Posts Tagged ‘rock and roll’

2013 Michigan music roundup Part 1 of 3

Lots of great records by Michigan bands from many different genres came out in 2013. Here’s part 1 of  a three-part roundup of some of the records to come out this year.

Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts “Them and Them and Us” EP

Driven by a more punk rock approach in both musical stylings and lyrics, Kalamazoo band Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts delivered a great five-track EP in April.

From my review in Central Michigan Life: “The chugging, downbeat-laden and snare-driven “Them (Evil)” has a march-like feel to it. “It’s not about the people/It’s about the right people,” and other lines like “Lesser of two evils/Won’t you save us from these people” and “I’m tired of speaking softly” accentuate the political bent of the lyrics.

“Who Are You?” is a standout track for the band. With a lone, catchy guitar line and vocals, Simmons lays a lot on the line musically and lyrically. His guitar playing expresses a working class loneliness; one definitely gets Springsteen vibes from this. “Pray to save our souls/pray to save our minds/pray to rock and roll/pray to Jesus Christ,” he belts out.”

Flint Eastwood “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” EP

Detroit’s Flint Eastwood had a busy 2013. They recently played with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. They partied with Andrew W.K. at Bled Fest, played Common Ground Music Festival and, most importantly, released their debut EP “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” in August. The band, known for its energetic live performances of songs like “Shotgun” and “Secretary”, play a furious brand of rock and roll a la The MC5 and mix it with dance hall bangers to create a unique soundtrack to the Michigan summer.

From my LMTV review: “The drums courtesy of Mark Hartman, bring out their trademark balance of crushing rock and roll heaviness (especially the cymbal crashes on tracks like “Secretary”) with a dance hall swagger that is undeniable and driving. Everything else builds off of this foundation, like Clay Carnill’s omnipresent bass, sometimes pumping (like on “Can You Feel Me Now?”) and other times fluid but always holding down the fort.”

The Swellers “The Light Under Closed Doors” LP

The Swellers, a Flint, Mich. punk quartet, released their newest album in October on No Sleep Records.

From my LMTV review: “Although the musicianship (top notch as it is) is pretty standard for pop punk/rock, the band took a different approach to make themselves stand out. The lyrical focus this time around pays off in spades as they’re the best the band has ever put on record. Opener “Should” starts with a defeated mindset about a deteriorating relationship that ultimately comes to an end (“I gave up/I know things won’t get better” and “I went home/You won’t wait forever/I’ll go first/We shouldn’t be together”). Later on, though, the protagonist seems to come to terms with this and move on (“Now I see the light under closed doors/I’m better now”).”

Review: Flint Eastwood “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” EP

Detroit band Flint Eastwood released their debut EP “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” on their Bandcamp page a few weeks ago.

Check out a review of the EP below.

The best way I can accurately describe Detroit rock-meets-dance band Flint Eastwood is the exact moment before the bullet inside of a gun, spinning furiously, leaves the barrel and just as the gun lets out its ferocious and loud bang. Flint Eastwood’s new EP, “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” (self-released) and their explosive, confrontational (in a more inviting way than shying away) live show both are that exact moment personified. Featuring live staples “Secretary” and “Shotgun”, the four song EP showcases the best of the band.

The drums courtesy of Mark Hartman, bring out their trademark balance of crushing rock and roll heaviness (especially the cymbal crashes on tracks like “Secretary”) with a dance hall swagger that is undeniable and driving. Everything else builds off of this foundation, like Clay Carnill’s omnipresent bass, sometimes pumping (like on “Can You Feel Me Now?”) and other times fluid but always holding down the fort.

The textures on the record are pretty neat. The lead guitar sounds, via Bryan Pope, ranges from wild Whammy pedal dips (“Secretary”) to punishing White Stripes-esque riffs, sometimes all within the same song. The intro to “Shotgun” is a perfect example of this, with almost Tom Morello-esque heaviness and texture all within the same moment. The synth samples like on “Billy the Kid” are the hook of the song, especially toward the end with the broken up bits. It all bleeds into your memory so quick.

Lyrics by singer and rhythm guitarist Jax Anderson range from empowerment like on “Secretary”: “Boy I ain’t your secretary/I don’t please no one but me/Boy I ain’t your female dog/So quit bitching” to old western stories of survival: “Like a spark in the night/he’ll find you/With the blink of an eye/he’ll catch you”. There are even a few nods to cool dudes like James Dean like on “Secretary”: “Boy you ain’t no James Dean/Quit playin’ too cool for me”.

This band has a ton going for it: enough live energy to fill 10 stadiums, a great visual look and scream-along lyrics that you can’t help but oblige to.

