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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to

When we interviewed Danny & the Darleans’ Danny Kroha a few months back, the Doll Rod, Gories and Readies man told us that the debut album is technically self-titled but, because the cover art was photographed in front of a painting emblazoned with the word “Stink,” Stink (Nero’s Neptune) would be the unofficial name of the record (despite the Replacements album of the same name). What this is is a superb record from a man who has put his name to a few. No gimmicks here, this is garage rock ’n’ roll, pure and simple. The songs would all be comfortable on a Nuggets comp, and bassist Colleen Burke and drummer Richie Wohlfeil provide a gloriously understated rhythm section for Kroha to wail and riff all over. Magnificent work.

Woven Tangles is a local duo and the Lumber Jackson album has been released on Funky D, a label that has been remarkably consistent with the quality product of late. These guys essentially play folk-based acoustic music, but there are elements of blues, jazz, and ’20s cabaret – at least a dash. The vocal interplay between Kevin Kline (not that one) and Holly Bernt is gorgeous, choral, and the songs are sweetly epic.

Ralphe Armstrong’s Home Bass (Detroit Music Factory/Mack Avenue) is a live album recorded at the Detroit Jazz Festival in ’96. This seems like an odd time to put it out, but whatever. Kicking off with an intro from an MC and then the “National Anthem,” the album sees Armstrong and his band swinging in front of a super-enthusiastic crowd. This is Armstrong in front of his people, and he’s thriving.

Richard Halprin & the Bitter Herbs is, naturally, the brainchild of Richard Halprin, a man who works as a children’s rights lawyer by day. A noble profession, to be sure. From the Garden of Bitter Herbs sees the man rattle off some “all ages” rock ’n’ roll. It’s all very sweet, and these songs obviously mean a great deal to the musician. He says on the press release that people have compared him to Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen, and that’s pushing things mighty far. There’s no reason to grasp at the legends. But this is still enjoyable stuff.

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