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Music

Blowout drive-bys

Snapshots of the sounds around town

 

Published 3/1/2006

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Asylum 7

Primordial ooze: Asylum 7 got his start making music on the infamous Runyon Avenue on Detroit's east side. His blue-collar style of hip-hop is rooted in fact, not fiction, and this dude is one of the most socially aware MC's in the area right now.

Why you should really care: "Because the music is honest, yo! It's not your typical radio and club shit. My music isn't vain, and it's not fabricated either. It's the epitome of honest music created from the soul. Good lyricism without the profanity and misogynistic nonsense."

The single: His recently released EP, Brown Study, doesn't have a lead single, and that's exactly the way he wants it. According to A7, he wants the whole product to stand out as one musical offering to the world. "As long as every song is just as positive as the next one, it's all good."

Peer-to-peer: Rocks well with the Subterraneous Crew, Elzhi, S.U.N., Metasyons, Selfsays and Leaf Erikson.

What's next: Still working on a yet-to-be-titled full-length album of new material. Continues to promote the hell out of Brown Study.

10:30 p.m., Friday, Chill & Mingle.

Capitol Cities

Primordial ooze: Hailing from Warren, Ferndale and Detroit, the five members of this rock outfit (singer Chris Capitol, guitarists George Jacobsen and Adam Thomson, bassist Ian Williamson and drummer Mark Tabor) were friends first and became a band in 2003. They decided it made sense to tour England first, and, since returning, they haven't stopped.

Why you should really care: "We just play rock 'n' roll," says Capitol. "I suppose we're a bit more cocky about it than people around here are used to."

The single: The less than two-minute "Ginger," with its amped-up guitars, and its "I'm a mess, baby" ending with the punch line: "Since I got you undressed." "We tend to open with it quite a bit," says Capitol. "It's one of those songs that lets you know what you're in for at our shows."

Peer-to-peer: New York Dolls, Stooges, AC/DC.

What's next: Touring their asses into summer, then new album time. "I expect world domination soon after," says Capitol.

11:30 p.m., Saturday, Small's.

Crud

Primordial ooze: The group comprises vocalist Vinnie Dombrowski, backing vocalist and eye candy Danielle Arsenault, guitarist David Black, bassist Dana Forrester and drummer Jimmy Paluzzi. Dombrowski says, "Crud really relied initially on drum beats, tempos that had their roots in techno music, over guitar. "Industrial" wasn't really my intent, but, lack of better word, ..."

Why you should really care: It's like My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Motor City style: a flashy display of sex and noise that comes at you like a chainsaw encrusted with glitter. Dombrowski says, "It's all about fearless, reckless abandon. When we do what we do, anything can happen." True to form, the wiry lead singer once split his head open on a mic stand when the band was playing a chili cook-off in D.C.

The single: "Reality." With Arsenault's coquettish repetitive purr of "Bang, bang, bang!" You don't know whether to melt or duck.

Peer-to-Peer: Butthole Surfers, Guitar Wolf and Ministry.

What's next: Dombrowski: "We've been talking with the people in Die Warzau about booking a tour. We've got upcoming dates in Cleveland and Chicago. Since the new record's been out we've had a great response."

Playing the opening party at 12:30 a.m., Wednesday, the Majestic Theatre.

Cuckold

Primordial ooze: One hundred and sixty-nine years after the Toledo War resulted in the UP being ceded to Michigan, and left Toledo to Ohio, Detroit gets its own hard-boiled unsettling rock 'n' roll settlement in the outfit Cuckold. Yooper-born, 313-bitten Detroiters Mike Walker (ex-Bogue, Detroit City Council, Gravitar on guitar) and Andy Wainio (bass) throw down with Glass City transplant Jake Wilson (drums).

Why you should really care: Because desperation is serious fucking business; and the rumbling, howling Reverend Walker stomps through the graveyard blues with a swagger that'll rip you up like Michigan Avenue. It'll tear up the muffler on that uninsured '74 LTD you just barely keep running. Yeah.

