Tom Carter, Peacers, Elisa Ambrogio, 75 Dollar Bill, Chris Corsano, and more

Beneath the Underdog

Tom Carter, Peacers, Elisa Ambrogio, 75 Dollar Bill, Chris Corsano, and more

We've got five separate cannot-miss-them shows featuring an intermingling set of underground musical luminaries happening this week.

The new Tom Carter double album on Three Lobed, Long Time Underground, was recorded two years ago. And it absolutely shreds. Layers get built up pretty quickly at points, but the jacket says it was done with no overdubs. It's safe to assume that looping pedals or tape delays or some similar trickery must be in great effect here. The cover to the double album has what looks to be an abstraction of the heavenly tree of life (or just a bunch of pretty circles) against a desert landscape. I have listened to Long Time Underground a handful of times all the way through (without a record changer, even), always with the intention of describing it, because that's my job. But each time I just get lost inside of the music, and I can't tell you much more than what the last 30 seconds sounded like. This side ended very pretty, while the other side ended sounding like a four-alarm fire. Carter, who was one-half of the droney psychedelic band Charalambides in the '90s and has actually recorded with experimental pop singer Pip Proud, has had a solo career for 15 years. He is one of the masters of solo electric guitar — easily up there with Marisa Anderson and Rick Bishop with people to never miss a chance to see them play.

In one sequence from the video for last year's "Superstitious," off The Immoralist (Drag City), Elisa Amborgio is seated on the grass in denim and sneakers strumming guitar and lip syncing underneath a copper pyramid shape in front of an array of totemic items, spread out in a sacred array: an empty perfume bottle, a telephone in the shape of a hot dog, a copy of Leni Sinclari's photo of a shirtless MC5, a Little Mermaid pill box, guitar effects, fruit, candles, plastic flowers, a small journal, guitar effects, a lipstick case, a tube of paint, a plastic tiger, The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico, an empty box of Newports, a tip jar, one of Ring Lardner's best books, a plastic rocket, more fruit, a map of Manhattan, some soap, and more things too. It looks like it might be super important — everything that inspired her up to then, perhaps? — or the remains of a friend's garage sale. Hard to say. It's a beautiful song too. If you like Amp, Grouper, Opal, or any other groovy music that can also be used as a flotational device, then you will really dig Ambrogio, who has led the Connecticut-based Magik Markers since 2001.

Mike Donovan's oeuvre has to be committed to whatever it is that might settle for a memory by all true fans of stoner pop. Donovan, who started the tape label Folding 15 years ago, has been in the great '90s indie-gaze Slumberland band the Ropers; unleashed mayhem in the Big Techno Werewolves; made forward-thinking weirdo electronic pop in the Church Steps; released the lazy sort of country-rock solo record Wot on Drag City; and is best known for his work in the incomparable Sic Alps, who fucked with every unwritten convention in garage-pop only to make some of the best garage-pop of the Oughts. Seriously, they were the best. I haven't heard his new band Peacers, yet. I could Google them now, watch a YouTube, and then hastily and lazily describe it, for you. But I've don't that enough already today.

Percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Corsano is another performer who just should never be missed. I don't want to call him a genius, because what if he has an off night? Then you'll send me angry emails, tell me how no way is that guy a genius. But he deserves a Guggenheim; let's just say that. Corsano is playing in his band Vampire Belt, an old and noisier group he had with Bill Nace (the Body/Head guy) a dozen years ago. They play with Jason Finkbiner and Slither, which is Chris from Cotton Museum and Heath from Sick Llama.

75 Dollar Bill features No Wave veteran and super nice chap with superb taste (first person I ever heard cover the Monks, back in the 1980s), percussionist and multi-instrumentatlist Rick Brown in collaboration with superb guitarist Che Chen. I've wanted to see 75 Dollar Bill for years and cannot wait to finally do so (and we've all got three chances, no less). Their jams are heavily rhythmic, ridiculously stripped-down, and trance-inducing. Think live recordings of Ali Farka Toure, or Tetuzi Akiyama's Don't Forget to Boogie record— seriously, that incredibly good.

Note: Whenever I've had the chance to have a column someplace (and to name it myself) I've pretentiously named it after Charles Mingus' ridiculous and great autobiography, Beneath the Underdog. I had one in the 1980s for the German magazine Spex, and then in the 1990s for Raygun's spinoff publication hUH, which might be the worst intentional capitalization since the birth of rap-rock.

Peacers and Elisa Ambrogio perform with the always great Chatoyant at Trinosophes on Thurs., Nov. 12. Doors at 8 p.m.;; 1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; around $10.

Vampire Belt, Finkbeiner, and Slither play Trinosophes on Saturday, Nov. 14. Doors at 8 p.m.; 1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; around $10.

75 Dollar Bill and Tom Carter will perform at an in-store show presented by WCBN-FM Ann Arbor at Encore Records on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Starts at 8 p.m.; 417 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; Free, all ages.

Tom Carter performs with 75 Dollar Bill and the always nimble and awesome Andrew Carter at Trinosophes on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Doors at 8 p.m.; 1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit;; around $10.

75 Dollar Bill also opens for Micachu and the Shapes on Thursday, Nov. 19 at MOCAD. Doors at 8 p.m.; 4454 Woodward Ave.;; $12.

About The Author

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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