On the Download

Having precious little metrics to judge the audience of this here column (presumably bathroom-sitters and bird cage enthusiasts primarily), I have to make a leap of faith: that you, dear reader, have not completely gorged yourselves on the infotainment leaping from the blogosphere and that there are some things you may not be aware of. My further leap of faith is that you give a rat's ass about music being made in this town. Combine the two and I'm contractually obliged, then, to tell you about the annual Suburban Sprawl Holiday compilation. For my money (and since it's free, that's relative), Arranged Marriage's (Thunderbirds Are Now's Scott Allen and his dad Brad) "Stood Up on Christmas" is a quirky psych-folk-pop joy that lopes along with its head in the winter clouds. Can I just take a slight detour here and say how — even though they're some of the most prolific musical folks in the area — I'd really like to hear more from the Allen clan, especially in this guise? Sure, their myspace.com/arrangedmarriage has some cool jams but — is that enough? Well, it'll at least appease me for now, I guess. I heartily recommend.

OK, back to the eggnog-addled fun: Will Yates' "Third Grader Confronting the Possibility That Santa Doesn't Exist" is a charming piece of twitchy processed piano pop that does Ben Folds one better by introducing him to Mouse on Mars and to a lighter sense of humor. Speaking of humor, there's a hackneyed attempt at it by Downriver Dan with his skit "I Saw Kwame Kissing Santa Claus." (Live on the "Dick Hurtin' Show" — get it? Huh? Meh.) But there are far more leftfield gems from the Sub Sprawl stable and friends. Much more successful is the cut-up, dadaesque lightness "Letters to Santa From Four Real Girls" by the Next Door Neighbors. Sea of Japan's scattered and gorgeous "Meet Me on Christmas" exists on one end of the "gift you asked for" spectrum, while the shrink-friendly Daditudes track, "Freudian Gift," with its off-the-cuff experimentalism, pretty much defines the more stocking stufferesque offerings. Still, this features two discs' worth of new musical goodness for the holidays and, again, it's free. And this season, we can all use a little bit of that, can't we?

(By the way, at the same website, they've also posted some MP3s of lost jams from former bands, which are the sonic equivalents of the "awkward teenage years." Good fun.)


So, real quick, just to wash that taste of holiday cheer out of your mouth, may I suggest the old-school, bitter, crusty-punk action of the blog-in-progress called A2 Punk? The universities of the greater Washtenaw Avenue area and such institutions as Ann Arbor's Community (aka Commie) High School churn out a nearconstant stream of unsettled yoots — that is, kids with precious little direction but an abundance of ideas and energy. Thankfully, some of that energy has gone into making some good old-fashioned rawket over the years (otherwise, without it, we'd have no Iggy Pop or the Stooges, actually). Anyhow, the folks behind A2 Punk have kindly started to catalog and connect the dots of this fertile scene. Links to band and venue pages, as well as show news and other tendons of togetherness, are a mighty fine way to kill a lunch hour. Just be sure to put your headphones on if you're in the office (you know, for example) 'cause, well, some of the jams linked to are definitely NSFW. Check it out at the link below as the perfect antidote to this season's good cheer!

Till next time!

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