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


Cheetahs


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: http://carmelliburdi.com/index.html
https://carmelliburdi.bandcamp.com/

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
Fri
PJs Lager House
more info

Friday, August 25, 2017

MotorKam's Futurist Funk EP

So about three years ago, I was turned on to a band called Maraj. It was an ensemble blending hip-hop, jazz and soul, and they were essentially based west of Detroit, out towards Kalamazoo. So I was stoked when they were going to appear at a Merrick'N'Trumble festival in Woodbridge a couple summers ago... Turns out the band couldn't make it. Just a couple artists were up on the stage during their set, a DJ and a lyricist. That lyricist was cool, confident; he shined. He was MotorKam and I walked away a fan. I spent the next couple hours just trying to process it...

And I've been listening to his new EP BlackDaddy Birthday Suite about five or six times in a row trying to grasp the carousel bars gyroscoping in intricate patterns over kinetic rhythms of tightly snapping bass booms and aerobic percussive arrangements. 




There's so much character to his inflection, splashes of flamboyancy, curtains of cool R&B crooning, deep-into-the-groove staccatos of wordless incantation, and a plethora of robotic/alien reverb wrapped vocals and pitch-shifted double-track call and response. 



These tracks make it impossible to resist movement. Right? I mean, your shoulders just loosen and start to sway, and knees get noodly as you start rollicking back and forth. Much kudos to the production of DJ Deada$$, Marshall Law, Landman Dxn, and DJ Jalen. But there's especially so much energy in MotorKam's voice. "I'm a wild boy, that's my lasso..." he sings on the smoothly hyperactive "Judo Chop," which kicks off this EP with spastic jazz pianos cascading over 80's synths and trunk rattling bass. "TigerSexy Freestyle" is also demonstrative of how he's playful and fierce at the same time, wildly ranging the register of his voice even as he accelerates his cadence, all the while augmented by these beatmaker's freshly eclectic blends of speedy sci-fi funk. 

I don't know what it is about "SLC" that makes it my favorite; it might be that indelible beat, or it might be the dreamily distorted chorus of voices harmonizing through the chorus, or it just might be the certain timbre to those haunting synths with their curly hooks. But, again, it's probably his vocals. MotorKam transcends typical tropes with his keen sensibility for using his voice almost as if it were a biological synthesizer, stretching his vocal notes out for four measures or blurring it into a buzzy hum, but then tightly packing the next few bars with mighty high word-count carefully articulated to the consistently fleet spill of beats. 

I'm already listening to this for the seventh consecutive spin. Trying to sit still in my chair as I type this... failing. 


MotorKam, aka Black Daddy is performing at this year's Dally In The Alley
Sat., Sept 9
Forest Stage
5:30pm
More info

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Nein! - Fashionable Living

There's never any of the typical pomp and self-promotional circumstance when it comes to Sophisticated Professionals
Every few months, this trio of musical masqueraders embody a different dynamic genre or style, and release an album of songs with a new/different band name where they take on the distinct characters typical exhibited by iconic players the aesthetic tropes of whatever-said-genre or realm they inhabit, be it country, thrash metal, or in this case, krautrock! 

All of the songs on Fashionable Living, the debut album from Nein, were performed by "machine..." Not sure if it's "a" machine, or "the" machine, or if it's the "man machine," but I'm just going on the liner notes. The main players are known as Dolphus Dietrich, and Wolfgang Weismueller. 

Minimalist grooves from a korg drum machine, curly-cue melodies threading across those moog-sounding synthesizers, the clattery clasp of those ersatz beats, and sing-spoken esoterica elucidating the enticements of fashion, the mundane majesty of shopping centers, the overwhelming options of fine dining, or the underappreciated benefits of a timeshare. 


This is a daydreamy, musical monorail ride sliding across circuitry tracks and passing by sleek, digital semiconductor stations, all neon-sparks and futuristic patterns, form-fitted everything and angular dynamics. It's a sincere homage to Krafterwerk and Neu, with strategic reworkings here and there. It's a garden of oscillation delights... You can hear it on "Timeshare," the way their voices, their human voices, start to meld ever closer to the harsher robotic-sounding distortion of those humming synthesizers. 

Nein! as they appear on the recordings of "Fashionable Living" includes: Dietrich, Weismueller, as well as Klaus Schumacher, and Hans Ziegler. 

You can stream the whole album this Friday. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tart - Toothache EP


TART's evolved quite a bit over the last three years. Cliched as it sounds to say this, but Toothache is really the proper debut moment for TART, (after a couple EP's they put out earlier). TART started out as a duo, with singer Zee Bricker and guitarist Adam Padden, but has thrived in more aggressive rock terrains as a trio, with drummer Don Blum.

The immediate/sustained energy of this EP essentially shoots up to a confrontational standing position and promptly throws the chair through a window. Whereas their developmental phase indulged electro-pop or dance-rock, something like early Rapture melded with Yeah Yeah Yeah's, the engines are revved into another gear with Blum that gives them so much more grit, evident in the fiery bridge of "Miss Me," where Bricker's voice becomes a melodic growl and Padden's guitar claws into a noisily distorted solo.



