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Music

The Blowout drive-thru

A wink and a finger-pistol at a few shows worth toasting

Alicia Gbur of Nice Device.
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Published 3/2/2005

Who/Where: The Holy Fire; Detroit (well, Dearborn).

Backstory: Like high school chicks drunk off wine coolers and giggling about The Killers, singer/guitarist Sean Hoen, drummer Nick Marco, bassist Nathan Miller and guitarist Ryan Wilson formed the Holy Fire out of an equal admiration for whiskey, the Pixies and the things that make your soul ache.

Why you should give a shit: Because, frankly, they don’t. After years spent stinking up vans in ear-twisting hardcore groups, Hoen and his holy henchmen ditched the noise — and the scene that went with it — for the sweet sweet melody.

The killer quote: “The Holy Fire collectively has more scar tissue and psycho-sexual damage than most bands’ entire management firm and we intend to sublimate our problems into beautific and enthralling rock that in no way requires a club party remix or moshing,” Hoen says. “We also have a new song called ‘Henry Ford: The Mask of Satan.’”

On Record: The Holy Fire EP on Down Peninsula. An upcoming, full-length is scheduled for summer, produced by the Flaming Lips’ Michael Ivins (label TBA, but label interest is blooming).

The DJ spike: In between Afghan Whigs murder epics and Jeff Buckley melodrama. They might have you clamoring to dip Pearl Jam’s Versus to your iPod before hawking it at the local trade counter for beer cash.

Friday at Knights of Columbus.

 

Who/where: Raw Collection (Reddbone, Bareda aka Mr. Wrong, Lodown, the Executive Board, aka Sky Scrilla and Vanzetti); West Side Detroit.

Backstory: Family. Dedication. Hardworking. Skilled. Humble. Almost famous.

Why you should give a shit: We’ll give it Reddbone: “Because we make good music. I’ve heard about the Detroit sound, for years, but it was negatively said. We don’t just rap about the hood. We make music universal.”

The killer quote: “We don’t sound like anybody but us,” Reddbone continues. “You can’t say Bareda, Executive Board or myself sound like anyone.

On Record: Almost Famous – EP, due next month..

The DJ spike: Miz Korona. Fat Killahz. J. Hill. Miz Murda.

Saturday at Shenanigan’s.

 

Who/where: THTX (Matthew Smith, guitar; Ralph Valdez, bass; Russell Sumner, electronics; Kerry Gluckman, drums); Detroit.

Backstory: An instrumental psychedelic improv thing started by Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry, Volebeats) and Kerry Gluckman (Ugly Radio Rebellion).

Why you should give a shit: THTX will play anywhere they can haul their gear — even the dark side of Venus, or yer anus.

The killer quote: THTX is, according to Smith, “high density cosmic electrostatic progressive spaceage heavy hypnosis art rock.”

On Record: Ultimately (Cosmo-Revolution Technologies). More than 10 hours of recorded but unreleased music in the can.

The DJ spike: Works with Hawkwind, Van Der Graaf Generator, Karlheinz Stockhausen and La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate.

Friday at the Locker Room.

 

Who/where: Ryan Elliott; Detroit.

Backstory: Fast-rising club DJ with a heady collection of top new Euro records.

Why you should give a shit: Elliott rocks the party hard but keeps it warm and elegant in the mix.

The killer quote: “Truly love the music you play: and share it for people to enjoy.” Awww, isn’t he just so sweet?

On Record: Recently completed a 55-minute, 33-track mix from Ann Arbor’s Ghostly International Spectral Sound’s catalog to commemorate the label’s 25th release.

The DJ spike: Elliott delivers the goods by staying close to home, spinning Spectral’s Matthew Dear and James Cotton next to German tech-house minimalists Carsten Jost and Lawrence.

Saturday at Diesel.

 

Who/where: BR Gunna (Ralph “Young R.J.” Rice, Curtis “Black” Cross, Ray “Fat Ray” Boggus); Detroit.

Backstory: Always innovative, atop the game; the production force behind Slum Village.

Why you should give a shit: Reread the backstory.

The killer quote: “We feel we are in the top ten in production nationwide,” Young R.J. says. “We’re right there with the Neptunes, Havoc, and Dr. Dre. We just ain’t got our turn yet.”

