Saturday, September 30, 2017

Six for Saturday: Gifts Or Creatures, Musique Noire, Timmy's Organism, Rebel Spies, Desmond Jones, SWEAT

Every weekend, I run through six songs I've been listening to from new releases by Detroit-area bands or Michigan musicians.

These could be bands I've already written about this month, they could be bands that YOU already went to see live when they officially dropped these albums, or, potentially, it could be a song from a band that you've never heard before... 

It's really just me keeping a catalog of what I'm listening to... And, probably most importantly, linking you towards their album streams so that you can check it out for yourself, download it, buy it, and maybe even see this band (or that band, or any band, here) at their next show.

Gifts Or Creatures

Musique Noire

Rebel Spies

Timmy's Organism

Desmond Jones


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Milo Minute on 101.9 WDET

So last November, I was humbled to be invited onto WDET's "Culture Shift" to start contributing weekly segments on Detroit music. Specifically, I had to assess a Top Six List of shows to check out during the upcoming weekend. I'm still thrilled, nearly a year into it, to be continuing "The Milo Minute..." (which, yes, I know, will typically clock-in around about 5 minutes, per segment, but alliteration is catchy so just go with it...)

Each week, I'm able to share four songs by local artists with "Culture Shift's" host, Amanda LeClaire. And after almost 200 songs, I've only repeated an artist on a couple occasions. And that brings a grin to my face.

Week in and week out there is so much creative activity in this city - not even just exhibited through live performances of music, but in so many other ways and mediums, be it dances and symphonies in theaters or visual arts exhibitions in galleries.

My beat is the bar, the venue, the house party... For as many instances of U2-sized bands playing Ford Field-sized arenas, or giant festivals with sufficient marketing power behind them, there are always four or five times as many shows put together by independent artists at spaces that hold 100, 75, 50 or less... I'm trying to talk about those shows. For any listener tuning in to WDET who doesn't know me or my writing.... (and those people probably aren't reading this blog, but still...), it's my M.O. with the Milo Minute to share with them the treasure trove of musical artists that I've been admiring for years, and even those that I, myself, am just discovering as each year rolls on...

While you're here, consider supporting WDET's independent journalism, curation of culture reporting, and unique local programming, as this year's fall fundraiser finds that station in need of more support than ever before.

You can hear the Milo Minute on weekdays from 12-2pm during "Culture Shift." And I can't wait to record the next one!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Six For Saturday: Prude Boys, Cheetahs, Ritual Howls, Nolan The Ninja, Steve Greene, Sean Madigan Hoen

Every weekend, I run through six songs I've been listening to from new releases by Detroit-area bands or Michigan musicians. These could be bands I've already written about this month, they could be bands that YOU already went to see live when they officially dropped these albums, or, potentially, it could be a song from a band that you've never heard before... These songs could be any  of those things, and they could even be a band that dropped something months ago that just slipped past my radar... It happens.

But it's really just me keeping a catalog of what I'm listening to... And, probably most importantly, linking you towards their album streams so that you can check it out for yourself, download it, buy it, and maybe even see this band (or that band, or any band, here) at their next show.

Prude Boys


Nolan The Ninja

Steve Greene (of Voyag3r)

Sean Madigan Hoen

Ritual Howls

Friday, September 22, 2017

Tanager Premiere New Single "Ways"

Ypsi quartet Tanager are back with a new single from their upcoming album,

Tanager will release their new album Hz Donut before the end of the year

What I've always dug about Tanager, displayed effectively here with "Ways," is how smooth and sleek everything can sound and feel even while still seeping in so much ambient haze, fiery fuzz, and trippy delay effects. This conjures such a sweet middle-ground between My Bloody Valentine, Yo La Tengo, and Broken Social Scene, produced in such a way where the guitars suggest velocity but also evoke a cradling cloudy tone and timbre.

The lead vocals are doubled, even tripled at points, synced just fractions of a second off of each other in a warm and woozy harmonization and further fogged by just a bit of echo and delay. Am I being too technical in the breakdown? Maybe it's those drums; just as the verse is ascending in a swirl toward the chorus, it has this choppily propulsive art-punk urgency, but just like so many of the other tender musical tides in this song, each phrase segues into the next section's new time signature with grace...

