Motor City Five 

No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop

On their second album, the two guys that make up Los Angeles' No Age sound less like a My Bloody Valentine tribute band and more like the skate-punk malcontents they really are. Guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt still allow for plenty of kaleidoscopic detours like those found on their 2008 debut, Nouns (check out "Dusted" and "Sorts," a venomous synth-noise tumble in a cement mixer). But No Age seems uncomfortably down with abject conventionality on Everything in Between — from the downer-strum "Common Heat" to the headbang literality of "Fever Dreaming," which thrashes like a windup toy gone haywire. When the group's anarchistic and conformist tendencies collide — as in "Shred and Transcend" — it's easy to be awed by their noise. But too often they come off like just another three-chord soundtrack to when you want to hole up in bed all day and watch Jackass reruns. —Ray Cummings


Tracy Kash Thomas
Sound Truth
Cytra Music

The joy here is that Tracy Kash Thomas sings of familiar issues with an enormous sense of hope and feeling. Like Joni Mitchell or Carole King, this well-trained musician connects, and the ordinary is suddenly extraordinary.

"Take It Too Far" tells of a romance that blossomed from friendship — "It's time we ruined this friendship/ it's time we take it too far" while in "Bubble" she encloses herself for protection: "No more wading through the rubble/ when everyone's dead weight comes down on me." "Hold My Hand, Zoey" covers any parent's natural desire to protect her child, and she sings, "You're the prize I've won/ now my life's begun," with refreshing and unironic honesty. Sound Truth succeeds spectacularly because Thomas' love for life bursts forth even in melancholy moments. It's the kind of joy that's infectious. —Brett Callwood

Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Junction, 31505 Grand River Ave., Farmington; 734-262-5469.


Fright from the bins

Angel
Helluva Band
Casablanca

Not the Angel Aerosmith sang about. Not even close. Like their alphabetical homies ABBA, Angel too had an aerodynamic logo that looked the same backwards and upside down. Unfortunately, this album came before some Angel fan designed that fancy letterhead for them. I snapped up this dog-eared copy of their second album Helluva Band not because of any allegiance to pouty Punky Meadows or shampoo conditioning, but because:

a) The cover has five poodles chained together like a life-sized charm bracelet, being held by an oversized female hand to whom size obviously means nothing. Maybe she'll keep them for tampons!

b) C'mon, there's a song called "Dr. Ice" on here! And it sounds exactly like a theme to a Sid and Marty Krofft show. Share in my shallow hopes of one day finding those other five Angel albums that bankrupted Casablanca Records, selling for a pittance at a Goodwill. —Serene Dominic


Backwash

Detective
Detective (Deluxe Edition)
Rock Candy

A Michael Des Barres post-Silverhead posture-fest that sees him embrace the by-the-numbers qualities of arena shouters, such as Sir R. Plant, with nods to Paul Rogers, and you'd never guess he'd been called the David Niven of rock.

Jimmy Page inked Detective in '75 to Zep's own Swan Song, and he produced some here, so it's very Zep-y, and a surprisingly listenable time-capsule nod to post-glam radio rock. Drummer John Hyde even channels Bonham.

Success eluded Detective because the timing was just off; besides, Page's lifestyle was, um, a bit topsy-turvy in the mid-'70s, so this album wound up costing nearly a cool million to make — and that's in 1975 dollars. (DeBarres: "We took two months to get the drum sound!") Detective's moment of fame may've been its WKRP in Cincinnati cameo.

"Recognition," "Got Enough Love" and the weirdly Raspberries-ish pop of "Detective Man" are all ace. The package is killer; 16 color pages of essays and pics, worthy master tape mastering, etc. —Brian Smith


Download of the week

Mayor Hawthorne & the County
"No Strings (Classixx Original)"
Stones Throw

Tweaking the sound that broke the band, Hawthorne's new single "No Strings" trades his cute-but-flat '60s-soul croon for a synthy, slightly modern sound. It's still R&B: The band calls on Hall and Oates and even adds a touch of Chromeo's self-aware panache.