The single: "Baby" has the melody and gut-punch to make sweat-soaked sheets swing like a hammer.

Peer-to-peer: Laughing Hyenas, Motörhead, Mudhoney and Big Black

What's next: Recording with Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recordings.

10:15 p.m., Friday, Small's.

Fluent

Primordial ooze: Grew up in Detroit and Oak Park and represents both cities proudly. Musically he's been rapping since the eighth grade, with influences such as Main Source, De La Soul and Rakim. Most people know him as the host at Café Mahogany from 1996 until it shut its doors in 1998.

Why you should really care: "Honestly, I'm just 100 percent myself. It's all me. There's no way I could be anything else but myself. Like the album that I'm working on now, every single song on there is for women. It's unabashedly romantic. That's just where I'm at — trying to approach love from a poetic angle through hip-hop."

The single: "Close2 Pt. 2" is like when the DJ puts on Bonita Applebaum — romantic, and you can slow dance to it with your woman. But it's still hip hop.

Peer-to-peer: "Right now, I really want to work with Finale and Invincible. Politically, I think they're on top right now as far as Detroit hip hop goes. Also Amp Fiddler, Malik Alston, Dakim and Esque."

What's next: He's finishing up an LP, Mahogany Gyrl, which is to come out this summer on Dopenotes/Red Dert Records. Fluent plans to up his visibility this year by finally coming out of seclusion.

9:30 p.m., Friday, Chill & Mingle.

Frustrations

Primordial Ooze: With Scott Dunkerley on drums and vocals, Colin Simon on guitar and vocals, Sean Duffy on bass, these kids from Detroit and Royal Oak are too young to have a history. We've heard something about a former band called the Skinny Fists, but we'd like to think they came onto the scene via spontaneous generation.

Why you should really care: They're noisy and pissed and they don't care who knows. Dunkerley's vocals spill out like the curses of the angry drunk on the other side of your roadway motel's el cheapo walls, and the trio's bared-teeth rattle is only slightly less threatening.

The single: Has to be "Nerves are Fried," a harrowing, wild at heart trip down ugly memory lane. Its melody is devoured by the guitar's hungry jaws.

Peer-to-peer: "On a mixtape near us? Hmmm," Dunkerley says. "Probably Human Eye, Heroes & Villains, Little Claw." He also name-checks such punkish national acts as Icarus Line and Milwaukee's Catholic Boys.

What's next: Frustrations are recording their debut LP now. "We'll also tour somewhere this summer if we have any money," Dunkerley adds resolutely. He also runs a label, X!, which has a compilation of local bands planned for 2006.

10:15 p.m., Friday, Locker Room.

Troy Gregory and The Stepsisters

Primordial ooze: Fleshed out from the remains (did they ever officially break up?) of sex-and-gloom outfit the Witches, Troy Gregory & the Stepsisters are a femmed-up and electrified version of Gregory's musical pathos. It's Gregory in the front spot, Teri Lynn on bass, and Mary Alice on keyboards. These days, percussion is supplied by a sexy robot. Gregory insists the band was actually born from the hospital trinity of Beaumont, St. John's and Hutzel.

Why you should really care: Gregory is the last of the old-schoolers who actually bothers to reinvent himself.

The single: "Sirenz N Stereoz" is a new song that Gregory refers to as a "Chips Ahoymage to the Electrifying Mojo." The ever-poetic Gregory describes the new tune as "like breathing paint on purpose. Car alarms. Gun shots. Gum drops. Feeling fine."

Peer-to-peer: They'd sound great served with the Electric Six, Eno, Can, Television, Pere Ubu and the Cramps. They'd also pen one hell of a Jarmusch film score.

What's next: "Whatever ridiculous format that's going to gel up from all that new savvy shit they keep learning from that Roswell crash," Gregory says. Yeah, what he said.

11:30 p.m., Thursday, the Painted Lady.

I, Crime

Primordial ooze: Born from the same Lansing scene that sent the Hard Lessons to Detroit's doorstep, i, crime is Jennie Knaggs (vocals, guitar, accordion, keyboard), Anderson Walworth (vocals, guitar, bass) and Charlie McCutcheon (drums, keyboard, vocals).

