On the Download 

SAILING THE SEA OF JAPAN

Local combo the Silent Years will get a justifiably large-ish word count in weeklies and dailies this week [Geez, you must have ESP, Handyside, since you've added to the word count in this one! —Ed.], as they're releasing their new, vast, gorgeous, meticulous and ambitious full-length, The Globe, with a soiree at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. The jams have been available on iTunes for a couple weeks now, naturally. And they even contributed a certifiably brilliant YouTube response to the Coldplay-Creaky Boards plagiarism tiff that's since been yanked.

But we come here today not to heap more praise on the Silent Years, but rather to honor one of their spinoff projects — namely Sea of Japan, which has now made its full-length Black Out the Stars available online as well ... but this one as a free download. Helmed by the trio of Doug Smith, Fabian Halabou (the Silent Years' guitarist) and Brian Berryman — but aided and abetted by a veritable gang of local yokels from such bands as the Word Play, Child Bite, Zoos of Berlin, Blanche, Canada, etc., etc., the jams here sound like a mixtape made by a bunch of friends featuring their favorite music and designed to entertain and uplift themselves. I, for one, am really glad they decided to share with the class.

Black Out the Stars is all over the map, and that's not a bad thing. It manages to relatively and effortlessly rope Matthew Sweet into conspiracies with Lush; study the playbook of Pas/Cal while hitting a Gram Parsons pose; and gracefully bring America sans their horse with no name into the stew of jingle-jangle wistful playtime. Cuts like "Cold Medicine" drive in fourth gear down open roads late at night, the wind just a-whipping, slowing only to stop. But then "Left of Center" goes straight for the bleak beauty of, say, Scottish gems the Delgados while wielding a lilting pedal steel before lifting off toward space on a stomp and romp. In any event, it's solid free jams that are worth way more than "free."

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MEANWHILE ...

Thanks to the involvement of local interactive creative honcho Sam Cannon, the website 3Hive.com lists Detroit on its masthead and has done an admirable job over the last few years surfacing legally sanctioned jams available for download. The site's motto? "Sharing the Sharing." Awww. But the thing is, it's a group music blog whose editors aren't hype-chasers or paid shills or even smarmy shit-stirrers. They're just a bunch of music fans. The D and Ann Arbor make about as many appearances as any other city, thanks to the catholic tastes of the contributors, but, this week, 3Hive posted jams from Ann Arbor's Frontier Ruckus. Specifically from Frontier Ruckus' long-gestating full-length The Orion Songbook. "Orion Town" and "Mohawk, New York" are raw-throated and passionately scratched acoustic barroom folk shouters that harken back to a time when the automobile didn't rule the landscape. Anachronistic, yes, but charmingly so. They're part of the Quite Scientific family and, if you visit the band's website, you'll be treated to their hand-scrawled collage approach to conjuring the sepia-toned reflective mood of their songs.

frontierruckus.com


For 3Hive action go to: 3hive.com/2008/08/frontier_ruckus (or just scroll down/search from the homepage which is 3hive.com Either way — whether you dig Frontier Ruckus or not — you'll prolly wanna bookmark 3Hive.

Till next time ...

More by Chris Handyside

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