Catch them Thursday Sept. 5 with Robert DeLong and Ghost Beach. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the event is all ages. Visit theloftlansing.com for more information.

Bled Fest set times announced

Premier Michigan-based music festival, Bled Fest, has announced set times for the day. Remember, set times are subject to change.

Get your tickets here and get them early since it’s looking like Bled Fest could sell out for the first time in its history.

Check out the set times below, courtesy of the Bled Fest 2013 Facebook page:

Stage A
1245-110 Of Virtue
135-200 Endeavors
225-250 Diamond Youth
315-340 Hostage Calm
405-430 Make Do And Mend
455-520 Wilson
545-610 Code Orange Kids
635-700 Pianos Become The Teeth
730-800 Tigers Jaw
830-900 Into It. Over It.
930-1030 Anti-Flag

Stage B
1220-1245 Gift Giver
110-135 Turnover
200-225 Secret Grief
250-315 Masked Intruder
340-405 Hit The Lights
430-455 Daylight
520-545 Mixtapes
610-635 Koji
700-730 Cheap Girls
800-830 Andrew WK
900-930 The Swellers

Stage C
1200-1225 Maybe Next Time
1245-110 Adventures
130-155 Allison Weiss
215-240 Cadaver Dogs
300-325 Sainthood Reps
345-410 The World Is A Beautiful Place
430-455 Flint Eastwood
515-540 Dads
600-625 Joie De Vivre
645-710 Modern Baseball
730-755 Prawn
815-840 CityCop
900-925 Slingshot Dakota
945-1010 Have Mercy

Stage D
105-130 Foreign Tongues
150-215 State Champs
235-300 Xerxes
320-345 Signals
405-430 Caravels
450-515 Empire Empire
535-600 From Rise To Ruin
620-645 Jowls
705-730 Act As One
750-815 You Blew It
835-900 Cerce
920-945 Pity Sex

Stage E
110-135 Steven’s Salute
155-220 The Story Changes
240-305 Small Parks
325-350 American Opera
410-435 A Hero Falls
455-520 Wolves and Machines
540-605 Hung Up
625-650 Aeris
710-735 Giraffe Attack
755-820 Portrait
840-905 Paths
925-950 Conscripts

Stage F
1250-115 Kittyhawk
135-200 All The Presidents Men
220-245 The Red Queen
305-330 The Shack
350-415 Alaska
435-500 The Threads
520-545 Captains
605-630 Way To Fall
650-715 Hampshire
735-800 Explicit Bombers
820-845 The Reptilian
905-930 Wayne Szalinski

Language “Self-Titled” EP Review

Language is a new band from Lansing, MI, recently making their live debut (as well as releasing a self-titled EP) alongside The People’s Temple, Racket Ghost and Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts at Mac’s Bar.

Here’s a review of said EP.

On first listen, a few different things come to mind from the self-described “post-art-pop” band. Although I’m not really sure what their stated influences are, I can tell they have a love for ’60s style rock and roll (similar to Lansing band The People’s Temple). Bands I can think of off the top of my head that they share sonic qualities with include The Velvet Underground (for their steady, repetitive rock and rough tones), the Beach Boys (for their harmonies and a pieced together feel somewhere near a similar sound) and Joy Division (for the vocalist’s droning style that actually carries a lot of melody behind it). Sonic Youth comes to mind too.

With all of these varied influences converging at a new point with Language’s music, I can’t say it’s something that’s entirely new in the large scheme of things. For the Michigan music scene, it definitely is. It’s a refreshing sound that I could get used to. Maybe there are other bands beyond Language as well as The People’s Temple who are doing something like this but probably not as exciting or interesting.

A lot of the instrumentation is really cool. “Indian Giver” has a dance-New Wave beat to it. The last song on the EP, “Lake Effect”, has a guitar tone very similar to The People’s Temple song “Sons of Stone”. Kinship indeed. The rhythm section is solid and spot on. It really drives the songs and helps them reach new heights as they progress. The drum fill into the chorus on “Koch Party” pulls you in.

The opener, “Sault Marie”, reminds me of a Joy Division or Velvet Underground song fronted by a singer who is gargling mouthwash. I can’t really understand him (beyond clearly hearing the chorus). Maybe that’s some of its charm. The guitar tone is fluid and trance-like. Good stuff.

They definitely don’t forget how to craft a good pop song among an overall washy mix. Songs like “Sweet Randy” have an overall dreamy tone to them but you can still tell where the verse ends and the chorus begins. It never drifts off into something unintelligible. They know where the songs are supposed to go and end where they naturally should (even if it’s a little abrupt like on the opening track and a couple others too).

Check this band out when you get a chance. They’re a refreshing sound in mid-Michigan that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

 

New LMTV videos

We’ve got some new videos coming out soon.