You can even hear it in the first five seconds of this song, a foreboding thrum of feedback just roils for a bit, just enough to get your shoulders arched with expectation, until that kickdrum thu-thumps in under a hard-hooking guitar. Sometimes you can picture a singer in your head just by hearing her voice, energy, power, attitude... "Young men are always listless..." You can see Bricker just glaring down at you with that cutting dismissal. "You're timing's wrong..." she winds out her intonations with this intensity that seems to suggest that even she's aware of how her guitarist and drummer are about to click the roller coaster over another peak on the track for a few  more wicked loopdeloops.

Padden's guitar, on previous songs, sounded sleek, cool, jet-like... Now, it's murkier, it's meaner, it's just more realized; a turbine crackling with so much  more low end to it that suggests sufficient muscle for a mosh-pit...This is particularly evident on "Toothache," where Blum's performance seems to envelop the song as it progresses, hitting those toms with a building tidal wave as the song crashes in, and eventually spiraling across the whole kit for some of the most dynamic fills I've heard in a long while...dude's a pro. And, yes, he was a missing piece of a rock-formula for TART, but it also helped that Bricker and Padden already had surplus chemistry between the two of them already built up before his arrival; that he fit right in and spun along immediately speaks to his versatility.

Whereas the first two songs I've mentioned definitely take TART into the darker, more atmospheric rock, and almost kind of an indie-metal trip of acts like Savages, there is a lighter, brighter pop slider of a song in "Metal Eyes" that brings the catchiest hooks and earworm la-la-laaah melodies. But then my favorite song of this batch, "Dive Bar," comes in and kinda combines everything that's working so well with the new iteration of TART: Somewhere between a more frenetic art-goth punk and a steelier, kinetic hard rock anthem.

This EP is out Friday, with a release party at Ghost Light in Hamtramck, featuring Double Winter, and DJ Marcie Bolen.
MORE INFO

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hot Talent Buffet

And now for something completely different...



There's so much potential in a Variety Show formula left untapped by this generation of artists. We have our receptions in galleries and we have our album release parties in music venues, and it all just sort of blurs together. With Hot Talent Buffet, there's not only a sense of each artist on its lineup getting a chance to try something unconventional and really express themselves in a new, fresh way, but also a bit of a vibe of unpredictability. From one act to the next, you'd be best to just drop all preconceptions. Because anything could happen.

Hot Talent buffet embraces the sink-or-swim aspects of throwing a volunteering artist out onto the mic, more or less at the mercy of the crowd. Saturday, August 26, Juggalo misfit Freshness (of the YouTube Series 'Freshness TV') will be the host for a revue of local artists varying in styles and disciplines, tallying up the votes of you, the audience, by the end of the night, to award the winner the prize of 'Top Ham.'

Ham it up at the Northern Lights Lounge this Saturday.

All proceeds from this event will benefit Freedom House in Detroit, a temporary home for asylum seekers from anywhere in the world.

This Saturday's lineup features local music scene regulars like Frank Woodman (experimental guitar), Burns (experimental viola!), a new krautrock-inspired band called Nein (with some familiar faces), plus Kitty Hawkk (burlesque), Hiccup Kenny (country music sung in Japanese) plus vaudeville duo Pinch & Squeal, and performance artist Ziam Penn. Freshness, as we said, is your host, and the music coordinator is Chef Johnnie Penn.. Sponsored by Found Sound record shop in Ferndale, the evening's entertainment is produced by Chris Butterfield and Salvador Caramagno.

Rock clubs and art galleries sometimes don't allow for some of the more unique, avant-garde, irreverent performers to reach an audience. This is your chance to experience something completely different.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Song Premiere: White Bee's "Beat State"



I've not yet been able to put my finger on the special kinda funk that's forged by White Bee. It's just something in the riffs, the sharp pull back of those hooks. Then there's those soulful vocals from Shannon Barnes that have a croony R&B curve to their suave intonations. The guitars and rhythms can have the cool shuffle-skid-stomp of jazz expeditions, throughout the verses, but everything can muscle-up for a more rock-n-rolling roil when the song necessitates it. Their versatility has made me say, on more than one occasion, that this is a band you should be watching, this year & next year!



This song's silkier, measured spills of synthesizer shimmers adds a bit of romantic new-wave swoon to the stew. But let it play and pulse into that invigorating chorus, where song's fuselage tightens up for this swift barrel-rolling groove. "Beat State" is just a taste of what's to come in the near (albeit indeterminate) future, when the Detroit-based band releases a follow-up to their 2015 EP. The goal is to make their next release a full-length.

Until then....
White Bee perform TONIGHT in Hamtramck, at the Korner Bar
ft. Oshwa, Growwing Pains, and Vnesswolfchild
Info

Single artwork by Carmel Liburdi