On Record: Dirty District, Vol. 2, Barak Records.

The DJ Spike: Works next to Kanye West, Alchemist.

Wednesday at the Majestic Theater.

 

Who/where: The Fondas (Julie Benjamin, chanteuse; Mark Niemenski, guitar; Steve Shaw, guitar; Nick Sokolowski, bass; Chip Sercombe, drums); Detroit.

Backstory: Although it seems as though they’ve been kicking it since ’65, The Fondas came together a couple years ago around Detroit Cobras founding member Steve Shaw.

Why you should give a shit: Comely blond singer Julie Benjamin smolders beneath her cool-as-ice exterior; the rest of the band has a contrasting West Side teste swagger (but don’t call ’em a backing band). Writing hits for Little Steven.

The killer quote: “In my mind a great record could be Tuxedomoon live at the Deaf Club, Lee Hazelwood’s Cowboy in Sweden or maybe a Gene Clark acoustic demo recording,” Shaw says.

On Record: The 2003 LP Coming Now! on Sympathy. And a new full-length (title unknown) is out soon on an unnamed label.

The DJ spike: Think a tryst with the Byrds, the Birds and the Yardbirds, then sexed-up group coupling with Andre Williams and the Shangri-Las.

Friday at Diesel.

 

Who/where: Fat Killahz (Marv Won, King Gordy, Bango aka Mr. Clean, Fatt Father)

Backstory: Four emcees who scored, uh, big in Detroit’s underground, and then landed a D12 tour last year.

Why you should give a shit: Call ’em fat, funky and proud and add 10 bonus points for the the self-pimping: “We’re what hip hop is missing right now,” Fatt Father says. “We have the ultimate recipe for greatness. We bring something different. Our album is like a motion picture.”

The killer quote: “Too Fat, Too Furious.” Natch!

On Record: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

The DJ spike: Mix with D12, before Jadakiss, after 50, before Dr. Dre.

Thursday at Small’s.

 

Who/where: The Recital (Ryan Brescoe, guitar; Rob Byrd, drums; Adam Kempa, bass; Chris Ostafinski, vocals, guitar); Livonia/Ann Arbor.

Backstory: Formed six years ago because they loved making weird music and had lots of free time.

Why you should give a shit: www.kempa.com.

The killer quote: “Craft over posturing,” Kempa says. “We’re all very concerned with aspects of this music that would appear ridiculously minute to an outsider.”

On Record: Colour Up is out next month on Suburban Sprawl Music.

The DJ spike:Spoon, Television, The Super Friendz.

Saturday at Carbon.

 

Who/where: PAIK (Rob Smith, guitar; Ali Clegg, bass; Ryan Pritts, drums); Detroit.

Backstory: One of America’s best (yes, that’s best) space-drone-rock bands is originally from Toledo, moving to the lower Cass Corridor six years ago.

Why you should give a shit: They don’t mind taking their time to fuck you up; but fuck you up they will.

The killer quote: PAIK’s Pritts says, “Fly on.”

On Record: Satin on Black Strange Attractors Audio House/Beyonder Records. Expect a summer release of a new full-length and a nine-year retrospective live DVD with a surprise bonus CD included.

The DJ spike: For optimal results throw the band’s music between a fuzz-trance track by Spacemen 3, a psychedelic raga by Sweden’s Pärson Sound and “EXP” from Hendrix’s Axis: Bold as Love.

Friday at the Attic.

 

Who/where: Brian “Champtown” Harmon; Detroit.

Backstory: As an 11-year-old, Champ was winning emcee battles on East Side schoolyards, kicking high school kids’ asses. Was a lead fixture in the legendary Beast Crew. Put Em’ in his first video. Scored a top 30 Billboard hit in 2000 with “Bang Bang Boogie.” Read the Metro Times cover story (“Champ’s Town,” Dec. 15, 2004).

Why you should give a shit: Champtown is an integral cog in the development of Detroit rap, no matter what anybody says. In fact, Em’ and Kid Rock soaked up Champ’s magic and went top ten. No shit. Too, he’s the ghetto’s Berry Gordy, oversees a stable of stellar young acts (including the 12-year-old rapper Sweets) on his Straight Jacket label — he guides them, records them and hence, the label roster could, all hyperbole aside, surpass the urban talent on most major labels. Don’t believe us? Than ask Chuck D or Ice T.

