Tenth annual Record Store: Reflecting on the trend

Coffee – Enjoy a single, instantaneous cup at the push of a button. Grocery shopping – Tap the computer screen and a store employee is gathering, bagging and delivering ingredients to the house. Music – Stop swiping the phone screen when a favored selection appears.

Most daily experiences lack a sense of process they once required. Stirring a pot of coffee on the stove or writing a grocery list (with an actual pen and paper) and driving to the store. Music however, though constantly evolving distribution outlets, is being met with an increased consumer demand to resuscitate a particular platform that requires a process to experience it: vinyl records.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the vinyl record industry sold 430 million dollars in 2016, a 15 million dollar increase from 2015 and the highest the statistic has been since 1988. The cause of such resurgence is likely due to the general tangibility of records – the experience.

“You get something you can have and hold. If it’s got really cool artwork or cool packaging, it’s something you can stare at and analyze because you’re forced to sit down and listen to your record as opposed to skipping from track to track with just the touch of a button or a screen,” said Scott Hagen, general manager at UHF Music in Royal Oak.

Vinyl is no groundbreaking comeback in 2017. It’s been slowly gaining traction back in popular culture and the economy. Although the last few years of business have shown vinyl vendors that the trend’s current strength is in young consumers.

“If I were to put an age range on it I would say anywhere from 13-60 years old seems to be the average age of everyone coming in but in the last four to five years we have had a steady increase of teenagers and young adults coming in,” Hagen said.

Hagen, who opened the store with its owner nearly seven years ago, remembers when only a small percentage of music was pressed to vinyl during that time.

“Now almost every title that comes out seems to come out on vinyl as well,” Hagen said.

It took quite a while for new, mainstream releases to get pressed to vinyl, though manufacturing never ceased completely. With the help of cult music cultures, consumer interest remained on a small-scale basis.

“Small, independent labels have been pressing up [12-inch records] in certain genres, specifically electronic dance music and hardcore music, since before cassettes and CDs started to gain popularity,” said Andrey Douthard, owner of Paramita Sound in Detroit.
“So that’s like a whole sub-industry, in a way, of vinyl records. A culture that hasn’t stopped and won’t stop. The things that had been. Now everything’s getting pressed. New artists, unknown artists that aren’t on labels, everyone knows how important it is to have tangible product to sell and people connect with vinyl,” Douthard said.
Douthard, who opened Paramita Sound in October 2014, said margins on new releases are “really low” (a.k.a. expensive for shops and consumers). Thus he uncovers another culture of vinyl that never expired: used records.

“With the up-swinging trend of new records being pressed and sold, there’s a whole other world of trade with records that doesn’t even hit the Neilson ratings. I mean … millions of used records that trade hands,” Douthard said.

 

 

At the corner of Woodward and Nine Mile in Ferndale sits The Rust Belt Market – an art market with several gallery-like stations occupied by local artists, crafters, and hobbyists. Sitting in the center-most station of the large industrial space is used-record vendor Mike Trombley.

Trombley has been selling records at Rust Belt for five years and opened and operated a record shop in Philadelphia for four years before that. Although he sells a small variety of new records, Trombley sources his used records from estate sales and newspaper ads.

“During the week I make house calls and buy up collections,” Trombley said.

Trombley has been in record retail since the mid-90s and has also noticed an increase of young consumers in recent years.

“In terms of my business, I’ve certainly seen a lot more younger people buying vinyl, buying players, buying receivers, which I think is awesome,” Trombley said.

After decades of personal interest in vinyl, Trombley credits the experience it requires for his perpetual passion.

“I like the whole experience of playing a record; having to put it on, having to flip it over, checking out the art work, checking out the liner notes. It’s just a much more personal experience. Streaming is a very disconnected experience,” Trombley said.

When vinyl started to fade out in the late 80s, so did the pressing plants. Until this year, Detroit housed one – Archer Record Pressing Co. in Hamtramck. On February 25th, Third Man Records in Detroit’s Cass Corridor opened the city’s second pressing plant, which utilizes the newest presses in thirty-five years. The plant also occupies eight presses as opposed to Archer’s two.

The storefront opened in November 2015 after the brand was started by native rock legend Jack White in 2001. TMR is a brand and a label, and though the new pressing plant presses music releases respective to the label, they manufacture outside orders for bands not on the label as well.

Aside from records and books under the brand’s publishing wing, the store is filled with an abundance of ancillary trinkets with the brand’s logo: socks, matches, coffee mugs, pocket knives… The main draw though, is the music that can be touched.

“Being on the sales floor, it is easy to see that records are sold much more than our apparel,” Jessica Artt said, Third Man Records sales team member.

“Its something that you can actually interact with, which I think is what interests people the most,” Artt said.

For record retailers, April in particular is a month that doesn’t stop spinning. The international holiday, Record Store Day, falls on the 22nd every year. This year will be the tenth. RSD is a chance for music artists to release songs never previously released on vinyl, fresh vinyl color variations, re-mastered editions; records that are rare in some way either pertaining to the track list or physical look/packaging. Record stores that participate in RSD will carry these exclusive releases. Some stores also have live, in-shop entertainment.

According to Douthard, the RSD environment in a record store is the equivalent to St. Patrick’s Day at an Irish Pub.

“Record Store Day is a whole world of things but for the most part it’s a very positive thing for all record stores, whether they’re participating officially or not,” Douthard said.


Artists: Consider the Cost of Living

The best type of city for artists and creatives is the cheap kind. Not cultured, not artsy, not filled with book stores devoted solely to poetry. Just a cheap city with cheap rent, reasonably-priced real estate, and an affordable cost of living.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always thought it would be amazing to live in New York City—in 1984. Back then, rent was cheap and there was still affordable housing for artists and musicians in old warehouse buildings, etc.—a la Basquiat. However, this world doesn’t exist anymore. Now you get a large walk-in closet (i.e. studio) in Brooklyn for a little less than 1K a month—if you’re lucky.
However, if you’re searching for a low cost of living, you can’t get any better than Detroit, Michigan. The median price of a house there—13K—costs just a little more than a year’s worth of closet living in New York City. Wow! That’s pretty amazing, if you ask me. As with many cities, however, you’ll need to consider areas other than the more ‘happening’ areas like mid-town, Cork Town, or downtown in order to find the most inexpensive properties for sale or rent.
There are, of course, a few caveats to living in Michigan, and one large one is the winter. However, as long as your house is well-insulated, all the more reason to stay home and write! Another factor to consider is the relatively high property tax rates and the high rates of property insurance. Keep in mind, though, that property taxes are higher for business owners than home owners. Of course, this only applies to property owners—not renters—so renters need not consider this factor. Also, property taxes are higher for more expensive properties, so if you’re looking to invest in a ‘fixer-upper,’ your property taxes aren’t going to be as high as if you were buying a house worth $300,000.
If a $13,000 price tag doesn’t inspire you to buy a house in Detroit, perhaps a program devoted to providing houses for writers will. Write-A-House is an organization based in Detroit that “seeks to teach and support trade crafts and literary creativity.” They do this by not only renovating Detroit city homes, but by also teaching carpentry and building skills to the underemployed, then awarding the renovated homes to writers.
I don’t know about you, but—as both a writer and an innovator—I am inspired by that kind of community-minded organization. If you are too, and you’re interested in making a change in the place you live, you could always get a degree in community development to help out the burgeoning reconstruction process in Detroit. From my experience living in smaller towns and cities, nothing compares to the feeling that you matter and that you live in a small enough pond to be able to make a difference to your peers. The Dalai Lama’s famous words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” come to mind.
In order to embody change, you should have a plan for growth. If you move to a place like Detroit with a lot of potential for growth in the arts, it’s relatively easy to contribute to the burgeoning writers’ community. Approach your networking with other writers in the same way that you would approach growing a startup or a business community. You want to focus on relationships with people: who do you know, who do you want to know, and who might your current contacts know who you’d like to meet?

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Photo source: Flickr/Will Marlow

The sad truth about writing and the arts in general, these days, is that it has become necessary to market yourself. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are fast becoming necessary evils—if only because one of the first rules of marketing is exposure. The best thing about these sites, as well as blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr, is that they don’t cost anything to use. Therefore, as soon as you learn the ins and outs of the above sites, you can afford to be a poor writer with a lot of free press.
So if you want to thrive as a creative person without having to stress about paying the rent, consider an affordable place to live like Detroit. Who knows? You might even start a revolution in your own neighborhood—or simply in your career in the arts.


Second Single From Nunca Duerma “Shapeshifter” LP

Old Tacoma Records and Young Heavy Souls present Shapeshifter. An 11-track LP combining elements of hip-hop, jazz, and electronica from Chicago-based producer, Nunca Duerma will be released on Tuesday, July 22. The full-length album will be available for purchase on iTunes and on 12” vinyl records through the Young Heavy Souls store for a limited run. Nunca Duerma was originally discovered by Eliot Lipp when the two appeared on concert bills together. Duerma’s first release on Old Tacoma was a 3-track EP, Dilated. After his debut, he produced a track that was featured on the Pretty Lights Music release of Eliot’s Shark Wolf Rabbit Snake remix album. “Each track is carried by the depth of these beautiful melodies, and the raw soul that went in to creating them. The rhythms function in a way that gives every tone its own purpose. Nunca Duerma is musically one of the most thoughtful producers I’ve come across in recent years,” said Eliot Lipp. There will be release shows in both Chicago and Detroit to celebrate. On July 18 at New Dodge in Detroit Nunca Duerma will play along with special guests Jaws That Bite, Pastel Arsenal and Heavy Color. On July 26 at the Double Door in Chicago, Nunca Duerma will be accompanied with Vapor Eyes, Nortroniks, and Hongry Bogart. About Nunca Duerma: Detroit born, Michigan-raised producer Nunca Duerma currently resides in Chicago. Nunca Duerma has created his own brand of original, sample-based hip-hop and electronica; a natural byproduct of his life in the city. His live sets include original productions, live keyboards, and drumming accompaniment by TJ Devoe. Nunca Duerma is affiliated with both Old Tacoma Records and Young Heavy Souls. Old Tacoma Records is a Brooklyn-based record label founded by Eliot Lipp. Previous releases include Dark Party, Ben Samples, Sir Charles, Eliot Lipp, and Leo 123. Young Heavy Souls is a Detroit-based record label and artist management collective. – via Young Heavy Souls Press Release


The HandGrenades Release New Video for “Wrapped in Plastic”

Detroit favorite, The HandGrenades, just released the best (more like whatever the superlative of bomb-ass is) video I’ve seen come out of Detroit in a long time.   This eye/ear-gasm for their track, “Wrapped in Plastic” off of their awaited EP, 52, was directed by their very own, Jesse Shepherd-Bates.  The crew lets us sit-in on a rustic black-and-white concert, which quickly becomes as personal as a basement jam session with close friends.  Each character in the story transforms from blurry to sharp as we get to know them.  Meanwhile, the video gradually becomes more chaotic with its soundtrack, as images layer on top of one another and the band members’ faces grow jumbled.  So, in the glorious end, we are left with the real madness of things once, but no longer, wrapped in plastic.

 

Check out their video below and get stoked for their new EP, which comes out May 13.


Education Sounds Like This

I sit here in this brightly-colored classroom, as my teacher pulls up a file on his computer screen and suddenly he asks, “Do you see that big phallic thing at 200?”  My eyes focus on the projected image before me. “Yeah, we gotta get everything out of its way.”

That’s when I realized this was no ordinary classroom.  This was what the guys at FyouNK Collective in Royal Oak call a “Meat & Produce” session: an event in which musically-minded people come together to discuss the production process.  As the Facebook page says, “Producers of any genre are welcome – electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, etc., as long as you are open-minded.  Musicians, singers, and rappers who are looking to collaborate are also very welcome to join in on the fun.”  Essentially, as the men in charge state, “Anyone with a dedicated interest in music production is welcome to join.”  Such a vast invitation can properly explain the fact that when I walked through the doors at FyouNK Collective, the place was pretty nearly packed.  And rightly so.

