Sunday, August 31, 2014

Listening: Mic Write - Code Green

Minute's up / don't know where it's gone
Life is very short / and there's no tiiii iiime

The transmission provides the power for the car's engine. There will be no going forward without it. No drive.

Transmission also involves communication - the sending of information in various forms, an expression of emotion embodied by beats, a confessional spill supplied in rhyme, a poignant punch coiled with nostalgic funk, soul and cool shit samples.

The blippy warble of radio frequencies blur into soothing strings and rousing choir. Our protagonist comes in, full tilt declarative bout the new shit he's on...presenting himself, bracing himself, setting the scene...setting the tone.

Listen: Transmission Start

A lot of other car metaphors come back into play for the libidinous "Day Job," a hazy-spacey R&B ballad with an indelible hook, sensual samples and plenty of blushable bits about chases and shaking chevys.

Listen: Day Job

"Where are we going...? / what car are we fitting the crew in...?" Themes of finding something through the art of the rap; a renewed inspiration, a respite from the wear of the rat race, a resolve to continue despite disenchantment or unfortunate karmic consequence, these have been explored, expanded and returned to by many in the #CoOwnaz collective, including Cold Men Young, which includes Mic Write. Fittingly, "Triple Fat Goose" opens with Stevie Wonders' cover of Paul McCartney's "We Can Work It Out...," particularly that now-or-never sentiment of how life is very short... We must be wary, then, of how we spend our time...

"If time is money than how am I spending my minutes?"

These are some of Mic Write's best, most earnest lyrics and Jay Norm knocks it out of the park -if just for that slamming beat that rattles the whole foundation of the track after Wonder's distorted vocals warble away...but also for that brooding bass that swaggers under the vocal track. That hook, that wavy sway and slide of the bass lick then lends itself to the low, guttural flourish of the chorus...

"Tell me how you livin / is it good to ya?"

It's a song that starts at the shifting of the seasons...from the bleak cold of winter to the rejuvenating warmth of spring and summer. Transmission...

But where are we going?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Matt Jones & The Reconstruction - Deep Enders -

Dodging wild pendulum swings 

It is futile now, to even try giving up that ghost, my friend.

 If you’ve got skeletons in your closet, you best teach them to dance.

“Mem-ory / wants / me / dead.” There’s such calm pacing to your singer’s delivery, the voice a thickened whisper over quavering strings, restless cellos, placid guitar strums.

Matt Jones picks up his guitar like an astral sword and wields the dull, hulking thing towards the neck of his nightmares; an aboutface, turning, back, back, back to the past, marching with it, speared over his head, to slay, to exorcise, to cast out…the darkest things… to (merely attempt) to deny his what he fears to be his destiny.

Oh, the heavy records and the beauty they bring. That feeling…when your eyes adjust to the midnight-black of a disparate wilderness., there’s illumination enough, here… submersing oneself into the cloudy bog of the past for a late summer’s swim; a pool made murky by your immortal mistakes, with bruise-tinted lilies floating atop eerily calm surface ripples that deceive the more furtive entities that burrow and snap their plaquey, creaky jaws throughout the darker streams toward the very bottom.

The Reconstruction’s orchestral arrangements, the bows upon cello, violin and bass, can rake with cathartic roughness, like scythes into webby grain; but then they can sooth with the next song’s more tranquil traipse. There’s an almost cinematic melodrama to the rustling tremolos building up into pretty lullaby-ish plumes of breathy choirs; there’s nostalgia to some of the folkishly curled melodies and radiance to the tones achieved on that reverb-flecked guitar intertwining with the ever-flickering fingerpick upon the acoustic guitar, there’s richness to the baroque-recalling accompaniment, these sumptuous, yet austere strings affecting an inevitable epic-ness, the soul-shaking reckoning that one only finds in the clarity of first light when that illusive sunlight you long for disintegrates a dream you’d been lost in for too long…

Imagery abounds, allegories to the civil war and torn photographs of taverns, history-book entries of ancestors whose faded-echo-heroism ever-shadows your poetic self-deprecation, the idealized love or loves of your life, your past lives, dancing and denting your memories as you try to mold them into a song that could be so sweet with its devastatingly beautiful melodies and precious pairings of crisp acoustics and sighing strings…. Could be sweet… could be surreal…

I’ve done enough writing…done enough talking to you about the ineffable sublimity of some of these songs…

Just listen:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Baptism - Passalacqua - CHURCH

"Ravenous...these ones that are left to salvage..."

I press play and immediately press the headphones snug against my ear. It's not loud enough.
I turn it up just 12 words into the first rap and there's a feeling of ascension with the choir, even though their chanting something as colloquially endearing as...
"Ohhhh, YEAH!" 

"Trying to keep my composure, wise enough not to call myself soldier" 
"I don't see another way / no, I sure do hope that all this pounding on my chest wasn't done in vein..." 

What do you do with that beat? Rock the body, shimmy shoulders? Nod the head with neck-kinking catharsis...? ...Or are we supposed to march? To stomp? Brace the knees and stand taller? 

This isn't proselytizing as much as it's instilling. It's not damning, it's emboldening. It's a rap that doesn't just point to the splay and spill of broken pieces...but resolves to pick them up. Fit them back together. 

