Posts Tagged ‘lansing’

Stream Fisherking’s Ghost on Spotify

Album art for Ghost, the latest LP from Fisherking.

Ghost, the 2012 LansingMusic.TV Album of the Year by Lansing’s Fisherking, is now available to stream on Spotify.

The Lansing hardcore band — which began demoing new songs and playing more shows beginning last summer, including a show with The Suicide Machines at a sold-out Mac’s Bar — released Ghost in the fall of 2012.

Review: Cheap Girls – “Famous Graves”

Cheap Girls are back with a new full-length album, Famous Graves, out today (Tuesday, May 13) on Xtra Mile Recordings. They also have a few tours this summer too: one with Andrew Jackson Jihad and another with The Hold Steady.

Here’s a review of their newest LP.

The Michigan band's new album is out now via Xtra Mile Recordings.

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

Recorded in Grand Rapids, Mich. and Chicago, Ill., the simple rock ‘n’ roll format the band — guitarist Adam Aymor, singer/bassist Ian Graham and drummer Ben Graham — adopted over three previous LPs is in full effect here. “Knock Me Over”, about Ian’s knee surgery a few years ago, immediately starts the toe-tapping with the tapping of a high hat and a lightly strummed, crunchy electric guitar. The interplay between a chimey, ringing guitar cushioned next to a crunchy, riff-driving one is neat. This provides a melody to hum along to while heads still bob along.

“Pure Hate,” recorded a few years ago for a split with New York’s Lemuria, reappears here. I loved the track the first time I heard it and I love it all over again here. Ben’s playing is driving yet smooth and great to air-drum to. Ian’s vocal of “I only want to stare you down” is a monster hook. Aymor’s guitar solo is simple and driven by the overall melody and chord progression. The palm-muted guitar ending is a great cap to a fantastic song, even if it’s already been recorded and released once.

Ian’s vocals — from being charmingly uncomfortable on their debut to being recorded in one take on Giant Orange — have become one of my favorite things about the band. Sure, I love a loud guitar and a pounding set of drums just as much as the next guy but the vocal melody and delivery are something the band and Ian don’t take for granted. As he sings “I’d do anything to lose the pain” on “Knock Me Over”, the sincerity and catchiness of his delivery is a subtle mark of how much he’s developed into his role as a singer. The same goes for “Man in Question”. He can take his voice from a middle register to a higher, more emotive one in an instant. The “Woah-ohs” in the bridge are excellent, too.

Again: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. In fact, they’re not only an accomplished, polished and working unit but are improving with each new LP they release.

2013 Michigan music roundup Part 2 of 3

Here’s part 2 of our three-part round of Michigan releases for 2013. Read part 1, featuring Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts, Flint Eastwood and The Swellers.

Lights and Caves “In Satori” EP

Formed late in 2012, Lansing-based Lights and Caves started writing songs and playing gigs almost immediately. With 2013 came the addition of Elliot Street Lunatic founder/guitarist/singer Jason Marr on guitar and vocals. Marr helped produce, and even played on, the EP. Released in August, the band has been playing gigs around the state any chance it gets.

From my Lansing City Pulse review: “The opener “Manchy” gives a nod to Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra, with rocking but polished guitar chords mixed with pounding drums that proclaim the music’s danceability in no uncertain terms. “In Satori” recalls Radiohead’s “Reckoner,” with a finger-picked clean guitar countering another, Ebow-laden guitar that calmly washes over a light snare-dominated beat.

It all combines to hold Gorden’s Thom Yorke-esque falsetto to Earth. The same Radiohead influence is evident on “Run,” but with a lot more ambiance and spaciousness. Marr’s influence on this band is pretty obvious; the opening of “Tragedy” recalls ESL’s own song “Maps” from their second album “Ghost Town Lullabies.” Some of his guitar tones here sound straight out of ESL’s soundworld.

Moses “Gush” LP

Mount Pleasant band Moses, originally a large, multi-instrument acoustic outfit, changed its sound dramatically in 2013 by going fully electric and cutting down to three members (or sometimes four, adding the occasional extra guitarist at live shows) with just electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals. The band released its long-awaited debut album, “Gush,” in November on its Bandcamp page and played a few low-key shows to promote it.

From my Central Michigan Life review: “The vocable “ah-ha”s throughout “Huron,” recorded with ambiance and the live crowd in mind, will stay in your head for days.