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The professors on the eve of the twenty-first day of October were some of my favorite musicians in Detroit, so I simply could not miss my chance to explore this learning opportunity for myself.  This faculty included Detroit’s very own guitar-driven-bass master, OCTiV, the Detroit-raised beat manipulator, Freddy Todd, and the electronic mastermind/party-starter, ill.so.naj.  I was a little late for class and I dropped my pencil twice, but my teachers made me feel right at home and worthy of their profound lessons.

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First, OCTiV came up to the desk at the front of the classroom and told us all about the importance of equalization, or balancing sounds in music.  He summarized much of this tweaking mechanism, saying that what was most important was “getting unnecessary things out of the way of stuff you want.”

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He then explained that, though some sounds need to be made less powerful for the sake of more important ones, all is not lost in doing so.  In fact, often times those sounds that are diminished for the sake of others can still be felt in the song and have an enormous presence in the overall vibe of the piece. Thus, OCTiV showed the importance of knowing the difference between hearing sounds and feeling them.  As OCTiV revealed, however, extra sounds can sometimes be distracting.  “You need to make sure people can pay attention,” he declared, reminding composers to make cuts whenever necessary for the listener’s benefit.  Of course, it is okay to be sad about these cuts for a bit.  I mean, we are all still mourning for those sounds which were demolished by the aforementioned “phallic thing.”

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After OCTiV offered a new perspective on making positive changes to songs, Freddy Todd took the reigns.  The musician began by highlighting his philosophical approach to music, a quality which separates him from many of his composing counterparts.  Todd told his students that when you are creating music, “step one is your brain.”

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For Todd, focusing on one’s mindset is an essential part of what he called, “starting right and starting proper,” and it is a step in the music production process which simply cannot be skipped.  Todd then detailed what that meant for his own music, telling us that he needs to be inspired and in a clean room when he begins to create his sounds.  He encouraged students to develop their own rules for getting in the correct music-making mindset.

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Todd admitted that producing quality music, however, ultimately requires more than just a positive mental state.  “You can get inspired and write a whole track on your headphones, but typically if you want to put out an album you need a good pair of studio monitors.”  Thus, while the mind is the strongest tool at a musician’s disposal, it is also critical that he or she has the necessary tools available to them and knows how to use them properly.

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After explaining the process for beginning a song, Todd left the floor open for ill.so.naj to give some technical advice for the later parts of production.  The electronic artist focused his lesson on the idea of personalizing the musical experience.  He did this by showing students how to use programs, such as Ableton Live, to make improvised edits to tracks.  He encouraged everyone to take their iPods, iPads, or other beloved gadgets and “then assign them customized ‘MIDI mappings’ and touch screen layouts, creating unique ways to trigger effects or blend sounds.”

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This process allows performers to create their own unique set-ups, which cater to their individual needs and styles.  Ill.so.naj told us that, with these tools, he was even able to use a Guitar Hero controller to perform his songs on stage at one point.  The musician proceeded to play many of his own clips for the students to give them an idea of where improvisational tools might be applied.  Though he emphasized using the computer programs to be prepared for any show, he declared that:

Most importantly you gotta leave room for those happy accidents to happen. That’s where the magic is.

Here, the artist’s technical approach highlights both the immense dedication required to produce such music, and the importance of allowing for freedom in its performance.  Ill.so.naj showed us that even this freedom, however, requires much focus and effort beforehand.

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The three musician/producers took their students behind the scenes into many aspects of their artistic processes, and it was truly an educational experience for all involved.  The teachers were able to reach both the dedicated producers in the crowd as well as the beginners who had just fiddled with their friends’ computers during study hour.  In fact, each speaker made the intricacies of his musical processes seem approachable and comprehensible, even for any woefully ignorant music journalists in the building.

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All of that, of course, is to say that the environment at this Meat & Produce event was ideal for many different people with vast ranges of experience and interests.  Obviously October’s teachers brought a great deal of information to the table, and for that we were sincerely grateful.  But I know for sure that all other producers who take the time to share their wisdom in the future will do so just as admirably.  For my part, I know that I will be back at the FyouNK Collective often for more music education, and I am certain that the seats will fill just as quickly with musicians who are eager to learn.

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Funk Night Preview: A Day with Frank Raines & Rickey Calloway

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Halloween morning started as bleak, gloomy and grey as Detroit Sounds Like This got ready to spend the day with Funk Night Records DJ and Owner Frank Raines and headliner for tonight’s return of Funk Night: Rickey Calloway. Rickey, having only arrived in Detroit a couple hours before, was up and ready for a mini Detroit tour and a photo shoot.  We packed into the car and headed downtown.  Our first stop was Greektown to catch the People Mover (free parking of course doesn’t hurt either).  We proceeded to hop on and head towards the Renaissance Center. We snapped a few shots, explored the buildings, and then rode the People Mover to loop back to Greektown.  As we explored and talked about how invigorating and significant the places in the city we were venturing to made us feel, our day really started to awaken some magical vibes.

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We headed down West Grand Boulevard to Hitsville USA, the heart of the Motown Sound.  All of us, myself included, had never set foot in there until just yesterday.  We walked around, heard the tour guide sing Motown classics into the ceiling to demonstrate the echo and re-verb, observed the gold and platinum records on the walls, and really just soaked in the importance of what the place we were standing in has contributed to Detroit and to cities of musicians all over the world .  The end of the tour was the cherry on top of the sundae — energy in the recording studio was unbelievable. Just decades ago some of the greatest songs we know and love today were created inside the detached garage we were standing in.  We could tell that Rickey was overwhelmed with inspiration and excited; about 4 hours later he was going to a studio with Will Sessions and Frank to record a new song.

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Once we were finished up at Hitsville U.S.A., we headed over to Woodbridge Pub to grab some food and began a Q & A interview with DJ Frank Raines & Rickey Calloway.

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INTERVIEW

C: Funk Night recently went on a year and a half, almost two year halt, was there a reason behind this?

F: I was trying to bring it back to the warehouse vibe, because the Majestic Theater every weekend was having a huge party, it was becoming played out, they were having parties every weekend and it was just getting repatative. Then we found another spot and we got permits and there was some back tax issues, and that kind of set Funk Night back.

C: Meanwhile Detroiters have seen Funk Night Records releases as far as Russia. Funk Night Records has become a very well known name throughout the world, how did you achieve all of this?

F: I have really amazing artists that I work with, I try to make sure everything is top-notch quality, and that the music will speak for itself. I also make sure to get the records in the right DJ’s hands, so certain people would be playing the records and people would want them.

C: How did you sign the The Soul Surfers from Russia to Funk Night Records?

F: A guy named Misha in Russia, hes a record collector and hosts a Funk Night style party in Russia and he sent me a few demos, and I thought they were sweet and said ‘Yes lets do this.’

C: Back in 2008 Funk Night received the award for ‘Best Party in America,’ by PaperMag in NY. How were you guys nominated and what was it like receiving the award?

F: I dont even know how that happened. Someone told me one day that we were nominated and then we won. So we went to NYC with a small crew and our award was presented to us by Andrew W.K., it was a pretty good time.

C: Frank you have one of the largest funk and soul 45 collections, when did you start collecting and listening to funk? Where is your favorite place to crate dig?

F: I started collecting in the late 90’s, I was really into collecting 45’s especially. I dont have a specific place that I go, I go to yard sales, and random spots that are selling vinyl.

C: Funk night has gone through many venues over the years, stretching to the CAID, Hoban Foods, The Russell, St. Andrews with it more recently settling at the Majestic Theater, where was your favorite place to host Funk Night?

F: I think my favorite was probably Hoban Foods, it was the first night we introduced Rickey Calloway to Funk Night. I just love the warehouse vibe for funk night.

C: Moving forward 2013 and beyond, where do you see Funk Night and Funk Night Records heading?

F: Putting out some sweet records, go on a worldwide tour with the band from Russia, and possibly bring the Soul Surfers to Detroit.

C: A few months back I was on the web and saw a post that featured a neck tattoo of your logo from a fan in Russia — sounds like you have some seriously dedicated fans, what was your reaction when you first saw that photograph? Do you know anything else about that tattoo, like who it was or when he got it?

F: It was awesome, I realized then how seriously Russia is taking to the funk. I’m actually friends with the guy now, he was super cool and of course since he has the Funk Night Records logo on his body I send him huge packages with all of our latest vinyl releases.

Rickey

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C: When did you begin your career in music, and what made you decide on the funk genre?

R: 1968, I watched the T.A.M.I show which showed Motown artists like The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, and my favorite James Brown.  When I saw that I had never seen anything like that before, I was mesmerized.  I went to school, and we would be coming out of rest periods, and I was a guy who would like to joke around and laugh a lot, so I would pull my pants up, spin around and say ‘I’m doing the James Brown.’  Then guys started taking me seriously, and they would tell people to ‘watch Rickey do the James Brown,’ and the crowd would get bigger and bigger.  I then realized ‘This was nice,’ which made me enter the schools talent show.  There was about 1000 people there, and that was it.  I was about 13 years old when I did this talent show, 1000 people screaming and dancing in the crowd.  It was great.

C: Being from Florida, how did you and Frank meet each other?

R: I was on the internet one night, I think I was on MySpace, I was kind of just searching along and typed the keyword ‘Funk.’  That is when I found Frank’s Funk Night page.  I saw all this cool stuff about Funk Night, and said ‘This is cool,’  so I sent Frank a video, and he corresponded back and he liked it, and then Frank said ‘I gotta get you up here.’  My first reaction was ‘This guy is nuts, its not gonna happen.’  Then after a few more emails he sent for me and I did Funk Night at Hoban Foods.  I had such a good time in that warehouse.

C: You have quite the stage presence, how do you keep so active through your performances?

R: The music, The Will Sessions Band just has that magic that energizes me, when I am with those guys I don’t think about time, I’m just having fun.  I feed from them, I can’t really explain it.  Funk Night is one of my better venues, I have so much fun in Detroit, I cant explain it.

Ricky stops in the RenCen to take a photo with a fan:

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FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FUNK NIGHT:

Funk Night Records
Funk Night

Below is the latest Funk Night Records release:
Soul Motivators “Until The Sun Goes Down.”


“FRESH OFF THE BOAT” Takes a leak on Detroit

We Detroiters can be a sensitive lot. We do not necessarily agree with our realities. The city is certainly no masterpiece of the modern condition, but outside sources have a particular way of making it look extra gross. We have all learned to see the trees, not just the haunted forest.

The video begins with Eddie Huang, the host of one of VICE’s many web programs, Fresh Off The Boat, urinating into one of Detroit’s many broken down light posts. The proprietor of the establishment he is relieving himself in front of is not exactly pumped and he berates the host with some colorful language.

“There were no customers and I went in to apologize,” he continued in the video. “To me, I’ll show everyone me at my worst. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful at all.” Huang said, in his defense. I can’t totally disagree, I am fairly confident everyone I know has had a similar need. Maybe not in the daylight, on Grand River, on the sidewalk, but I guess I get it. Maybe.

It was a perfectly inflammatory way to open a three-part piece that VICE is doing here in the Motor City. Part one, the intrepid chef and local rapper, Danny Brown take on the Big Baby, one of Detroit’s best sandwiches and conveniently located in one of our rougher neighborhoods.

About a month ago we selected the Big Baby from The Food Exchange (8451 Harper Ave., Detroit) one of the five sandwiches you have to try in Detroit. With reason, this mouthwatering land mine is covered with corned beef and all the usual fixings, and don’t forget 3 slices of cheese. Here are the other four.

Danny Brown then escorts Eddie Huang to the Bronx Bar as a sort of reminder that Detroit isn’t all lightpost urinals and bombed out edifices. They discuss the Detroit condition and Danny Brown at one point mentions that the area around The Bronx Bar was “crack central” and it provided a positive tone to finish up the 11 minute video which the first part in the series. Part two takes place in Dearborn and Part three ends with a trip to Packard Plant.

