King Eddie Expands His Kingdom

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For his recent self-titled album, King Eddie frontman Justin Maike had the goal of creating something “as D.I.Y. as possible, while still sounding polished and nice.” So he made the album using the resources he had in front of him, from recording in a haunted house in Detroit to hanging blankets on the walls so he could record in his basement in Iowa.

The sound for the album itself was D.I.Y. as well, because it involved Justin doing the writing and then seeking help from his “et al,” as he refers to them on Facebook, to create his totally rocking final project.  Justin’s girlfriend Aurora contributed her angelic, but sassy vocals, her sister Velvet played her funky bass, and their friend Angela added the dreamy keyboard. Justin’s friend Jake helped him with the intricate guitar parts, and Justin came all the way back to his hometown of Detroit to record Joe Myers’ groovy drums. “It was a group of people who had never played together all on one album, so it was hugely collaborative,” Justin explained.  He said that while he loves doing the song-writing, he also really likes getting his friends involved in what he called “coloring the picture.” And with Adam Cox, the producer for Mexican Knives and The Muggs, there to help Justin with production via email, what a picture it all became.  The album’s creation spanned three different states, many months, and tons of great friends.

“King Eddie” is an absolutely beautiful and poignant ride from start to finish. It combines new and insightful sounds with more old-fashioned psychedelic rock motifs from the 60’s and 70’s. So it will have you both jiving with your friends at house parties one minute and dusting off your old Jefferson Airplane albums the next.

Justin says his main influences for the album were the Doors and other bands from the days of yore, mixed with many elements from Latin and Hip-Hop music. Justin also retains his Detroit roots with a somewhat Detroit garage rock sound, especially in “Daddy (Was No Powder Keg Man).”

What separates King Eddie from other Detroit-based sounds? Well, in my opinion, two things: First, the guitar parts, and second, the vocals. The guitar sound is a unique one because it stands as what makes the album move from feel-good sounds to more profound emotional ones without making either seem out-of-place. Justin states that, “I know it’s not cool anymore to be the guitar guy,” but explains that his music relies heavily on strong guitar parts, with fluid melodies and powerful harmonies. I would even go so far as to say that the guitar carries the entire sound from start to finish and makes us feel present in each track. That presence then allows for that second element, the vocals, to shine through and make their mark on listeners. It’s clear that Justin and Aurora are dedicated vocalists and have not only perfected their own voices, but also the way in which their voices work together on the tracks. You can especially hear their lovely harmonies on my favorite track on the album, “Annie Social.” These voices add soul and character to the album and will make the songs stick in your head all day, but not at the expense of their complexity and quality. I am especially obsessed with Aurora’s voice, which I’m sure won’t offend Justin, as I will wager that he is quite obsessed himself. Her sassy and effortlessly powerful pipes are what you’re looking for, and more. Trust me. She’ll have you really grooving on track eight of the album, “Flyin.’”

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So where did the idea for such a memorable work of musical art come from? Well, Justin wrote the songs while Aurora was pregnant with their daughter, Jette. So that experience alone inspired most of the songs. As Justin explains, “the pregnancy was very surreal, because from a male perspective, it doesn’t feel like much is changing.” But his lyrics reflect on more than just the pregnancy, also cataloging his pre-baby travels as well as how he and Aurora met. Finally, Justin mixed in a good amount of politics and current news, which he presents in “a purposely non-preaching way.” Moreover the album presents itself as a reflection on the most important aspects of his life inspired by an excitement in the future he had before him with his two wonderful girls.

Now that Jette is here, Justin feels that he has become a much better musician. As he explains, “you need to plan your free time out much more because you know you only have a certain amount of time.” He continues, “I considered myself to already be self-driven, but Jette really cranked up the dial on that.” And of course being able to share his gift with his girlfriend and daughter makes it all the more special.

Justin and his family are now very focused on getting settled in Denver, where he will continue to grow musically, Aurora will help with music and work on her videography, and Jette will continue being an adorable little baby girl.

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Check out King Eddie’s bandcamp to download these incredible tunes!


A Psychedelic Classic by Tommy James and the Shondells

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The 1968 sweeping psychedelic opus we’re going back to for this week’s Throwback Thursday is ‘Crimson and Clover,’ from a Michigan band who started off their careers singing snappy bubblegum hits which transitioned to influential psychedelic soul when the band took creative control over the sound of their music.  Tommy James and the Shondells are a perfect example of how a band can discover their pure original sound when there is no outside influence.  When Tommy James was freed up from his ties to the band’s principal songwriters, Ritchie Cordell and Bo Gentry, he discovered how to melt tremolo-styled vocal effects with floating, woozy guitar to create a classic tune dedicated to his favorite color and favorite flower.  The ambient echoes of ‘Crimson and Clover’ hit number one on the Billboard charts in February of 1969 and became an instant classic in the psychedelic genre as well as the band’s biggest success.  Please enjoy a live performance by Niles, Michigan’s Tommy James and the Shondells with their biggest hit below.


The Woolies Hit With A Bo Diddley Classic

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In 1967, East Lansing natives The Woolies recorded a cover of the classic Bo Diddley tune, “Who Do You Love?”  This would prove to be the group’s biggest hit, and with many covers of “Who Do You Love?” out there by bands like George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Woolies’ version still comes out on top.  Formed as a band in Dearborn in 1964, vocalist Stormy Rice, keyboardist “Boogie” Bob Baldori, guitarist Jeff Baldori, bassist Ron English, and drummer Bill “Bee” Metros got their first taste of success before “Who Do You Love?” winning a Vox-sponsored “Best Band In The Land” contest which won them a set of speakers, as well as a trip to Los Angeles and a recording contract.  It was Lou Adler of Dunhill Records in LA who first ushered The Woolies into the recording studio after hearing their demos to create their first record, “Who Do You Love?,” split with an original song by the group, “Hey Girl.”  Soon after recording in Los Angeles, The Woolies were on their way back to Michigan at Russ Gibb’s request to open The Grande Ballroom on October 6, 1966 along with the MC5.  The fast-paced punchy rhythm of “Who Do You Love?” caught the attention of radio DJs and promoters upon its release, and remains their biggest success as a band.

 

Enjoy The Woolies’ classic, energetic cover of “Who Do You Love?” below!


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

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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!


The Gories on “BandIn” Detroit

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For our second edition of Throwback Thursday, we are focusing on not just a track, but an entire performance from the too often under-appreciated garage rock goodness of The Gories. Mick Collins, Peg O’Neill and Dan Kroha formed The Gories in 1986, their formula being raw and minimal, rejecting the overwrought pop & rock that was being concocted so much in the 80s. Dan Kroha is quoted in Savage magazine as saying, “. . . no one was playing music the way we wanted to hear it. We wanted really fucking primitive stuff. Bands would call themselves primitive, but we wanted to show ’em what that word really means. Also we wanted to really show ’em what rhythm and blues means. No one was doing it the way we wanted to hear it, so we decided that we just had to do it ourselves.” The Gories went on the late-night local Detroit cable TV series “BandIn” for the show’s fourth installment, and filmed the entire session below in the same studio that their first LP, Houserockin’, was recorded in. According to Kroha, the actual recording studio at Wanghead Records was covered wall-to-wall in carpet that resulted in a dead and muddled sound, so the band asked if their equipment could instead be set up in the metal-walled machine shop that was next door, ultimately providing a large benefit for the bands signature sound.

Please enjoy this performance by The Gories on Detroit’s “BandIn” from 1989.