The guitars driving the signature melody are accompanied by Schaeffer’s smooth and driving drum patterns and a crunchy rhythm guitar, while Pitzer’s vocals provide chill-inducing feeling, especially the line “When did we, when did we become what we are?” This line is delivered with a great conviction and energy and is definitely a stand out track on this LP.”

Small Parks “Meet Me In Cognito” EP

Formed out of the ashes of post-rock band Good Weather for Airstrikes, Lansing-based Small Parks strips away the long, drawn out instrumentals and exchanges them for tight, to-the-point emo punk songs.

From my LMTV review: ““Parallel Thoughts” has such a Gin Blossoms vibe toward the beginning, especially recalling their early 90′s hit “Hey Jealousy”. Talo’s distorted, intricate guitar picking gives the songs another tip-off to emo; noodley and textured like Connecticut’s The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die or Rockford, Illinois’ Joie De Vivre. Radick shows honesty and sadness in his lyrics: “You’re no longer with me when I sleep but your body still haunts me in my dreams/We could be onto something here/But I’m too afraid of failure to find out” and “yes it is true I once loved you/And at one point I loved myself too”.

REVIEW: Small Parks – “Meet Me In Cognito”

A while ago, Lansing band Small Parks released their first EP “Meet Me In Cognito”. Since then, I’d been wanting to see them play and I finally did at Mac’s Bar. Opening for Lemuria at the end of June, they played an energetic set to a great crowd. Here’s a review of their EP, released on Triple Deke Records.

Small Parks is James Radick (vocals, guitar), Josh Talo (guitar), Danny Petrilli (bass, vocals) and Matthew Restorff (drums).

Cover photo by Hayley Lamb and layout by Corey Bickford. Photo courtesy of Small Parks' Bandcamp page.

Slow and dreamy opens up “Undone”, the EP’s first track, but a steady rock beat and chugging power chords take over, laying below Radick’s somber recollection of a failed relationship. “I sank into comfort and I got used to the end,” he sings. Later bassist Petrilli adds shouted, distant backing vocals. Going into overdrive, twinkly guitar lines play over a pounded drum beat and pumping bass. A great start to this record.

“Parallel Thoughts” has such a Gin Blossoms vibe toward the beginning, especially recalling their early 90′s hit “Hey Jealousy”. Talo’s distorted, intricate guitar picking gives the songs another tip-off to emo; noodley and textured like Connecticut’s The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die or Rockford, Illinois’ Joie De Vivre. Radick shows honesty and sadness in his lyrics: “You’re no longer with me when I sleep but your body still haunts me in my dreams/We could be onto something here/But I’m too afraid of failure to find out” and “yes it is true I once loved you/And at one point I loved myself too”.

Even though Radick’s old band, Howell post rock band Good Weather for Airstrikes has long been gone, I still hear some of the band’s sound carrying over (and hey, maybe it’s just me..I do love that band). During parts on “Shifting Positions” I hear some of the same tones and sound worlds his old band used to occupy. Both bands do have a connection: Radick’s personal and confessional lyrics, at the very least. The obvious difference is the song lengths (I once read on Facebook they posted: “This aren’t post-rock songs. This won’t take nine minutes of your time”…or something like that. I thought that was a funny way to contrast the two bands). Both bands, though, adequately occupy their respective song lengths in sounds and experimentation as well as lyrics too.

My only complaints with this EP are when Radick gets into his more screaming side of his vocal delivery, it does get a little grating at times. Also, and this is a minor nitpick, but this EP might end on a better and higher note if “Retrogression” and its soaring backing vocals, pounding drums and overall epic feel, closed out the EP. The finale in “Everything is Part of It” does have loud, soaring parts too but it’s a little busier with “bop-bop-bop” backing vocals as well as lyrics by Petrilli and Radick running simultaneously. A bit too much going on. Plus, the song moves back to the arpeggiated, spacey guitar lines like the song’s intro at a rather awkward pace and the song just ends. Kind of anti-climactic. The spacey, twinkly lines at the 1:54 mark, though, are super catchy and easy to hum along to.

Overall, this is a great release from this Lansing band. Despite some kinks in the track sequence and some missteps in the songs, they are off  to a great start. They’re playing gigs all the time and, having seen them play once already, I can say they sound confident in their songs and live show and will only continue to improve. Get on board with this band now. Download “Meet Me In Cognito” for a pay-what-you-want price here and check them out live in Lansing on Saturday July 20 at GTG House with Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts, So Long Naota and Brown Bottle Flu.

