year. But, currently, I find it to be the most fascinating album. It is, for this week, my #1 of 2013... Emphasis on "currently," but then, double-emphasis on "fascinating."

Meticulously arranging acoustic instruments (bass, piano and drums) for a 45-minute song-cycle that mimics the mechanized, looping structure of electronic music - That's right, organic-sounding instrumentation chiming, whirring, clicking and grooving as though they were composed and played-back through a digital interface... But it's the groves that give Dysnomia its appeal.

I mean, don't get me wrong - this is certainly an acquired taste and those with metronome-aversions should probably stay away. I wouldn't call it kitschy, (not yet, anyhow...) What drew me in, aside from the hypnotic beats and eerie minor keys atop a steadily lapping bass groove, was that this spoke to me as a statement upon the technological singularity... That humans, should they assign themselves and flex their mighty abilities of focus and disciplined musicianship, can be just as (or nearly as) perfect as machines. In Greek Mythology, the word Dysnomia suggests lawlessness... Curious, then, that this trio is purposefully playing with strict limitations. How much creativity can be flexed under the clamp of computer protocol?

Dawn of Midi

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What To Write (Closing Thoughts on 2013)

Mornings of solitude can bring haunting revelations. There's space and there's calm, calm enough to start hearing and seeing things as loudly and as vibrantly as they likely couldn't have appeared otherwise.

Detroit music. And all its players. All its listeners. All its singers.
Routine rumination on developments in music made in and around the area...

These quiet solo-mornings, they can be somewhat nauseating and exhilarating all at once. You're up, your brain still sifting through the granular remnants of whatever wacky or wonderful dream inside which you've spent the last 6 hours hiding. Nothing makes sense and yet all you want to do is start crafting exclamations.

But settle down a second...

There is no bus to catch. There is no one that you have to force "Hellos" to in creaky voices from an unclear throat. You're uncaffeinated-self can slowly bloom, the muscles of your face and shoulders steadily charge up and there is no one to compete with, no perfect and polite but yet unknowable stranger of a co-worker shuffling pointless papers in the cubicle beside you, no peacoat-donned business-type with kempt side-burns lunging upon you when the train lurches to its final stop, there is no coffee to spill because you are static, there is no phone to answer because you only have your own work in front of you - this beautiful and horrifying empty page.

What to say...What to write...

You think. Oh, you think until your skull throbs. But nothing comes. From behind your head's thin cranial walls, a carousel of possible points to muse upon; stories blooming that could be brought attention, if anyone is listening.  As profound to you as any hero of literature, Edmond Dantes, Sidney Carton or maybe even Bilbo... Fantastic creators creating their life's work.

You are in the center of a city among cities of sub-scenes sure to be overlooked by every other would-be big-to-do blogger out there in the cyber-otherworld who's so sure they know what's what when they can't even hear what's going on in this town, your town...your town so tacked with interesting artists defying tired, sanctified preconceptions of classical forms... You're hearing the sound of them spilling paint upon the canvas. Even if it's just Ferndale's crop of affable weirdos.

They're still plotting out and pouring out a curious little story, day to day. Song to song.

What a year.

Bands I've been following for years, six, some seven...have finally...what's the right phrasing? Not matured, not mellowed, but more like...synced into self-actualization. Finally, (actually) making their defining records... Or however cliche you'd prefer to spin it ...their, let's just say it, "best work to date." It's as though they finally found their footing upon an ever quaking, half-sunken, eruptive Internet landscape, where their survival instincts have hardened their perspectives on why one makes music in the first place, leading to the most liberated, most unique and yet most sincere works.

Former indie rockers, punk rockers, studio hermits and gear-heads who once had only half-their lives put together are now growing older, getting married, having kids, and finding a new point of view. Bands from Detroit are getting on major labels, touring as regularly as they can, teasing curiosity from other cliques, scenes and artistic enclaves over just what this place, Michigan, is all about -such as to foster such a unique blend of creative-types.

Things are ever changing around here, if you're listening close enough. Its a storm of emotions around here, (new exuberance, wilted nihilism, renewed motivation, lingering frustration, resolute optimism)...surging from a vast league of bands trying their hands at ambitiously eclectic combinations (and mutations) of genres.

What can I say? What can I write?

Depends on next year's batch of songs...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

George Morris & the Gypsy Chorus

Music after the Internet has created a vast gray area. Inside it, rock bands can go electro, DJs can play acoustic guitars, rappers can make Yeezus and cyborgs and sing about being human. It’s not so black and white….