Yes, grace, but still enough grit from some glosses of reverb to let this fit not just in the indie-pop category, but also the noise-pop category... But why get hung up on categories? You're listening to it right now, and you can feel how it those sprinting drums pull you forward with the churning guitars, like running your way up a neon green hill at the ever-dreamy twilight time of day while those vocals spool and flutter over you like fireflies until you reach that chorus and everything reshuffles into a more downhill cartwheel where ambient synth sounds start swelling in to augment the sweetness of those guitars... And that vocal hook that threads the chorus together is going to be stuck in my head all week.

Tanager is Eleanor Daftuar on lead vocals/keys and guitar, with Rishi Daftuar on guitar/, Scott Kendall on bass, and Mary Fraser on drums. They released another single earlier in the year, and it will join this one on a forthcoming album that they hope to release before the snow falls. It was recorded/mixed by Rishi and produced by Eleanor & Rishi months back. Things have been held up as Rishi recovers from a severe leg fracture, but they hope to still have things on track to release this album soon. It's called Hz Donut. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Strange Beautiful Music Festival (Sept 22-24)

Some of the music..., most of the music, that you're listening to... is safe. Most of the music you're listening to attains whatever quantity of its elegance by way of restraint. Or, rather, a reliance...upon traditional structure, common tuning, pleasing timbres, and arrangements that feel familiar. Don't get me wrong, some pieces of music, be it rock or electronica, can feel propulsive, evoke exciting velocity, and stir up your adrenaline... But you still know where you'll land. You still recognize the terrain.

I don't want that tether. I want something exotic, I want a sound that bursts with several colors, that sounds almost alien! Something that can' be framed, can't be contained. Something that might not even keep a downbeat, and gives me dance moves I can't replicate.

Cellos, Saxophones, Synthesizers, Modulators, Human Voices, Xylophones, Violins, Pianos, Drums -all uniquely defying convention. This coming weekend allows you to immerse yourself in a 3-day odyssey of various vibrant expressions of indeterminate exploration from several ensembles and instrumentalists.

This is the 10th annual Strange Beautiful Music Festival from New Music Detroit, hosted at Trinosophes on Friday, the DSO on Saturday, and the MOCAD on Sunday. (More info).

A marathon of ambient, avant-garde, meditative, noisy, traversing with great whims of emotion that change up a phrase or a melody with sudden shifts of time signatures or new keys delicately diced into a hook that creates a third or fourth movement...

Alright, I got a little high on the stranger stuff... At its heart, this festival is that celebrates innovative composition and gracefully daring performance styles. Coordinated by New Music Detroit, the Strange Beautiful Music festival augments their dedication to breaking new ground in music, and programming live music events that can showcase the virutosic talents we have here in Detroit trying to push those boundaries and break through.

You'll hear contemporary chamber music, European folk, electronic improvisations, European folk, electronic improvisations, swooning drones and cerebral swells. It's a conference of whirlwind performances demonstrated the possibilities attainable by humans with voices and instruments.

Highlights include DJ Rebecca Goldberg spinning acid-techno on Friday night at Trinosophes, New Music Detroit performing Steve Reich's famous "Piece for 18 Musicians" on Saturday at Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Cube, and continuing at the MOCAD on Sunday where you can see Detroit ennsemble Saajtak.

Also, the incomparable Onyx Ashanti will be there to blow your minds with the epitome of futuristic innovations. There's a tribute to Pauline Oliveros, the explorative jazz of James Cornish, and the all-out noise ceremonies of Wolf Eyes.

For full information on all three days' worth of lineups, visit New Detroit's site. Or, you can find more info at the festival's facebook page.  Things kickoff Friday at 5pm. Find tickets through the DSO.

Here's New Music Detroit from a few years ago at a Strange Beautiful Music festival.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Carmel Liburdi's Insomnia Slumber Party

New Carmel Librudi Album is out Nov 3rd

Carmel Librudi's a true vocalist. For the Detroit singer/songwriter, it's all about inflection, intonation, and a carefully threaded curve of the melody that evocatively communicates the sentiments of the stories in each of her songs. I can't remember hearing someone speak out a verse so mellifluously - it's birdlike, the way her flow can fly through a chorus with a sweet assortment of notes but then glide down for her signature patter of conversational-sounding pattering.

And Liburdi is also a true storyteller. The focus is the words. Her acoustic guitar fills in a pleasing rhythm, but the focal point is the funny anecdotes, the painful confessions, the poetic self-deprecation, the honest appraisals, and that congealing, ever-more-securing sense of self. Listen to the eureka-moments she manifests in "Genuine Creep..."