First up is Young Dan Tucker live at Bermuda Mohawk Fest 2010 playing “I Don’t Want You Back” (Warning: Explicit Content)

We’ll have more Young Dan Tucker and some videos from The Cartridge Family soon.

 

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog Part 6: Home at last

After a week of excellent adventures, great shows and lots of driving, Elliot Street Lunatic and The Cutthroat Drifters played at Mac’s Bar in Lansing along with Detroit’s The Wall Clocks, Lansing’s Commodore Cosmos and Grand Rapids’ Simien The Whale.

Johnathan Mazzei (center) singer and guitarist for The Wall Clocks from Detroit, MI

The Wall Clocks played a damn good show. Lead singer and guitarist Johnathan Mazzei has the look of a ’50s doo wop guitarist with an old-school hollow body (which I can’t name) and microphone plus a full suit. Definitely had the look down. I enjoyed their brand of ’60s-esque psychedelic rock and roll. Their second guitarist even busted out a guitar solo cover of a Pink Floyd song. Good times from these dudes.

 

Simien The Whale and Commodore Cosmos played well too. I (admittedly) didn’t catch much of either set but I liked what I did here. Simien The Whale has a lot of slow, funky jams. Commodore Cosmos (a duo, with ESL’s Jason Marr on drums) with Jon Mickelson on guitar and vocals. I liked the stripped down nature of this band’s songs a lot. Solid drumming from Marr and lots of power chords from Mickelson. Cool stuff worth checking out.

Dave Meyers, guitarist for The Cutthroat Drifters

Later, The Cutthroat Drifters played a pumped, energetic set of rock and roll tunes for the crowd. Over the past few days of touring this band has gotten tighter and tighter and it showed here. Everything was rocked out and on time. Nick Kjolhede has the front man thing down pat. He definitely loves what he does, running around stage and engaging the audience. Definitely entertaining. Guitarist Dave Myers showed his chops, shredding but also jamming the blues. He can play with the best of ‘em.

The Cutthroat Drifters, from Denver, Colorado.

The drumming was great. Simple yet concise. Jeremy Robins (brother of ESL guitarist Eric Robins) played the bass, keeping time and mostly playing root notes. In a rock and roll band such as theirs, root notes and precision are important and the rhythm section do it perfectly.

Elliot Street Lunatic, after a week on the road, played the hell out of their songs. They shows on the road tested them as a band and a unit. They’ve come out of it even better than when they left. The rhythm section of Caleb Knight (drums) and Josh DeBrabander (bass) were tight, bouncy and powerful. Knight has definitely improved over the last week of shows and is definitely home behind the kit. He even sings echoing backup vocals, adding another layer to the band’s sound. Marr and Robins play their parts with a passion and energy that this past week of shows has only helped to increase. One of their newest songs, “Illuminate”, is bouncy and incredibly catchy. The verses will have you hooked.

The band were glad to be back in Lansing after a long week of shows. Here, Josh DebraBander (left) and Jason Marr (right) are featured.

Their set ended with usual closer “Lullaby” but with an extended outro with about 20 people (me included) singing along. With all that momentum, I couldn’t have imagined the band would play another song but they unexpectedly played “Dearly” from their first album “Stories from the Void”. A great end to the tour and a great week that none of us will forget.

 

 

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog Part 5: Toledo, Ohio and back home to Lansing

Elliot Street Lunatic performed at the Ottawa Tavern in Toledo, OH.

We arrived in Toledo, Ohio at about 2pm after a long night driving through Illinois and Ohio after the show at Reggie’s Music Joint in Chicago. Seemingly arriving in Toledo extremely early, we were bored with nothing to do. We wandered around the city looking for a place to chill and relax but no luck. We went back to the Ottawa Tavern and sat in front of it for a while, chilling and watching Dragonball Z Kai. It’s been a long tour, and by now, the exhaustion has set in with all of us.

Caleb Knight (left, drums) has been playing with Elliot Street Lunatic since the beginning of the year. This show was the first time he has played in Toledo.

Later on, after more killing time, the show finally began at about 11pm with Elliot Street Lunatic. The band, tired like the rest of us, still played an excellent, energetic set although the bar patrons seemed a bit indifferent to them (and the other bands as well). It was definitely a fun show though and reminded us all of what was to come at their show in Lansing. The Toledo show was a warm up for both ESL and the Cutthroat Drifters.

With only three bands, the show would have seemed to go by quickly but it really felt slow and dragged on. Being in Toledo for that long with nothing to do took a toll on us all. The car ride home was a tiring but rewarding one: we were all finally home in Michigan.

