Monday, October 20, 2014

Tart (Interview + Video Premier)

Meet TART 

The beats are substantial. The minimalism gives it grit. The vocals sizzle and know when to soar.... The guitars can be funky if they need....and they know when to flourish....

And, oh, why not throw in a Daft Punk send-up riff and twist it into a Zeppeliny embellishment...

TART, a Detroit-based duo with Adam Padden on guitar/beats and Zee Bricker on lead vocals/bass, whimsically tip-toe lines between new-wave glitz and romanticized, goth-laced techno-pop, snappy hooks, and enticing melodies with vocals varying from soft, syrupy coos to breathless, beckoning balladry, all fo it weaving through a balanced light-flash storm of club-blasted oonzt beats and samplings of arena-rock bass kicks, while the guitars zig, zag and zip from strutting glam, to cloudy shoegaze, indie-riffage and, yes, some strange new take on space-funk. 

Man, it's all over the place. But that was the idea, at first. 

A while back, Zee felt very inspired to finally learn a musical instrument and get involved with the music scene. A musician-friend of hers suggested starting something with Adam... But the couple had a laugh about, initially. Not necessarily brushing the idea off, though... Just...unsure yet that it was necessarily the right idea at the right time. 

But, then, the next night, it did feel like the right time and the right idea. Adam, who'd joined the singer/songwriter Patrick Davy's group The Ghosts about five years ago, had only been "more or less...just a bass player," as he puts it. "I had dabbled with some songwriting and guitar playing, but never serious enough to be a catalyst for a legitimate project."

Says Zee: "...the whole idea was really that I could help create a platform for Adam to do whatever he wanted musically."

Adam says he learned a lot from Davy, particularly the potential effect a song can have on a listener's "soul, mind and body..." His time playing in the Ghosts taught him "about groove and what it really means to be a bass player..." 

He started up Nam Kook & The Typhoon towards the end of 2011 as a means to further flesh out some songs he'd been writing and gain some confidence as a frontman. "But it was never serious enough to be anything more than an occasional gigging band.  It was important for me to play the role of front man though, I guess I needed to prove to myself that I was capable."

After performing and touring most of 2013 as part of The Hounds Below (with Jason Stollsteimer, currently of PONYSHOW), the idea of starting something with Zee soon came up and the rest....

Zee: "One day, Adam came up with a guitar riff but couldn't find a vocal melody to go with it. I started singing over his guitar, and that became the first song we really wrote together, Kids I Know..." (Streaming above). 

TART was actually a four-piece for a little while, at first. But the fledgling project went on hiatus when Adam left for another Hounds tour.  

Last April, inspired to follow a new direction, Adam buys himself a sequencer/sampler. He makes sure that during this time, he was "listening to Daft Punk's first album, Homework, almost exclusively..." 

Adam: "I realized that I could potentially program full backing tracks with it, so long as we kept it simple. Meat and potatoes kind of thing. Strong melodies and a heavy beat.

He turned into a bit of a mad scientist, really, astutely setting himself to learn, experiment, experiment further, and learn more, still... little by little... "It was a slow process and I was constantly second guessing myself. Honestly, I was just worried about not being taken seriously... I feel like the stakes are even higher in a city like Detroit, with its rich electronic music history."

Their first EP is streaming right now, on their bandcamp. Dig the new video. 

Their MO, for now, as any new band's MO should be, goes something like:
"...Playing as often as we can and perfecting and tweaking our sound...."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ambient Music For Driveways (Autumn Revisited)

Sentimentality and romanticism cloys at some, I know.

But when the Moon is such a monster, up there like it is tonight, I care not for the eye-rolls of the un-enchanted.

Freed souls, lost souls, neither-here-nor-there souls, souls swept up in the gloomy glamour of frayed detritus upon hardened dirt, dried mud and frizzed grass… Here we are. The heart of October. It beats, up there, in the sky. Sounds like a song.

Ray Bradbury proclaimed October to be “…a rare month.” Verily.  

Winter: Gray. Spring: Green. Summer: Orange

Autumn: Everything at once! With darkness dashing in…

A time when minor keys sound beautiful, not mournful, when overcast skies are as welcomed as the first snowflake in December or when cinnamon could go with nearly everything.
You know it all too well.

But that moon up there that the world is ignoring each night, too many shut away into their rooms with their screens as it glows, resolutely up there, this lunar sentry, the look of a gaping, pale portal up there, its iridescence made faint by the fluorescence of our nervous, active, busy, loud cities with their signs and streetlights glaring upward into the misty skies, criminally sapping away mystique…

….that moon, above the clouds, amid the clouds, illuminating the clouds, is all but screaming, no…of course, it’s HOWLING…howling at you to get out and enjoy the night, be the night, for Autumn’s sake, just breathe it all in, these colors draining from dead leaves in the night, all insects absent, the lawnmowers now muted, the abominable air conditioners under nylon tarps, the quiet can start to reverberate mightily…

…if you just stand still, in the slight cold, in the dark night, for just five minutes longer, you mad lost soul, you neither-here-nor-there-soul, swept up in the gloomy glamour, as you should be, because what are you really missing, in there, back there, the clamor, the repeats, the status updates, the shared links, the latest MP3’s of who knows who and the chitty-chat/this-and-thats of the every-day-you-know-what-they-say…

Out here, there’s that monster moon. And the quiet reverberates – and it becomes like music, like everything pure can, with your whole viscera suddenly awakened like a tuning fork inside of you, swirled into a piqued, romanced vibrato, harmonizing with the nightsides of you, the dreamsides, as only the special keys struck by the notes of Autumn can…, those sides of you where you’re nostalgic inner child still runs to breathlessness, but then there’s the side, awakened only in Autumn, where you’re just at a strange sort of peace…

because the lights are off,

because its nearly time to retreat from the vicious snows, (but not yet),

because you can not only feel time, in Autumn, but you can see it and taste it, smell it and hear it…

It’s why Autumn is the most enlivening time to listen to music, to share music, to make mixes, to return to old favorites, to lose oneself in a song…

…because Autumn, like the perfect song, will trigger every emotion… in such a brief burst of otherwise fleeting time.

