City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

May 8, 2012
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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.

What a way to start the week! A new 7” single from hardcore titans the Bill Bondsmen is always going to be welcome and “Overcrowded Control” kicked this writer’s ass all over my laptop, as did the untitled b-side. The riffs are characteristically complex, which can surprise newcomers. Tony sounds like a large dog is chewing on his sack while he wrestles with his words. And it’s all very, very heavy. I can’t quite figure out what’s pissing them off this week, but it sounds mighty important. Love it.

As good as the Bondsmen single is, it can’t compete with Theandric for weirdness. The local duo has recorded a tongue in cheek to their favorite band, Iron Maiden, called “Up the Irons” (self-released) that fans of the band will enjoy, and people who hate them will feel reaffirm everything they’ve ever said. Lines like “Repeat the same four words”, “This song’s so long”, “West Ham Uniiiiiiteeed”, and “Change key here”, sung over an operatic Maiden style song, are funny for those in on the joke. It might be a joke with a short lifespan, but for in the short-term it’s a good laugh.

There’s much to enjoy on Daniel Harrison & the $2 Highway’s Humidity (self-released) mini-album. The Detroit alt-country scene seems to be flourishing right now, with more and more talented honky-tonkers crawling out of somewhere. Harrison has the gift of telling his life stories and personal psalms with grit and authenticity. It gets a little “Bon Jovi” from time to time, which is fine if you’re ok with ol’ Jon, and the bongos get a little annoying. But overall, this is a fine effort, packed with fine songwriting.

Treatment Bound’s excellent Another Round (Homeless Ramblings) fits perfectly between the Supersuckers and Nashville Pussy. As the title suggests, this is drinking music for the hardened rocker. It’s for dudes who wouldn’t dream of waxing their hairy backs, for men who wear leather vests with biker patches on the back. But then they throw us a curveball by writing a song called “Kerouac’s Ghost”. See kids, you can be a rebel and an intellectual at the same time. Just ask old Jack.

Ellen Keyt is a local acoustic singer / songwriter type, and she has been playing locally with people like Katie Grace and Audra Kubat. Her new CD is gloriously titled Detroit Meadows (self-released), which I love because, if there are two words you rarely see together, it is “Detroit” and “meadows”. If she was hoping to merge images of English folk with Detroit’s hardworking manufacturing industry, she succeeded, not least because her music is beautiful. Her voice is soothing yet sharp, like a really good primary school teacher (not in a patronizing way), and her guitar work is perfectly executed – understated and gentle. Most importantly, she means every word she sings.

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