Dismantling the fabric of psych-folk and reassembling it like some mystical quilt, singer-songwriter Alan Scheurman — assisted by His Name is Alive soundscaper Warren Defever — turned in one of 2009's more complex and (dare we say) emotional albums. Offering introspective tunes ("Starless") alongside unnerving and tribal ones ("Marco Polo"), Scheurman was sure to make room for hypnotic chants (there's both the banjo-laden "Akasha" and the sweeping trip of "Heatdeath"). This work is laced with acoustic strings and stardust; it's vast in layer and rightfully weird.
There's this musician guy, Lo-Fi Bri, who's all about a party. His musical bazaar comes by way of his "band" Carjack. There's less headbangin' and more ass-shakin' than party-champ Andrew W.K. — substituting the famed rock partier's pristine, MTV-ready production with Detroitified DIY, ashtray blip-n-fuzz filters. Both champion the high cause of senseless fun. On stage, he wears masks (often E.T.), smashes toy robots, and forces beat machines, loops and synths into filthy three-ways. All the while, Lo-Fi attacks his Gibson SG like a bear-pawed boxer. Somehow you can get that all through earbud headphones too. After four years of Carjacking, Lo-Fi released four albums (one every Monday) on his band's blog. The funky Boombox EP even features a dope bonus track called "Song for Judy Adams." If you get the title, you'll dig the track.
Welcome to Woodbridge
Recorded outside, in the grass and up in trees, during a taping in Detroit's Woodbridge neighborhood for the Motor City music-centric singlebarreldetroit.com site, Zott's six-track live EP is an intimate and organic (listen to the traffic play backup) taste of the artist's 2009 double-disc release. With of-the-moment, one-take renditions, the record is gently sprinkled with human error, making for music that feels tangible. Finger-picking his way through falsettoed, half-sad lullabies, Zott puts us in a real cool space, in sound and in mood. If you shut your eyes, open your ears and throw on some headphones — you'll be not where you are.
Something out of Nothing
Rapper-producer Charles Vann is (kind of) new to the Detroit hip-hop scene, but that doesn't mean the cat's been out of the loop. The rap hub of Ann Arbor knows his name well, as does our state capital. With the free release of his 2009 LP, Something out of Nothing, Motown should start to take notice — rap brethren United States of Mind already have. The wackest part of Something is that Vann only delivers eight tracks in 20 minutes. Do the math. But the "killer over filler" rule applies, just check the Def Jux-inspired "Sleeping Beauty" and judge for yourself.
From the Future
You know that shitty electronica they play in bright-white clothing shops and hair salons? If you could picture the douche-bag who makes that shit, then you can picture his weird, cement-glue sniffing little bro who collects Laserdisc movies, has a portrait of Falcor on his armpit, and swears he talks to Gary Numan. When he's out buying pomade and T-shirts with wings and skulls on them, our little brat sneaks into his older bro's bedroom and fucks with all his beat machines and keyboards. This kid's music is still rooted in electronica, but showered in RPG fantasy videogame soundtracks and magic mushrooms, as opposed to Dolce & Gabana cock rings and top-shelf vodka cocktails.
Orange Swimmer Red Summer LP; Grower EP; Dead Kids EP; Spirtle 7"
What a year it's been for Randolph Chabot Jr., the prolific, one-man synthphony the world now knows as Deastro. If you've had the pleasure of meeting the man, you know his heart spans the width of the Detroit River, but if you haven't, you can gauge his intentions by the way the dude continually releases free music. And he's on a label (Ghostly Intl.), so it's not like he has to. It's charity. In 2009 alone, Deastro released, for free, (at least) one full record, two EPs and one hot piece of earwax. The music lives on the whimsical side of electronic. There's a big pulse and a shower of electric light to get involved with, reach in and get lost.
Desktop & "My Boo" EPs
Keith Thompson plays bass in Electric Six and plugs in with Johnny Headband on occasion. Zach Curd tickles Pop Project's keys and runs the indie label Suburban Sprawl Music. Together they are Desktop, a band that combines some of the best elements of radio-friendly electronic pop hits of the mid-'80s to the mid- '90s (from New Order to Gary Glitter to Arabian Prince and LaBouche). For a straight shot of their nostalgic bent, check "My Boo," a tongue-in-cheek, auto-tuned freestyle, a 120-bpm cover of GhostTown DJs' 1996 radio jam.
Exchange Bureau Music:
Joshua Adams: 11" & Panty Raid; Exchange Bureau: 42; Snowman Jack: Sunday Night Session; Ibex:
Detroit Drive; DJ Godfather Presiding
Before there was Exchange Bureau Music, the online (Detroit-based) record label that features global talent in the electronic and hip-hop variety, there was the house 'n' soul group of the same name. Two EXB band mates, drummer Joshua Adams and digital maestro Paul Katcher, started the label last year; since then it's gained some real momentum, partly due to their consistent release of quality free music. There's upbeat, down-tempo, island vibe and city grit. So yeah, something for every brand of beat junkie.
The Hard Lessons started out five years ago as a bluesy indie-rock outfit with more energy than a keg of Red Bull. Then, though sustaining their penchant for riffs, they transitioned into a sugar-sweet rock outfit. After some soul searching and one drummer move, the band's found a place, sound-wise, to balance it all. Arm's Forest is their most ambitious and mature work yet — you could even say it's their best. With the title track and the single ("Sound the Silent Alarm") worth album's price alone, you can have it all free for just signing up on their mailing list.
Free Majestik Legend LP
Majestik Legend isn't your everyday gas station mixtape rapper, hustling CDs from a backpack at the bus stop — he's a juggernaut force of rhyme and reason. Legend brings passion to each verse he spits and smoothly morphs from hood-hardened gangster to wise owl and more. Collaborating with rapper iLLiTe and producer Decompoze on the introspective "Blackout" number, Legend delivers a hip-hop head's scavenger hunt: I move so the devil can't touch me or tackle/Like Michelangelo with paintbrushes in the chapel/I'm writing through the glass ceiling/my pad's feelings get drafted on the wall like hieroglyphics of the last Egyptians.
Blessed Be, Yours Truly In Spirit & Soul
The song titles are as long as a Lions losing streak, but don't let 'em deter or you'll miss out on one of the moodiest indie-pop records in recent memory. Think Dario Argento films represented only through melody, rhythm and dark poetry. ... There's horror and suspense in these seven songs, but the collection is presented adroitly, the space between percussion, guitar, piano and post-doo-wop vox provides room to think. No doubt "The Witch was a Preemie, God Bless her Evil Soul" will haunt you in the best of ways.
Oh Shit! Project
After you cop Oh Shit, feel free to scoop up some of the sneaker-slinging rapper's rare and unreleased music he created in years past under the Octane moniker — it's all on the site. There's the album Roland "Ro Spit" Coit put out with partner in rhyme, iLLite (The Forgotten ... Chosen), as well as a never-released LP from 2005 — The Closest Thing to Him — and a number of singles, all available for the cost of oxygen. Ro Spit will pump your trunk and put a step in your Dunks.Travis R. Wright is arts and culture editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]