"Genuine Creep" is the closing song on her newest album, tentatively titled Insomnia Slumber Party, which comes out November 3rd. The release party is at the Korner Bar in Hamtramck, featuring an acoustic set from Nina & The Buffalo Riders, Greg Mulkern (aka Banjoelectric), and J. Navarro & the Traitors.  

Over the last five years, Liburdi has written and released several albums of her own material, performed on just about every stage around Detroit, and even gone out on a handful of national tours. Though her presentation of a single voice and acoustic guitar might suggest coffee house-open mic-folk aesthetics, she's weaving together so much more, with a twangy warble of country to her voice at some points, segueing to an almost rapped or spoken-word cadence. The emotion eloquently sewn into her songs to that post-emo-but-pre-indie-pop balance of something like Neutral Milk Hotel-meets-Jenny Lewis.

But what shines most of all on this, her fifth album, is the strength she attains by claiming, owning, or even defeating her flaws and vulnerabilities. Even if you hear a sad song from Insomnia Slumber Party, you, the listener, still feel better. And it's all in the way she puts it... These songs are all about finding how to say that one thing, something that was just unutterable out loud, or some emotion you couldn't pinpoint. Liburdi has all of the cards on the table and makes it sound graceful in the way she's able to vocally shuffle them all back together, even if the deck's still slightly out of order.

When the record's ready, when you can hear more of these songs live, I'll particularly suggest "Not For Consumption." It's a trotting rhythm on the guitar, just a waltzing kinda Americana warbler, but her voice waves across the range of just talking to you, or crooning, or even soaring through a falsetto. And she sings:
"I'm here... in the now...I don't know why and I don't know how / turn me on / flip the switch and get out.... oh, tell me why do I lie to myself? / Trying to believe that you're some-body else? / But you're not, and you'll never change..." 
And that's the warning you gotta heed with Librudi's style of folk songs... Don't be the one who can never change.

More info:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Detroit Dives - House Caught Fire

House Caught Fire
recorded at Tempermill Stduios
The Detroit Dives indicate what they're all about in that name, alone... What this trio's trucking is the endearing, clattery, cathartic, and riff-heavy rock that's consistently resonated inside the city's signature hole-in-the-wall/homepride "dive" bars. These local music mavens have plenty of rock experience from previous gloriously gritty outfits like the Junk Monkeys, Black Mollies and the Sunday Painters.

What's sustained in their approach throughout their individual years' worth on Detroit stages is that they've always blended punk aesthetics, be it aggressive hooks, drum-hits or bluesy howls, with the indelible coil of pop melodies and catchy choruses.

Sure, there's some irreverent lyrical commentary in there, as well as a sharp satirical shoving-back against the popular conceptions and misconceptions about rock music; specifically Detroit rock...

The Detroit Dives have a new EP coming out this weekend called House Caught Fire, celebrated at PJ's Lager House in Corktown, (Friday). They're going to be rocking with piano, organ and harmony-augmenting backup vocals to fill out their sound. Opening up the night are the Haley Riots, and Mom Barley - INFO

When the world is going crazy, a great backbeat and some wavy blues riffs provide not only a stability, but a catharsis...

"This town's blood runs in our veins"

Now..., Ron McPherson (guitar/vocals), Kevin Perri (bass) and Andrew Pike, (drums) shared their first single with me, streaming above. Certainly one of their more pointedly irreverent lyrical shoulder-checks into the madness of King Kim, its unfortunately as topical as ever, this week. ("You're on borrowed time" quakes with ominousness...)

But what attracted me to this tune was that, among the 5 new ones, its got so much of the urgency and defiance of punk. It's the grittiest, slickest of the bunch, and there's just a lot of fire coming not only from the guitar feedback and the haunting melody of the chorus, but just how hard those drums are hitting...

The standout track, which you'll hear later this weekend, is definitely the title track. "House Caught Fire" doesn't have the rebellious yell of "Supreme Leader," and in fact it pares everything back into a pianobar blues ballad. The dynamics of this song stand out, with their evident energy and passionate playing style able to lower the heart-rate for the solemn verses and shuffle along to a groovy 70's AM pop rhythm. Of course, since the subject matter is near and dear, the choruses get fiery! It's an ode to Howell's Bar,a West Dearborn "dive" that burned down two years ago. McPherson considered it a "dive bar that anyone could walk into and feel at home in..." This was their "house." It was where the members of this band met each other.

So this EP, the group's second release so far, is very much about picking up those pieces, engaging in deep reflection, and pondering where we'll go next...

Detroit Dives
PJs Lager House
more info