The killer quote: “Me and Esham started this shit.”

On record: A handful of albums and singles. Racial Profiling is out any day.

The DJ spike: Mix with LL Cool J or Public Enemy or
Kid Rock.

Straight Jacket records night, Thursday at the Attic.

 

Who/where: His Name is Alive (Warn Defever leads a cast of oddballs that has numbered in the hundreds since 1990; saxophonist and Detroit space-jazz legend Faruq Z. Bey is now part of the live band); Livonia.

Backstory: HNIA’s early ’90s records made Detroit’s western suburbs seem hip and exotic to European vinyl collectors. Now 35 and bearded, Defever still can’t escape being noticed by Belgian fans.

Why you should give a shit: His Name is Alive heard the signal-to-noise 15 years ago, anticipating the current generation of intellectual Michigan headbangers. Blame him.

The killer quote: “#*%$#$#$#$$*#@#%!!!”

On record: His Name is Alive and solo projects by Defever now number more than a dozen LPs and EPs. His freak-out blues records now cover most of the earth.

The DJ spike: Stir it up with the Beach Boys, Slumber Party, Wolf Eyes and Archie Shepp.

Thursday at the New Dodge.

 

Who/where: The Earworms; Hamtramck (spiritual home).

Backstory: Formed in 2003, the band is singer-guitarist-songwriters Dave Uchalik and Ken Kondrat, bassist Al Phife and drummer Jake Vermiglio. All of whom did time in the Reruns and the Mutants, legendary purveyors of the “Hamtramck Sound” of the late ’70s-early ’80s punk scene.

Why you should give a shit: Catchy tunes, dude: Beatles on meth harmonies.

The killer quote: “Our Goal is to do for Detroit garage rock what Yanni has done for music in general,” says Uchalik. “With our craving for drugs any of us could die any day now, but they’re not traditional street drugs, they’re Lipitor and Accuretic for cholesterol and high blood pressure.”

On record: Last year’s self-titled debut.

The DJ spike: The Mutants, Beatles, Kinks, Ramones, Romantics.

Thursday at Paycheck’s.

 

Who/where: Tre Little; Detroit.

Backstory: History is 1996 to now. Straight up rap, used to roll with Royce da 5’9” and is now solo.

Why you should give a shit: Read the killer quote.

The killer quote: “I’m so fly.”

On record: A Day in the Life, Vol. 1

The DJ spike: Jay-Z, T-Dot from Rock Bottom, Blade Icewood.

Shenanigan’s on Saturday.

 

Who/where: The Nice Device (Steve Champine, keys; Alicia Gbur, vocals, guitar; Nick Gerhardt, drums; Matt Hatch, bass, vocals; Matt Lannoo, guitar, vocals); south Warren, next to Em’s old place.

Backstory: A couple years old.

Why you should give a shit: Singer/songwriter Alicia Gbur ain’t afraid to sleep up under Chrissie Hynde’s bed, or send valentines to Pete Shelly, or tell that girl to shut up. Also, close your eyes and McCartney’s playing bass.

The killer quote: “The Nice Device is the rock ’n’ roll equivalent of Lance Armstrong — that is to say they have looked testicular cancer in the eye and won the Tour de France six times in a row.” —Dick Valentine/Electric Six.

On record: Birth of a Lover EP (self-released); currently recording album for late spring to summer release.

The DJ spike: Sahara Hotnights, Holly and the Italians, Metric, Pat Benatar, Penetration, Ashlee Simpson.

Friday at Diesel.

 

Who/where: Saturday Looks Good to Me; Ann Arbor.

Backstory: Fred Thomas launched SLGTM as an emo-acoustic solo studio project in 2001. Since then, naturally, it’s evolved into a rollicking six-piece pop-soul-Motown-indie party band par excellence.

Why you should give a shit: You probably haven’t heard ennui mixed with joie de vivre this jubilantly since the Modern Lovers.

The killer quote: “Get awesome.”

On record: Their second album, Every Night, came last fall on Polyvinyl.

