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Ah, Grand Rapids: the same city that birthed the mighty Whirlwind Heat and Amway is perpetually in a state of light college transition, capitalist-driven urban renewal and Republican ultra-conservatism and Midwest isolation that tends to birth goodness, weirdness and locally based experimentation. Hence, the Heat. What's up with them lately, you ask?
Well, they've expatriated from Michigan for larger burgs, but visit them on the Interwebs to download a couple of typically idiosyncratic Heat takes on two classic rock tunes, "Green Eyed Lady" and "Another One Bites the Dust." They just unleashed a new album on the iTunes, too.
Meanwhile, back on the ground, Heat descendents the LSDudes, a long-running GR trio of adventurous nerds continue to ply their manic panic '80s electro bounce trade that, naturally, dabbles in a bit of titular psychedelia. With the LSDudes, expect the kind of psychedelia you get when, for example, playing Mario World under the influence and have that "Whoa!" epiphany. There's a subtle art to playing video game soundtrack-worthy jams, the kind of earworm jams that wiggle in under the sneaky power of analog synths and simple motifs repeated endlessly. That's the kind of goodness in which the LSDudes traffic. Download their jam "U Took 2 Much Man" or "Joystick." Their new self-titled full-length is out this week on Grand Rapids-based Friction Records with a release party on the Sept. 16, at GR landmark the Intersection (think the Shelter for a more sheltered town). Said label, it should be noted, is also re-pressing Terrorhawk, the '05 magnum opus from sadly defunct northern burbs artful screamers Bear Vs. Shark. Friction's a busy enterprise and worth a visit.
Night Toucher, another GR standoutfit, is releasing a new full-length on the Hidden Feast label. On tracks such as "Night is the Phantom" and "In the Wild," listeners are treated to a kind of nervous prog rock — a sort of Nuggets-friendly take on grandiosity and precision couched in a funny and uptight sense of the macabre.
And while you're there, get a sense for the confrontational underground oddness that can arise when no one's looking. There are jams from such DIY experimentalists as Invisible Mansions, My Cantina and Limbs — all of whom have been aurally-captured for Hidden Feast releases past and future.
No scene can breathe without the life support of stable places with four walls and fans in which to ply the musical and artful trades. And Grand Rapid's got just the place. Besides the staid mainstream-ish (read "MLLC-approved) go-to joint the Intersection, there's the Division Avenue Arts Cooperative. The DAAC is the kinda joint that can goose a few would-be explorers out of their bedrooms and onto the stage (or gallery walls, depending). Run as a collective, DAAC's is a think-globally, act-locally joint that hosts touring bands, speakers, benefits, local noisemakers and DIY events. Case in point: This week they're hosting Thrill Jockey recording artists High Places one day and the next day, the schedule currently reads "hold for chad." I hope Chad comes up with something good! Check 'em at the daac.org.