Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cameron Jones: Love, Honey

Cameron Jones has had his ears open. Coming of age around the Detroit music scene, the singer/songwriter has been stageside to several iconic songwriters and rock groups. He may only be 24, but it's not like he fell in love with a classic pop/rock sound just yesterday... Since before the Michigan music maker could drive a car, he's been quietly honing his craft, finding his voice, attuning his ear and sharpening his sensibilities. He could have jumped out there on stages as an 18 year old and thrown whatever raw guitar renderings he'd wrought from his initial heart-on-the-sleeve poetry, but instead he kept those solo songs set aside...opting to take-in the local music scene by-way-of other projects (like the indie-rock outfit The Jet Rodriguez).

Now, having established a sonic footprint around Detroit, he's opening up the notebook and plugging in his guitar... A solo record drops this Friday.

Around a time when singers like Tobias Jesso is bringing back the sentiment, when Matthew E. White is bringing back the classic rock 'n' roll sound to pop music and when others like Natalie Prass are pouring lots of soul and softer edges onto the ballad-format, you'll now find Cameron Jones following in that same vein, reviving the sophisticated energies of the classic American songcrafter's sanctification of melody and molder of moods... Pour in some swooning multi-track harmonies, Elliot Smithian bittersweet-tenderness and some Beatlesy-crescendos. ....Have we done enough name-dropping, yet? Maybe you should just listen for yourself.

Jones will be bringing his solo material to stages around Michigan and further out, with an autumn tour on the way. Stay tuned for dates and find more music HERE

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Detours Podcast

Reporter Rob St. Mary and the Detroit Free PRess bring you your weekend guide to arts, music, and brew, via the Detours Podcast, every Thursday... Have you been listening? It's coming up on 10 episodes, already; maybe you should subscribe

Your audio guide to Metro Detroit's thriving arts scene is finally here! 
Yours truly will be co-hosting with Rob St. Mary this week, talking about the DIY Street Fair, the Renaissance Festival and the Top 5 picks for the weekend, from the Detroit Free Press brain trust. 

Tune in... 

Friday, September 18, 2015

TV Is My Friend (Thoughts Before The Emmys)

So, the Emmy's are this Sunday. And, oh, how we sanctify our screens... Whether it's your flat screen HD behemoth in your living room pumping out basic cable slop or if it's something more offbeat on your iPad while you're on the bus, streaming Netflix or Hulu or Amazon many other avenues are there, now?

SHOWS. Dramas, Comedies, Documentaries, Reality Shows...SHOWS....

A TV Critic came on the air during NPR's Morning Edition to gripe about how demanding her job has become, now that someone decided we live in "...a new golden age of television." (Just hearing that phrase makes me want to watch something...anything).

The TV Critic talks about how they now have to spend more than six hours of their days watching television, ostensibly implying that there's just so much that deserves that much attention, that is worthy of reviews, that is potentially worthy of awards...

The Critic imagines herself defending her predicament against the editor of the Sports section: Imagine there were 50 new different kinds of sports with a hundred new teams playing them... or something to that extent... all tacitly deserving of coverage, of recognition, of validation.

Let's talk about validation. Or, rather, since we're talking about TV Critics, why not talk about Music Critics. Imagine there were 5,000 new sports with 25,000 different teams playing... And that's just a tip of the ice berg. How many bands, how many singular musicians, will pour just as much of their heart and utilize twice as much of their talents for their album as any actor or producer might for whatever new show has just been malevolently malformed inside a cold, corporate, focus-grouped board room inside a skyscraper among skyscrapers and scraped onto your screens in time for sweeps...

When the Grammys come along, there isn't a Music Critic coming on NPR talking about the chunks of their days spent listening to albums... Because something already feels so pre-determined about the Grammys. (You know this, already; I'm not necessarily chiseling a profound blog rant, here). Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamaar, Mark Ronson, Meghan Trainor...The implication being, we already know these megastars are pre-crowned, we know that if they're names are repeated throughout the evening's gala (and if some of them perform, live) then we'll get more ratings, so what's the use in debating?

What's the point in talking about your esoteric indie artists, your avant-gardist boundary-pushers, your artists who have just as much to say, sometimes more worthwhile, more inspiring, more enlightening... Forget about the 50,000 other sports teams that you, Music Critic, have been trying to keep up with, because not only are they utterly taken for granted, it's almost nonsensical for anyone to even get up on a bloggy soap box about their disregarded existence. Because music, and the  music that is made my modern musicians, is not as important as TV.

What else is on?

But, truly... TV is a numbing escapism, whereas music is an active escapism. TV is something that washes over you as you sit there, there is no dimension to it and it, whatever it is, say, a show, is often formulaic... Music challenges you. Music demands that you respond to it. It is a more engaging experience. Of course TV Critics are more glamorized... Because who doesn't love watching TV? It's easy. But is it love... Do you love watching TV? Or is it just something that you don't have to think to much about, as you do it... Dive in to an album...its essence is the majestic whale amid a sea of sound... Try to harpoon it, catch it, stop it, document it, dissect it... Maybe it won't even let you catch it. But that's the thing with music vs. TV... You have to try harder. It wants you to try harder. That's why I love reason among many.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


"This shit's corny, but we 'bout to turn it out!!"

LXL, (Large, Extra Large) is a new hip-hop project between MC WarrenPeace and producer/rapper Jah Connery. Possibly a device for silliness, possibly a vehicle of surreptitious thinking-man's satire in the form of facetious rhymes, but doubtless, a project of interest for local rap fans, since these two talents have put out a substantial amount of exceptional tracks as solo artists, already, over these last five years. To be honest, I have to back my blogger ass out of the room and just leave this right here... ...because Modern Knot Artists actually have a more effective, eloquent, character-defining biography of the project...

