Posts Tagged ‘Lansing MI’

Review: Frank and Earnest – Modern Country

After a long hiatus between albums, Lansing pop punks Frank and Earnest are releasing their new album, Modern Country, with a release show on Saturday Sept. 6 featuring Able Baker Fox, Summerpunx and Braidedveins.

On record, Frank and Earnest is Ben Hassenger (guitar, vocals), Paul Wittmann (bass, vocals), Ryan Horky (drums) and Nick Pierce (guitar, vocals).

Here’s a review.

"Modern Country" cover, with artwork by Craig Horky.

With their brand of gritty, witty Descendents-esque pop punk, Frank and Earnest hit another home run. There might be a few straggling moments, but they pass the finish line with another great record.

“Paul 5″ is an energetic, bar-room-brawl of an opening track. With a country twang — the intro’s squealing notes, Wittmann’s natural drawl of a vocal and lyrics dwelling on missing an opportunity to meet a girl — the pumping drums, churning rhythm guitar and shouted backing vocals make this a fist-pumping stand out.

“Body Parts” feels a little clunky to me.  The quick, choppy dueling guitars and the solo toward the end feels a bit chaotic. Everything else in the song works just fine.

The lone song featuring Pierce on lead vocals, “This is Why I Don’t Party”, is one of the album’s couple standout tracks. Strummed electric guitar chords lay the backdrop while Pierce sings “…Spent all night staring at the ceiling, toss and turn the night away” and it immediately hooks you in. Then the rimshots on the snare come in and it gets better and better. The shout-along chorus — “I remember shaking, all throughout the night/I remember dizzy eyes and crooked sights” is great stuff. Its quick pace and high energy will make you sing along.

“Drink About It” is also a great track. High speed, ringing guitars, tom-tom heavy drums, excellent, hook-laden backing vocals and lyrics about drinking make this a nice track. Good stuff.

“Take the Back Road,” which is musically no different than many of the other tracks (loud guitars, pounding drums, energetic vocals), has something about it that gives it an extra energy. I’m not sure what it is. I guess the quick, driving acoustic intro hooks me in. It’s just a classic F&E track on par with “Mr. Holland’s Otis” or “Addictionary”. I love it.

The album’s last few tracks take the band in a few different directions.

“New Traditions” has a storytelling quality about it. Lots of lyrics, relatively quiet verses with chugging guitars and pounding tom-toms. “I examined the pages of those history books/every speck on the timeline, all the heroes and crooks/but I found a missing figure, a relic overlooked,” Hassenger sings, effortlessly pulling off the first of many wordy verses. The chorus is great with high energy instrumentation and backing vocals. Another catchy, anthemic singalong.

“Paul 6″ is the most country song on “Modern Country” complete with piano, slide guitar, acoustic guitar and topped off with Wittmann’s drawl played up for full effect. The song has a hopping drum beat, lyrics about not going to work — “Bossman calls to see if I’d go to work/Let me think about it/I don’t think so jerk,” and others about drinking are espoused. On one hand, it’s a bit gimmicky but on the other, it’s really genuine. A left turn but a neat and experimental one at that. Thumbs up.

Overall a good LP. Lots of anthemic choruses, loud guitars and just generally good punk rock. If you’re a fan of Descendents or The Gaslight Anthem-like punk rock, this will be right up your alley.

Check this out via their Bandcamp once its released on Saturday Sept. 6.

Lemuria interview: Band talks new album, upcoming Mitch Clem collaboration, Michigan and more

 

Lemuria: Sheena Ozzella (far left), Max Gregor (center) and Alex Kerns (far right). Photo by Ryan Russell.

After Lemuria’s show in Lansing, Michigan at Mac’s Bar on Sunday June 30, I (Sean) conducted an interview with the members of the band on a drive in their van. We talk about their new album “The Distance is So Big” (out now on Bridge Nine Records), collaborating with Mitch Clem on a new 7″, favorite things about Michigan and more. It was a really fun show and great, entertaining interview. An interview I did with them in 2011 is referenced. Check that out here.

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Little American Champ “Nothing Forward, Nothing Backward” EP review

Lansing punk band Little American Champ released a new EP last week entitled “Nothing Forward, Nothing Backward”.

Here’s a review.

Courtesy of the Little American Champ Bandcamp page

Little American Champ is Jonny Janis (guitar/vocals), Alex Janis (bass/vocals) and Danny Petrilli (drums/percussion).

This three piece has a ringing resemblance to other bands (Lemuria, Against Me and The Riot Before come to mind) while holding true to their Midwest roots. Sometimes the lead vocals have a Tom Gabel-esque approach in their melodic shouting ways. I really like them but they’re not really original. Heard it a million times but that’s OK. I could say the same for the guitars, drums, bass…everything about this band is something I’ve heard before. Not a bad thing at all.

For some bands, they play a style other bands also play down to a tee but what matters with a band like Little American Champ is the amount of heart and soul they put into their music. When they play their songs, they play the hell out of them. They love what they do. That energy is apparent all over this four song EP.

On a song like “We’ve Been On a Roll Lately”, with its distorted, feedback-laden intro and powerchords aplenty, Jonny sings the chorus of “relax and repeat” as the powerchords follow his vocal lead. The breakdowns are melodic and have room to breath with a rotating drum pattern, leading to a breakdown then a build up of cymbal crashes and droning power chords. Good stuff from this three piece.