Why you should really care: They're fuzzy enough to get next to, but then you realize that that fuzz might be fiberglass insulation. Either way, they'll help you compulsively scratch the itch with boy-girl harmonies, bittersweet stories and a hang-loose rock swing that are part-bubblegum, part L.A.-punk circa 1977.

The Single: "Poverty Pink" borrows from Wire's "Ex-Lion Tamer" and pays the debt off with interest.

Peer to Peer: X, Bangles, Wire, Serge Gainsbourg et Brigitte Bardot, "It's a Shame About Ray"-era Lemonheads

What's Next: Five-song EP "Get the Knife" due in March.

11:30 p.m., Thursday, Baker's Streetcar Lounge.

Lola Valley

Primordial ooze: Eclectic. No, really. Funk-rock hybrid consisting of five women whose onstage chutzpah would make most phallus-dominated outfits shrivel like they've just entered a cold swimming pool. Founded by former RIB bassist Emily Rogers in 2003, the band is rounded out by Aisha Ellis on drums, Sarah Rez on guitar, Therese Rose on trumpet and vocals, and Monica Blaire on vocals.

Why you should really care: They've got everything one should want in a band: a magnetic front woman, pocketed and funky bass and drums, electric accents courtesy of guitar and trumpet, and meaningful concepts. Plus, they fine 'n' shit.

The single: "Nevermind."

Peer-to-peer: Good mixes on stage — or on a mixtape — would be Funklinium, the Strange or Hot Sauce.

What's next: Next gig is March 10, at the Charles H. Wright Museum, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; 313-494-5800.

12:45 a.m., Thursday, Chill & Mingle.

Marie and Francis

Primordial ooze: A project crystallized from existing diamonds-about-town Saturday Looks Good to Me (Betty Marie) and Pas/Cal (Nathan "Francis" Burgundy).

Why you should really care: Marie & Francis share influences with their main bands. But the duo's sly mix of pop twee, Godard-worshipping New Wave fatalism and wry romance (they count their exes as musical influences) saves their tunes from side-project whimsy.

The single: There's salty sea air in the music box lilt of "Sea Song." But this isn't just a jaunty walk on the beach. A city boy breaks Betty Marie's heart, and her tram ride home is laden with darkness. You sense that, after the cutesy keys of "Sea Song" end, she might rob the other passengers.

Peer to peer: Marie & Francis's dream mixtape might include Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian, Brigitte Fontaine and dialogue dubbed from Marcello Mastroianni movies.

What's next: "We're currently in the studio building demos and baking cakes," their MySpace site states with a wink.

11: 30 p.m., Friday, Paycheck's.

PA

Primordial ooze: The fliers say PA, but the initials make for Publik Address. Two thirds of the southwest Detroit trio (namely, main man Chris McInnis and drummer Brandon White) scraped up the ashes of the late, great cerebro-pop band They Come in Threes. Bassist Courtney Sheedy arrives via stints in outfits such as Cloud Car and Outrageous Cherry.

Why you should really care: "The Fall Apart" offers this bit of cosmic cause-and-effect: I found a screw on the ground today/I guess something's gonna fall apart. "Fear of Nothing" serves up a narrator facing down Dracula as a cipher for the great beyond, the void. Their snakey sideways hooks, rhythms and intercontinental pop modalities take you on a trip of urban jungle Zen.

The single: "No Blue Dye" and "Fear of Nothing" reward the effort to reconcile the experimental with the eerily familiar. Drink beer and wear headphones while doing so.

Peer-to-peer: Somewhere tangled up with Broken Social Scene, Aquarium, Eno circa Taking Tiger Mountain, Postal Service and Manu Chao.

What's next: Presumably shows, plus fending off late-night visitations and continuing to make the flotsam of city life into metaphysical graffiti.

12:45 a.m., Friday, Paycheck's.

