Posts Tagged ‘lansing’

Alco “Self-Titled” review

Sometimes a band with obvious influences gets pigeon-holed into being a “rip off” of their influences. Lansing’s Alco, who recently played their farewell show and no longer exist as a band, went out with a somewhat sonically familiar bang with their self-titled album.

I say “sonically familiar” for a couple reasons. Singer and piano player Justin Franks has a voice really reminiscent of Thom Yorke and/or Matt Bellamy from Muse. On “Someone Like You”, he croons out the chorus in a delicate, harmonious manner. He hits the high notes with ease. He also has an incredible piano playing ability. During the introduction of “Amnesia”, he brings about a classical-meets-rock piano playing style that seems a bit like Muse virtuoso Bellamy. Heck, the whole song has a Muse vibe.

The songs have an atmospheric and, at times, epic feel to them a la Coldplay or (again) Muse. I said earlier a band such as Alco, with their influences being warn essentially on their sleeves, makes it hard for the listener not to pigeonhole them. It’s not a bad thing in this case. Alco do a great job playing the kind of music they play. I love the energy they bring to their songs. They love what they do and it’s pretty obvious.

Guitar playing, courtesy of Shaun Spivak, is minimal and crisp, adding another ambient layer. Chapman stick player Chris Wood adds more ambiance with his playing as well. Jeff Twomley’s drumming is to the point and on time. No unnecessary fills and no going crazy. He does what needs to be done and that’s it. I love the cello playing courtesy of Jacqueline Douches. Instead of a bass, this is an interesting sight to see when they play live. On “Poisoning the Well”, her cello playing is heard loud and clear.

“Poisoning the Well” is the album’s standout song. Featuring a high-hat heavy drum beat via Twomley, Franks belts out a huge chorus and croons during the verses. The guitar line is catchy and adds a bit of subtly with the bends. I like it. Great song from this great group of musicians.

If you like the ambiance of Coldplay and/or the epic rock of Muse, check out their album. If there’s any album that was a final swansong for a band, this is definitely a great choice.

2011 CCFF flashback

If you missed the Capital City Film Festival last year you missed out on a lot of great music in Lansing. (And if you are not attending this year you are missing any more great movies and performances). Check out a few of last years performances and check this weekends schedule for more performances at the Capital City Film Festival.

Cheap Girls “Giant Orange” review

Cheap Girls released their newest album, “Giant Orange”, in February on Rise Records. Here’s a review of the album, also available to read via Central Michigan Life.

The third time seems to be the charm for Lansing’s Cheap Girls, releasing their newest record “Giant Orange” on Rise Records in February. Using that phrase, “third time’s a charm,” implies they missed the mark on their first two albums, 2008′s “Find Me a Drink Home” (Quote Unquote records) and 2009′s “My Roaring 20s” (Paper and Plastick records), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Produced by Tom Gabel, frontman of Florida punk band Against Me!, immediately makes a difference on the band’s signature brand of power-pop. On their first two albums, everything about the music sounds a bit flat in comparison to the recordings on this new effort. On “Communication Blues,” guitarist Adam Aymor uses power chords to his advantage. The single note crawl heard throughout the song sounds just as crunchy as the power chord barrages during the choruses. Every guitar riff on the album sounds crisp, loud and heavy like a bag of bricks.

The rhythm section, via brothers Ben Graham (drums/backing vocals) and Ian Graham (lead vocals/bass), is incredibly tight and efficient. Ben uses each hit to push the song forward to its natural conclusion. The cymbals sound fresh and inviting, and the kick drum and snare add a subtle but powerful punch. The bass is a little low in the mix for my tastes. It’s there, but it’s sneaky — pretty swallowed up by the guitars.

Wordsmith Ian Graham uses a bit too many on this album. On previous efforts, Graham wrote a lot of shorter verses with shout along choruses that are a blast to belt away to live. Here, the lyrics can be quite a mouthful. The chorus for opener “Gone All Summer” is “I’ve been gone all summer and I think it’s for the great good.” Not necessarily a bad thing, but different from Ian’s previous lyrics, which takes a bit of getting used to. I’ve been listening to the album non-stop for a little more than a week and still don’t have all the lyrics memorized. I will soon though.

All in all, Gabel’s production brings out the best in the power trio. Aymor’s guitar sounds incredibly powerful and is a perfect transition to what they sound like live. The rhythm section is extremely tight, yet has a natural swagger. Ian’s bass is quiet, almost too much so, but it works. His lyrics are a little wordy, but worth the multiple listens to decipher. I highly recommend this.

Nasty Nyne “Higher Learning” review

Lansing rapper Nate “Nasty Nyne” Winters (now living in Bakersfield, CA) released his album “Higher Learning” almost a year ago to the day. Before he left, he was performing all around Michigan and called Lansing his home. Check out this review of “Higher Learning”.

Starting us off is the slow, R & B tinged “A New Day”. Full of sparse synths and wah-tinged warbles, the drums are mellow and add keep the song grounded. The lyrics here, delivered at an almost talking pace, have a, yet again, chilled and mellow drawl. “Just another day/I make another dollar/Money comes and goes but we livin’ larger” he raps with a naturally gruff yet melodic singing slant. The production on the album varies throughout. Some tracks have an R & B pulsation to them and others have an almost Synthpop production style with horns being used via a synth (“Corners”). Another song, “Higher Learning (Magic)”, uses an acoustic guitar riff loop, which helps keep the listener on their toes.