The rhythm section is extremely tight and concise. Not a note or drum hit is wasted. The bass doesn’t have the hardcore punch but it’s not wimpy either. I like this rhythm section. I like this whole group as a musical unit. Sometimes even with a three piece the members can drift off into their own worlds but here, they act as one toward their goal of playing the best they can as a unit. Again, not a note is wasted.

“What’s the Secret, Max?” has the Gabel-like vocals I hinted at earlier. Jonny sings “I don’t have anything to report” and later “thank fucking God that you stayed home”. Although, I will say, it is a bit hard to understand his voice. I hear the lyrics correctly here and there but not the whole way through (maybe it’s just me and maybe my hearing’s going downhill worse than I thought).

Everything about this four song EP is essential Midwest punk. Honest, blistering, quick. The whole thing lasts about 15 minutes. Go check it out and download it for free. Do that here.

Electric Six headline The Loft on 9/16

I conducted a Q and A with Electric Six front man Dick Valentine in preparation for their headlining show at The Loft in Lansing on Sept. 16 with Kitten and Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers.

From the Facebook event page

Q: Electric Six are going on tour in Sept. to support the Oct. release of the new album, “Heartbeats and Brainwaves”. You’ll be playing Lansing on Sept. 16. The band originated in Detroit in the mid-90s. Is this the first time you’ve played in Lansing? What is Electric Six’s history with Lansing and mid-Michigan.

– Well, the original lineup of Electric Six played Mac’s a couple times in like ’97 and ’98. I remember thinking that I was “on tour” because I was finally playing a show that wasn’t in Detroit. And once we got going as a professional touring outfit, we’ve played several shows over the last 7 years or show either at Temple Club or at Small Planet. Lansing’s always been good to us.

Q: The new songs like “Hello! I See You” and “It Gets Hot” show a lot going on musically. The drums are really dance-able, the guitars are heavy and rocking and the synths add a disco-like texture to the songs. What was the goal, musically, for this album?

– We set out to make a much more synth-heavy album and that was really the only idea we had going into it. This is the first album we’ve ever done where every single song was written as we recorded it. Every other album had at least one song that was written before the recording started. So this one was really just a fun process of throwing a bunch of stuff out there and seeing what stuck.

Q: How did the songs come about this time around? Was the songwriting a collaborative effort?

— Everyone in the band submits demos and I go through them and see what I gravitate towards lyrically. That’s one way of doing it. Other songs come about by just fusing ideas between two or more band members. The song “Eye Contact” was a total collaboration between me and Johnny Nashinal that basically just happened out of the blue and within 15 minutes we had a song.

Q: What inspired the lyrics this time around? Were there any particular events in between albums that inspired the lyrics?

– Inspiration for lyrics is completely random and unfocused. For Psychic Visions, I just happened to be walking by a shop with a bright purple neon sign that said “Psychic Visions”. And the lyrics were written within 10 minutes. Songs like French Bacon and Food Dog were written because I said to myself, “I’m gonna write a song called Food Dog. Then I’m going to write a song called French Bacon.” And then “Hello! I See You!” is a song about realizing the ecstasy of accepting Satan as your master. Which for the record, I don’t. But it’s written from the perspective of someone who has.

Q: In 2003, your song “Gay Bar” became a hit. It’s been about 8 years since then. Have fans and journalists moved past Electric Six being a supposed “One Hit Wonder”? Or do you think people are more receptive to the band than ever before? How do you look back on the song and how it helped you?

– Well anytime we pick up the local rag in the town we are playing, more often than not they reference us as disco sleaze lords or something clearly based on our perception from the first album. But that’s just how it goes. And there are more and more people coming to the shows who are very familiar with our last 6 albums post-Fire, so I would say we are slowly growing out of that perception. Two steps forward, one Gay Bar back.

Q: Your band member John Nash produced the new album. How did he influence the production here? Did you all know what you were looking to create and having a band member producer, only eased that process?

– John’s written the music to some of my favorite songs over the years….Slices Of You, Randy’s Hot Tonight, Table and Chairs. And lately his demos were starting to show that his recording/producing chops were growing exponentially. It was just the right time and right album to give him the reins.

Q: Some of the song titles are bizarre, like “French Bacon” and “Interchangeable Knife” along with the title track. You’ve previously commented that, in most cases, your songs are about nothing. Is this the case here? Do any of the songs have any particular meaning?

Again, the only song really about anything concrete is “Hello! I See You!”. It’s about the ecstasy of accepting Satan as the master. The rest of the songs are loose sketches symbolizing sound and fury and being nothing.

Q: Your live shows are characteristically wild; a big dance party. Do you always try to bring a “party” atmosphere to your shows or does that atmosphere happen to follow you?

– That atmosphere happens to follow us. We don’t bring shit.

Q: The record will be released on Oct. 11 with a world tour starting in Sept. in Lansing, MI. What’s it like to play in smaller, more local venues than you’re accustomed to after all these years of touring the world?

– We’ve played venues of all sizes this whole time. Even when were playing festivals and crowds in the tens of thousands in Europe, we’d still find time to play a 200-capacity toilet and “keep it real”. But sometimes we end up keeping it real too many shows in a row and at these times I resume working on my time machine.


P2daHI and The Amature Interview

Check out our interview with Lansing’s own The Amature and P2daHI.
Watch the videos, then check them out here:

http://www.myspace.com/p2dahi
http://p2dahi.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/p2dahi

http://www.myspace.com/theamaturemusic1
http://twitter.com/theamature

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