And I tell myself that that Moon will be as beautiful as it is, now, later on, in the colds of January.

And I know that’s just not true.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spell Check: King Tuff coming back to Detroit

King Tuff - Black Moon Spell 

New album on SubPop - produced by Bobby Harlow (Conspiracy Of Owls / The Go) and featuring local sonic emissary ("Magic") Jake Culkowski on bass.

King Tuff performs at The Magic Stick on October 15th (Wednesday night) 9 PM - with local triumphs Twine Time and Cassie Ramone (formerly of The Vivian Girls) - click here for more info

Everyone wants to summarize a sound, ...any sound. 

Certain soups of certain-buzzwords get ladled around, like: Nuggets-styled garage revival... 

There's much more to King Tuff than all of that...

The guitars and bass swarm together, a blitz, a blur, pedal-mangled marvels melodically coughing a swell of comet-belt-coiling space dust, ("Sick Mind"), there's the machine gun patter and propulsive pedaling of those mean, muffled drums ("Headbanger" and "Beautiful Thing") ...and then there's the dude's voice...King Tuff himself, with a voice sounding unearthly, inhuman almost in the coolest way possible, as though it were synthesized by some Neptunian engineer's dialing up of cosmic reverb... As it does on the song, "Black Moon Swell."

King Tuff on Sub Pop 

So if you want buzzwords, you can sprinkle in space-rock...but refreshingly weird space-rock. You can pour in some classic-rock throwback heart-attacks with those rip-roaring solos, yes... You can throw in some glam-ified bubblegum pop strut (...ala, yes, a bit of Marc Bolan-esque haze-n-blaze).

Why not just go out and see what it sounds like for yourself

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Blueflowers - At The Edge Of Disaster

The Blueflowers 

The Blueflowers always aim for the heart.

Not to warm it, no, but to break it.

The guitars cast a canopy of nightsky haze with their cool-grimace riffs reverberating endlessly into a night that’s already haunted by the beautiful wail of our balladeer, Kate Hinote, sounding as supernatural and sumptuous as if she just came to life from an faded oil painting of maroon and jade, belting a quavering coo that could rattle the drafty, candle-lit mansion inside which the Blueflowers music seems to inhabit… Oh, the cinematic strikes of those tastefully theatrical percussive elements, from slow waltzes to dashing shakers, snappy handclaps and rustling floor-toms, oh, the woozy heartbeat of that strutting bass, the pinched metallic howl of the pedal steel soaring over it, the comforting throwback surf-jangle to those riffy guitars…

“I sit on a table with my sunglasses on / I’m waiting to fight you, but hope that you win…” There’s an album opener for you, richened with reverb coated guitars and a bassline that slithers low to the floor like a viper ready to strike, a slow sashaying beat starts and it evokes a weary, wiry stride across a cleared out jukejoint with one’s fist clenched, ready to wring out all the romance in the room with all the right words for all the wrong reasons… The magic of The Blueflowers, these masters of the dark-and-dreamy aesthetic and the shuffling Western fable of loves-gone-wrong, is their ability to make the quaintly playful aspects of pop/rock, like handclaps, and the rustic charms of Americana…sound almost ominous, if not, yes, cinematic…like Nick Cave wrote a screenplay for Quentin Tarantino to direct while using whoever’s does cinematography for David Fincher…

This record’s out on October 24th

No Body - The Uncanny Valley

Sean Lynch, under the moniker 800Beloved and, now, as No Body, has always produced highly evocative music. Restless runs through endless night, radiating with an uncannily comforting nostalgia that could just as easily remind you of a nightmare, two electric limbs meeting in the ether, bridging industrial to bubblegum-pop, new-wave to surfy sock-hop l-u-v ballads, the guitars, sequenced beats and mellifluous moan/croons always slightly chilled as though they were something hardened by that first frost-speckled breezes of a late October air. 

With No Body, the Michigan musician/songwriter and producer, delves deeper into the realms of experimental synthesizer composition, while also shying away from all the feedback, distortion and eco-pedals that invoked “shoegaze-revivalist” remarks upon past 800Beloved records. The guitars are, inevitably, haunting; but the spotlight is upon the synth and Lynch’s voice (the latter is much more up front, free of any distortion whatsoever, marking another distinction from 800Beloved); meanwhile, the pulsating drum machines cast a spell while the synths, like Martian Wizards, affect a menagerie of effects, tones and timbres, whooshing gurgles closing in like cresting pipeline surf, frothed with spacey shimmer.

On The Uncanny Valley, Lynch seems to be crafting an ideal soundtrack to a surrealist noir pulp romance film that’s yet to be directed, (and we’re not just saying that because he shares namesakes with an actual famous director of similarly darkly-fantastical fare). Uncanny Valley is re-whittling more than a few genres as it bends, winds and whirls its way through a mesmeric tunnel of percolated tones and rattling reverberations, essentially incentivizing the otherwise alienating relentlessness of churning house music with the feathery, reverb-splashed guitar strokes and then jerking a few healthy tears loose from the otherwise bloodshot/cold-stare mechanical eye of krautrock by injecting a few warming major keys and some subtly buoyant melodies onto the factory floor.