Highest greetings from Amsterdam. My name is John Sinclair and I've been a marijuana legalization activist ever since I founded Detroit LEMAR (LEgalize MARijuana) in January 1965, following the receipt of a LEMAR flyer sent from New York City by poets Allen Ginsberg and Edward Sanders, the progenitors of this movement. 

Between 1964 and 1968, I was harassed by the Detroit Narcotics Squad for smoking, dispensing and advocating marijuana use. I served six months in the Detroit House of Correction in 1966 for possession of a half-ounce of weed, and I served 29 months of a 9-1/2-to-10-year sentence for possession of two joints of marijuana — a crime then defined as a Violation of State Narcotics Laws (VSNL) — between July 1969 and December 1971.

During this time I was held without appeal bond in maximum-security prisons in Jackson and Marquette while my legal appeal wound its way through the Michigan court system. In March 1972, the Michigan Supreme Court decided that marijuana was not a narcotic. My conviction was reversed and the marijuana laws were declared unconstitutional. 

Thus there were no marijuana laws in Michigan for three weeks until the current state legislation punishing marijuana users with a year in prison for possession went into effect. This dreadful new law was commemorated by the first Hash Bash gathering on the Diag at the University of Michigan on April 1, 1972.

That was 38 years ago, before many of today's marijuana smokers were born. The Michigan State Police, county sheriffs and municipal authorities have ruled our world with their war on drugs ever since — or at least until the 2008 elections, when 62 percent of Michigan voters approved medical marijuana use and mandated a system of licensing and regulation for medical marijuana patients that is currently legal throughout the state.

The point of this initiative is that medical marijuana users in Michigan are no longer criminals to be subjected to the misdirected and often vicious treatment dealt out by the drug police, prosecutors, courts, drug treatment and prison systems. 

Citizens who qualify as medical marijuana users may now be licensed by the state of Michigan, and their suppliers, or "caretakers," may also be licensed by the state to provide patients legally with a reliable supply of two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana at all times.

Medical marijuana is a good thing, and this is a good law. I have always believed that marijuana is a medicine particularly well-suited to the needs of people suffering from many maladies. Like Louis Armstrong, I always thought of weed as more of a medicine than a dope, and I believe, with Dennis Peron — the activist and leading force behind California's medical marijuana proposition more than a decade ago — that all marijuana use is medicinal. 

(For the record, I'm involved in Trans-Love Energies Compassion Collective in Detroit's Eastern Market, though conflict of interest precludes me from writing about it here.)

The new marijuana laws across the country enable medicinal users to emerge at last from under the cloak of opprobrium thrown over us and become legal, registered, state-approved smokers of the sacred herb that has served us so faithfully through the long and bitter years of the war on drugs.

We urge all our fellow medicinal marijuana users to consult your doctors, gain certification as medical marijuana patients, register with the state of Michigan and carry your patient cards with you at all times. Caregivers should register with the state along with your patients, and convert your legal status from criminal drug dealer to authorized medicine provider. 

At the same time, with respect to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, we must point out to the state, county and municipal police forces throughout Michigan that the war on drugs is over, whether you want it or not. Lay down your arms, turn your swords into plowshares, and join us in securing a sufficient supply of medicine for our citizens who require marijuana for health.

At this historic juncture, we urge the forces of law and order to accept, in good faith, the will of the voters, the changes in established law and the altered legal status of registered medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. You are no longer authorized to arrest these people and treat them like criminals. The game is up! The war is over, and we insist the law enforcement community recognize and respect the rights and the dignity of these citizens now and at all times in the future.

The police raids on compassionate care centers and other gathering places for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are reprehensible and must be stopped at once. Law enforcement means enforcing the laws on the books, and the books have now been rewritten by the citizens of Michigan. Read them and weep. The war on medicinal marijuana users is over. Stop the raids!

I have never understood what laws and law enforcement have to do with what's going on inside our heads. What difference should it make to anyone what we use to get high on? I'm not a fan nor a user of alcohol, for example, but I wouldn't ever want to try to make someone stop drinking it, and I really couldn't consider arresting and jailing and imprisoning them just because they want to have a drink. If they get drunk and do something wrong, arrest them for what they did wrong, not for drinking.