Common Ground Music Festival 2013 photos

Here are some photos I (Sean) took at Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing this weekend.

Both nights I attended, Friday and Saturday, were awesome. Amazing lineups and amazing shows. Looking forward to next year.

Lead singer for Detroit's Flint Eastwood, Jax Anderson, during their set on the Leinie Lodge stage Friday night July 12

Banjo player David Jones (left) and singer/guitarist Matthew Milia (right) of Michigan band Frontier Ruckus perform on the Auto Value stage before Josh Ritter and The Avett Brothers on Saturday July 13

Murder by Death's Sarah Balliet (far left, cello), Dagan Thogerson (behind center, drums), Adam Turla (guitar, vocals), Matt Armstrong (bass) and Scott Brackett (far right, keyboards) perform Saturday July 13 on the General Motors Pavilion stage. The Bloomington, Indiana band's latest album "Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon" was released last year.

Concord, North Carolina's The Avett Brothers closing out Saturday night of the Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing, Michigan on July 13. The group are working on a followup album to their 2012 release The Carpenter, set to be released later this year.

Mike Kinsella performs solo and acoustic music under the name Owen on Saturday July 13 on the Leinie Lodge stage. Kinsella is most known for being in Chicago-area bands emo bands American Football, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc and, more recently, collaborating with Evan Weiss from Into It. Over It. as the band Their/They're/There.

John Bee, the singer behind American Opera, performs at Common Ground Music Festival Saturday July 13. Bee, originally from Michigan, resides in New York City.

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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Cavalcade “Dear Entrails…” review

After almost two years of languishing in development hell after being recorded for release on Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records, Lansing’s Cavalcade have finally released their second studio album “Dear Entrails…” on their Bandcamp page.

Cavalcade, on this release, is: Zachary Warren (vocals), Cale Sauter (guitar), Craig Horky (bass, backing vocals), John Bruce (drums) and Brad Van Staveren (guitar).

Here’s a review of their long overdue sophomore LP.

An album about failure never sounded so successful in its vision. The self-described “weird metal” band have been combining disparate genres like avant, jazz, sludge, doom and even traditional instruments like tuba and saxophone since at least 2006 and here, after releasing their debut album a few years ago, finally show what their twisted vision is capable of.

“Agents of Bolivian”, with a backwards guitar effect in the intro, puts Cavalcade’s sound in an angular, skewed template. Guitar solos that could fit on a modern day thrash inspired-metal record clash with tuba and glockenspiel, although the latter is minimal while the overall tempo here is sludge and doom-inspired but maybe a little bit faster.

The album was mastered by Pig Destroyer and AxCx’s Scott Hull and the results fit the band’s sound perfectly. “Bury Sanders” pulls Warren’s vocals into the middle of the mix while guitar effects and pounding drums swirl around his raspy barks. “Cancer Fantasy”, one of my favorite tracks on the album, features guest vocals from The Break Ups’ Francesca Pierce, adding a beautiful, calming effect to the guitars and vocals, which are farther back in the mix. The drums here are fast, driving and fierce; they even have quiet a groove, showing groove metal’s influence here. You can probably dance to it if you wanted to. The mastering fares well, too, on “Untie These Vines” where acoustic guitars in the intro and distorted, white noise-layered guitars later on mix perfectly. Warren’s vocals later take on a spacey effect at points and the bass is punchy yet smooth. The guitar solo is loud and clear.

This band never shies away from horror movie and gore-inspired imagery and sounds. Instrumental “Poltergeists on Motorbikes” is no exception with a zombie groaning “I want your brains!” as sounds of a man being eaten alive by the zombie play before the encounter. The band also never shies away from sheer experimentation, as on “Big Sack of Tspiders” has the most danceable groove on the album. It’s fast, cathartic and even has hand claps, as guitar tones from previous songs make their way back here.

After a few more tracks of similar sounds, vocally and otherwise (“Walk Like a Magician” and “A Lifetime of Sick”), the experimentation takes a turn on the Russian-language titled “Призрак Захария”. With acoustic guitars, brooding synths with sounds recalling “Poltergeists on Motorbikes”, the second instrumental piece gives me the vision of wandering through a 13th century village in Transylvania at night (or something like that, and hey, that’s just me).

