Friendly reminder peeps. If you send Detroit-area music over to me, I will review it right here in this weekly record release roundup. No matter the genre, regardless of whether the media is vinyl, CD, MP3, cassette, or anything else - if the artist or label is local to the Detroit area, it’ll get reviewed right here. The pick of the bunch will also get in the newspaper when space permits.
Send music for review to: Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226. Send MP3s or streaming links to [email protected]. And join us on Twitter: @City_Slang
Black Jake & the Carnies is an Ypsilanti based outfit, and Sundry Mayhems (self-released) is an absolutely awesome album. Combining bluegrass-inspired cow-punk with Flogging Molly-esque Irish punk rock, the record genuinely sounds as if it was created by travelling misfits, in between palm readings and bare fist boxing matches.
Stephanie Loveless’ Perfectly Still (self-released) is her first full-length release, and it’s not at all bad. The gender-defying rocker can be horrible in the live environment, but there are some great tunes on here in the Bowie vein, minus the genius but with heaps of androgyny-fuelled fun.
Motor City Blog has been putting out a series of live vinyl compilations and the most recent, tagged Ladies Night, features some excellent performances from Rachel May, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, and Betty Cooper. A more than worthwhile addition to a great series.
The Infatuations’ January Sessions (Acid Groove) sound like the sort of music that Justin Timberlake wishes he had the balls to make. In other words, this is fun and dance-able white-boy disco-soul. “Dancin’ On My Knees”, in particular, is a great tune.
Brandon Bogues’ self-titled and self-released 7-track EP (or mini-album) consists of a set of unspectacular singer/songwriter style tunes that seem to be a vehicle for Bogues to vent more than a genuine musical endeavor. One can only hope that he got rid of his demons.
Andrew Ahrendt wrestles with some heavy subject matter on the rather awesome Turn That Frown Upside Down (self-released), including Alzheimer’s disease and suicide. It’s not an easy listening album - Ahrendt’s electronica is twisted, dark and compulsive listening.
Equally heavy, though for different reasons, is Sheb Schwae’s The Last Crusade (URS). The main reason for the record seems to be to convince the world that not all Muslims are terrorists. Perhaps the scariest thing about that is that there are people in the world who need telling that not all Muslims are terrorists. The music, which blends hip-hop, reggae and Middle Eastern music, is secondary to the cause.
Angela Predhomme’s Don’t Wonder (self-released) is initially interesting because, on the sleeve photo, Predhomme looks a lot like Stockard Channing (Rizzo in Grease). The tunes take a little longer to sink in, but when they do they hypnotize, much like a Detroit Sarah McLachlan.
Better still is Joe Jaber and The Last Divide’s Both Sides (self-released), a tremendous collection of alt-country tunes. Jaber has pulled in some of Detroit’s like-minded big guns in the shape of Ty Stone and Don Duprie, though his song writing is strong enough to stand proud on its own. “To Die Inside” is just one highlight of a record with many.
Alan Sturt lived the first half of his life in England before moving to Michigan and, if The Hero Chronicles (self-released) is anything to go by, he brought a love for anglo-folk across the Atlantic with him. What we get here as a result is a quaint British sound sharpened to a Detroit edge.
Also coming from a folkie place is the Mantons, whose Squeeze the Fish (self-released) record literally couldn’t be any more fun. Satire seems to be a constant theme, with songs like “Cheesy Folk Singer” and “Feed Me To The Beatles” shining bright.
Here’s a dare. Try to listen to Anonymous Bosch’s self-titled and self-released debut album without cracking a smile. That’s no insult. The prog-metallers are so into what they do that it’s infectious. From the super-silly old school death metal art on the sleeve to the oh-so-earnest lyrics, there’s much fun to be had here.
The songs on Peter Litvin’s Love Spectacle (self-released) sound like tunes that Tears For Fears left behind. ‘Nuff said.
Measured Chaos sent two CDs to Metro Times Towers, Somewhere Between Detroit & Chicago (33 1/3 Records) and Live (33 1/3 Records). Both see the band showcase its brand of early Fleetwood Mac / Cream-esque blues rock. Nothing on these records will set the world on fire, but they won’t have any problems getting gigs in bars all over Michigan with this stuff.
For those with good memories and a strong attention span, House Phone is the band that won the Metro Times-sponsored Battle of the Bands at the Motor City Casino a few months back. Field Trip EP (Little Blue Bedroom) is what they recorded with the prize money, which is great because it’s fucking awesome. From the soulful title track to the last beat, every song is an Arthur Lee and Love-inspired winner.
The Rogue Satellites’ new album, Six Sweet Lips (self-released) is incredible. The trio has found the perfect blend of loops, art-noise and Pixies-inspired pop rock. “Fashion Drugs Sex Death Yes Yes Yes”, a live favorite for a while, sounds immense here. “Hey There!” is nearly, but not quite, as good. The Rogues have also taken the unusual step of putting a two-track CD single, Come Kiss This Idiot (self-released), at the same time but neither song appears on the album. They’re both great though.
Rogue Satellites frontman Jaye Thomas has apparently been a busy boy of late because he’s also released a full-length self-titled record with his Phantom Airmen project (self-released), a group born out of Thomas’ ‘90s band Conniption. Thomas is proving himself to be one of the most consistent song writers in the area too, because this record is awesome. More straight-forward rock than the Rogues, with that DE-troit garage edge, every tune is a winner.
Stewart Francke’s Heartless World (Blue Boundary) album is getting some serious press attention right now thanks to the fact that Bruce Springsteen appears on opening track “Summer Soldier”. It’s a great tune too, and just one of many on here. Look out for a forthcoming City Slang blog on Francke soon, and more shall be revealed.