The same goes for recreational drug users. If they do something wrong, whatever they might be on, arrest them for that. If they aren't doing their job, punish them for that. If they're robbing and stealing to support their drug habits, bust them for the criminal acts. But what's going on inside their bodies is their business and their business only. Like the poet says, we have a right to our bad habits.

The sick thing is that the laws against recreational drug use have been used to create a vast police-state apparatus on the backs of people who get high. As a result of these laws, we have legions of drug police, drug courts, drug prosecutors, drug judges, drug probation officers, drug treatment programs, jails, prisons, parole officers and other factotums of this vicious war on recreational drug users.

This ugly picture won't disappear as a result of the new medical marijuana laws, but the frame will move off those of us who use marijuana within a medicinal context for the many things that ail us. As we have seen, the police forces will have a hard time letting go of their long-held attitudes, beliefs and practices regarding the ingestion of marijuana and the criminal status of its users, but once they accept the new rules of engagement we will all have a better world to live in.

Me, I've been criminalized by the marijuana laws all my adult life. I've lived in constant fear of arrest, spent three years in prison on marijuana convictions, and snuck around ever since trying to keep them from seeing what's in my pockets. 

Now I've got my medical marijuana patient card and a caregiver who's registered with the state as my official supplier — and that's a great big step in the right direction. But my goal will always be the full legalization of recreational drugs and the complete dismantling of the machinery of the war on drugs. —Amsterdam, Sept. 17-18; London, Sept. 21, 2010


John Sinclair celebrates his 69th birthday with live music (of course) Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman (22nd), Detroit; call 313-420-7487 for information.

ADULT. 

Husband-wife Detroiters Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller exploit a darkish mix of circuit-bending synths, beats, bass and berating vocals. In '08, ADULT. produced and performed the Decampment, a film and live soundtrack. In Toronto this year, they presented that alongside a version of its sequel, Traditions. —Travis Wright

1. Metro Times: Why the long break between Decampment and Traditions?

Adam Lee Miller: Because we're not trying to make money, we're able to do exactly what we want, even if it takes longer. 


2.
MT: What's different with Traditions?

Miller: Conceptually, with the first film you could purchase the soundtrack on three seven-inch records that came with three photographs of Nicola's — artist prints, not digital copies. 


3.
MT: How long did it take you to produce?

Miller: ... We worked every day except for three days for three months — 73 days. 


4.
MT: What else is going on?

Miller: We did the soundtrack for a film called Open by director Jake Yuzna. Also recording and touring. ... 


5.
MT: How does performing here compare to elsewhere?

Miller: Detroit has incredible energy. ... We joke that New Yorkers are "chin-scratchers." We've played phenomenal shows in L.A., but what's crazy there are the cameras. 

Adult. presents Decampment and Traditions at the Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900), on Friday, Oct.1. Read the complete interview at metrotimes.com

Sufjan Stevens  
The Age of Adz
Asthmatic Kitty

As the second song on Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz closes, you might be cursing his name for establishing a sound you love and completely abandoning it. Question Stevens, play the album again, but by no means try to ignore how cool the new record is. Stevens' tendency to dress up a song with drifting banjos, strings and horns has been replaced with tunes heavy on glitchy beats, shifty, sequenced synths and — what the fuck? Ah, yes, that is Auto-Tune. The drums sound more hip-hop than folk-pop, and the guitars are more Robert Fripp than finger-picked, and yet, Stevens isn't changing the way he writes songs — the great melodies, the complex instrumentation is still there. What makes this album different is that his overstuffed toolbox has been emptied and then filled with the instruments that craft pop-radio hits. Adz is not a continuation of what Stevens started in 2003's tribute to Michigan, but who needs more of the same if the new is as good?  —Tyler Kane


Fright From the Bins

Robert Goulet
Both Sides Now
(1969)