The lyrics on the record don’t deal with a whole lot, mainly smoking marijuana, drinking vodka and, oddly enough, school. Winters attended Lansing Community College while here in Lansing and it’s had a more real and positive effect on his lyrics and outlook. While the outright lyrics about smoking weed (Winters seems to favor grape flavors) are pretty common within hip hop, the fact that he’s writing about school is something you don’t hear very often. On “A New Day” he raps “I did good on my finals G/two 4s and a 2 but I can’t complain/My GPA rises like gas prices”.

The album seems to wear a bit thin as it moves along as the lyrical content becomes a little tiresome. The production also gets a little tiresome after a while. I do like this record but only if I’m in the mood for it.

You can check this out (and pay your own price for it) here.

-Label: Hot Stacks Music

Rants by Ryan Horky: “Self-Titled” by Edible Intention

Edible Intention: S/T
(Good Time Gang records/Silver Maple Kill records)

Ryan Horky comes back to LMTV with a review of Edible Intentions’ posthumous self-titled release. Check it out!

This is a posthumous release from a Lansing, MI band that was active from roughly 2007-2010. Once they got outta the practice space they were basically the house band for the Lansing art-space/all-ages show collective Basement 414. If you lived in Lansing at the time and were remotely plugged into the local punk scene you probably saw these guys a thousand times. I’m not sure they ever got outta town. They played a pretty intense mix of free-jazz informed Stooges wail and Minutemen anything-goes stomp. This album was recorded near the tail end of when they were active and sat on the shelf for a while until the all-around good folks at Good Time Gang Records decided to release it (and Lansing label Silver Maple Kill records pressing it up). I was pretty curious to hear this. As much fun as an Edible Intention show was, they could turn into a hot mess of noise pretty quickly. (Not an insult, by the way….) I wasn’t sure their sound could be translated to disc. Producer Tommy McCord did a great job of making them palatable without sacrificing the noise quotient. The vocals are definitely an acquired taste (and they’re mixed suitably low) but I dig ‘em anyhow. Even if you can’t take the caterwaulin’, the guitars are pretty raunchy in a Melvins/Nuggets kinda way and the songs are short and varied enough to hold your attention. The cover artwork totally reminds me of an early 90′s SST release. (You know, it looks sort of awesomely terrible.) I don’t think this CD would necessarily have the same impact on anybody who wasn’t around to catch ‘em in their prime, but it’s still well worth checking out if you’re into more adventurous (but still way rockin’) sounds.-

LMTV collaboration with Elm Street Studios on Lansing Public Access

Lansingmusic.TV’s collaboration with Lansing recording studio, Elm Street Recording, will be airing on Lansing public access Comcast channel 12 soon! We’ll let you know exactly what time of day the show will be on the schedule.

 

More LMTV collaborations with Elm Street Recording

More and more videos of our collaborations with Lansing based recording studio Elm Street Recording have been popping up as of late. Here are a few of them.

Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts “The Bridge” live at Elm Street Recording

 

Silk Filled Stilts “Long Live the Miscreants” live at Elm Street Recording

Way to Fall “Last Chance” live at Elm Street Recording

The Thornbills “Square Peg” live at Elm Street Recording

Midwest Fest 2011 Countdown: The Shoutaways, Newday Dreamers and Morseville Bridge

Finally…the week of Midwest Fest has arrived! Get your tickets here. We finish up our countdown with The Shoutaways, Newday Dreamers and Morseville Bridge.

The Shoutaways

Photo courtesy of The Shoutaways Facebook page

Midland’s The Shoutaways are making their first appearance at Midwest Fest. With an indie swagger and a ’60s bubblegum pop swing, their songs, like “Deep” are infectious. They’ve played shows all across the state this summer. You can find songs like “Deep” on their self-titled EP available here.

Newday Dreamers

Photo courtesy of the Newday Dreamers Facebook page

Mt. Pleasant’s Newday Dreamers have unique sound, which combines a powerpop energy with blues, jazz and swing. I recently got the chance to see them perform at Rubble’s and it really enjoyed what I heard. This three piece are also young, having graduated high school earlier this year as well. Look for them to wow you at Midwest West.

Morseville Bridge

Photo courtesy of the Morseville Bridge Facebook page

This one man band from Flint is making his first appearance at Midwest Fest. His lo-fi recordings and his indie/punk live shows should be a great and unique experience for Midwest Fest goers. He also incorporates folk elements into his tunes. Check him out at Midwest Fest.

Midwest Fest 2011 Countdown: Jetpack On! and Elliot Street Lunatic

Midwest Fest 2011 gets more coverage from LMTV with Jetpack On! and Elliot Street Lunatic getting the treatment this time around.

 

Photo courtesy of the Jetpack On! Facebook page

Jetpack On! have pop hooks a plenty, with a radio-ready rhythm section on call. This band, who are reuniting for Midwest Fest 2011, are pop rock at its finest. A little jagged around the edges but not enough to turn away your ears. Songs like “Do It Again” emphasize the poppy experimentation that the band blends together so well. For being a three piece, they have a huge sound. Be sure to see them at MW Fest this year.

Photo by Christian Frarey

Elliot Street Lunatic have had a wild 2011 thus far. They’ve played countless shows across Michigan, including opening for Atomic Tom back in February. In May, the ventured out to Colorado and Arizona for awesome shows. In June, they recorded their second album with Casey Crescenzo of the Dear Hunter, which will be released later this year. Having seen the band multiple times, each time has gotten better and better. If you have yet to see them, please do yourself a favor and see them on the last night of Midwest Fest.

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.


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