Best Of 2014

Brown’s third album highlights exactly why Danny Brown fans love Danny Brown, and why everybody else should love Danny Brown. Uniquely sharp and sassy, the man is a huge talent. Blow job controversy aside (although let’s face it, that was kinda funny), this year has seen Brown enhance his public profile massively. Not even a single with the Insane Clown Posse could damage his blossoming rep, and Old was the icing on the cake.

Maybe in the ’80s, having a bikini-clad boob poking you in the ear while you’re interviewing a band was normal. Nowadays, it’s a little disconcerting. Just fucking weird, really. Especially at this pseudo-yacht club in Livonia, of all places. There’s a vibe of tension in the air too, if you walk in and aren’t a regular. Still, the place has to be experienced, at least once. It’s like something out of a John Waters movie.

We’re not making fun; genuinely we’re not. The Hoedown is actually one of the best-attended festivals in metro Detroit. People love this thing, and they flock from all over Michigan and beyond into the city of Detroit to lie in the sun wearing a Stetson, boots and blue jeans, and listen to some sweet, sweet country music. Dip your toes into something outside of your comfort zone — it’s not all rhinestones and cheese. mt

These guys are a trip, and there’s really no nailing them down. You see one YouTube video, and you think that they’re a stupid rap-rock band like the Bloodhound Gang. Next thing, you hear a tune that sounds like Zappa. Then they morph into Iron Maiden, or at least Dream Theater. They recently opened for Richie Ramone and fit in just fine. Truth is, these bastards can do whatever the fuck they want.

With his towering frame, faintly sinister good looks, and a mild case of Asperger syndrome, Dearborn native Matt McClowry does not easily fit the stereotypical image of a stand-up comic. But after a few moments of watching him on stage, it’s clear he’s a natural; with a laconic yet still faintly annoyed delivery underscoring sharply observed gripes about a host of modern absurdities, from binge eating to cheap motels and the shame of being a dude that’s not that into sports. His skill is in giving the familiar trappings of middle-class life a kick in the ribs, as when he calls Kmart “like a Target with AIDS.” Having risen through the local ranks, McClowry is now gaining some national exposure, with festival appearances in Boston, at the Laughing Skull in Atlanta, and an impressive third place finish at the “World Series of Comedy” in Las Vegas. Catch him at an area club while you still can.

When all the hoo-hah had died down and the ‘Fuck Blowout’ rhetoric had faded away, the Hamtramck Music Festival was a great event — well organized and well attended, and featuring some great bands. In fairness, we didn’t want those March dates anymore and we appreciate the need for a “coming out of hibernation” party, so we’re glad that Eugene Strobe and company put this thing together. There’s certainly room in this town for more than one local music festival.

Stevie Michael is the frontman of the Grande Nationals and a former member of Running With Panthers, but many local punks and scenesters will know him as that cool bartender who works at the WAB and the Loving Touch in Ferndale. The man is a punk rock Sam from Cheers, offering a ton of information about the most obscure shit while turning you on to tasty ale. Friendly and welcoming, Michael is a diamond server.

Go see Alison Lewis play her heartfelt alt-country at PJ’s Lager House (she plays there a lot), and the chances are good that her dog Millie will be pottering around your feet during the other bands, practically asking you to scratch her butt. When Lewis gets up, Millie will either howl along or she’ll get onstage herself and lie down. There’s something incredibly cool about something that relaxed.

Roldan, who also does press for national and international acts like Yellowcard and Alison Moyet, is one funny motherfucker. His Facebook page is filled with transcriptions of conversations with clueless bloggers trying to talk their way into a big show simply for the free tickets. Roldan is also a kick-ass publicist and a genuinely good guy. But we appreciate the laughs more than anything. Go find him.

With his musical projects Woodman (folk), Ungrateful Daughter (garage-y Americana), and Caveman Woodman (WTF?), Frank has been a mainstay on local stages for years now. But even when he’s not performing, he can regularly be seen at the front of the crowd, cheering loudly for band after band and basically being a diamond of a man. He’s loud, scruffy and in-your-face, much like the region he adores.