But then there’s George Morris, a talented singer/songwriter with an ear for pop and a resume filled with rock, who has an EP coming out that’s heavily electronic, sequenced beats and tricky techno-effects…and some guitars too.

George shrugs at me with a shy, self-deprecating smile, shaking his head at his own motives.
“I guess I called it…the Black and White EP ‘cuz…the videos we just shot for some songs were…filmed in black-and-white…”

He ends his sentence with an upward inflection, like he’s questioning it out-loud or like he hasn’t figured it out yet. But at the same time, he has figured it out. The EP’s done. It’s ready. Besides, George knows, for the most part, what to put the most stress on, it’s not album titles so much as it’s the songs, the melodies, the structures; it’s not his past hang-ups over synths or distinctly “electro-sounding” music. The equipment, whether it’s a fender or a moog, shouldn’t matter as much anymore.

The stress, or the highlight, or really, what matters, in a George Morris song, is often his singing voice: a pretty , wispy thing, pinched to a nasal tone symptomatic to any rustbelt-dweller’s characteristic inflection but curled in its corners with an affectation resonant with all the Brit-pop (60’s/90’s) he’s ingested in his musical upbringing.

What happens next is the EP comes out…at some point. But then what? 

“Reshuffling…frequent…rapid…capricious…unpredictable…permanence…?” Those are the words that come up most often as we discuss how much sense, if any at all, can be made from the erratic ebbs and flows and overall erratic logistics of the modern music industry and its galaxy of scenes, its littered nebula of niches…Fuck it!

The world of bands has changed quite a bit since George Morris was flown out to the west coast ten eight years ago with his high school band, The Satin Peaches, to sign a big record contract with a big record label. Ho, those days are long gone! Everyone’s on the field, now, all at once, but no one’s carrying the ball. Is there a ball? The whistle’s smashed and the scoreboard’s on the fritz. Where’s the goal line?

It’s that curious and frightening power: utterly enabled and liberated to try whatever and whenever in-spite of the exhausted status-quo forms of the past. That’s why this singer/songwriter, who’d spent nine of the last ten years associated with a rock band – has gone electro.

George says he’d never considered himself a rock-song writer, so to speak; the songs you’ll hear on the Black & White EP came from a writing approach he’s usually followed in the past – just with different equipment. This isn’t like Thom Yorke leaping from Radiohead’s psych-ish rock anthemics of Ok Computer into the knottier electronica of Atoms For Peace… It’s not that weird or even ostentatious. No, these are pretty pure pop songs, strung along by swingy melodies and those hazy vocals fluttering down instantaneously sing-a-long-able phrases; the lyrics are lashed with post-apocalyptic affairs, parodying post-internet nihilism- but charming with their simple poetry, fitting nicely, somehow, to the organs chilly tones.  

And that voice – it lilts along with a feathery quality, a bit bleary at points as though this is a new voice for him that he’s only just rousing to wakefulness, sporadically puncturing through with a throatier warble – So this is Morris on a new morning. A more electronic morning.

Morris isn’t concerned with contracts anymore, so much as he’s focused on how a band even operates in this zany internet world. Step 1 – get a band: (Aaron Nelson on bass, Zach Pliska on drums and Helena Kirby on keys), so that you can face the exciting and unpredictable stormy internet seas together, as a Chorus, a Gypsy Chorus.

Keep your ears peeled for the Black and White EP - The Gypsy Chorus hope to release it sometime in mid-Winter or shortly thereafter. 

Next show: New Year's Eve

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Top 50 of 2013

What a year... No metaphor could do justice to the madness of this year's musical developments; the listeners, for years now, have had their ears steadily filled to the overwhelming brims... It's gotten to the point now that, in any given year, there is so much that one COULD listen to, that it becomes difficult to figure just what stood out more than anything else.

Kanye West went all Metal Machine Music on us, shattered all the big bright production bulbs for harsher aesthetics, dark, doom-laden techno-punk fits sampling sacred songs and boldly self-deifying himself. In a way, both West's Yeezus and French dance-domination duo Daft Punk's Random Access Memories could both be album of the year. Yeezus seemed to strike the battle cry of: ...Fuck it!

Everything and nothing all at once, all bets off, let's try this, let's try don't like it, it's your
problem. While Memories found two cold, unknowable robots taking their sleek, digitally-immaculate sound and perfectly punched dance-beats back to a hotter, heavier, fuller sound, a more human sound, with live instrumentation and multiple collaborators sharing in their once introverted world, a cry against the airless, nihilistic, sweat-free world of Facebook's illusory blur, a beating heart to pump blood back into the feeds of a disillusioned dystopia, with full on throwback funk fucking up the status quo of midi-electronica.

