Frontier Ruckus Interview

Our interview with Frontier Ruckus. Mac’s Bar was packed that night, near capacity, and they put on a great show.

Lemuria “Pebble” review

Lansingmusic.TV interviewees Lemuria release their sophomore LP, “Pebble” today on Bridge 9 Records. Here’s a review.

Lemuria is Alexander Kerns (drums/vocals), Sheena Ozzella (guitar/vocals) and Max Gregor (bass).

Gravity, the opener, is a slow ballad with bits of distorted, chugging guitar toward the end. During the breaks between verses, vocalist/guitarist Shenna Ozzella’s guitar line pulls along like a dollar on a string. During the actual verses, power chords are chugged lightly but as the song progresses they get progressively more open. Almost breaking the song apart at the seams, but it stays held together.

I feel like this is the musical theme of “Pebble”. The songs feel like they want to burst into the noisier or more straightup rocking side of Lemuria’s past (see Home for the Holidays from the “First Collection LP”). But I love that the band reigned in their guitars and made other things like the lyrics, vocals and the drums more of the focus. Gravity has only four lines of vocals, undoubtedly a sign that drummer/singer Alexander Kerns took the time to make them mean something.

Other lyrical ideas explored are life on tour, like on Different Girls and Yellowstone Lady. On “Lady”, Kerns sings “Miles City, Montana/Driving east on 94/A dozen songs I have to write/ I know what about, not sure what for”. A song about life on the road as a musician fits Lemuria to a tee. They have an affinity for touring so an homage to it on this song is cool to hear.

Instead of pure rocking, Ozzella chose to accentuate her softer guitar style by using less distortion and using the guitar as more or less a texture. Case in point on Ribcage and on Different Girls. On “Girls” guitar lines ring in and out during Ozzella’s vocal parts. As she sings “It’s in your imagination, of course” a sparse, droning vocal duet with Kerns takes over. This, coupled with the sparse guitar line, makes it almost eerie.

The standout track here is “Chautauqua County”. Kerns’ lyrics here are great. “Defining my life by it’s opportunities/Especially the ones I missed”. Easily the best lyric on the album. Ozzella’s guitars are cranked, the drums and bass are in overdrive mode and push the song along. The most catchy song on the album, by far.

The opener, Gravity, sums up my thoughts on the record exactly. Lyrics and vocals shine here. All the instruments take a back seat to the voice. However subdued the instruments, they still rock. The guitars play more of a texture role but have a bursting-at-the-seams type of quality to them. On songs like Chautauqua County and Wise People, they do break out into their old selves but then are caged up again.

I came into this review with nothing but the best of thoughts, and I am pleased with Lemuria’s sophomore effort.

Go pick it up here:

And go see them at The Trumbullplex in Detroit on Sunday February 6, 2011.

Fisherking “2 Songs” Review

This short offering from Fisherking leaves me wanting more, obviously. Releasing a 2 song EP seems kind of fruitless to me but I think it shows where the band is musically and where they are headed. All of the elements from “Forget It” appear here. Vocalist/Bassist Ryan Holmes is his usual shouting self on the first track “Leaving Home”. He shouts “home/what does it even mean?”. A lot of his lyrics seem to deal with figuring out who he is, metaphorically of course (or sometimes straightup, cut and dry too). Adds a personality element that the listener can relate to.

I really love the music here. The riffs are catchy, yet they’re like a sucker punch. They could be a lot heavier and punishing but I’ll let that slide since they are an enjoyable listen. Bits of dissonance leak through the riffage. The white noise of the guitar distortion adds texture to the relatively minute instrumentation. Doubling the guitars aids this effect as well.

The drums here are nothing special. That said, Alex Corey is a competent drummer and lets himself go the kit. Full of energy on both songs here. Ben Jenson, Fisherking’s guitarist, has found new ways to expand his playing but still maintain his hardcore roots. Dissonance is something new tried in Fisherking’s music and it works to their advantage. Arpeggiated riffs are sprinkled throughout “Leaving Home” as well.

Fisherking has already released an EP, entitled “Forget It”. Along with this new EP, I’m starting to hear something special in the making with Fisherking. I know they know they can push their music to its limits, but still maintain the hardcore elements. Their music will continue to evolve and I can’t wait to hear what they’ll do next.

Check out “2 Songs” here:


1. Leaving Home (2:46)

2. Bull Run ’61 (3:02)

Album of the Year: Frank and Earnest “Old Francis”

Lansingmusic.TV was only formed about six months ago but in the time between then and now we’ve met some really cool people, listened to and reviewed amazing records and filmed awesome live shows. After hearing some great records in the past 6 months, I have decided to name one record as Lansingmusic.TV’s Album of the Year.