Tonight is Elliot Street Lunatic’s return home show with some great bands including The Cutthroat Drifters and Commodore Cosmos.

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog part 3: Good luck and good people in Lincoln, Nebraska

ESL played a last minute show at the Zoo Bar in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska.

Some things just work out. Elliot Street Lunatic and the Cutthroat Drifters were expecting to play the Bourbon Theater in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. Two hours before the band were due to load in at the venue, Jason received an email saying the show was canceled. We were all devastated. The Bourbon Theater show promoter got in touch with Jason and scrambled for a show in Lincoln. The band got a break when they were offered a show at the Zoo Bar in downtown Lincoln. The band, with nothing else to do, took the show. The bartender said the band needed to draw at least 25 people to the bar in order to play. As we sat in Brothers bar across the street, we sat wondering how we would accomplish this task. The Cutthroat Drifters’ singer Nick Kjolhede, came up with a (what we all thought) was a crazy idea: take the band’s acoustic guitars and try to get people out to the show. With nothing else to lose, the bands took the task. We spent the greater part of two hours talking to people, asking them to come out to the show. By just talking and striking up a conversation, we managed to get almost 30 or 40 people out to the show.

Nick Kjolhede, singer for the Cutthroat Drifters, singing at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska. The crowd enjoyed both Elliot Street Lunatic and The Cutthroat Drifters.

The efforts of Caleb Knight, ESL’s drummer, and Nick Kjolhede made the night worth while. Caleb and Nick inspired the rest of us to push the show to be the best it could be considering the circumstances. It was all about making the best of bad luck. All about the love of music and putting on a great show. Sometimes when you’ve got nothing to lose, you take a chance. Maybe the people you approach won’t go to the show but by at least approaching them about it and letting them know is better than doing nothing. We were all glad the show worked out. The bartender, at first, seemed like he didn’t want the bands there but once the bands took the stage and played, people filtered in, and by the end of the night, they were overjoyed at how well this last minute show went.

After this inspiring night, we head to Iowa City to play at Gabe’s with locals Chasing Shade and Zeta June. We’re all pumped and ready to go for the rest of the tour.

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog Part 2: ESL at Bender’s Tavern

Bender’s Tavern, in downtown Denver, was host to Elliot Street Lunatic’s tour kickoff on Saturday May 12. The bill was certainly one I wouldn’t expect ESL to play on. Hard rock and death metal opened and closed the show last night with bands like MF Ruckus and The Hookers playing along with ESL and the Cutthroat Drifters.

Josh and Caleb waiting in Bender's Tavern green room for their set to begin

The venue was really similar to Mac’s Bar in Lansing. In the green room, graffiti and band stickers covered the walls. Most of the bands with stickers on the walls I’d never heard of (and almost all of the band names were terrible too). Caleb, the band’s drummer, who, at 19 years old, was not allowed in the bar area of the venue so he had to wait in the green room before and after ESL played. Also interesting was the building itself: there were two rooms with two completely different shows going on. On one side, the ESL show with tables and a risen stage. On the other was a traditional country band, which actually felt more like a restaurant than a bar.  That was pretty neat.

I missed the first band and I didn’t really care that I did. ESL went on second.  The crowd, oddly and surprisingly consisted of a lot of Michigan friends of theirs, which was a nice surprise for them. Josh, the bassist, was even surprised with a visit from his friend Rachel. It felt like a local show in a way. The venue had the Mac’s Bar feel (but a lot more divey and scumey if you can believe that) and ESL felt at home playing Bender’s Tavern.

Eric and Jason playing during their set at Bender's Tavern on Saturday May 12.

Time seemed to move slowly during their set. The whole 20+ hour drive to Denver, the exhaustion, lack of sleep and gas station diets led to the show. They put a lot of their energy into trying to please the somewhat sparse crowd (maybe 30-40 people were there) and they seemed to do a good job. Opening with a cover of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles, it seemed appropriate for the hard rock crowd. Playing originals like new song “Illuminate” (which is my new favorite song of theirs), Ghost Town, This Modern World and Lullaby went over well with the crowd. They turned some of the crowd into new fans, as some later bought CDs and T-shirts.

Josh playing bass during ESL's set

The Cutthroat Drifters put on a good set of hard rock and roll. Singer Nick Kjolhede is a great frontman, dancing and swinging the mic around like he’s dancing with it. Bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin influenced this band for sure. They play their instruments well and with energy. The guitar play is very good, playing licks and running up and down the guitar. Their show was a good time.

Today (Sunday May 13) is a chilled out day for all of us. Cookout, beer tunes via the record player will make for a good, relaxing day. Tomorrow morning will be the start of a week of shows, beginning in Lincoln Nebraska at the Bourbon Theater.

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.

 

Return top