But then, maybe this was the year for Vampire Weekend. I utterly begrudge the fact that they wound up at the top; but I also can't deny that I was drawn to the entirety of the record, responding to its lyrical sentiments and intrigued by the quirky effects employed throughout so as to creatively crust up their ever maturing make of wavier, wearier indie-pop. My best compliment to their Modern Vampires Of The City was that, heretofore, I've found Vampire Weekend insipid, underwhelming and loved-enough, really, by everyone else, so as not to really need anymore thumbs-up, least of all from me. But, for this year, alongside the inimitable Bars of Gold, they get some thumbs-up from me...(I mean, really, can interchange BoG and VW...the scales may even tip in favor of BoG, but I could waffle all day. In fact, speaking of Waffles.......)

But really, as I said, symptomatic this new decade's musical manner - where everyone can listen to everything at almost every waking second by any means imaginable - it could, truly, have been any of these records that stole the show. But there's no more show to steal... The curtain's torn away and there's hundreds of spotlights. And no more script.
Take 2! Action!

50. Rober Glasper - Black Radio II
49. Tim Hecker - Virgins
48. Chvrches - Bones Of What You Believe
47. Arcade Fire - Reflecktor
46. Lorde - Royals
45. Unknown Mortal Orchestra II
44. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - Speed Of Things
43. Jamaican Queens - wormfood
42. Disclosure - Settle
41. Black Milk - No Poison No Paradise
40. Four  Tet - Beautiful Rewind
39. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
38. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Jama Ko
37. Inside Llewyn Davis -Original Soundtrack
36. Foals - Holy Fire
35. Oscillating Fan Club - Oscillations Of A Beast
34. El P and Killer Mike - Run The Jewels
33. Polvo - Siberia
32. Shigeto - No Better Time Than Now
31. James Blake - Overgrown
30. Wooden Shjips - Back To Land
29. Lee Ranaldo & the Dust - Last Night On Earth
28. Bill Callahan - Dream River
27. Of Montreal - Lousy With Sylvanbriar
26. Jagwar Ma - Howlin'
25. Cass McCombs - Big Wheel
24. Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold
23. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
22. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
21. Thee Oh Sees - Floating Coffin
20. Duende - Murder Doesn't Hide The Truth
19. Danny Brown - Old
18. Cave - Threace
17. Kurt Vile - Walkin On A Pretty Daze
16. Savages - Shut Up
15. Janelle Monae - Electric Lady
14.  Smith Westerns - Soft Will
13. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
12. Kanye West - Yeezus
11. My Bloody Valentine - m b v
10. Neko Case - The Harder I Fight
9. Frontier Ruckus - Eternity of Dimming
8.  Haim - Days Are Gone
7. Adult. - The Way Things Fall
6. Saturday Looks Good To Me - One Kiss
5. Willis Earl Beal - Nobody Knows
4. King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
3. Superchunk - I Hate Music
2. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
1.  Bars Of Gold - Wheels

Honorable Mentions:
Valerie June - Pushin' Against a Stone
Sebadoh - Defend Yourself
Terrible Twos - Horror Vacui
Drake - Nothing Was The Same
Eddie Logix Plays Lykke Li
Darkside - Psychic
....and too many.... 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

#24 IV 2013 ...a year capping playlist by Thomas Matich

A Spotify mix containing some of my favorite tracks from 2013. 

words by thomas matich

My favorite "album" of the year is not currently available on Spotify, which is mbv by My Bloody Valentine. mbv echoes the early '90s prime of Kevin Sheilds' distortion drenched guitar and Belinda Butcher's hypnotizing whispers, brilliantly splicing stashed recordings from the vintage era with a sleek splash of modern dazzle. It trumps many of the recent works put out by countless current artists who took much liberties in their inspiration from My Bloody Valentine's '91 masterpiece, Loveless.

It's a rarity that legends recapture the magic of their glory days. Michael Jordan wasn't the same when he came back to the Washington Wizards.

But if we could have vintage Madonna vs Gaga, 2Pac vs KanYe, Pink Floyd vs Animal Collective, etc.. what would that look like? Pop culture hinges so much on generational sentimentalism and theories of who "begat" whom. 

Hence, a quote from Jordan on the outcomes of time-traveling to compete with legendary players both past (Jerry West) and present (Lebron James):

"I don't think I would lose," Jordan said, "Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves."