This decision did not come lightly, however.

Fields of Industry released a great record in “Trouble House”. I love the psychedelic, noisy soundscapes that populate the record. Definitely a record that is worth checking out. Do so here:

Another superb Lansing output this year was Fisherking’s “Forget It” EP. Full of the old school hardcore you know and love, it is a fun listen (even if it’s nothing new). Great energy from all the Fishermen. Check this out here:

There can only be one album of the year however…..and that record is: Frank and Earnest’s “Old Francis”!

When I first listened to this, I immediately fell in love with it. Everything from the fast yet controlled guitar playing of Ben Hassenger and Otis McCheese, the pounding and steady bass of Paul Whittman and the impeccable drumming of Ryan Horky make this the finest release to come out of Lansing in 2010.

The trio of vocalists in Ben Hassenger, Paul Whittman and Otis McCheese, all add their individual flavors to their respective songs. As explained in my review of this record, Hassenger’s take on a song like “Addictionary” is like your local construction worker singing punk rock style. Wittmann’s has an emotive and energetic drawl to it, such as on “Clever”. McCheese’s vocal is the most recognizable and distinct. Lots of energy on the closer, “Mr. Holland’s Otis”.

The rhythm section of Wittmann and Horky is very powerful in it’s synergy yet individually, they do their parts. The drums are hit hard and with ferocity. Horky’s timing is perfect. The bass is the underdog of the band. It accomplishes it’s goal of driving the songs along but the parts are also spacious and not forced. Underrated part of the record.

I keep using the word “energy” a lot to describe this record. The infectious and energetic hooks, the blasts of guitar noise and pulsating bass and the emotional vocal takes show that Frank and Earnest are not just another run-of-the-mill Lansing band. They have something special that is unmatched right now in the Lansing music scene.

Buy the “Old Francis” EP here.

What will the Lansingmusic.TV 2011 album of the year be? I can’t wait to find out.

Review: “Explosions: Lansing Salutes Devo”

We continue our 2 part series with a review of “Explosions: Lansing Salutes Devo”.

The same disclaimers apply as with the Kiss tribute review: I have not heard the originals. I also not heard much material from a lot of the bands on this compilation. I will review the songs here on their own merits and not how they compared to the originals.

Now that that is out of the way, here we go…

This CD is all together a different animal than the Kiss tribute. Now, that may seem obvious. Kiss is a rock and roll band and Devo is a new-wave band. Their sounds are completely different. But in terms of how the songs sound here, the sonic qualities like the audio quality trump the Kiss tribute tenfold. This is not a bad thing however. It actually suits the two respective bands styles: Kiss is gritty, balls-to-the-walls rock and roll and the overall sound suited that philosophy. Devo, on the other hand, is methodical, calculating and cold when it comes to their style and delivery. This side is represented here beautifully. Each band, it seems, took their time to dissect their respective songs (barring a few punkish, DIY covers like Gates Of Steel’s “Gates Of Steel” and MK Ultra Culkin’s “Fountain of Filth”).

Not only did the bands dissect their respective songs, but some outright reinvented what it means to “play like Devo” (or not play like Devo at all). An example of this is BerT’s take on “Blockhead”. Accompanied by a drumbeat that sounds like it was lifted from samples of real factory machinery, he sings the lyrics over and over again, albeit from a distance. It feels eerie, droning and has an “I’m trapped here, and I can’t get out” kind of feel. Very claustrophobic. Again, it represents the cold and calculating world of Devo.

Other off-the-wall takes include the drum and bass-hardcore punk fusion of Dr. Device on the “Smart Patrol/Mr.DNA” . You might think that those two styles don’t mesh, but they do. Blast beats as well as the bass guitar are moved up in the mix. The slower, quieter breakdown showcases the band’s vocal abilities. Very cool and inventive.

Not all of this is gloom and doom though. There are some very inspiring takes like Johnny Unicorn’s “Patterns” as well as “Beautiful World” by Drinking Mercury. “Patterns” has the Johnny Unicorn musical stamp of approval. Synths, the saxaphone solo and keyboard interludes are all thrown in. “Beautiful World” feels very brittle. Michael Boyes’ vocal sounds akin to a sheet of glass that might break at any moment. Very heartbreaking and sad. Excellent take.