The DJ spike: Ted Leo, Rufus Thomas, Jonathan Richman.

Friday at Small’s.

 

Who/where: Purple Gang (Famous, Killa Kaunn, Flame, 1st Born); Detroit.

Backstory: Started two years ago, just hooked up with Proof.

Why you should give a shit: Just ask Famous: “’Cause we the future. The fuckin’ future. That’s what’s up.”

The killer quote: Famous: “We say what we want to. We do what we want to. And we don’t care who don’t like it. Roll with us, or get ran over.”

On record: Forthcoming album on Iron Fist, title undecided.

The DJ spike: D12.

Thursday at Small’s.

 

Who/where: Detroit City Council; Detroit (duh).

Backstory: Around 2003, a recovering lineup of rock ’n’ roll all-stars helmed by one Thomas Jackson Potter (Bantam Rooster, Dirtbombs) gave themselves over to the funk and laid down a groove that managed to bridge the gap between Detroit’s soul heritage and its rock leanings. The lineup in the last four years has included a who’s-who of Detroit guitar- and rhythm-slingers including drummer Ewolf, the late Dan Maister, Big Chief-er Matt O’Brien and now includes (besides Potter) P-Funk session axman Duminie “Buckfush” DePorres, hip-hop kingpin the Blackman, drummer Jason “The Nougat” Bonaquist, guitarist Mike Walker and bassist Chris Spooner.

Why you should give a shit: They’re one of the few Detroit rock scene bands to actually cross the racial divide; the sight of Potter and Blackman trading the frontman limelight at one of their sweaty shows is more than you’ll likely find within or without the city limits.

The killer quote: “You’re either part of the class struggle or the ass struggle.”

On record: “Party Planet Rising “ b/w “Ass Struggle” and “Gay Bar.”

The DJ spike: Black Merda, Sly & the Family Stone, Bob Seger System

Saturday at Small’s.

 

Who/where: J Hill; Detroit.

Backstory: Battle-tested? Yup.

Why you should give a shit: Street rap done with a live band.

The killer quote: “It’s not just a bunch of gibberish over tracks. I take time in choosing tracks and constructing songs. I want to be looked at as somebody who really makes good music, history-making music

On record: Day One, Street Fame on Lighthouse. New mixtape about to drop with Salaam Wreck, D12’s DJ.

The DJ spike: Nas, T.I., The Roots

Friday at Jean’s.

 

Who/where: Great Lakes Myth Society; Ann Arbor.

Backstory: On Jan. 1, 2004, after sustaining a lethal blow to her delicate midsection, the good ship The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love (TOBASOL) met her watery end in a hail of gunfire and cannon smoke. The five immaculately dressed bodies pulled from the icy waters of Lake Splitsville were the vessel’s only survivors.

Why you should give a shit: Because melody, harmony and songcraft still fucking matter. So there.

The killer quote: “There is no place on earth as full of piss, promise, heartache and hope as southeast Michigan.” —James Christopher Monger

On record: Great Lakes Myth Society (2005 Stop, Pop & Roll).

The DJ Spike: XTC, Camper Van Beethoven, Pas/Cal, Saturday Looks Good To Me, E.L.O.

Friday at Polish Sea League.

 

Who/where: Outputmessage (Bernard Farley); Richmond, VA.

Backstory: Born in Queens, reared in North Jersey and now a student at Virginia Tech, Bernard Farley’s one-man-machine group Outputmessage is one of Ghostly International’s most baffling projects.

Why you should give a shit: This is his Detroit debut.

The killer quote: “Remember those Barbie dolls that talked and said, ‘Math is hard?’ Well, that’s because she’s a dumb bitch. I school all ya’ll when it comes to fractals and quadratic equations.”

On record: Oneiros EP on Echelon with a full-length on Ghostly International later this year.

The DJ spike: For some crazy dance steps, try throwing down Outputmessage next to Michael Jackson, Autechre and Dykehouse.

Saturday at Diesel.

 

Who/where: Tekneek; Detroit.

Backstory: The 19-year-old rapper was raised in Port Huron by his mother, where he grew up on soul music (“’cause I wasn’t allowed to listen to rap”) and the writings of Baldwin and Poe.

Why you should give a shit: The tat of himself inked into his forearm.