After choking down the Big Baby sandwich, smoking marijuana on the street with Danny Brown and slipping into an SUV, Eddie Huang remarks, “People just need to get some money out here for real.”

Yes Eddie, we know. Brilliant. Where were these solutions before the city declared bankruptcy?

The video does go to curtains with a positive note. Eddie Huang is mentioning how Danny Brown is apparently one of the people trying to help the city and make it a better place.

Huang finished up with this bit of poetry.

These are the things we want to see happen in America, this is how we build a middle class. Its the only way to dig an American city like Detroit out of the dumps, when the everyday man comes up from wherever the &$% he came from, plant his flag and contribute what he has to the city, this country, and the world in general. Eddie Huang

That’s a statement I actually can get behind.

Although the video was a bit myopic and lent too much to the dystopia, VICE is excellent at getting people talking. What better way to generate a little buzz then to have your host take a leak on the sidewalk. Maybe when I am in Brooklyn this December I’ll remember to not use the bathroom on the plane and see how they feel about that.

After watching.. what are your thoughts?


Mike Huckaby Teaching Detroit’s Youth Beats

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Thump continues its excellent series on Detroit’s music and underground scene. It’s important to note the importance of youth programs in the city. With all the cuts that have happened, situations like this are more valuable than ever. This video specifically hones in on Youthville in Detroit’s New Center.

Some notable quotables from Mike Huckaby, remixer, producer, sound designer and educator:

“In Detroit, The Music Found You, Rather Than You Found It.”

You couldn’t walk down the street without being influenced by something.. you can hear the climate of Detroit in the music.

“I find myself in a fortunate position around a lot of chaos. The economy isn’t doing so well in Detroit, but the underground is taking us around the world.”

“It’s not always about reinventing the wheel. It’s about doing what you do very well to begin with.”

“Detroit Techno was the way out, and continues to be the way out.”

From Thump:

Mainstream media always makes it seem like only bad things come from Detroit: urban decay, crime, bankruptcy, D12. But as any electronic music fan knows, Detroit is also a hotbed of creativity, passion, and promise. From the 1980s—when fellows like Juan Atkins and Derrick May ingested New Wave and Kraftwerk and spit out a template for what we know today as techno—to the present day, with new blood producers like Kyle Hall, Mark Flash, and Monty Luke creating forward-thinking tracks, Detroit continues to be a source of inspiration and power in the worldwide dance arena.


George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus

One minute and forty-eight seconds into a video for George Morris’ song, “Fuck It,” directed by Jesse Shepherd-Bates, the singer can be spotted standing in front of a wall, staring intently at the camera, and holding a baby in his arms.  I have seen this video probably 6,000 times and I have always been overwhelmed with confusion about this paternal scene.  That is, until I saw Morris perform at The Magic Stick on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus drape themselves across the stage and let their sound follow suit by unraveling its delicate fabric upon our ears.  I hear everything at once and am at a loss for words.  The band performs such stellar songs as “Nine Lives” and “Girls on Parade” with such vocal crispness and rhythmic perfection that they seem too good to be live.

Even for a band with a stated “leader,” as it were, this group contains members who could very easily be making their own agendas.  AJ Nelson, the bassist, carries the pulse on each track, adding passionate motion to stage right.  The keyboardist extraordinaire Helena Kirby pours her entire being into the keys before her with grace and diligence on stage left.  Behind them, Zach Pliska casually puts every drum to use with intense precision that is simultaneously impressive as all get-out and super annoying (because it’s as frustrating as someone beating you at a videogame while eating Cheetos and petting their dog at the same time).  I imagine each of these three could be performing alone on this stage right now and doing a bang-up job at entertaining the audience.  But instead, they choose to fulfill a greater musical role by supporting one another and the man behind the words.

choose to fulfill a greater musical role by supporting one another and the man behind the words.

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And there he is, of course, standing firmly at the front of it all.  Morris moves about in subtle surges, proving himself to be one of those singers whose voice comes from his toes and rises up out of his pores without asking.  But the surges are less forceful than they are gentle.  Morris’ voice is uniquely angelic and as serene as a lullaby, even at its most outraged.  All of that is to say, snaps for Jesse’s video production.  I would love to have George Morris hold my baby.*

Periodically on stage the bandmates will look at each other whimsically.  Kirby will flash her dazzling smile to Pliska and Nelson intermittently, and they will smile back.  Then, after “Girls on Parade” she will look to the crowd and yell, “We love love! Don’t you love love?”  Finally, a few songs later Morris will walk up to Nelson and hug him in front of us all without saying a word.  While at this point it appears as if the crew has spent their entire childhoods on the same couch watching “One Saturday Morning” before playing laser tag, it turns out that they didn’t all know each other that well before uniting musically.  Morris sits me down after the show (not really, but I like to think this is actually how the story went) and tells me that this band is only three or four months old (which is astounding to me), and that before that he had only worked with Nelson and Pliska on other musical endeavors.  Prior to creating the Gypsy Chorus, Morris was, in fact, going solo much of the time and exploring his own musical identity.

“I’ve been trying to write music since I was probably ten years old,” Morris explains.  The musician grew up in the Waterford and Commerce areas, where he explored music at a young age by trying to collaborate with cafeteria mates as early as his middle school years.  “My first real band was in high school,” Morris declares upon noting my obvious awe.  Morris is modest.

Though he says he hopes his music style has changed a great deal since the cafeteria days, there is one sentiment that will forever thrive in his music: “My philosophy has always been just to try and concentrate on writing good melodies.”  From the complex phrases of “Call Girl,” to the more calming predictability of “Old Friends,” Morris’ Magic Stick set shows this auditory foundation.  The artist makes these varying melodies the basis of his work, and, as he further states, “I’ve always tried to do that no matter what type of music I’m trying to make.”

geroge4Morris’ writing process thus begins with a prominent tonal expression.  But how does this melody come to life?  “It’s spontaneous,” Morris reveals.  I imagine the singer/songwriter kneeling on a knoll somewhere in England (in proper poetic fashion), feeling the wind upon his cheeks and the grass between his toes.  Suddenly, Mufasa appears (this is where it gets less clear, as I’m not sure why Mufasa would need to urgently speak with Morris) and says, “Look inside yourself, George,” and then suddenly Morris’ pen is on the staff paper and he can’t stop writing.  Within minutes, the page is filled with notes that traveled to his soul because they wanted to.  I could be wrong about this scene, but it does seem plausible.  “After that moment, though,” he continues, “then I sit down and just flesh it out.”

“My philosophy has always been just to try and concentrate on writing good melodies.”

But once one has found one’s melody, one must always consider one’s television.  What does television have to do with music, you ask?  Well, everything.  Duh.

“Honestly, I’ll write to TV shows, or, I don’t know… Romantic Comedies.  Like, the end of [them], you know, when either everything’s going horribly or everything’s coming back together.”  Yes, that’s correct, readers: George Morris is inspired by the movies you hope no one finds out you watched in your bed while eating Ben & Jerry’s by yourself.  Not only that, he pairs these with his essential ethereal tones to make you regret ever having been embarrassed by your TV-based feelings in the first place!

Morris then turns to me seconds later and says very frankly, “There’s a CSI song.”  And I suddenly get really nervous for the world because I realize that none of us are as awesome as this guy is.  “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” as Dante would say.

Before forming George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus, our fearless leader had actually been doing solo shows for a year or so with these same wonderful tracks.  When asked why he chose to integrate his phenomenal music makers, Morris smirks slightly and says, “Well, I got tired of playing by myself.”  He chuckles a bit, and adds, “And I wanted more energy.”  To me, the word ‘energy’ kind of encompasses the entire idea of Morris and his Gypsy Chorus because it very clearly reveals a mission for the band as a whole to be a living organism.  If the singer had said that he collaborated with these artists in an effort to add more volume, strength, or power to his music, the music itself would be less significant.  He would then be using this band to demand that his message be heard by his audience without any possibility of them misunderstanding.  But Morris’ message is one whose foundation is, and only needs to be, itself.  The band is there to make the message mean something to each listener individually.  “And,” he adds, “they do their own thing; they’re all putting their own twists on it.”  This energy toward the audience and between each other is what makes George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus the jubilant band family that I saw on stage earlier.

Nelson saunters up near the end of our conversation and chimes in to help Morris further explain to me the band’s sound.  “It’s tough because I feel like the definitions of genres are always changing,” he explains.  The friendly bassist goes on to illustrate how vastly different the word “indie” is now than it was when he first got into “indie” music.  Morris agrees and the two try to explain how much they don’t understand about music labels anymore and how they would almost always rather listen to The Walkmen than MGMT.  We talk for probably fifteen minutes about this until Nelson finally looks up at me and asks, “What was the question?”

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These guys know exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to the musical world, and for that, I believe they have the upper hand over their “indie” competition.  But they finally agree that their sound is based on a combination of very different musical acts: The Beatles, Radiohead/Thom Yorke, The Walkmen, Jack White, and The Velvet Underground.  “For me it was Beatles, Beatles, Beatles,” explains Morris.  “Then I got really discouraged because I couldn’t write a song as good as any of those songs.  Then I heard The Velvet Underground and that showed me a different way to make music.”  As for their other influences, Nelson declares, “Radiohead is almost like The Beatles, where you just can’t even attempt to do anything like that, and you’re always going to be let down.  But ‘The Eraser’ (Thom Yorke’s solo album) had obtainable melodies.”  Morris and Nelson quite obviously treasure the musicians who came before them immensely and eternally.

The singer takes a break from explaining how the past has affected his cherished Gypsy Chorus to give me some sneak peeks into their very bright future.   “We are putting an EP together that will come out at some point and in some form,” he explains.  “That will all be leading up to a record eventually.  I’m not sure how it’s going to come out or what, but sometime next year.”  Furthermore, the band is also playing one of their tunes at the TEDx Detroit event on Wednesday, October 2 (guys, that’s tomorrow!).  Finally, they plan to open for Jessica Hernandez at St. Andrew’s Hall on November 27, 2013, so you should probably go to this show if you have a brain.

Beyond just musically, the band has been progressing artistically in many ways, as well.  Morris has recently given good friend Jesse Shepherd-Bates the reigns to make another music video for the band’s awesome tune, “Girls on Parade.”  “Jesse just chose it,” he explains.  “He just showed up at my house one day and said he bought a camera and was shooting a video for the song.”  So, of course, Morris simply said, “okay,” and since then the singer explains, “it’s all Jesse.”

Morris did have his doubts about the videos at times, simply because he felt he wasn’t knowledgeable enough to assist with such tasks.  “But,” he continues, “I’m really impressed with how Jesse has just kind of jumped into it.  He learned on the fly and is turning out some really impressive stuff.  All of his videos look spectacular, and this is the first time he’s ever really done it.”  So, with a director like that, Morris feels confident that his creation will be preserved and admired.  Jesse’s video for the band’s catchiest track, “Fuck It,” is a superb example of the director’s mastery.  If I lived in the smart house of the Disney Channel Original Film “Smart House,” I would definitely opt to have this video play on my bedroom walls instead of that one B*Witched video.

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Going back and forth between solo work and close-knit bands with hit videos, Morris’ musical career has certainly been an exceptional, and consequently wild, ride.  He admits that much of the wonder he has experienced as a musician has to do with his place of residence.  While he feels that, at times, “Detroit can be a hard place to make any art,” as, “it’s very critical,” he explains that musicians just need to have a little more confidence here than they might in other places.  “I think the talent in Detroit is incredible.”  He declares, however, that, “because of that, it’s a hard place to play sometimes.  Because even if there are so many musicians around here, at a lot of the shows everybody is standing still.”  While the audience can sometimes seem uninterested, Morris explains, “You have to understand that that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and that they’re just listening to you.”

“It’s when they leave that it’s bad,” he laughs.

