Sonic relief 

So, how about that Sonic Boom thing? From the swanky swagger of the Witches, ushering all the rock kids into the Gold Dollar on Friday night, to the indie-rock drama onslaught of the jean jacket (pron. jàcket) brigade at the Magic Stick on Saturday, Detroiters sure got their fill of local music this weekend. Not to mention the Positively Fourth Street fair, which had its share of drunken supporters straggling over to the Stick.

I was working the door and keeping bands in line most of the weekend so I didn't have much time to bounce around between venues, but here's the buzz I heard as far as highlights:

—The acoustic performance from 12 Angry Steps, which introduced itself as 16 Angry Strings, (two 6-string guitars, one 4-string bass) wowed and tickled audiences with all that leather, all those tattoos and pretty punk rock. I can only imagine what that must have been like.

—There was a White Castle burger-eating contest run by Motor City Burgers at the Majestic. 'Nuff said.

—During the Saturday 1:15 slot at the New Med, Kelvin Larkin turned a few heads, giving people more to say about the groove-oriented DJ than the fact that he's Kenny's brother.

—I hear the Echo & the Bunnymen cover ("The Back of Love") American Mars did at Bittersweet was excellent. I managed to step into the coffee shop twice and both times, something cool was happening. Soul Clique drew me in with its spaced-out funk Saturday night. On Friday, the laid-back vibe of Jelly's Pierced Tattoo was refreshing relief for my overstimulated ears, which had been soaking in gritty high volumes all night.

Speaking of the Witches, everyone's talking about their upcoming release on Spectator Records. In case you haven't heard (unlikely) it's going to be called Universal Mall. Is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking? CD release party at the mall! What with their wall of guitars and the new addition of Amanda on keyboards, the Witches could probably fill up the entire city of Warren with their hypnotic sound. How many people are in that band now, like 37 or something? Just picture it, though. Screaming teenagers would line up to get autographed black and whites of "dreamy" Hatch or "bad boy" Troy Gregory. And malls would suddenly regain the coolness they had during America's Fast Times at Ridgemont High period. Just think about it. That's all I'm asking.

Party all the time

I'm telling you, the CD release parties keep coming. Even though it was a few weeks back, I have to mention what a great show the Waxwings put on at the Gold Dollar. Onstage, forehead sweat was pourin', guitar strumming fingers were bleedin' and on the floor, I was (almost) dancin'. Since when did they become so huge? A national friggin' publicity company called me up to see if I wanted tickets and a photo pass overnighted to me. For the CD release party at the Gold Dollar! And they're on the radio too! Right now, the band's on the East Coast, touring in support of their hooky and impressive release, Low to the Ground, on Bobsled Records. Good luck, guys.

Meanwhile, the West Coast clubs are gearing up for the arrival of the gloomy, psychedelic garage sounds of Slumber Party. The women are touring in support of a new CD coming out Aug. 1 on Kill Rock Stars. Check them out before they take off at Club Bart in Ferndale this Saturday, July 22.

The local music fun doesn't stop there. This guy named Jeff Thomson is bringing two Landmark Records bands from Kentucky to the Trumbullplex, 4210 Trumbull Ave. in Detroit Aug. 1. One, the Helgeson Story, has that Louisville indie-rock style and is compared to a blend of Slint and U2. The other, Second Story Man, is described as a mix between Versus and Pixies. Interesting. Opening up are two Detroit bands that you can always count on to put on a great show; the Sights and Saltwater Trio. Not only do they both make clever, catchy songs, each time I hear Traci Sericati's beautifully understated, roundabout voice, I have to catch my breath.

Write In One Ear c/o this paper or via e-mail at

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