My mix has some Boy George, Gaga, Pet Shop Boys, Disclosure, Drake, R. Kelly. Beauty in youth and vintage. Take your pick. 

Oh, and here is one from mbv -- which came like a lunar eclipse one night in February. 

The Arts

The patient's on the operating table. Surgery is underway. Excision to obtain fiscal solvency, and Emergency Manager Kevin Orr is holding the scalpel - Detroit has been cleared for eligibility to become the largest municipality to declare bankruptcy by Judge Steven Rhodes.

But the Art could be saved. There was a chance, it seemed earlier, that the artwork of the DIA would be at risk. But, there's even a possibility now, that maybe, just maybe, the pensions too...could be saved.

It's still all very wait-and-see...

There's a lot to worry about. There's a lot to be upset about. There's still a bit be hopeful for...

The energy and enthusiasm of the Arts community has only amplified under the watch of this blog...As the city's financial woes increased, so to, did the activities of its artists, its crafters, its painters, its graphic designers, its authors, its spoken-word artists, its musicians, its singers, its street-performers - There was activity everywhere. But beyond that, there was a sense of community in every one of these corners.

Further reading: 
Plan to Privatize the DIA Still Alive

What are we all still doing here, trying to beautify a city that's ridiculed by so much of the rest of the country...A deluded-country convinced that this could never happen to them... Well, the bars will still open so the rock shows will go on... DIY devotees will still foster their own art-spaces for exhibitions and unconventional performance art, off the beaten paths. The MOCAD's been going five year's now and the Metro Times Blowout festival expanded in duration, location and line-up.

And this weekend - Midtown's shops open their doors with good cheer for the annual Noel Nights (more info here), just as the craft community aligns for this weekend's Detroit Urban Craft Fair.

And later on....there's the Mittenfest Music Festival -5 days of live music over in Ypsilanti -raising funds for non-profit writing-education organization 826Michigan. +

These artists have bright spirits and big hearts and it seems to me they're staying here because they still feel that sense of community, whether the municipality downtown is bankrupt-or-not. It's the art and the artists, like those on display daily at the D.I.A. that demonstrate why this city is worth saving.

Let's see what happens next, for the D.I.A.....

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bare Mutants

Bare Mutants know how you feel...

Their stew of twanged out swirly-post-rock seriously stews over so much of the day to day shit, the frustrations sometimes made frivolous in hindsight, and steamrolls it under crusty distortion and obfuscating echoey effects, quashing out catharsis with fulsome guitars and brooding baritone. But halfway through The Affliction, (out on In The Red records) when a poppier kind of waltz splits up the sides and lets in some sunshine, you start to suspect some pointed parody of other moodier murk-rockers (like, I dunno, The National?) with titles like "I Suck At Life," and the marching balladry of "Crying With Bob," surging with a kind of pageantry characteristic to some unfilmed high-school-cast coming-of-age indie art pic soundtrack's closing credit scene. ("Life took a dump on me today..." Can't sing it any plainer than that!)

In any case, mid-00's music fans around this area will hopefully recall the multiple stops that Chicago-area indie-rockers Ponys made here throughout their existence, fronted by singer/songwriter Jered Gummere... Well, this is Gummere's new thing.

National -i.e. non-Michigan Bands-  are starting to stop into our neighborhoods on a more regular basis this last year. And, I'm not talking about the arenas, I'm talking about the modest sized bars like The Loving Touch. Not that this is a life-or-death end-of-the-world type of issue, but in order for a music community to thrive, one considerable aspect of that is supporting the bands who aren't your actual friends or neighbors, the perfect strangers -rather- who are really just like your friends and neighbors...only they live about 6 or 9 hours down the freeway...

Detroit's Feelings and Radio Burns open things up - at the Loving Touch in Ferndale Tuesday (12/3) at 8pm

Sunday, December 1, 2013


There's a lot going on in December.

Here's three events of interest that I'll elaborate on further in the weeks ahead.

On December 18th, the forceful kaleidoscopic-pop stylists of Flint Eastwood will have their first formal headlining gig, in Ferndale. (See their recent video, "Secretary" here:)

The Hounds Below will open things up that the Loving Touch.
More info here. 


My favorite record shoppe is throwing a Holiday shindig with Melvin Davis and more!
December 20th

Finally, later on - December 27th - January 1st

So, The Jamaican Queens are back in town; home from a European Tour that wrapped up their promotion of their debut album wormfood. Now, give them some time to rest, re-situate and reconvene into their recording space, so that they can then hash out the 20-something new song ideas that they have for LP 2.