The killer quote: The music does the talking, Jack.

On record: Listen to the Book I Wrote is due on Straight Jacket.

The DJ spike: Jay-Z, Tupac.

Thursday at the Attic.

 

Who/where: A Thousand Times Yes (Casper Von Hoffman, guitar, vocals; Sparx, bass, vocals; Lull Tucker, drums); Ferndale.

Backstory: Originally from Rhythm, S.D. (er, East Lansing), the dusty punks of ATTY stormed into town with nothing but a can of beans, a tattered map and a fist full of indie-informed folk songs designed to flutter hearts.

Why you should give a shit: A guitarist who wrangles unthinkable racket out of an acoustic, a bassist with an Exene Cervenka sass and a drummer with an extremely hairy chest.

The killer quote: Von Hoffman says, “Come see us, and we’ll check you out with our x-ray specs and judge you by your appearance.”

On record: A full-length, Michigan (Isoxys Records), is out. The new one, Heart Beats, will see light soon, label pending.

The DJ spike: A steady intake of vitamins SK (Sleater Kinney), SY (Sonic Youth) and X (see Exene) give ATTY the strong bones and lean muscles necessary for pouncing pesky garagists.

Saturday at the Attic.

 

Who/where: Abstrakt Intellekt (emcees Damo and Mike King); Downriver.

Backstory: Hit the underground five years ago, have been grinding ever since. Signed with Mike E. Clark’s B4 Records [ICP, Kid Rock] and released First Contact.

Why you should give a shit: “That’s a good question. Why should anybody give a damn about anything? We’re a breath of fresh air.”

The killer quote: “If we got the antidote, you don’t even know you’re sick yet.”

On record: New album, Fear and Loathing in Detroit, on Protekted Records.

The DJ spike: Yep, from Outkast to Lynrd Skynrd to Jimmy Buffett.

Friday at Jean’s.

 

Who/where: The Mydols (Judy Davids, Paige Gilbert, Pat McGough-Wujcik and Kara Rasmussen); Royal Oak.

Backstory: A Memorial Day picnic two years ago took a turn for the rock when moms knocked back beers as the kids ran amok and dudes talked sports. The ladies agreed that there might be more to life than organizing car pools and so, inspired by the Cramps and other punk godheads, struck up a band in true garage rock style (granted, about 20 years later than most might). Their mix of riding-the-learning-curve musical charm and spunky original tunes written from the POV of an anything-but-typical domestic Midwestern hausfrau has landed them — along side Rocker Mom contemporaries the CandyBand — in the national spotlight with profiles in The Wall Street Journal and on the Today Show.

Why you should give a shit: Should you need reminding that the rock never stops — even after kids.

The killer quote: “One minute you’re cleaning up the dog’s vomit off your kid’s backpack while you try to remember where you saw your other kid’s missing soccer shoe — was it in the bathtub or in the clothes hamper? — and the next minute you’re being contacted by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal. As if my life is somehow fascinating,” Davids says.

On record: They’ve recorded with Gories/Snakeout/Elvis Hitler producer Len Puch as well as Was (Not Was) keyboardist (and Em’ producer) Louis Resto. Expect a new CD in May. Till then, there’s Sally Has a Kitchen Accident.

The DJ spike: “I’m Cramped,” the Cramps; “Stacie’s Mom,” Fountains of Wayne; “Leader of the Pack,” Shangri-Las.

Thursday at the Belmont.

 

Who/where: Grande Nationals (Sarah Fisher, drums; Scotty Hagen, bass; Stevie Michael, vocals; Tony Vegas, guitar); Ferndale.

Backstory: Like many bands, the Grande Nationals were formed in a drunken stupor.

Why you should give a shit: The buzzsaw sing-along. Also, see Tony’s hair.

The killer quote: Vegas: “To be the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of rock.”

On record: Grande Nationals (self-released), a new album due later this year.

The DJ spike: Ramones, Hellacopters, AC/DC.

Friday at the New Dodge.

Blowout Coverage:

Afro-beat repeat
By Eve Doster

Just you wait
By Johnny Loftus

Old-school, new-school
By Metro Times music staff

P-rock, dog
By Jonathan Cunningham

Trigger happy
By Brian Smith

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