City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

July 26, 2011
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Remember – if you send it, it will get reviewed. That’s the City Slang promise. It doesn’t matter what genre the music is – as long as it has a Metro Detroit connection, it’ll get in. Preferably, we’d like to concentrate on new releases but, while we’re getting warmed up here, feel free to send back catalog material too. Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, City Slang, Metro Times, 733, St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 46226. Email MP3s and streaming links to mt.cityslang@gmail.com.

Skeleton Birds’s The Silver Age (self-released) sees the Ypsilanti-based band exploring similarly epic indie-prog waters as Radiohead, Muse and even the Arcade Fire. The songs are delicate and immaculate, and the production is magnificent. They’re a fascinating band that I want to check out live.

dos is an intriguing project featuring current Stooges bassist Mike Watt and Black Flag bass player Kira Roessler (who also sings). So that’s two bass players then, and nobody else. To some, that might sound like a nightmare, but it’s really not. The dos y dos (Clenched Wrench / Org) album is fascinating, experimental and enjoyable, even for non-bass players. It’s not exactly sing-along stuff, but there’s an almost spiritual, world music feel to the songs. Go in with an open mind.

The Freak Ache (or “Free Cake” – see what they did there?) Mix (self-released) CD was passed to me recently at a show. No sleeve art, just a CD-R with the name of the band scrawled on. To be honest, I love that – having no idea what to expect. It’s awesome too – instrumental, experimental rock that comes across to the score to a sci-fi movie as played by an afrobeat band.

Dominican pianist and composer Michel Camilo is currently an “artist in residence” at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and that makes us very lucky because the Grammy, Emmy and two-time Latin Grammy award winner is a spectacular talent, as his Mano A Mano (Decca / EmArcy) album proves. Energetic and heaped with melody, the songs are easy to enjoy for anyone.

Jeremy Porter & the TucosNight on the Town (Mag Wheel) is Porter’s new single, sent to City Slang on a 45, which is always appreciated. Blue vinyl too, plus a free MP3 download code. The music’s great – pop rock with a slight alt-rock edge. The b-side, “Ain’t My House Anymore”, is even better with it’s outlaw country twang.

The JulietsPerfect Season (self-released) album is the record of the week. It’s simply spectacular. Jeremy Freer’s songwriting and vocals get better with every passing minute, and this is the album that their loyal Detroit fans have been waiting for. Violin player Sarah Myers and cellist Kaylan Mitchell help the record to stand out from a packed indie crowd, but the whole band are to be celebrated. The Juliets really are one of our finest bands right now.

Holding On (Small Stone) is the new record from Freedom Hawk and the first of two releases this week from local stoner label Small Stone Records. The Virginia-based band sound as much like solo-era Ozzy as they do Sabbath, which is no bad thing. This is simply a great rock ’n’ roll record.

The new album from Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned, 30 Weight (Small Stone), is a dark and gloomy, filthy beast of a record, blessed with Nick Cave-esque vocals and some some very cool tunes that, at times, even dance into Danzig territory. Much fun to be had here.

Glass Rock hails from Detroit and Brooklyn and the Baby Baby Baby (Matador / Cargo) album is a thing of exquisite beauty. With Neko Case-esque vocals courtesy of Kathy Leisen, the music is emotive, pretty and, at time, harsh. These guys are probably going to explode nationally soon, so get in there early.

Vans Warped faves Every Avenue’s album, Bad Habits will be reviewed next week. This week, we listened to the single, No One but You (Fearless). It’s not a bad tune, in that pained-but-sprightly-teen sort of way. Fans of Alkaline Trio would love it, and it’s from Detroit so it’s that much cooler anyway.

Seattle band the Sight Below has a new video / single out, via Ann Arbor label Ghostly International. Life’s Fading Light (Ghostly) is a stark and melancholic piece of work, and the video (directed by Michael Cina) looks like the sort of experimental, minimalist video art students produce. It all fits together to form a powerful, intense and not entirely enjoyable package though.


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