Toppin’, shoppin’, signin’ and drivin’

Jizz and pap?

Kanye West swept the sweet spots in Village Voice's 32nd (or 33rd) annual Pazz and Jop critics' poll for the best recordings of 2005. The survey this year saw 795 ballots — including those from eight Metro Times' music writers — from the country's most ace music scribes, who divided points among their Top 10 lists of albums and singles. Kanye's single ("Gold Digger" with Jamie Foxx) and album (Late Registration) snagged top spots in the album and single categories. Sufjan Stevens' Illinois nailed third on the album list, and the White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan took sixth. Some of the Detroit area's finest made the lists including, but not limited to, Brendan Benson (No. 176), Detroit Cobras (No. 186), Electric Six (No. 224), Platinum Pied Pipers (No. 328), the Sights (No. 393), the Dirtbombs (No. 406). Go to and scroll through the list. You can also do a separate search for an artist or a critic.

Diggin' for gold

And in keeping this dinky Kanye thread alive, let's salute the bullet-dodging, Swann-loving Mr. West for upholding the faith. See, dude still believes in the mom-and-pop record shop, so much so that he popped into the Melodies and Memories on Gratiot on the Saturday before Super Sunday with an entourage of smartly ornamented body guards and such. Store manager Gary Koral explains: "I see six, seven guys walk in, a bunch of dudes. They didn't look like Detroiters; they were dressed nice. And Kanye's walking around with his bodyguard within 15 feet at all times."

Gary told the Grammy-glooming emcee that he was impressed to see the rapper make the cover of Time magazine, to which the humpty emcee chirped something like, "Shit, I'm on the cover or Rolling Stone this week. Didja see it?"

After purchasing a wall of rare DVDs and armfuls of CDs ("They laid hundreds of dollars worth on the counter"), Kanye autographed the wall and split, entourage in tow. This follows a trend of sorts that sees crate-digging celebs diving into Melodies' multiroom collection of music. On one occasion the store stayed open until 3 a.m. so ?uestlove could drop thousands.

New boots and contracts

We come from grrr-age lan', ah, ah, ah, sang old Joe Strummer once when he was roaring out of the garage. And so too are area din maestros John "Johnny Hentch" Syzmanski, Dave Shettler (ex-Sights) and Marty "Mother" Morris (Cyril Lords ringleader), collectively known as SSM. They've just signed with Bomp! subsidiary Alive and are now labelmates with the Howling Diablos, the Black Keys and Soledad Brothers. The signing proves that the flavor and anxious tussle of the trio's recent "demo" (LP1) was no fluke, as reviewed in these pages and later in The New York Times. The band has been holed up in Chris Koltay's Corktown studio banging out the hooky hubbub. We got Hentch on the line from Chicago where he's spending the weekend laying down bass tracks for a new Paybacks disc. He's a busy dude. "I've got three things going on at the moment," Hentch says. "The SSM record, the new Paybacks record and my dad's bathroom, which I'm working on right now." Hentch, you'll note, is a licensed plumber. SSM's "instant" record is slated for release on March 23.

The SSM signing is also a validation of what could be a knock-kneed Detroit trend in '06 — local heroes teaming up to record great, perfectly simplistic rock 'n' roll.


EMI has pushed the release for Bob Seger's new one, Face The Promise, back to Sept. 12.

The Go landed a couple ditties in a new Wes Craven-produced remake of his own drive-in standard The Hills Have Eyes, which is out March 10. The Go says a new, self-produced record will be out soon too, and from what we've heard it's sticky sweet, full of sugar highs and sexual tension for little girls. It's the pop shit, as old Johnny T. would say, not the hippy shit.

For this year's South by Southwest Music Conference (Wednesday, March 15, through Sunday, March 19) the Metro Times sponsored band is the Hard Lessons. Other Mitten acts scheduled to perform in the annual Tex fest include Saturday Looks Good To Me, Lawless Element, Deadstring Brothers, His Name is Alive, Nomo, Novadriver, Holy Fire, Thunderbirds Are Now, Human Eye, SSM, Volebeats, Audion, Octave One, Genders, Anathallo, Paybacks, Whirlwind Heat, Los Hermanos and the Underground Resistance collective. We'd be remiss not to mention the always frolicsome Small Stone records showcase.

Atlantic records' signees and Metro Times cover kids Snowhite have changed their name to the Love Parade. Good idea, we say, for a number of reasons. You can catch the newly monikered combo at the Blowout.

Speaking of Blowout, get your all-venue-access wristbands, 'cause they're going quickly. The Blowout kick starts at Majestic Complex in Detroit on Wednesday, March 1, followed by three, um, glorious nights in Hamtramck. For more wristband info and a complete Blowout performance schedule, go to And to those bands who are complaining that they didn't get picked to play, remember this: We had hundreds of submissions — running the twaddle-to-terrific gamut — and out of a possible 200 Blowout slots, 89 went to new bands. Besides, and not to get all PR on your ass, but what was confirmed in our ears and eyes was this: The breadth of Detroit music is at the moment as alive as much as it's varied.

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