There will be a different sensibility to their upcoming cassette album, Nosh Pit, charged with an ardently self-deprecating spark and a charismatic sense of being comfortable in one's own skin, as this duo has three decades of life experience, along with families, now, so they aren't necessarily out to take on the world with braggadocio bars dropped about their cars, fat wallets or intimidating virility. "Rappers and artists are supposed to draw from experience..." said Joshua Davis (aka Jah Connery), "...well, here in our 30's, now, and as Dad's, this is our experience..."

The reason there's such a renewed energy behind these snarky, parody raps is that both Davis and Joe Liebson (aka WarrenPeace) felt like they were at a fork in the paths of their respective rap arcs... It was time to either make a U-turn or buckle tighter and go off-road!

"As father's of young children, (Liebson) and I found it hard to maintain the sometimes confrontational, but often serious lyrics we were writing for our own solo endeavors," said Davis. "We found in writing together that our lyrics became less dense, and more focused on wordplay. Adding turntablist KeeFlo was a no-brainer." KeeFlo, it should be noted, keenly cued in, quickly, with the vibe LXL was laying down, turning his talents behind the decks toward a comparable fare of irreverence... (like samples of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force) slicing in above the scratches into looped hooks of funky guitar riffs in "LXL Theme."

"Get respect / something that I never knew, like revenue / resolute..." (...Because, don't get us wrong, the pair of them might be rapping about John Cusack and "The Truth About Stupid," but both of them stitched in some sincere truths with yarns specific to some weary, but nevertheless resolute, 30-something Dad's still doing it, the best they can...

Says Davis: "We wanted the production to hinge on the sound of turntablism, in an attempt to, in our own music, pay homage to what hip hop was, without addressing it in the lyrics, which we think is kinda hack these days."

Nosh Pit will be released on cassette, iTunes, Spotify and most importantly, (the latter is producing the release party on September 19th).

"The release party will be a multimedia weird-out held," Davis said. "Most people who know us will be able to inuit the exact location when we say 'in Eastern Market...'"

Nosh Pit's release show, as we said, is on September 19 and it will feature performances from Mister (Passalacqua), Leaf Erikson (Smash Television, Audopilots), and :brownstudy. There's also talk of an 'omelette battle' between Jah Connery and Mister, a "Being John Malkovich-esque Experience" with WarrenPeace, live print making "made by and concerning" healthy snacks, and, finally, a "chicken and waffle beer" for "certain lucky individuals." 

You can extend your evening, on the 19th, with the monthly Head Nod Suite, the local beat-maker showcase featuring an instrumental set by Jah Connery, Clear Soul Forces beatsmith Illajide and DJ Ohkang behind the decks.

More info? Right here:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lt. Bad - Electromagnetic


Cuz with Lt. Bad, you can have it all... Well, you can have all the retro boombox bass-blasting breakdance glory... This Detroit duo started a synth-pop revivalist project a couple years ago with specific proclivities towards Cybotron-era Juan Atkins and Planet Rock-era Bambaataa. Before Lt. Bad, the pair songwriters and producers behind the project, incognito behind those certain 1983-ish mustaches and neon outfits, had been applying their experimental ideas to pop, post-rock and a bit of indie-funk, by way of some other bands throughout the mid 2000's.

With their debut, it was all about the dance-floor, the blaze of nightclub lights and helicopter-ing on some thing cardboard in the basketball courts... Electromagnetic brings in a brainier bit of thinking-man's techno, scaling back the bombast and dialing up the ambient grooves, the understated cymbal shuffles, the steadier disco friendly tempos, the minor key synth swells chittering and chattering as if to accommodate the 2 a.m. wanderer-and-ponderer who skips out of the club to go home to his lab and start scratching...scratching something new, something fresh, something more intimate.

Or, something more haunted? "Creeping On U," (featuring the theatrical/cool vocals of DUANE) has got a great groove and a bit of a boogie to it, but it's certainly oozing with that often creepy vibe that takes hold of those in the throes of infatuation....

And then, "Walk With U" brings in the cinematic dazzle with those wispy tones and spacey timbres, as the robot voices exude their short-circuiting emotion chips.

Call it neo-techno....Lt. Bad have evolved. Maybe we should give them a higher rank... But Captain Bad sounds too much like a pirate, or a hair metal song...

Until then...
Electromagnetic is out now and streaming online...

Saturday at the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, you can catch Lt. Bad backing up DUANE, the Brand New Dog, during his set at 8pm. Info

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bruised Reed's Doubles series

Bands these days have to get craftier about their collected recordings... Albums? Singles? How about Doubles...?

Local fuzz-pop quintet The Bruised Reed started building their own special series of recordings back in March when they released Doubles Vol. 1 - succinct, utterly digestible, quick-but-not-too-quick audio excursions that could showcase their new material, indoctrinate new fans or just keep their building-fan base contented for the next couple months... Playing shows is one thing, but there's something to be said for the intimate exchange, be it at home with headphones, in the car or on your phone, you...alone...with the band...and fresh new sounds to dig...

Doubles Vol. 2 went up online earlier this summer and I, personally, hope you try it on headphones, because their upping their production game; "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Culture War" blossoms immediately with this dizzying and dazzling swell of synthesizer tones throbbing across the channels before Kirsten Wheeler's whispery-yet-full voice whisks over the steady beat. Setting the stakes high with a culture war yet keeping the motif to a more cool, calm and collected pop song tempts me to conjure references to Yo La Tengo... BUT... It'd only take the space-rocket ignition of "Too Blind To See" to unhinge that hazy mellow and take things more into the indie-rock stratospheres.

The band is celebrating the release of Vol. 2 on September 19 in Corktown,with a performance at the Indian Summer Microfest