Still going down the alternative rock route, Frank and Earnest’s “Whip It” cover is pretty straightforward (for the record, I did say earlier that I have not heard the originals, but in the case of “Whip It”, I have). That does not mean it isn’t good. Everything about it is solid. A fun listen. The Plurals’ medley of “Too Much Paranoias/Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy” takes their noisy side and the poppy side and combines the two perfectly. Nicholas Richard’s vocal on the second song “Gut Feeling” is throaty and punchy. It is almost to the point of unlistenability…almost. As with BerT’s “Blockhead”, an uneasy feeling comes into play. But instead of hiding it like BerT does, The Plurals take that uncertainty and unleash it through the music into a rage of noise and absurdity.

There are songs by bands here that I did not cover. Unfortunately, if I covered all of them, this review would be 1000 words…and no one wants to spend a ton of time reading a long review. Everything on this compilation gels. From the crazy weird takes of BerT and Dr. Device to the straight covers like Frank and Earnest and everything in between, it all makes sense. Unlike the Kiss album where only a few tracks are on repeat, this whole record will be on my repeat list for a long time.

Review: No More Tomorrow Baby! A Tribute to Kiss

In preparation for the Kiss and Devo Tribute show at Oade’s Hidden Camel this Friday, I will be reviewing each CD. First up is “No More Tomorrow Baby! A Tribute to Kiss”.

I have to preface this review with a couple of disclaimers: 1. I have not heard the original Kiss songs. 2. Nor have I heard a lot of other material by the bands on this compilation and 3. I will be reviewing this CD on the merit of the songs as they were performed and not by how they differed from or sounded like the originals.

There were a few problems that I had with this compilation. First, the consistency of the audio quality is all over the place. Some songs like “Cold Gin” by The Hat Madder are top notch quality. Everything about the song from an audio quality standpoint is perfect. But then, we get to The Lightning Bugs cover of “Detroit Rock City”. This song is by far the worst on this (or both) compilations. I’m no audiophile by anyone’s standards but I can’t enjoy the track if it sounds like shit.

I’ll get away from all the negativity for a second. Being that each band recorded a cover in their respective style, I have to say that there are some excellent covers to be heard. The alternative rock style take on “Sure Know Something” by the Breakups is well done. Each member puts their all into the song, as if it was their own song. The different textures of guitars including the spacey verse parts to the hard-edged noisy exit, show the versatility of that particular aspect of the band as well as the band as a whole.

The best of the hard rocking came from Young Dan Tucker, with their cover of “Psycho Circus”. Complete with explosions and a Young Dan Tucker chant at the end, they went balls-out awesome with their cover. If there is one band that represents the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the Kiss Army, it’s Young Dan Tucker.

“Goin’ Blind” by Stargrazer shows that this compilation is not just for the hard rockers. The backwards effects, ambiance, synths and all around dissonant tone of the recording make it something unique. This song should be on the Devo compilation…If only Devo wrote “Goin’ Blind” instead of Kiss.

The CD ends with The Cartridge Family’s take on “Rock and Roll All Night”. It seems that tCF have finally captured their live show craziness on record with this recording. The song starts out pretty straight and is performed well by all involved. But by the end of the song, about 20 different voices are screaming the chorus and it devolves into a wish wash of voices, guitar feedback and Cale Sauter muttering something about Black Sabbath 4. The song, as it stands, is so-so. But with everything else that is going on, it doesn’t really matter what the final product is with tCF. You get an almost 5 minute party for the ears.

This compilation has a lot going for it. There are many different styles tried here, some to a great degree of success and others are complete failures. This compilation is a great way for Lansing bands to showcase their talents and expand their catalogs. From alternative rock to hardcore punk to old fashioned Kiss-style rock and roll, I think the bands tried their best. That I will not disagree with. If you like Kiss and Lansing local music, check this out. Otherwise, it may not be for you. Maybe a track here or there but the compilation as a whole will only serve the die-hard Lansing music fans.

Frank and Earnest “Addictionary”

Frank and Earnest‘s Ben Hassenger plays their song “Addictionary”. Watch closely for a Tupac sighting too.

Frank and Earnest Interview

Interview with Lansing’s Frank and Earnest! We will have songs up soon by Ben Hassenger of Frank and Earnest. Stay tuned!

Fields of Industry Interview

Here is our interview with Lansing’s Fields of Industry. Also check them out at: and!/fieldsindustry

Oh My God Interview

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Our interview with Chicago’s Oh My God! One of the most entertaining interviews we have done so far!

Oh My God will be playing Mac’s Bar on December 4, 2010 with The Plurals and Life Size Ghost.

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