Detroit then proves itself not only a teacher of self-worth, but a place where that worth can easily flourish.  “Detroit is unlike the majority of cities,” Morris continues, “and I think everybody takes it for granted because they just assume that it’s like this everywhere.”  Morris explains that “In a lot of places, if you want to see a rock show, you go to one venue.  Then a metal venue, maybe.  And maybe a folk venue, or something.  That’s all you get to choose from.  Here there are tons of places that constantly host different kinds of bands.”  Being in a band whose genre he and Nelson will later agree to call “alternative indie pop rock (with a little electro),” Morris would feel slightly unappreciated in lands of black and white.  Having this realization, Morris talks about his city with an overarching sense of love and sanctity.  He is grateful for this often-dreary place because it has given him a chance to be himself and feel valued as such.

If you are not yet entirely amazed by George Morris & The Gypsy Chorus I must inform you of the two most important facts about them: 1. George Morris plays sports with adults at the YMCA as his day job, and 2. Bassist, AJ Nelson helps his dad make granite ping-pong tables that are worth a lot of money.  Enough said.

Listen to their music on bandcamp and don’t be afraid to give them ye olde thumbs-up on Facebook!

*If I had a baby, of course.  Which is not the case.


New EP and video from Tiny Hearts

Tiny Hearts

Tiny Hearts, comprised of Waajeed (Detroit), Dede Reynolds (Wisconsin) and Tim K (Seattle, WA), formed within the inspirational confines of Brooklyn, return.

The new EP “Stay” continues to bring us deep and edgy beats, intriguing melodic configurations, and angelic yet haunting vocals that resonate through it all.

Director Aron Kantor has stepped to the plate to deliver a stunning visual for “Centerfold” that draws artistic inspiration from Dario Argento, providing a solid introduction for the uninitiated. There is nothing small about the sound of Tiny Hearts. Check the footage below to get a taste of “Centerfold” from Tiny Hearts.
Tiny Hearts


Laneway Festival Artist Profiles : Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, and In Between

One day away, friends! We’re up to the end of the week and that means tomorrow September 14 will be the event this has all been leading up to. St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival has landed on U.S. soil for the first time, and we as Michigan residents have to thank the festival organizers and promoters for choosing our state to showcase such a diverse and talented lineup of artists from the music world. All 24 of Laneway’s artists have been profiled by us during this past week with the conclusion of this article. We’d like to thank our readers and supporters of Laneway for taking a glimpse into the hard work of these artists and why their contributions to Laneway are significant (and of course, why you are going to have so much fun tomorrow!). Let us now look at the last six artists from the indie genres of rock, folk, electronic and hip-hop…

Youth Lagoon

  • Taking the Derrick Stage from 1:25-2:10 pm
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Trevor Powers has been recording under the alias Youth Lagoon since 2010, and since that time he has concocted a neo-psychedelic type of haze that has produced 2011’s The Year Of Hibernation and most recently 2013’s Wondrous Bughouse. The themes in Youth Lagoon’s music have always had an air of loneliness, partially due to the fact that Powers grew up in Boise, Idaho, a city that isn’t as impacted by music culture the same way a city like San Diego, California is (Powers’ birthplace). Youth Lagoon hits on many levels to draw listeners into his work — the ambiance, the electronics, the emotion — get caught up in it all starting at 1:25 on the Derrick Stage.

Phosphorescent

  • Taking the Roscoe Stage from 2:15-3:00 pm
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Phosphorescent is a name fairly new to the music game, but the musician behind Phosphorescent is no amateur. Matthew Houck has been working as a singer-songwriter since 2000. He first started off with the moniker Fillup Shack and released a limited album pressing titled Hipolit. Starting in 2003, Houck took the Phosphorescent name and has released 6 full albums and an EP, with his most recent work being 2013’s Muchacho on Dead Oceans records. Phosphorescent’s mellow indie-folk sounds will be highlighted on the Roscoe Stage from 2:15 until 3 pm.

Frightened Rabbit

  • Taking the Roscoe Stage from 3:55-4:40 pm
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Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit are an indie folk/rock band who have been active since 2003, but were never conceived originally as a band. Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer/guitarist Scott Hutchison planned for a solo project, but gained 4 more members down the line to turn Frightened Rabbit into a fully realized band who have released 4 full albums, 5 EPs, and a slew of singles in their careers. 2013’s release from the band Pedestrian Verse has had them touring harder than ever, and they will be welcomed to the Roscoe Stage by Laneway starting at 3:55 pm.

Deerhunter

  • Taking the Roscoe Stage from 5:35-6:25 pm
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Deerhunter are a band known for their image almost as well as their music. Leader of the pack Bradford Cox has been notorious for wearing sundresses on stage and smearing his skin with blood, which makes us as an audience wonder what we can expect from their set at Laneway. With a dash of Sonic Youth-style lovely noise, a little disco, and a pinch of bubblegum pop, Deerhunter create a style of indie rock which doesn’t sound typical for this time. Unusual as they are, Deerhunter have still managed to garnish praise from dozens of publications, media outlets, and of course, fans of their eccentric style. Catch Deerhunter on the Roscoe Stage at 5:35 pm.

Run The Jewels (EL-P & Killer Mike)

  • Taking the Meadow Stage from 5:45-6:30 pm
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Both EL-P and Killer Mike are tremendously bad-ass on their own, but together, they have spawned Run The Jewels, a collaboration a long-time coming. Back in 2012, EL-P produced Killer Mike’s album R.A.P. Music, which received universally positive reviews for Killer Mike’s lyrical prowess and EL-P’s synth-boom production. Killer Mike then made an appearance on EL-P’s album Cancer 4 Cure, and their next pursuit together became this year’s Run The Jewels, made available through a free digital download for anyone to pick up. The intensity and sense of humor will make for a fantastic show beginning at 5:45 pm on the Meadow Stage.

The Dismemberment Plan

  • Taking the Derrick Stage from 6:30-7:20 pm
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Back in 2003, The Dismemberment Plan called it quits. They had released 4 albums and a couple of EPs up to that point, but the band made no future plans for anything musical. In 2007, they played a one-time reunion show in Washington D.C. which started a tease that lasted up until the release of their latest album of new material in over a decade. The Dismemberment Plan defined the genre of dance-punk and brought new wave back from the 80s, and it’s a fortunate thing that they haven’t been gone for good. Uncanney Valley is full of the confident sound that the band has rightfully earned starting out in the early 90s and reuniting to a larger audience of fans than ever. In their past live performances, The Dismemberment Plan have been known to get the crowd involved and up on stage, so make sure you are in a great place in front of the Derrick Stage at 6:30 pm to catch this show.

We hope we will see you at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival tomorrow at Meadow Brook Music Festival in Rochester Hills! Gates are at 11 am, be sure to check Laneway’s official website for any last-minute information and download their festival app for your phone to set up a personal itinerary for yourself with start times and alerts. Read about the other 18 artists performing at Laneway here at Detroit Sounds Like This, and visit us next week for more photos & articles pertaining to Laneway after it’s all finished!


Laneway Festival Artist Profiles : Ladies Who Will Rock Laneway

Festival organizers are already busy at Meadow Brook Music Festival setting up for this Saturday. We are continuing to give our readers coverage on Laneway which profiles the artists on the bill and what you might expect to see from their sets on Saturday at St. Jerome’s first Laneway Festival USA. Today we look at five artists on the roster who have one important common tie — they have women in the band who take the stage by storm. Yesterday we took a look at amazing women such as Aluna Francis (AlunaGeorge), Lauren Mayberry (CHVRCHES), and Caroline Hjelt & Aino Jawo (Icona Pop). Today we continue with another group of women who will get you get you rocking, carry you away, and leave you in awe.

Haerts

  • Taking the Roscoe Stage from 12:40-1:20 pm
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Haerts are a 5-piece outfit from Brooklyn who are very new to the scene, but already drawing in listeners with a likeable, nostalgic sweetness that kicks off Laneway on a very good vibe. Nini Fabi has a voice that glows with every lyric she sings, set against a glossy instrumentation that if you close your eyes, could be playing in 1993 just as well as 2013. Haerts have not confirmed any set dates on a debut album yet, but after taking a listen to Laneway’s first artist of the day, you might be waiting with anticipation as well.

My Brightest Diamond

  • Taking the Pavilion Stage from 1:35-2:20 pm
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Shara Worden scores for Laneway right away for being the only artist on the lineup from Detroit who isn’t on the Movement/Ghostly Stage. Furthermore, her superb talents as a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist will treat her Laneway audience to a set filled with indie rock, chamber pop, folk, opera, and more. My Brightest Diamond does not just put on a concert — they put on an entire production. After working with fellow Michigander Sufjan Stevens and his Illinoisemakers project and going on tour with them as a cheerleading captain, Worden came back with the idea to develop My Brightest Diamond and record in the summer of 2006. Since then, My Brightest Diamond has impressed in person around the world, and we can expect the same with a hometown Laneway performance.

Warpaint

  • Taking the Derrick Stage from 3:05-3:50 pm
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Warpaint are four women from Los Angeles who craft psychedelic-laced indie rock with delicate vocals and full-bodied serpentine guitar goodness. Since their formation in 2004 they have release an acclaimed EP (Exquisite Corpse, 2007), as well as a full-length album (The Fool, 2010) of their artful sounds. Current members are Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg, and Stella Mozgawa, who replaced original drummer Shannyn Sossamon. They have acknowledged themselves that in their sound, they are going for an “underwater” feeling — a description that, if you’ve listened to Warpaint, puts together an accurate picture in echoey deep blues & greens.

Savages

  • Taking the Derrick Stage from 4:45-5:30 pm
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Savages broke out of London onto the music scene this past year injected with the attitude, talent, and gripping post-punk sensibilities that have made them one of the most praised and respected bands to come into indie rock. Jehnny Beth’s deep, passionate vocals roar over Gemma Thompson’s rough-in-all-the-right places guitar playing, Ayse Hassan’s throbbing bass and Fay Milton’s stormy drumming — watching Savages perform live is a submissive act, all we as an audience can do is shut up and let their powers take us over, and be better for it when we realize afterward what hit us. This can’t-miss set will begin on the Derrick Stage at 4:45 pm.

Solange

  • Taking the Pavilion Stage from 6:35-7:20 pm
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Solange may carry the “Knowles” last name, but don’t let that fool you — Solange has stepped out on her own with a retro, funk-infused R&B sound very apparent in her 2012 release True. Her infectiously upbeat stage presence, knack for bold styles, and soulful singing will give the crowd at Laneway a performance guaranteed to leave a smiling impression when it’s over. Solange has come a long way in her musical career since the very early 2000s, and now that she has come into her own style of poppy indie R&B, she can own it and show us all why her musical path lead her right here. Get down with Solange on the Pavilion Stage starting at 6:35 pm.

Only one day of artist profiles left to count down! Check back to Detroit Sounds Like This tomorrow for the last group of artists on the lineup and what you’ll expect for Saturday. Visit Laneway’s official website for even more.


Laneway Festival Artist Profiles : Aussies and Electro-Pop

Wednesday means the middle of the work week and the 3-day-away countdown to the St. Jermone’s Laneway Festival at Meadow Brook Music Festival. We have profiled the headliners of the festival as well as the electronic talents of the Movement/Ghostly Stage, and today we are taking a look at five artists who come from the realm of electronic music. Two of the artists in particular hail from the home land Laneway was born on — Australia. Read more below about who will be compelling your body to break out the dance moves this weekend.

Chet Faker

  • Taking the Meadow Stage from 2:25-3:10 pm
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Melbourne Australia’s Nicholas James Murphy goes by Chet Faker and delivers a blend of electronica and soul which has already gained him breakthrough artist recognition in Australia. His 2012 release Thinking In Textures earned him the Rolling Stone Australia award for ‘Best Independent Release’ and his internet-circulated cover of Blackstreet’s classic 1996 smooth jam “No Diggity” saw him garnering dozens of new fans all over the world. His chosen alias is a dedication to one of Murphy’s greatest influences in his vocal delivery, jazz great Chet Baker. Discover Chet Faker’s stirring style on the Meadow Stage beginning at 2:25 pm.