Oh, but it's also not idealistic, preachy protest-rap. No, It's rap that does just as Mister says... pounds right on your chest. Ya' know, part of a baptism involves a regeneration. And that's one of the key ideas here, on this collaboration between Passalacqua and SYBLING

But the biggest idea is a bracing, a building, a galvanizing... of, what? You, yourself? This area? The style of music, hip-hop? New levels of production with those body-rocking bass booms and jitter-juking synth-chirps, new possibilities of genre-fusion? Possibly all of that.

There's these guttural spitfire raps, the words still serrated from the MC's teeth as they seethe out (and soothe away some spite), "Original mystic, evangelist gone ballistic, words with a man on a mission...and it all started out from a vision..." And then the choir's celestial voices coalesce again as the chorus comes in, belted as if nearly breathless, like the singer's assuring herself that her crescendo reaches the rafters: "this World's my drug..."

It's telling that, during Mister's opening rap, there's pitch-shifted samples of other voices repeating "Hit 'em."
Hit them.
Hit them. If that's what it takes, right?

The final chorus comes in and it starts to feel like something's dawning upon you; not like any heavenly light coming over the distant dark horizons (though the arrangement of synthesized strings, guitars and drums, mixed in such away, certainly does evoke a certain mystical radiance), but, no, it's like a widening of perception. That there is this whole fucking world, yawning and yelling and dying and living, all around you; big, enveloping, broken apart, surrounding you and your headphones. 

Turn it up more. Headphones, press em closer. The bass samples swoon, heavier, louder, and you feel like you're in a cement truck mixer and those snapping beats start to feel more like the alleviation of a pain you'd grown too used to to even feel anymore. Now, cleansed.. Back, alive. Braced, galvanized.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Third Wave Music

So, pretty soon, a new music store will open up in Detroit dedicated to establishing itself as "the best support system" for local musicians.

Third Wave Music will, eventually, be a full-service musical instrument shop; " and used gear, retail accessories, lessons, repairs and locally made goods!"

The Detroit Music Federation estimates upwards to 10,000 full time musicians in the Detroit area, but no substantial outlet for them to obtain supplies, equipment, replacements or lessons for the upkeep and continued evolution of their craft.

But more than just a locally owned and operated Guitar Center or some Detroit-version of a Memphis Drum Shop, this place, Third Wave Music, aspires to be a gathering place not only for obtaining strings, sticks, new keys or new reeds, but also for an overarching meeting-of-the-creative minds -of Detroit, for tutorship, for networking, for soundboarding in order to seek a renewal of inspiration. A musical place to meet.

So... who's behind this?
Jen David - daughter of a jazz musician father and a mother who ran a music store...(both of them integral influences for her, particularly as she works toward Third Wave's realization).
Get to know her

What inspires most idealistic ventures? Frustration.

David, who sings/performs/writes with local groups like Mama Roux and Illy Mack, also teaches a handful of budding students, part of her participation in the Detroit Music Teachers Collective. But the commute, from her home in Hamtramck out to the suburbs to see her students, was taking up time (and gas money, not to mention) as well as the extra time she'd have to devote to her day job.

So, A.) she needed that vital "creative time" that all musicians/artists need...but could never find the right balance of scheduling.
That's frustrating.
But, more importantly
B.) Why is there no reliable resource/outlet for musicians to obtain the supplies (and the education) they need, centrally located near downtown Detroit?
That's also frustrating.

"I had to make a plan forward," said David. "I just was never sure if I was ready to sacrifice creative time for business time. I realized, talking to other entrepreneurs, how rewarding all of this hard work could be. Kelli, from Wheelhouse Detroit, really encouraged me. 'Just do it!' she basically said.

"I really want to make a place, locally, where teachers can teach without getting stressed out by a commute..."

You can vote for Third Wave Music via the Hatch Detroit Contest -for entrepreneurs to obtain securing, start-up grants. Click here.

The store "will exist, definitely" with or without the grant...but the grant assures that this business will thrive, right from the get-go. Think about it: more used gear, more free community lessons, better soundproofing... And an overall welcoming, supportive and encouraging environment - a business owned by an enthusiastic woman musician who knows, having been raised by her mother, what it's like to run a music store.

"Many ladies I know," David said, "dread having to buy anything from (a music store), with having to deal with the sexist comments from the 'guitar store guy.'"

The name is a reference to the sound of a third, in music (two notes played together.) "It's harmonious and makes me feel positive," said David. "But, yes, it is also a feminist reference. As a feminist, I know it's important for women to have positions of power in male dominated fields."

Third Wave Music will be located in Forest Arms, with renovations slated to be finished by June of 2015.

The store will open shortly thereafter.

If it sounds like a good idea, you can vote here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Currently Listening: Turn To Crime

Detroit trio Turn To Crime released their debut album last month (via Mugg & Bop records). Defying preconceptions of psych, glam and out-there rock music and clattering it together into a groovy, yet gnarly new sound that has faint gusts of friendly pop under the crustier distortion's grimace.

A new video was released at the end of July, view and watch:

Pertinent info: