In one ear

Oct 21, 1998 at 12:00 am


It's been a helluva year for Jill Jack -- and the extended community of musicians, muses and cohorts that comprise the Jill Jack family. Since emerging on the Detroit singer-songwriter and rock radar two years ago, Jack has become one of the few musicians who has managed to walk the tightrope between hardworking ubiquity on the live circuit and critical and popular consistency. This is no doubt at least partially due to her stylistic versatility and the raw emotion of her gifted voice. Of late, the Jill Jack who has got music lovers abuzz fronts a dynamic and deeply symbiotic band of musicians that includes, at its core, multi-instrumentalist Billy Brandt. It's a partnership that extends from the live and recorded realm into the equally crucial business arena, too. Brandt is the head of Drum Dancer Records, a local label with a true love of music, and spreading it far and wide is its driving principle. All the evidence you'll need can be found on Jack's follow-up to last year's acclaimed Watch Over Me, the soon-to-be-released Too Close to the Sun. Too Close delivers the same life-tested insights that won so many admirers via Watch Over Me, but Jack & co. have added a richness of instrumentation that wows not by overindulging, but by picking exactly the right moments, instruments and textures to carry Jack's voice, which soars like the alluded-to Icarus but never falters. Do yourself a favor and see for yourself the product of talent, inspiration, determination and deeply soulful interaction when Jill Jack (the band) celebrates the release of Too Close to the Sun at Ferndale's Magic Bag -- 22920 Woodward Ave. -- this Saturday, Oct. 24. For more information, contact Drum Dancer Records, PO Box 20752, Ferndale, MI 48220. Call the Magic Bag at 248-544-3030 for more info.


It seems that the muse, timing and mini-corporate machinations have finally conspired in Detroit punks the Hentchmen's favor. What's all this cosmic talk about a punk band, then? The lads three are capping a summer of momentum-building shows -- some of which included the guitar and voice of one Mr. Jack White of the White Stripes, whom we'll address soon -- in and outside of our Motor Hamlet with a double record release party this Friday night at Detroit's Gold Dollar. Six days later, they jump on a jet plane for a three-week, five-country, breakneck tour of Europe. But let's back up. The first of the two releases, Motorvatin', is the Hentch's fourth full-length for NYC's Norton Records -- two of which, truth be told, yours truly played drums on, many moons and too many PBRs ago. If anyone says it's not the trio's finest, they're either stoned or stupid. Motorvatin' comes as close to capturing the live, beer-soaked Hentchmen desperation -- partly because the album's second side was recorded "live" at Jim Diamond's Ghetto Recorders last February. But it's the first half that showcases exactly why the Hentchmen are no longer the little-boys-lost, '60s garage nostalgists they're too often pegged for. Motorvatin''s first nine tracks document a band that's pissed, confused and frustrated, sure, but also grudgingly grown-up and sophisticated, and articulate enough to know that you don't have to actively stick it to him to fuck "the Man."

Also unleashed that night will be the Hentchmen's nine-song, 12-inch 45, Hentch-Forth, released by Detroit punk exhibitionist-Go bassist-budding label head Dave Buick's Italy Records. This slab includes bass and vocal work by White, too and, according to Hentch organ-iser John Szymanski, it's fuller, louder and "blows everything else away." Rocket 455 axe-man Jeff Meier pulled recording duty for this 'un.

Tripling the evening's excitement is the celebration of the new 7-inch from the mesmerizing-rocktacular show-stealers White Stripes. Here's to hoping there's a long-player from this underrated duo in the near future. The Gold Dollar is located at 3129 Cass Ave. in Detroit. Call 313-833-6873 for more info.