CHVRCHES

  • Taking the Pavilion Stage from 3:15-4:00 pm
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Glasgow’s CHVRCHES are one of the most buzzed about bands in the indie-pop world right now. Since the release of their 2012 single “The Mother We Share,” Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty have been building social media hype and releasing a string of singles and an EP (Recover) up to the release of their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, which will drop on September 24. You can hear the post-punk influence of The Cure in the glistening, keyboard-driven electro-pop of CHVRCHES music, which is highlighted by the ethereally pure vocals of Lauren Mayberry. This is a set you will not want to miss.

AlunaGeorge

  • Taking the Meadow Stage from 4:05-4:50 pm
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London duo Aluna Francis and George Reid released their debut album, Body Music this past July, filled with upbeat blends of pop, electronic and R&B that recall what was so great about the 90s decade. AlunaGeorge have stated in interviews with Pitchfork that their sound is influenced by artists like Timbaland and the Neptunes with George Reid quoted as saying that their sound was from a time when “At one point, people weren’t being so afraid to do something a bit weird.” The woozy loops and honey-sweet vocals of AlunaGeorge will be on the Meadow Stage from 4:05-4:50 pm.

Icona Pop

  • Taking the Pavilion Stage from 4:55-5:40 pm
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If you didn’t get “I Love It” stuck in your head at least once this past year, you must have been living somewhere other than Earth (although I wouldn’t discount Icona Pop playing on another planet entirely, either). The Swedish electro-house sweethearts Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo have been getting people on the dance floor since they exploded in 2012. Their first US release is slated for September 24, and with the duo naming influences on their music such as Robyn, Britney Spears, and Daft Punk, we can only predict that the rest of the tracks on This Is…Icona Pop will get us dancing around a room as hard as their first single. The Pavilion Stage at 4:55 will be the place to be dancing and singing along that you’re a 90s bitch.

Flume

  • Taking the Meadow Stage from 7:25-8:15 pm
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Harley Streten goes by Flume and in just over a year’s time from the release of his self-titled debut, he has gained international recognition in the electronic world and received platinum status from ARIA (the Australian Recording Industry Association) at only 21 years old. Flume creates a dazzling, lush electronic sound by drawing inspiration from every genre sample that he can get his hands on. Diversity is the key to Flume’s work, which has made his electronic genre difficult to categorize yet draws people in to see how the sounds, visuals, and presence all come together in his stage show. See for yourself at 7:25 on the Meadow Stage.

We hope our readers are getting as pumped up about Laneway as we are, check in with us tomorrow for a continuation of artist profiles and check Laneway’s official website for up-to-the-minute information.


Laneway Festival Artist Profiles : The Movement/Ghostly Stage

Today we continue to profile the artists you will be seeing at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival this Saturday at Meadow Brook Music Festival in Rochester Hills. Movement, Paxahau, and Ghostly International are three names synonymous with electronic music in the Detroit area and known elsewhere around the world for their high standard of quality when it comes to the artists they manage and work with. Ghostly International is actually based out of Ann Arbor, but has strong roots in Detroit working closely with Paxahau, the brains behind the Movement festival in Hart Plaza each May. The five acts on the Ghostly International label chosen for the stage at Laneway represent a full spectrum of electronic styles that fit effortlessly into the indie genres most of the artists at Laneway can be categorized in — think of their stage at Laneway as a miniature Movement.

Heathered Pearls

  • Taking the Movement/Ghostly Stage from 2:40-3:25 pm
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Heathered Pearls is the alias of Ghostly International artist Jakub Alexander, who is not only a seasoned DJ, but also a record label founder in his own right with Moodgadget. Disco has always been an influence on Alexander’s style, as his first stint out of Ann Arbor was playing alongside Brooklyn disco duo Worst Friends. Listeners can hear influence from atmospheric rock, synth, and disco in the work of Heathered Pearls, a sure way to get the Movement/Ghostly Stage crowd in the mood without wearing them down right away.

 

 

Beacon

  • Taking the Movement/Ghostly Stage from 3:30-4:15 pm
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Thunderous bass, R&B sexuality, and dark ambient electronics sound like an enticing and appropriate trifecta for a music festival, which is exactly what Brooklyn duo Beacon want to bring to the Movement/Ghostly Stage at Laneway. Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett were studying fine arts at the Pratt Institute and blending their two aesthetics together, created a sound that is one part smooth, and one part sinister. The Ways We Seperate is the latest release from Beacon on Ghostly International, come check them out at 3:30 to see how the songs translate on the stage.

 

 

Shigeto

  • Taking the Movement/Ghostly Stage from 4:20-5:10 pm
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Zachary Shigeto Saginaw goes by simply Shigeto, but the sounds he creates are anything but simplistic. The Ann Arbor-born Shigeto plays off of shades of jazz, hip-hop instrumentals, and layered melodies to create a vibrant style of electronic that triumphantly grows bigger as the music plays on (Shigeto translates to “to grow bigger”). Shigeto will provide listeners with a cool breeze of electronic in the early evening beginning at 4:45.

 

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ADULT.

  • Taking the Movement/Ghostly Stage from 5:30-6:30 pm
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Detroit’s ADULT. have been called electropunk pioneers for good reason — they have been around since 1998, helping to shape the sound that punk rock creates when it fuses with drum machines and dark synths, which resonates with Detroit listeners and fuels their popularity in Europe. Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus have been married almost 15 years, and in their music as well as in their other art-world pursuits (film, painting, photography, etc.) they collaborate to explore every possible outlet for their creative visions. ADULT. will cast their spell on the crowd beginning at 5:30 on the Movement/Ghostly Stage.

 

 

Matthew Dear

  • Taking the Movement/Ghostly Stage from 6:50-7:50 pm
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Matthew Dear is perhaps the most well-recognized artist on the Ghostly International label. Not only did he co-found the label with Sam Valenti, Matthew Dear has also collaborated and produced music for some of the most well-known artists in the contemporary indie & electronic genres today (The xx, Hot Chip, The Chemical Brothers, and The Postal Service to name a few). It comes as no surprise that he was chosen to headline the Movement/Ghostly Stage with his avant-pop sensibilities and affinity to hypnotize festival crowds with distinctive vocals and deep rhythms. Matthew Dear’s finale on the Ghostly/Movement Stage will be a set for electronic and indie lovers alike to come together and groove.

 

 

Check Laneway’s official website for more information leading up to Saturday’s festivities and check back here tomorrow for more profiles of Laneway artists!


Laneway Festival Artist Profiles : The Headliners

Saturday September 14 is in our sights, and the Australian-born St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival will be setting up at Meadow Brook Music Festival to bring some of the current apples of the indie music world’s eyes to our home base. This week at Detroit Sounds Like This, we will be taking a closer look-and-listen at the artists who comprise Laneway’s roster and profile why these musicians were chosen to represent the Laneway Festival lineup. We hope our readers will discover more about the artists they may not know much about currently, and that it will inspire excitement and anticipation in those who are already familiar with the greatness of the festival’s chosen 24.

Sigur Rós

  • Headlining the Pavilion Stage from 8:20-9:35 pm
Sigur Rós at The Fox Theatre, April 1 2013

Sigur Rós hail from Reykjavík, Iceland where their surreal, intoxicating post-rock developed by Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson, Georg Hólm, and Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson in 1994. With the seven albums they have released (including their latest, Kveikur), Sigur Rós have made a unique mark on the music world with the band’s lush arrangements, Jónsi’s use of bowed guitar, and the vocals sung in Vonlenska (or ‘Hopelandic’), a non-distinguishable language which focuses on melody and rhythm in vocal delivery rather than actual words. Sigur Rós are also known for their monumental live performances where the stage visuals, vocals, and music melt into a pounding wave which, as it crashes around you, envelopes you in a hazy sonic comfort. The band has played in Detroit as recently as April 1st at The Fox Theatre, and has consistently included Detroit as a stop when touring in the past. For those fans who have disappeared for hours in the euphoria of Sigur Rós’ music and have not yet experienced them live, there is not doubt that your schedule should be planned accordingly around their performance. For those curious, be sure to carve out time to bask in at least one of their numbers, the sensory overload may have you staying for several more.

Washed Out

  • Headlining the Roscoe Stage from 7:25-8:15 pm
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Ernest Greene went to graduate school in his native state of Georgia to study library science, but thank goodness for our ears that he decided to create dreamy, drowsy, synth-pop influenced music instead. Washed Out has been associated with the ‘Chillwave’ genre because of the upbeat pop sounds that loop through most of Greene’s work and the lo-fi production influence that give his music a designed summertime sound. Washed Out’s latest work, Paracosm, is a love-letter to the young, naive daydreams of yesterday and fits the Laneway bill perfectly for an end-of-summer treat. Fans of the satirical comedy show Portlandia will recognize Washed Out’s contribution of the theme song, “Feel It All Around,” from his first EP, Life Of Leisure. Washed Out played The Magic Stick their last time around Detroit, and will no doubt leave us until their next gig in town with an impression of endless summer.

The National

  • Headlining the Derrick Stage from 9:40-10:55 pm
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The last time The National was in town was August of 2010, when they played to a sold out crowd at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. If you were lucky enough to be one in the sea of people, or in the crowd at any show The National has put on, the intensity and dedication in their live performances is a standard they live up to each time they take the stage. Their performance at Laneway is guaranteed to resonate with fans of The National and appreciators of stirring, melancholy indie music in general. Over a decade into their careers as musicians, albums such as Alligator, Boxer, High Violet, and most recently Trouble Will Find Me, cement The National as a seminal indie band thanks to the deep baritone vocals of lead singer Matt Berninger, and the musicianship of two sets of brothers, twins Bryce and Aaron Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf. The National have been touring hard to support their latest release and we are thrilled to welcome them back to Michigan.

For more updates on St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Detroit, visit their official website, and keep an eye out tomorrow for more information regarding the artists playing Laneway at Detroit Sounds Like This.


Robert Glasper Experiment Helping Detroit Sound Beautiful

Robert Glasper

If I would’ve been told in advance, I’m pretty sure I would have been skeptical on hearing a jazz rendition of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” at the recent Detroit Jazz Festival. But then again the Robert Glasper Experiment is known for providing an interesting spin on popular music, check out their “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cover if you haven’t yet. The Experiment kicked off the cover super-slowed up, with that melancholic charm and voice a la vocoder they incorporate so well. Genre defying music, jazz is of course the key component, but refreshingly gets edgy in all the right places. From Robert’s website, we’re given a little insight into Black radio 2, that will be dropping in late October, and among a list of killer guest artists, will also feature Detroit’s own Dwele.

“On October 29, RGE ups the ante with the release of Black Radio 2 (Blue Note), another genre-defying effort that takes the Black Radio blueprint and builds to even greater heights. The core remains the Experiment, as astoundingly versatile a band as has ever existed, featuring Robert Glasper on keyboards, Derrick Hodge on bass, Mark Colenburg on drums, and Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone. Providing the vocals throughout is another jaw-dropping roll call of vocalists including CommonPatrick StumpBrandyJill ScottDweleMarsha AmbrosiusAnthony Hamilton,Faith EvansNorah JonesSnoop DoggLupe FiascoLuke JamesEmeli SandéLalah Hathaway, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.”

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STAYING IN THE D: “IN DETROIT, WE’RE KEEPING IT GOING” SAYS DJ RICK WILHITE

STAYING IN THE D: “IN DETROIT, WE’RE KEEPING IT GOING” SAYS DJ RICK WILHITE

Rick Wilhite, talented House DJ/Producer and native Detroiter, has the world to choose from as far as where to be based but decided to stay in Detroit.

And, it’s always good to see the D get a little respect in regional ink, especially one based in Chicago.

Detroit’s music scene is one of the reasons he has stayed.

“There was one, Soul Night on a Tuesday once a month, that got between 2,000 and 3,000 people,” said Wilhite (also known as “The Godson”) in the interview which ranges across topics like the difference between vinyl and digital DJs, his warm reception in Japan, and how things have changed over the years.

