City Slang: Weekly Music Review Roundup

Jun 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Lansing-based label It Takes A Village To Make Records threw some interesting things over, not least a compilation of atmospheric indie called In the Orchard of Osiris. The album is hit and miss, but there are a couple of inventive, emotional highlights, not least “Arms and Sleepers” by the Architekt.

Trieste (It Takes A Village To Make Records) is the new album from Stargrazer, and it’s not for those who like their music light and breezy. It sounds like the score to a bad trip. And yet, it’s kinda great.

3-Way Singles Club, Volume 2 (It Takes A Village To Make Records) features tracks by Lansing artists Rachel Yezbick, RxGibbs and Auburn Lull. Yezbick’s is the most fascinating; like Beth Orton if she recorded underwater. There really seems to be something interesting going on in Lansing.

Detroit metal heads Stealing Betty have a new EP out, and it’s not at all bad. “Shut Up” is the standout track, mainly because it allows the band the opportunity to really spit out some attitude. It’s great to hear a metal band that is genuinely pissed about something, rather than another set of dudes posturing.

“The Ensembly Line” is a magnificent track that was emailed over by hip-hop troupe Ill-iteracy. With female vocals supplied by Serenity, the song has a very Eminem “Love the Way You Lie” feel to it, but that’s no bad thing. Thoughtful, smart and sharp, “The Ensembly Line” is a great jam.

Douglas La Ferle’s new album, Professor Pandemonium’s Cabinet of Wonders was reviewed recently, and this week La Ferle sent us a copy of his 2003 album, Liquid Architecture (Round Box). To be honest, that’s not really the point of this – I want to review the week’s new releases. But I’m just getting warmed up so I’ll let it slide. Actually, this isn’t anything like as much fun as the new record, all jazzy instrumentals that really don’t seem to go anywhere. Good try though, sir.

Michael Bermudez’s Scattered Hopeless Hearts (self-released) is a remarkably dull affair, which is surprising considering the talent involved. Local bass magician Paul Randolph and Rustbelt head honcho Al Sutton are both involved in the production, yet neither could shake some life into Bermudez on a record that sounds like radio-friendly, sanitized pop-jazz at its worst.

Local folkie Jere Stormer sent a package to MT Towers containing his entire back catalogue. Again, not exactly the point of this weekly roundup, but what the hell In ’84, while a member of an arty punk band called the Media Jackals, Stormer put out a 45 called Vertical Hold (Adequate) containing three tracks of so-so arty-punk. It’s kinda fun, but probably not worth hunting down on eBay. ‘96s solo album Available Space (Adequate) saw Stormer exploring different styles of roots music, from trad folk to bluegrass. It’s a joy to hear him discovering his own sound. He’s definitely in a rich vein of folk form on 2001’s Lingo (Adequate). There’s some awesome instrumental work going on here, as well as “Homeless By Now” which has become something of a signature song for Stormer after his rendition at last year’s Concert of Colors. In 2003, he was back in a band. This one was called Plum Street, and the Primo (Kavish Media) album is actually a damn good punk ’n’ roll record. The songs fit somewhere between the Clash, the Jam and the Faces. For sure, this isn’t a record you’d expect to be on Stormer’s resume. Well worth going back and checking out. One year after that and Stormer put out another solo record, Wall of Doors (Waxlipsakimbo). This is a low-key, sweet and poignant album that stands in stark contrast to the Plum Street record. Both are great, just in very different ways. Quench is a singer / songwriter duo consisting of Stormer and Marilyn B. Driggs and their album, Mair and Jere (Fred Dog) was released last year. Really, the sound is consistent with Stormer’s solo work, only here it’s complemented with some sweet vocal harmony from Briggs. It all makes for a cute, if not entirely thrilling, album. Bringing us right up to the present, Stormer’s latest project is a “best of” of sorts, called The Songs (self-released). Pulling songs from the many different groups and collaborations that Jere has worked with, plus some solo work, it’s an impressive musical CV.

B.U.R.N. is the latest mixtape release from Drew32, a young Auburn Hills rapper, and it’s a real mixed bag too. The great jams, like Áround the World” (including that loop made famous by Daft Punk) and “Me Against Everything” are angry, witty and razor sharp. But for every one of those, there seems to be a fluffy, chart-ready piece of dull dross, like “So Good” or “Summertime”. Drew 32 is young, ambitious, and he’s obviously full of talent. Let’s hope that he doesn’t allow his ambition to lead him down the path of sanitized bullshit pop-rap.

Now this is interesting. I received a track via email from a band called Cadillac Kidz which was recorded in ’79 and is now available on the We Went and Recorded it Anyway (Brutarian) compilation album. Produced by the MC5’s Wayne Kramer, “Establishment Bash” is a fantastic, snotty pop-punk ditty in the vein of the Buzzcocks. Dunno what the rest of that compilation is like, but this is a lost (and found) gem.

Xa is an awesome three-track EP from a band called Keegokid. Very little is known about the band / artist (I don’t even know how many people are involved, but there might be a Sharky & the Habit connection), but on the email they told me that they’re giving this EP away so get downloading. It’s trashy, messy and very Detroit.

Terminal Girls is a great band too, all disco beats and new wave vocals. The band sounds very current, like something the hipster tweens would listen to, but don’t let that put you off. The punky synth-pop tunes are energetic and high quality on this Weird Lights album, and they sound like they’d be great live.

Momantha is a heavy riffing beast of a record from Small Stone Records band Backwoods Payback, who came to the Royal Oak label via West Chester, Pennsylvania. Like the ugly offspring of Sabbath, Down and pretty much every other stoner band, this record sounds exactly as you would expect it to.

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