Powertrane

Primordial ooze: The high-octane outfit is comprised of a Detroit "who's who": guitarist Robert Gillespie (Mitch Ryder), bassist Chris "Box" Taylor (the Avatars) and drummer Dave Knepp (the Sights). And, of course, they're led by local legend Scott Morgan, who has played with everyone from Stooge Scott Asheton to Fred "Sonic" Smith, and broke onto the scene in the '60s with the Rationals.

Why you should really care: They're the definition of Motor City Rock.

The single: "Beyond the Sound," written by the Hellacopters' Nick Royale.

Peer-to-peer: "A tape of the soul greats would work for me," says Morgan, along with "a lot of Detroit bands."

What's next: Their album Beyond the Sound, due in April on Time Beach Records.

11:30 p.m., Friday, the New Dodge.

THTX

Primordial ooze: This Detroit outfit has Matthew Smith on guitar (among other things), Ralph Valdez on bass, Russell Summer on keys and electronics, and Kerry Gluckman on drums. Detroit. The ubiquitous Smith (Outrageous Cherry, Volebeats) reveals his brain's slippery voodoo nodes for this instrumental-psych combo. His collaborators are all schooled in the dark arts of Zappa, Crimson and Miles, with local résumés including Waka Jawaka and Algebra Mothers.

Why you should really care: "I've played in a lot of groups that demand a certain amount of restraint," Smith says. "THTX goes in the opposite direction, traversing the endless permutations of outer and inner space."

The single: Smith says his band's bomb track varies. "Sometimes it's 'Supersonic Phoenix,' other times it's 'The Great Transfer' or even 'Macrocosmic Refraction.' We say those song titles alone make THTX badass.

Peer-to-peer: THTX's mixtape brethren would include Amon Düül 2, Can, MC5, Hawkwind, Wolf Eyes and Magma.

What's next: "We've got three releases coming out in 2006," Smith says. "We're also busy recording, and we're going to play out a bit more this year."

9 p.m., Thursday, Carbon Lounge.

Velvet Audio

Primordial ooze: What's not to love? This band was born out of late-night basement afterparty jams and a full bore appreciation for classic rock 'n' roll. The group features Marlon Hauser on vocals, Justin Walker and Ayinde Zuri on guitar, Brandon Weiner on bass and Zenas Jackson on drums.

Why you should really care: For a city with a rock 'n' roll scene as deeply steeped in soul music as Detroit, it's insane that the rock community is so void of African-American players and fans. That they jam their asses off and rekindle the fuck-me-tonight ethos of the MC5, the Stooges and Hendrix just makes them more fun to love.

The single: "Last Thursday" has all the commercial appeal of a Strokes tune sans the expensive production, slickness and couture wardrobe.

Peer-to-peer: The Dirtbombs, the Gories, MC5, Funkadellic and Grand Funk Railroad.

What's Next: The band is recording a 14-song album with legendary garage rock producer Jim Diamond. They couldn't be happier. "He's a light. He's the man," Zuri says.

9 p.m., Thursday, at the New Dodge.

Dj Willy Wilson

Primordial ooze: Wilson is a former on-air personality at WDET, the current talent buyer at the Magic Bag and perennial archivist of Detroit music, both current and ancient.

Why you should care: Wilson's turntable ammo runs a varied and very deep gamut of local, national and international dance-floor ordinance. "I play everything and anything as long as it has a groove," Wilson says. And groove is always easy to love.

The singles: What Detroit artists would make the perfect mixtape mini-set? "It's hard to come up with just three," Wilson says. But after serious consideration he narrows it to five. The goods: Bob Seger, "2+2 = ?"; Funkadelic, "Funky Dollar Bill"; Sonic's Rendezvous, "City Slang"; The Wildbunch, "Gay Bar"; and the Von Bondies, "It Came From Japan."

What's next: Wilson's 2006 is all about options. "I'd definitely like to be back on the air in some capacity," he says. But he's also talked to clubs about regular DJing.

DJs between sets at the Blowout Pre-Party on Wednesday at the Magic Stick.

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