In Detroit, we’re keeping it going. I know I’ve put my own time, effort and money into doing something and doing it consistently. I’m not talking about setting up one speaker in a room and charging $20 for people to dance around it. You can do that anywhere. We’re talking about good sound, good music, and something worth your time. Rick Wilhite: ‘There’s Too Much In Detroit For Me’ on 5Chicago.com

It’s amazing the amount of music that still comes from Detroit, even to this day. A recent Crain’s Detroit Business study by the Anderson Economic Group showed that music was a billion-dollar industry in Metro Detroit. We (and they) are pretty sure they’re undercounting.

Here’s a link to the full piece in 5Magazine and below you’ll find a Soundcloud player of a recent remix Wilhite did. If you like the beats, support the artist.


Forward, Deep + Sleaze: An Introduction to Disco in Detroit Part 1

When Detroit Sounds Like This sat down with DJ Jerry Downey Jr. (Sexual Tension Detroit & Bathroom Culture) we asked him to describe his parties and the music he spins in three words. His response:

Forward, Deep & Sleaze

Ever since my favorite monthly DJ party has come to a halt (Funk Night) I have been looking and keeping my ears open to any scene or party to fill my monthly party void. This is when I stumbled upon the parties that have been happening on a monthly basis at Temple Bar. Are they playing more funk? Is it a hip hop scene? Is a Detroit DJ playing free parties that no one knows about?

Wrong! It’s DISCO! Yes Detroit, we may have our roots in Motown, we have punk-rock, and our hip hop and electronic music are at the forefront of their scenes, but what about Disco? You can now put a check mark next to that genre too.  From its early rumblings in dimly-lit cretin-filled warehouses, Detroit Disco Collectives and their parties have been forming and moving from warehouses to residencies at local venues.

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The Beginnings of Sexual Tension Detroit

(CP – Carlos Padilla, J – Jerry)

CP: Where did the idea of “Sexual Tension Detroit” come from?

J: STD came to life when I had the opportunity to have a party at a warehouse (Warehouse 1018) in the Islandview neighborhood that I would shortly after help manage.  My idea was to provide the party crowd an atmosphere unrivaled to that which clubs/bars can contain, give the community an opportunity to release all the tension they’ve built up all week by cutting loose in a laid back; anything goes type of environment.

CP: What was your inspiration to even throw warehouse parties?  As most Detroiters have experienced, our police seem to care a bit to much for no reason.

J: My inspiration came heavily from the way Funk Night parties were thrown. They were in warehouses, BYOB and thousands of people would show up and you just danced. I wanted everything about that experience to be part of Sexual Tension Detroit.

CP: It seems easy to most, but I know myself that warehouse parties take a lot of planning and strategy, what was your draw to even get people to come downtown for Sexual Tension?

J:  These parties were late night free-for-all’s with myself and friends DJing. Ladies would also be free with a minimal cover for the fellas to cover whatever sound system we had rented.  For the most part I was organizing these events without a steady team, but I really loved the idea of always working with a rotating cast of people which really helped me understand the logistics of how things work with events.

CP: Warehouse parties dont last forever? What was your next step?

J: Around the time the warehouse space fizzled out I was offered a monthly residency at the Temple Bar in Cass Corridor and Sexual Tension Detroit eventually found its new home here. About 4 months ago I started playing back to back with Dustin Alexander (Dayda) and took him on board as a resident DJ.  A lot of things are about to change with Sexual Tension Detroit as we grow; the next move is going to be my 2 year anniversary party this November – keep your ear to the ground.

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Moving the party out of the bathroom: The beginnings of Bathroom Culture

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(Photographs from Facebook Page of Bathroom Culture)

CP: The name alone draws a lot of responses, Bathroom Culture?

J: Bathroom Culture itself is a nod to what goes down in the bathroom (wink) at parties and even though the bathroom of a club makes people feel secure, people need to spend less time in it and more time on the dance floor. So the idea of the name was to get people out of the bathroom and to the dance floor.

CP: Who are the DJ’s that make Bathroom Culture?

J: My main crew consisted of John Ryan (Dr. Disko Dust) and Griffin Scillian (Carlo Rambaldi). John was the first person to actually book me to play a club and we all eventually got together and established ourselves as Bathroom Culture along with Griffin’s roommate James Droze who would be paramount in helping expose our aesthetics visually.

CP: Besides warehouses where else can someone in Detroit catch Bathroom Culture?

J: Our parties are at some pretty random locations, we’ve played huge packed nightclubs/warehouses and even tiny restaurants like Small Plates on Broadway.  Every part of our aesthetic is rebellious and provocative; we don’t fit in with the other party crews and use some really over the top imagery.  Look out soon for our forthcoming series of web videos.

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At the end of our interview I asked Jerry to play some vinyl to give us at Detroit Sounds Like This a taste of what he plays during his sets.   Jerry concluded the interview by telling us about an upcoming Sexual Tension Detroit party at Temple Bar…THIS FRIDAY!

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Thats right Detroit, Friday night, September 6, 2013 come on down to Temple Bar for “BAD PARTY NAME: LUV BOXX,” which should be a great party to start off the weekend.

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Well Detroit, because we have so much to offer I will have to end here.  But dont worry there will be a part 2 in the coming weeks!  Yes, we actually have another group of disco aficionados who go by Gary Springs Hunting Club, but they are an article all in their own, and you will see why very soon.   Until then, find out where the GSHC party is this weekend.  I heard their is free coffee at midnight.
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Below article is a soundcloud set by Jerry Downey Jr.  Enjoy.

 


Dally In Midtown Detroit This Saturday

As the summer season winds down, the buzz is just beginning in the Cass Corridor. This Saturday thousands will pack the blocks stretching from 2nd to 3rd and Forest to Hancock, to celebrate another year of Midtown Detroit’s culture and talent. Right in the heart of the student center, the neighborhood’s bohemian essence creates an ideal environment to enjoy the best in local indie, punk, hip-hop, electronic and experimental music while quenching your thirst for the best local beers and eyeballing the latest creations by artists who call the area home.

First organized in 1977, Dally has kept it a consistently communal event, surviving with no major corporate sponsorship. It’s a final summer send-off, a chance to celebrate hard with the freshest live talent in the area. This year the four stages of Dally will be vibrant with the sounds of over 45 musicians and bands, starting at noon and continuing on past 11 pm. There is no shortage of variety booked for this year’s installment – each stage features artists exploring multiple variations on relevant genres, giving attendees the best of what Detroit has to offer.

The four main music stages will be spread throughout the perimeters of the festival and will feature a variety of genres on each stage throughout the day, starting approximately one hour after the festival kicks off. The Electronic Stage boasts several Detroit-area DJs, including Tony Ollivierra, Monty Luke, Chuck Daniels, and Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale. The Alley Stage will be showcasing a mix of indie-pop, kicking off with Rogue Satellites at noon and continuing with Kickstand Band, Casual Sweetheart, and Violets, among others. There will also be some hip-hop from Dame Mariatchi, and later Doc Waffles & Eddie Logix. Even later on the Alley Stage, Liquid Monk will be there for “Electronic Jazz Funk Dance” fans. The Garden Stage will feature upbeat indie by Pewter Cub and Secret Twins, dead surf from Mexican Knives, and experimental synthesizers from Voyag3r. Finally, the Forest Stage is headlined by innovative female rapper Invincible, and earlier in the day will feature retro rock from Blaire Alise & The Bombshells, chamber pop from Eleanora, and funk from Atoms and Ease. Each musician and group of musicians playing Dally are helping to keep alive and communicate to new audiences small pieces of each genre of music that Detroit first made relevant, from garage rock to electronic to hip-hop.

Dally in the Alley prides itself on having activities that entice all ages, interests and backgrounds, so if you’re planning to bring the young children in your brood, there will be crafts, face-painting, and puppet-making by PuppetART during the daytime. Food vendors will feature the classic pizza-and-beer options that keep most Dally attendees satisfied, but will also provide a range of delights from vegan and vegetarian, to ethnic and local eateries as well. If hearing from the two men who are vying to become Detroit’s next mayor fits your schedule, you can even head over to the Ann Kennedy Community Stage to hear the platforms of Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon from noon until 3 pm.

Though much of Dally is about the music, there is a strong emphasis placed on the visual arts and the advancement of the surrounding neighborhoods in Midtown. The North Cass Community Union, sponsor of the event, works to improve the Midtown area by donating proceeds to worthy causes, including better security for the area, music scholarships for local children, and more energy efficient street lights. Keeping Detroit’s DIY mantra in its heart dozens of local artists will be displaying and selling their handmade work throughout the day — jewelry, clothing, original paintings and photography are just a few of the offerings attendees can expect to view and purchase. Dally in the Alley’s mission has always proved beneficial to the residents of Midtown and Detroit as a whole, and now more than ever is that sense of empowering the community needed, welcomed, and appreciated.

For full schedule of events, map, stage lineups, and more, visit Dally In The Alley’s official website.


The Detroit International Jazz Festival Turns 34

Since 1980, the mention of Labor Day Weekend inevitably turns to the Jazz Fest. Now in its 34th year, it is still the largest free jazz festival in the world. The Detroit International Jazz Festival annually shines a much-deserved spotlight on some of the most hard-working and influential artists in the spectrum of jazz styles alive in the world today. The historical significance and integrity of the festival has long been preserved by the very idea that it started with – that exceptional music should be available for anyone who loves live music and wants to watch and listen.

The lineup for the Detroit International Jazz Festival has once again been stacked with artists who represent a large vocabulary of jazz. The organizers of the festival have stated that it is their mission this year to “. . . [focus] on the language of jazz and the generations of musicians who have dedicated their lives to propagating its many dialects.” The festival serves as a gathering of both artists and jazz enthusiasts, and also serves Detroit itself, as just over 25 percent of the audience makeup is out-of-town guests of the city who come for the music and to embrace the education about jazz that the festival has always made a point to share with its audience.

Since its inception the Jazz Festival has strived to connect established jazz professionals with young musicians. Once again festival-goers will hear some of the most talented local high school and college bands performing in ensembles throughout the 4-day weekend. The Artist-in-Residence this year is Danilo Pérez, who will kick off the festival on Friday August 30 with music inspired by his Panamanian roots. Also performing Friday evening will be legendary tenor saxophonist David Murray with his Big Band, featuring soul singer Macy Gray on vocals. Saturday’s lineup has highlights that include Detroit native and vocal powerhouse Thornetta Davis, The Brubeck Brothers Quartet performing a tribute to the late legend Dave Brubeck, bassist and University of Michigan music professor Robert Hurst, and groundbreaking saxophonist Charles Lloyd performing with guitarist Bill Frisell. Another notable Saturday performance harmoniously fuses the art forms of jazz music and tap dance — McCoy Tyner is a revered pianist well known in the jazz world for his early work with the John Coltrane Quartet, and Savion Glover who created and choreographed Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, works to reintegrate African roots back into contemporary tap.

The second half of the weekend will feature some prime performances, including The Real Ambassadors on Sunday, a story that takes place during the Civil Rights Movement and illustrates the important roles of jazz musicians as cultural ambassadors, written by Dave Brubeck and his wife Iola, and originally performed at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival. Detroit resident Karriem Riggins will also perform on Sunday, who is known for his work as a hip-hop producer as well as his jazz drumming. There is a wealth of tributes throughout the Sunday lineup which honor a range of musicians, from the saxophone sounds of Pepper Adams to the spirit of John Lennon. Rounding out Sunday are jazz-fusion group the Yellowjackets, influential pianist Ahmad Jamal, and modern jazz guitarist John Scofield and his Überjam Band. Labor Day Monday gives us grand orchestral tributes to the music of Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck, as well as a fusion of jazz & hip-hop from the Robert Glasper Experiment, and an all-star gathering of jazz legends and former bandmates of Miles Davis, including his sole trumpet protégé Wallace Roney, jazz-rock pioneer guitarist Larry Coryell, and fusion drummer and original member of Weather Report, Alphonse Mouzon.