The latter third of the album really picks up in intensity and catharsis. “Michigan Winters” has pounding, fist-pumping power chord strikes with more power provided by a tuba in the chorus. That’s my favorite part of the track. “Bolivia Tremor Control” has some of the most powerful guitars on the album. They sound brutal and drenched in death metal fuzz and crunch. Bruce’s cymbal crashes sound bright and powerful and his bass drum kicks add a heavy weight to the song.

The album’s final two tracks showcase a lot of what the album has been about up to this point: bright instruments (bells, tubas, shimmering guitars, etc) and the contrasting, brutal vocals by Warren working together and sometimes clashing (but I think sometimes that’s their point). “A Jillion Years” has a cathartic chorus as Warren belts out the title of the song in only the way he can, then after the chorus, instrumentals take charge. Ringing guitars and bells close out the song to a sort of anti-catharsis.

“Cursing in Binary”, featuring Small Brown Bike’s Mike Reed during the chorus, pulls everything the album has achieved into one song. The guitars are the most powerful they’ve been so far, the drums are powerful and the bass is heavy. The chorus is drenched in layers of guitars as Reed’s yell of “This failure feels familiar” lays across Warren’s rasps of “Cursing in Binary”. The song ends with familiar brass instrumentation heard before and the backwards guitar heard at the beginning of the album.

I said earlier this album is about failure. The band stated in an interview with The Impact 88.9 FM a long time ago that this sentiment carried over the album. “Losing all desire. Losing, losing and losing some more” go some of the lines in “Bury Sanders”. Granted, a lot of Warren’s lyrics are hard to make out due to the rasps but from what I can pick out, there’s a lot of despair here. “What if those stories were right about me? What if those tales were as true as they seemed? What if I’m hating myself in a dream and what if it’s all a lie” Warren asks amid radio-like static coating his voice. “This Michigan winter chills me to the bone,” Warren screams on the track of the same name. The failure and despair culminates on “Cursing in Binary” with the already mentioned, and audible, audible chorus of “This failure feels familiar” by Reed.

Now that this album is out, it’s finally a contender for LMTV Album of the Year. If you’re a fan of sludge bands like Down, Eyehategod or Superjoint Ritual or even experimental bands like Mr. Bungle (or any of Mike Patton’s experimental projects), check this out.

Mr. Fox and the Hounds Self-Titled album review

Lansing hip hop group Mr. Fox and the Hounds put out their debut self-titled EP last week with a show at Mac’s Bar.

Mr. Fox and the Hounds are: Andy Fox (vocals), Aaron Simon (supporting vocals), Matt Waterman (guitar), Alex Rosendall (guitar), Pat Hogan (bass) and David Del Cid (drums).

Here’s a review.

This Lansing/Grand Ledge-based band, who formed last year, combine all sorts of different styles on their debut effort including ska, punk rock, hip hop and even space/progressive rock to mixed results.

Opening song “Lucy” has a Red Hot Chili Peppers-type feel in the verses. Fox’s rapping flow is pretty consistent. The chorus makes the song take a totally different turn with anthemic vocals and more open production style compared to the verses. The vocals on the chorus sound distant and the guitars sound more powerful while during the verses, Fox’s flow is upfront and the guitars are too. The backing vocals add more depth. The production transitions used make the parts of the song feel clunky when listened to as a whole.

“Countdown to Success” features Fox rapping about sophomoric topics like sex, girls and partying. “One, two, three/Where’s the place to be? Four, Five, Six, Let’s drink some fifths with some chicks” are the lyrics to the chorus. I’m gonna say this song, and the atmosphere and idea behind the band, is partying and having fun so I won’t fault them for the content nor the simplicity of the lyrics. Some of his rhymes seem a bit too fast for the drum beat. Former members of the now-defunct band Jason Alarm make up a majority of the members here, so the fast, shredding guitar solo and chugging guitars during the choruses aren’t a surprise.

The song “Demons” has a neat, delayed guitar intro which adds a somber-like atmosphere given the song’s title. “Stuck on a path of self-destruction/I think I’m ’bout to blow/’Cause no one is trustin’ in me’” Fox raps. I want to try and take Fox seriously with this song but it’s kind of hard. The song is about how Fox has dealt with hard times in his life and that listeners “don’t know where I have been, the things that I have seen and all these demons”, as Fox raps in the anthemic and instrumentally powerful chorus. I have never met Andy Fox nor do I know what his life is like. Maybe he has had some rough life experiences, but so has every other rapper. The originality of the lyrics is pretty poor. He does have a great flow though. That’s pretty consistent throughout this entire record.