Now weighing on your consciousness at a thrift shop near you! After Will Ferrell's boorish caricature of the baritone, it's hard to take anything Tony Award winner Robert Goulet committed to wax seriously. Joni Mitchell's "folk-rock" staple inspired many old-folk cover versions but groovy Goulet wins hands down with his belligerent rendition. Reflective Bob looks at clouds from up and down and still somehow comes away sounding like he might wanna pick a fight with someone. "I really don't know clouds at all!" he bellows. Wanna make something of it? After subjecting yourself to this audio pummeling in stereo, you'll probably re-enact Goulet's same skull-splitting "Both Sides Now" cover pose. Unlike Goulet, however, you're not paying some lackey to go fetch you some Extra Strength Bufferin.  —Serene Dominic

Backwash

Iggy Pop and James Williamson
Kill City
Alive/Bomp

Kill City hit shelves in 1977, three years after the Stooges had expired. It saw James Williamson and a cleaned-up Iggy Pop step beyond the narrow precepts of punk rock — which rose from the seeds of the Stooges anyway — to create an indie album with a surprising yet loose-limbed songwriting and musical sophistication (which included saxophones, harmonica, slide and acoustic guitars). It upheld Iggy's inner-carnival barker — he was still selling his own personality with that patented self-possession, but he had also mastered the essential rock 'n' roll art of self-mockery: Teen magazines won't let me be/I feel so clean but they're all digging dirt on me.

When Pop's nascent croon and Williamsons' riff-a-rama worked simultaneously, the results stuck in the gut, from the power pop of the title song to the back-alley strut of "Sell Your Love," to the brief, Roxy Music-ish "Night Theme" to the shoulda-been-huge "Consolation Prizes." The weirdly beautiful "No Sense of Crime" is a moody left-turn; Stones-y, like "Moonlight Mile" sideways.   

This could be the Stooges sound had they lasted a few more years, even "Johanna" and "I Got Nuthin'" are Williamson-era Stooges hangovers. Though few agree, Kill City was Pop's best record to date song-wise — more restraint and melody, less novelty.   

The CD version sounds great — a revisionist remix that clears up the bass cloud and dull thud of the original but stays faithful in tonality. Kudos to mastering engineer Robert Hadley for not compressing the life out of the mix. —Brian Smith


Schoolyard Verse

Lil' Wayne nonstop rapper.
Lil' Wayne huge superstar.
Your loose pants and long shirt
look like water running loose.

Your songs are like little trees
trying to grow.
Your voice sometimes squeaky
as a mouse.

Your long hair looks like vines
hanging from a tree.
Your tattoos, all over your body,
like graffiti on an abandoned house.

—Humberto Villarruel, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, 7th grade

Download of the Week

Danny Brown
"Juno"

Who's rapper of the year? Milk? Elzhi? Both dope, but nope. Hands down, it's Danny Brown. This dude's nuts, in a Ghostface sorta way; his tacky tales, bullet-point puns, street prophecies and sexcapades will get you. Like crack, first taste is free. — Travis R. Wright

NYC buskers-gone-haywire who've created a multi-album career by staying drunk on banjos, be-bop, Mills Brothers and punk spirit, and have enough chutzpah to raise the ghost of Harry Von Tilzer! 

Dylan and Willie love 'em; they're the most hell-raising act you'll see all year. Here Andy Bean gives up their Worst Shows Ever:


5
. Jackrabbits — Jacksonville, Fla.

Stomach virus forced me to rush off stage and throw-up in northeast Florida's grossest nightclub bathroom. Sorry to say I made a little grosser. 


4
. The Chelsea Inn — Bristol, U.K.

Gig was OK. But we slept on the dirtiest couches in England above the pub that night. I wore two suits just to be safe.  


3
. Birthday Party for a 2-year-old — New York, N.Y.

Most children don't get us — pre-verbal children especially. We attempted "the wheels on the bus," but cut it short when both of us became temporarily suicidal.


2
. PS Collective — Omaha, Neb.

It is difficult for a two-man band to outnumber both the crowd and the staff. We did it here.  


1
. Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld's Yacht Club — St. Michaels, Md.

Cheney and Rumsfeld didn't make the show. And the old-timers in attendance were very nice. But, this is not the type of venue we like to be playing.


Tuesday, Oct. 12, Painted Lady, Hamtramck. Wednesday, Oct. 13., Live at Gracies, Ann Arbor.

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