Labor Day Weekend has always meant a multitude of options for Detroit residents and visitors as far as music, food, and the spirit of celebration is concerned. The freedom to navigate through Campus Martius down to Hart Plaza and enjoy the performances at no cost is just one of the reasons the Detroit International Jazz Festival is a Labor Day must. Not only have festival organizers and sponsors staked their reputations on the quality of the performers, but the festival has helped to preserve an important part of music history by educating visitors through artist talks, information sessions, and workshops. Festival-goers all have a chance to share in and learn about the rich cultural history that makes jazz a compelling, emotional, and innovative art form. The mission of Jazz Fest founder Robert McCabe and major sponsor and philanthropist Gretchen Valade is to “Perpetuate Detroit’s significant jazz legacy through educational and collaborative opportunities accessible to all.” The free admission price year after year brings together people with a passion for music from all ages and stages of life inside the perimeters of downtown Detroit. For 2013, the artists, volunteers, sponsors, and organizers who participate in the Detroit International Jazz Festival will surely help influence those who may be disenchanted with the city to come out and support the structure of community and perseverance that is ever-present within the arts.

For more information about specific events going on within the festival, complete lineup, schedule, maps, and FAQs, visit the official Detroit International Jazz Festival website. Also check out some performance highlights from past installments of the festival below.


Detroit Input at Brooklyn’s Output

Output is a new dance club in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood that fortunately focuses more on the “Dance” than “Club”. The exterior is nothing to look at, it reminds me of many unused buildings in Detroit, and which is probably why I love it. Set in the old industrial neighborhood, new signs of life, social-gatherings and business are sprouting up every where. As Output proudly states:

Output is open to anyone, but is not for everyone. Output welcomes individuals who value the communal experience of music over cameras and bottle service.

Is very true. Impeccable attention was giving to the sound. The audio was bright, crisp, bass heavy and creamy and left just the right amount of space to hold a quick conversation. Lights? Yea, they got em. Luckily Output was asked to keep them toned down a bit, so when the club started flexing, it actually complemented the music. On Thursday, August 15th, 3 DJ’s from Detroit we’re flown out to headline the Input monthly at Output. Fit, Big Strick and Omar S. performed after the night was opened up by Brooklyn local Turtle Bugg. The night maneuvered like any promoter or DJ would gladly pay for. Music started about 10pm, Fit started playing around 11pm for a few dozen patrons, scattered throughout the two floor space. By 11:30pm, the dance floor was pretty much packed by a sea of house and techno lovers who were getting down and embracing the gritty, yet soulful music we bring to the party.

In actuality, Detroit artists play here frequently. Peeps hanging at Output this past weekend just got turned on to Stacey Pullen.

 


From the Meadow to the Lawn: The Pilgrimage of Mack Partin

Mack Partin

Two Saturdays ago, a mass of indie fans filed into the Berkley Front’s euphonious attic to see Meadower play their beloved indie rock ballads. This Meadower show was unique because their openers included Huumans (Detroit) and The Most Dangerous Animal (Flint). This Meadower show was unique because their guitarist, Brent Mosser, made screen-printed posters by hand.

 

This Meadower show was unique because it was their last.

In 2010, the group of four indie rockers (Joel Gullickson, Matt Provost, Brent Mosser, and Mack Partin) leapt onto the scene and has been playing local shows consistently ever since. Mack Partin, the band’s charming bassist and one of those people whose name just sounds better when stated in full, sits across from me in this dim bar on a Monday night and attempts to explain to me just how meaningful Meadower was.

Mack reveals that to him, Meadower made such a strong impact in part because of the surreal alliance of its members. “I had lived with our guitar player Brent for three years prior to him joining the band, I ended up living with the drummer for a couple of years, and the guitar player Matt and I had been in a previous band. So, I had a lot of history with those guys.”
meadowerBeyond just fulfilling his Partridge Family-esque dreams, Meadower also transformed the way Mack considered the art of composition altogether. Instead of having one writer in the group, “Meadower worked as a collaboration, so we would show up to practice and figure out a song.”
“I really liked doing that,” declares Mack, because that way, “We would write the song together.”

Playing shows about thrice a month at places like The Crofoot, The Loving Touch, Small’s, The Belmont, and PJ’s Lager House, Meadower was not by any means struggling to make an impression. So, why did such a unique band conclude what most would consider a phenomenal run? Upon my asking this question, Mack brushes aside his bangs and looks up from his chicken sandwich, trading in his sly grin for a dismal countenance.

“It ended because creatively, I think we accomplished everything that we had set out to do as a band. And we had been trying to write something for a little bit and it wasn’t really coming together the way I think anyone wanted it to.”Mack Partin

Alas, at their last show, Mack confesses that he “definitely got emotional during the set, looking at those guys and thinking ‘this is the last time I’m going to play with them in a long time,’” The devoted musician even shaved his mustache for the performance, in an effort to pay homage to the clean-shaven man who joined the band three years earlier. “I’m a sentimental guy,” he says, with the addendum, “or mostly just an idiot.”

Overall, Mack appears both sorrowful over Meadower’s conclusion and proud to have been in such a close-knit group in the first place. He also knows that the future is uncertain, and the band is devoted more to the music than to daily routines that may get in the way. “You know, I might get a phone call from Matt of Brent or Joel being like ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea: let’s work on a Meadower song.’” He adds, “If one of our closer friends were to ask us ‘ Hey, come play this show,’ we’d do it in a heartbeat.” For now, Mack is eternally grateful for the time he had with his talented and dedicated bandmates.
“You got me all choked up,” he concludes. “I love them. I love those guys.”

Though pained by the conclusion of this awesome foursome, Mack has by no means put an end to his career as a devout bassist. He has, in fact, been pleased to spend time veering in different creative directions. He has found time now to focus on jamming out with 500 Club at PJ’s Lager House, like he did last Wednesday, and writing new music with a groundbreaking punk rock band, Lawnmower.

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Lawnmower itself was born in 2010, but Mack Attack added his name to the triumvirate one year ago. At the time, Mack says, “Me and the drummer of Meadower had been kind of messing around with stuff on our own time and looking for different people to play with just for fun,” because, he concedes, “We legitimately just love playing music.” So, it’s no surprise at all that when Travis (Lawnmower) approached Brent (Meadower) at a Meadower show in Flint, saying, “Man, we just need to find a guy who will play the bass for us,” Brent knew the perfect man for the job. “‘Mack will do it. Mack has nothing but free time.’”

So, with that, the bass man joined Travis Bravender and Aaron Quillen, and has since been mowing lawns like he’d never mown lawns before (that is to say, he has been driving to Flint a lot for band practice). When asked if he was at all concerned that he was burning the candle at all possible candle’s ends by performing with three bands over the past year, he confirms that it was nothing to fret (lol, music pun) about at all. “Lawnmower was different enough, so creatively it was moving in another direction,” he explains.

As for the sound of the trio, Mack states, “We’re more of a melodic kind of punk,” and names such influences as Weezer and Super Chunk for the sound. “A lot of my favorite bands were in the nineties,” he explains, “so I definitely take from that.” An ever-loyal Lawnmower fan, Stevie Garofalo calls the band a “catchy, raw, 3-piece punk band with original songs and good vocals and instruments.”

After a year in this punkier indie rock trio, Mack oozes love for the group as if it’s the family he’ll go home to after this interview. He tells me that, “it felt like a bunch of friends that I’ve known forever just hanging out and writing songs.” And although the bassist enjoyed the compositional eccentricities of Meadower, he can’t seem to contain his love for everything about the way Lawnmower operates as well. “What’s cool about lawnmower is that typically Travis will write something, send it to me and Aaron, and then me and Aaron comment… The main idea is kind of there. And from there we work together as a band and figure out how we can make it sound like us.” The band has developed its own unique system, and boy, does the system work.

No novices of the music industry, the men of Lawnmower had released a phenomenal full-length record in 2010, called “Franchise Wings.” Furthermore, just a few months ago, they released the EP of EPs, “Whack Yer Brain.” Both albums offer Lawnmower’s greatest attributes in perfect proportion: unique vocals, complex, but calming melodies, and incredible instrumentalism. That being said, “Whack Yer Brain” is far better than “Franchise Wings,” and I’ll tell you why: Spinner has a mohawk. That is to say, the entire album is based on “Degrassi, the Next Generation,” and if that’s not everything you’ve ever wanted in an album, then your priorities are askew.

As for the future, Mack explains that Lawnmower is only picking up musical momentum in the days ahead. They are currently recording a full-length record that is to be released within the next few months, and will doubtless be monumentally earth-shattering. Beyond that, they plan to take part in two tribute albums, one for The Replacements, and the other for The Get Up Kids. “We’re keeping pretty busy,” he says, detailing the band’s most recent show a few weekends ago at the Soggy Bottom in Flint. “We have played in a variety of different spots around Michigan. Our plan is, especially now that we have the record out, to maybe do some more regional tours.”

Both Meadower and Lawnmower have made enormous impacts on Mack’s life, and for that, he could not be more grateful. As he concludes his epic bildungsroman in this booth across from me, he appears more hopeful than most other musicians I have encountered thus far. Lawnmower is making unmistakable waves, and as Garofalo says, it “is definitely a band that could make it big in the underground punk community.” But this didn’t happen because Mack Partin became hardened by the inherent tribulations of the music industry. It didn’t happen because Mack Partin let opportunities tumble through the wilting leaves of his meadow. It happened because Mack Partin loved music for music’s sake. His future is bright because he made it so.

Come check Lawnmower out tomorrow night, August 23rd, at the Howell Opera House.

Check out Meadower and Lawnmower on Facebook and Like them by clicking the thumb button!
www.facebook.com/meadower
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lawnmower/260677670632599?fref=ts

Also listen to them both on bandcamp and buy their stuff!


Bankruptcy In The D

After months of speculation, the decision has finally been made. Detroit will file bankruptcy. This article is not about blame, reason or ramifications, it’s actually about renewed self-realizations. It’s no secret that national, and sometimes global media tends to fly circles around Detroit’s doom and gloom like content-deprived vultures. For those living in South East Michigan, we know the deal. The downtown, mid-town and other nearby neighborhoods have seen more growth and prosperity in the past few years than the past few decades. Entrepreneurial endeavors are noticed by glancing in any direction. While it’s true that this is mainly taking place in the city’s core, a small 5% slice of the Motor CIty pie, it is still happening. The reality is this is where it needs to start. Healthy heart, healthy body. There is not the sense of disparity here that some around the country may believe. In fact, some of the renovations happening downtown are kind of annoying to the folks that work and live in these areas! No, this article is to let those outside our great city and state know that, we’re ok. Politicians will do their politician things, but the spirit around here is what matters to anyone I know.

The art. The music. The culture. It’s all here to stay.

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Best Coast to Play with Local Dead-Surf Band Mexican Knives

Best Coast is an American indie rock band based in Los Angeles, California, and is often categorized under the subgenres of garage rock, surf pop, and lo-fi. The members are frontwoman/songwriter Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. The band is recognizable for their fuzzy, low-fidelity sound in the vein of surf rock.
They write one hell of a melody!

Attached below is a video from Best Coast, take a look!

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Mexican Knives are a local dead-surf group from Detroit Michigan.  The band is lead by Zachory Weedon, and consits of Ruth (Vocals), Blair (Drums) & John (Bass).  Want to know more about Mexican Knives, check out their interview with Detroit Sounds Like This here!

Below is an exclusive track performed live at the Detroit Sounds Like This studio in Eastern Market.

Click here for more event info!

