City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

Remember – if you send it, it will get reviewed. That’s the City Slang promise. It doesn’t matter what genre the music is – as long as it has a Metro Detroit connection, it’ll get in. Preferably, we’d like to concentrate on new releases but, while we’re getting warmed up here, feel free to send back catalog material too. Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, City Slang, Metro Times, 733, St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 46226. Email MP3s and streaming links to [email protected].

The new album from the Electric Six, Heartbeats and Brainwaves (Metropolis) is incredible. The thing here is that, while the Six have always tried to push their sound forward, this record really sees them finding a sound completely different to anything they’ve produced in the past. More intense, heavier and darker (the famous wit is still there, it’s just a lot dryer), this is the sound of a band growing up and discovering that maturity opens more doors than it closes. This band just gets better.

Iggy & the Stooges’s Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans (MVD Visual) is the DVD version of a live album I reviewed about six months ago. Here we have the current incarnation of the band, with James Williamson on guitar, performing the Raw Power album in its entirety, plus a few other songs. The live material is awesome, the fans with the cameras do a great job of shooting, and there’s some cool interview footage too. Oh, and there’s a scene at the beginning where a fan is holding up my own Stooges book. Extra points there.

The Bits’ unnamed, self-titled debut five-track EP is even nastier and dirtier than the Farleys. It sounds like it was recorded in a Laundromat, and yet it’s probably the best record we got this week. It’s the sound of a drunk guy falling off his stool at Paychecks, then trying to play a song on instruments stolen from a band’s van.

The Farleys is a band who, at one point in its existence, featured Stooges man Scott Asheton in its ranks. Of course, Rock is a little busy nowadays (see above), but that hasn’t stopped the Farleys putting out some hard hitting rock ’n’ roll. From the Bloody Banks of the Detroit River (RUI Musik) is a dirty little EP with five scummy little blues-punk gems.

Chad Hoffman describes himself as a singer / songwriter, which could be scary if not for the fact that he cites Cat Stevens as an influence, as opposed to Ryan Adams. Listen (self-released) is his debut EP, and it’s surprisingly honest, well-produced and packed with quality tunes. Hoffman succeeds by never falling into the trap of being “over-earnest”, which is where so many similar artists have failed. Keep your eye out for this fella.

Tenacity’s I’m Different (Abolitionist Projects) is a stunning piece of work. Tenacity is a white Detroit rapper, so comparisons with the Slim and Shady one are inevitable, but this guy certainly has a style of his own. His rhymes are tight as hell, the choice of samples is inspired and the record flows beautifully. Fantatsic.

The new Jehovah’s Witness Protection Program album, The Glass is Half Full (Loco Gnosis) is absolutely superb. The duo sound more focused and a shit-ton angrier than they have in the past. These are the eight best songs the band have produced, all on one CD.

Blue Snaggletooth’s Dimension Thule (Self-released) sees the Ann Arbor stoner rock band breaking no new ground but certainly perforating a few ear drums with some gnarly, riff-heavy, metal-tinged, beer drinking tunes. The testosterone is flowing as freely as the ale, and it sounds awesome.

Emilio Basa’s To the End (self-released) is fascinating. There are elements of authentic bluesmen like Robert Johnson on the first track, then the riffs kick in, and Basa is off and running. Imagine BB King jamming with Lenny Kravitz, with a dash of Lou Reed. Interesting.

Ill-it Beatz sent over three more jams that are hypnotic, sensual and, to be honest, felt like a really good massage. And shit, I needed one.

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