“Blackout” has standard upstroke guitars common in ska music in the verses with power chords in the choruses. Again, Fox raps about sex, partying and drinking. This song makes me start to realize something about this band: it reminds me of guitarist Waterman’s just-for-fun side project, The Matt Waterman Revival. The following song proves this. “Friends ‘Til the End”, about friends, partying, drinking and just being hoodrats. The instrumentation on this song is clunky, struggles to keep the beat and the guitars can’t seem to keep up at points. It seems a little bit all over the place. The instrumentation makes this song really hard to get into, let alone listen to. The exact same sentiment can be said for the last track, “I’m an alcoholic”. With it’s shotty, Do-It-Yourself beat of clanging beercans, the lyrics again are about drinking and partying. No surprise given the title. The chorus sucks. It’s a joke song. Take it as you wish.

If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, lyrics about girls, sex, partying and drinking, this record is for you. Again, I’m tending to think this EP is a just-for-fun release so maybe my criticisms are looking too deeply into something that’s pretty light to begin with. On it’s face, it’s great party music. More deeply though, there’s little to be desired, even on the supposedly more serious tracks. Check this out for yourself and download it for whatever price you choose.

Link: http://mrfoxandthehounds.bandcamp.com/

The Avett Brothers, Frontier Ruckus announced for Commonground; Jahshua Smith – The Final Season review

The Avett Brothers have been announced for the Commonground Music Festival held in downtown Lansing this summer and Frontier Ruckus have been announced to open for them.

Be on the lookout for more performer announcements in the future.

In other news, Lansing hip hop artist Jahshua Smith has released a new album called The Final Season.

Check out a review here, via Central Michigan Life:

Lansing emcee and BLAT! Pack member Jahshua Smith (formerly JYoung the General) released his new album “The Final Season” last week, and with almost an hour-and-a-half musical journey, the listen is a bit long but well worth it.

With cameos from a who’s-who of Michigan artists from Joe Hertler (on lead track “Seven Year Itch”) to fellow BLAT! Pack members Philthy, The Amature, Yellowkake and Red Pill, the diversity shown in the featured artists is just as diverse as the production on the tracks themselves. “Seven Year Itch” features Hertler’s soulful crooning on the chorus, while “Carry On/The Ark” features Philthy’s lisp-laden flow.

Smith’s lyrics range from the political to the personal, with a party track thrown in here and there. On “Censored,” he raps about making it to college “but still had to wait for Uncle Sam to split the bill.”

It’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness, pointed diatribe with a bit of hope tied to it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel here.

“The Ghosts of Medgar Evers” is another political track drawing on the mindsets of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

“They take up 130 words to sum up a black life,” Smith raps over a synthesizer and snare beat.

Smith’s flow is confident and powerful. Able to draw upon personal experiences, he channels a pent-up anger on his political tracks, while his laid-back style comes through on “Butt/Don’t Hold Back,” with its soulful guitar lead and interchangeable sample of the word “butt” with “but” cleverly implemented. It’s a party track “for the ladies,” as he says in a skit before the track.

He also takes time to dissect love and relationships with songs such as “Lylah’s Song.”

Smith’s travels down a few different avenues with this record and can cater to different groups. Including a few different bonus tracks, the album is a bit too long to listen to at once. The singles are where this album shines, but listening to the entire album helps the listener learn more about Smith: his triumphs, struggles and life. Regardless of what you listen to, you should pick this up. It’s got a bit for everyone and has Michigan roots.

 

Decades release new music; Bermuda Snohawk 2012 compilation released

photo courtesy of Decades' Facebook page

Lansing, MI powerpop band Decades have released a couple new songs entitled “Grand Haven” and “Come In” on their Bandcamp. Check them out and download them for free.

Elsewhere, the 2012 edition of the annual Bermuda Snohawk compilation has been released by Bermuda Mohawk Productions and Good Time Gang Records. Featuring parodies of Carly Rae Jepsen (by none other than Foxy Rae Jepsen), the recent Paul McCartney and Nirvana collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack” entitled “Smells like Wonderful Christmastime List” along with a few traditional Christmas songs and a few covers, this compilation never disappoints. Check that out here.

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