In the meantime, they'll shoot out to Grand Rapids in a couple weeks.
But, closer to Detroit, they'll be in Ypsilanti at the end of the month...

That's Mittenfest in Ypsilanti. ^^
This is a five-day music festival raising funds for nonprofit writing education organization 826Michigan. A worthy cause. A wonderfully wide-ranging sampling and music-community-summit for the whole State's scene. 
For more info on the 7th annual Mittenfest - click here. 

Linck To The Future

James Linck says he's going to try anything, try whatever he wants. And, not really care what anyone thinks.

Perfect. That's the way to be right now.

Been the way to be for a while.

Over the last two years, Linck made songs like these:

Something that could be a weird blend of new-wave and soul, under a pop-splashed umbrella.

And this...

Something that features elements of rap and R&B but still fits into its own little groove of electro-pop.

He can't explain how he winds up making the music that he does, considering his actual tastes. He grew up listening to nothing but hip-hop, but he's never really ever rapped. And he's not rapping on his new stuff.

This new stuff makes him smile and furrow his brow all at once. It's considerably close to being finished (a feat in itself, considering he's bouncing between recording spaces and lily-pad-leaping from laptop to laptop). He drops names like Doc Waffles and Tunde Olaniran in terms of the fledgling project's current list of cameo contributors.

He shakes his head in a swift twitch before settling on one word for the newer stuff:

A frightening future and a sentimentalized past curtain a heavy heart that, through song, is shielded from any judgment and free to employ jittery beats, spooky UFO synth drones, rousing, repetitive choruses and as high a falsetto as this singer, neither-pop-nor-R&B / neither-rap-nor-soul, can muster...

...But we won't hear that until the New Year.

For now, Linck, just like you...has to go to work. He needs day-jobs to manage the bills, spending time on his feet under fluorescent lighting with moderated temperatures inside office walls, counting hours until he can start writing the next song.

And ain't that how it goes...

When he's talking about his new songs, Linck, more than once, puts his hands into the air. A shrug of liberated confidence. In the Internet Music World -where it seems like anything could stick and nothing stays, where it seems anything could spark and yet it's sometimes too bright to focus-in, where there's a lot of white noise, the happy-hellish hum of every band on the field at once singing their fight song on a march toward the end zone...but no one's got the ball.

Why not shrug, then, and try whatever you feel like trying -in that moment - regardless of if you've got a band, regardless of whether it's rap, R&B, pop or electro- Because what's all that, anymore, anyway?

What Up?

Odd Hours~~Khaleesi

Somewhere out there, a charming yet spooky cabin cloistered away from the polluted air and freeway-packed cement veins of Michigan's noisier cities, houses a motivated musical outfit called Odd Hours, where singer Natasha Beste dreams up surreal strategies for victory over a digitized-doom risking disillusionment for a range of creative types, surrounded by five monitors where she's editing new video or creating new song ideas... or keeping up correspondence with collaborators like Tunde Olaniran (or some of her other satellites, like...say, The Rogue Satellites).

Beste and her longtime musical partner Tim Jagielo have been developing Odd Hours for several years now. It's grown from a dark, glam-shredding post-punk, to a claw-drawn, metal-twisted pop/rock thing. That it got heavier and more propulsive in rhythm, is credited to recent-ish additions of Clint Stuart and Randy Hanley Jr.

Odd Hours and Gold House are operations that demonstrate an appreciation for group efforts.

Beste, with director/videographer Kevin Eckert, started up Gold House a couple years ago with an expressed interest in supporting local musicians. Odd Hours, by extension, particularly Beste, bears that out consistently, thinking up new ways to squeeze life into (and out of) the scene with exciting and engaging conceptual blends of live music, video and art; not to mention a liable-to-leap-off-the-stage-at-any-refrain kind of vigor to their own stage presentation.

So that's why you'll be getting something "dark and sexy" but also "weird and playful..." Something that will confuse and coax...A commentary against majesty and materialism, against greed and collective-cultural-gloom... Or, maybe it's not against anything at all... But damned if it won't be dazzling -with Eckert behind the camera and pop-singer Tunde Olaniran onboard as Art Director, the music video for Odd Hours new single 'Khaleesi' should prove to be sumptuous and surreal all at once, a gush of the gothic under a confetti storm of devilish dollar bills.

Ritual hell-money burning: check. A disguised septuagenarian grandfather driving a motorboat: check.

A petulant ruler in her golden money palace: check. Custom-built seven-foot black steel throne, in hell? Yes, that too.