$16 in advance


Laneway Makes Its Way to Michigan

Laneway

Back in 2004, two men by the name of Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers were steadily booking several up-and-coming indie bands at St. Jerome’s Bar in the Caledonian Lane area of Melbourne, Australia.  The music started out inside of the bar during the summer month series, and after a request from Borazio and Rogers to the band The Avalanches, the music was taken into the street, closing down the lane and beginning the very first installment of the now internationally known St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival.  The spontaneous excitement and organization that was in the air over the very first Laneway in Melbourne is now coming to the United States for the first time, where hundreds of music fans looking to see what is happening in the contemporary indie music scene will come to Meadowbrook Music Festival in Rochester Hills, MI on September 14.

The size of the festivals, the locations and the way we encourage community all form part of the way in which the Laneway team strive to present an urban music experience like no other.

-St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Philosophy Statement

The Laneway Festival began expanding throughout several cities in Australia beginning in 2006, including Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, and now covers Singapore as well as the United States.  The announcement of the festival coming to Michigan came during Laneway’s party at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX this past March. Not only does this mark the first time that Laneway has come to the United States, it also marks the first time that an Australian music festival has come to North America. When the curiosity began to buzz about why Laneway organizers chose the Detroit area as a sensible location for the festival, Danny Rogers shared that he believes “Detroit is having its rebirth and as Laneway continues to evolve, we can identify with a city that is continuing to evolve as well.”

Laneway has featured several artists vital to the contemporary indie music scene in their past lineups, including Yo La Tengo, Feist, Mumford & Sons, Blonde Redhead, and M83, among dozens of others. The Laneway Detroit lineup features co-headliners The National and Sigur Rós, both of whom released albums earlier in 2013 and are known for their grandiose live performances.  Rounding out the bill are other indie favorites Deerhunter and The Dismemberment Plan, as well as newly teamed Hip-Hop heavyweights Killer Mike and EL-P performing as Run The Jewels.  With a lineup that boasts several acts showcasing sub-genres under the indie music umbrella, festival attendees will get a chance to see some of the newer examples of artists who draw influence from Lo-Fi (Washed Out, Youth Lagoon), Electronica (CHVRCHES, Icona Pop, Charlie XCX), R&B (Solange), and Post-Punk (Savages).  At the end of June, Laneway organizers also announced that they would be adding a stage hosted by Detroit’s own Movement Electronic Music Festival/Paxahau, and Ann Arbor originals, electronic music label Ghostly International.  This new addition to the festival will feature 5 electronic artists on the Ghostly International label, including Matthew Dear, Adult., Beacon, Heathered Pearls, and Shigeto.

Meadowbrook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills will feature four stages total for the September 14th festival; the Movement/Ghostly International stage, as well as two other stages which will be built on the grounds of Meadowbrook, and the main Meadowbrook amphitheatre itself. Specific set times and vendor names have yet to be announced, but festival organizers have promised that spaces will be dedicated to local food, drink, and merchandise vendors. For more information about getting to the festival, purchasing tickets ($79.50 in advance including parking fees, VIP package tickets for $199, and limited 4-packs for $64.50 per ticket are still available), and answers to other questions you may have, visit detroit.lanewayfestival.com.

 

Full Line-Up

Sigur Rós, The National, Deerhunter, The Dismemberment Plan, Matthew Dear, Run The Jewels (EL-P & Killer Mike), Adult., CHVRCHES, Savages, Washed Out, Solange, Warpaint, Frightened Rabbit, Phosphorescent, Icona Pop, Charlie XCX, My Brightest Diamond, AlunaGeorge, Beacon, Youth Lagoon, Shigeto, Flume, Haerts, Heathered Pearls, Chet Faker


Notes from D Underground

whatever fest

We can all recall a time when we wore our best beer-stained fangirl t-shirt and heard that one phenomenal band for the first time in that cramped living room with chipped-paint walls. Maybe it was in April of 2008, when Lenny Stoofy freed your mind and your body at the Scrummage Toy Factory on Van Dyke and Davison. Perhaps it was that time you brought the year 2011 to a close by skanking raucously at “Detroit’s sexiest anarchist collective,” the Trumbullplex. Or maybe it was that time Dr. Handsome covered “She’s Not There,” by the Zombies two months ago at Whatever Fest in Midtown and you cried yourself to sleep because it was better than the original.

Whatever the case, these unique and beloved experiences exist solely in the smaller, more intimate musical venues that make up Detroit’s underground music culture.  But why is it that these smaller DIY hotspots have been gaining such enormous ground as the venues of choice for young people in Detroit?

I just tend to have more fun when I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with people who are sweaty

…says Eric Schmeling, an eternal supporter of Detroit’s small local music venues and a guitarist for the now disbanded Detroit group, Cave System. After attending shows in the city since he was in high school, Schmeling says that when choosing a venue, he would almost always prefer “some dude’s basement over the Crofoot.” In other words, the smaller, the better. Underground venues and house parties are cropping up all over Detroit, filling quickly with Detroit’s youth and inspiring kids from the suburbs to make the trek to see their favorite local bands.

Brittany Badenoch, who has been involved with smaller music venues in Detroit since she was seventeen, praises their incredible presence in the city’s musical community, and not just on account of sweaty bodies. “The great thing about Detroit,” she says, “is that there’s so much space to have a venue and just kind of set up shop.” She also points out that underground venues offer a “way more laid-back and real way to enjoy music, rather than going to a venue and having to pay for parking or tickets, etc.”

What makes the underground music scene in Detroit any different than that of other American cities? “Initiative,” Badenoch says. “If you go to any other major city, you don’t really meet people who are ‘creating something out of nothing.’” In those places, “there are so many night clubs and venues… we [also] have really cheesy night clubs, and no one I know wants to go to those. So if we don’t create something ourselves that’s going to be more up our alley, we don’t have anything.” These smaller venues, as Badenoch confirms, “really force people to show initiative where they maybe wouldn’t [otherwise].”
Rising from the ashes, as they say.

Badenoch says that the significance of underground venues, however, stretches beyond just those kids who want to dance around, inebriated, for hours. “Detroit is a place where people are really anxious to create new good things in the city and DIY venues are a really good outlet for that. They really appeal to a lot of different types of people, like someone who’s interested in public relations or someone who is interested in business, etc.” Furthermore, Badenoch reveals that as a musician, she’s found that “DIY spaces always make an effort to promote a lot because they want people to come and they want to have a good reputation for their venue.”

Taking on the role of one of Detroit’s most lauded female rappers, Breezee One, Badenoch says that she has a huge spot in her heart for the house shows and underground venues that hosted her when she first started. “Me… I don’t play instruments, I’m not a really phenomenal singer (she’s terribly wrong about this), but I still make music and I still play shows.” Artists across the globe agree that it’s incredibly difficult to make a name for oneself in the music industry, and Badenoch confirms this fact. “If there weren’t DIY places, I would have never started to play because I wouldn’t have known how to approach it. The great thing about the DIY spaces is that you can be a no-name band and get a show there and then start your foundation with a fan base that way.”
Clearly it was these “dudes’ basements” that gave Badenoch and many others their start in the Detroit music culture.
But is playing at these smaller, lesser-known venues ideal for musicians in the long term?

Lead singer and guitarist for beloved local band The Hounds Below, Jason Stollsteimer isn’t so sure. “House shows are the most crucial point in a band’s life,” Stollsteimer says, “and when you first cut your teeth playing those shows, it’s pivotal.” The singer started performing at and attending smaller venues religiously in 1994, where the scene was prevalent in various suburbs of Wayne County. Now the local music mastermind says he would choose almost anything over the basement. “They have a time and a place,” Stollsteimer says. “I don’t feel I’ve gotten old, I just want to hear the band the best they can sound. And the best sound is very much not underground.” As a musician, Stollsteimer says, “I haven’t actually played a house show since 2000.” He explains, “the last time I threw one or went to one, there would be maybe ten bands there, and maybe one out of the ten would do anything more than that house party.” Stollsteimer, in fact, declares the entire idea of underground music an odd paradox: “the unsaid goal of underground bands is to become not underground, because if you wanted to be underground, you wouldn’t play shows.”

“I never wanted to be famous,” he explains, “I just wanted the songs I was writing to be heard. And why do people at the Trumbullplex make a Facebook event page? Because they want people to be there.” So, while putting one’s band out there at those small shows is definitely a key point in one’s musical career, Stollsteimer believes that the reality of underground venues is that the goal for musicians playing them is almost always to be done playing at underground venues. “If you play house shows for fucking 10 years that’s not good.”
So, perhaps spending ages thrashing on a stage in your friend’s living room isn’t going to pay your rent or get you a spot on MTV’s “Wake and Shake,” but everyone can agree that those shows are a step in the right direction.

The underground music scene “is as popular as it always has been,” Schmeling says. “It’s more cyclical, than anything else.” He explains that when “real life catches up” with the people in charge of a specific venue, there is seemingly always someone there to take over the others’ musical role in the community.

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Recloose

DJ Recloose playing at Detroit Contemporary circa 2003 – During the Broken Beat/Nu Jazz scene


Alas, Bankrupt or not, Detroit is still going to give us as many chances to experience underground music as we could ever ask for. Those paint chips are ours, ladies and gentlemen.  And don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

By setting aside what may be more lucrative opportunities in exchange for the chance to perform for those fans who supported them at the very beginning, these bands are showing immeasurable passion for their art and devotion to their homes. They see something in Detroit that other musicians don’t: a need for music in and of itself (sans societal bells and whistles). And as Badenoch says, she is very proud of kids these days because, “the new generation is seeing this need and deciding to do something about it.” And that is what Detroit sounds like.


The Funk of Detroit

Still have a taste for some funk and soul? How about some new and fresh funk from your very own Motor City.  Local DJ/Producer Frank Raines runs the globally known label Funk Night Records. Funk Night Records has a very nice YouTube channel where you can stream some of their releases.  Don’t forget you can purchase them online and most of their vinyl is on Discogs for you vinyl collectors out there.

Without getting nostalgic and talking about funk night, I just want to steer people in the direction to hear some great funk and soul.

Below is a track performed by Will Sessions and Detroit Native Billy Love.

Remember this isn’t the only place to find funk in Detroit. If you know your funk, please take this note… Dennis Coffey plays for FREE at Northern Lights Lounge every Tuesday at 8 pm. Check it out for a performance that will satisfy all your funk needs.

Stay Dope.


Clear Soul Forces

Clear Soul Forces first hit my radar earlier this year after a buddy sent me a link to one of their videos.  It seems like these days if you are in the hip hop game and aren’t talking about yourself…I’m interested.

The group consists of four members: L.A.Z, Ilajide, E-Fav, & Noveliss. As a group, Clear Soul Forces demonstrates that each member fully understands hip hop and its roots. They are poets with their lyrics and their beats are simple but hit you in the soul.  Their music takes you back to an era of hip hop that has seemed to all but disappear.

Upon first listen you’ll be hit with the memory of A Tribe Called Quest; the simplicity of their jazz based samples and their ability to tell stories through just a casual listen. I first heard the track linked below.  I highly recommend this if you are a hip hop head and really don’t listen to much of the hip hop that has come out these days. If you appreciate the old school, have love for simplicity and beats that just take you for a walk, Clear Soul Forces brings back the old school while still keeping it fresh.

It also looks like Clear Soul Forces have picked up quite the following in Europe.   In September they will be touring France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Amsterdam, and the Czech Republic.

Coming from a hip hop head like myself (I have the drawing from A Tribe Called Quests “Low End Theory” album tattooed on my left shoulder), I am happy that Detroit has an up and coming hip hop group in an age where the hip hop world is lead by people who I think have no more respect for the game.

Look out for an in-depth review of their latest release in the coming weeks.

Also below via soundcloud is Clear Soul Forces latest release.


The Gutter Ghouls

I was 24 when my psychobilly cherry was popped. When people talk about the Detroit music scene these days they’re usually referring to mostly electronic, garage punk, or hip hop. Psychobilly, for those who aren’t familiar with the genre,  is made up of elements of punk then mixed with pieces of horror (usually from old horror movies). The shows are very fast paced and the bass players usually prefer to play with an upright bass as compared to most rock groups who use a standard bass guitar.

Check back soon for an in depth interview with the Ghutter Ghouls!

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