City Slang: Music review roundup

May 13, 2014
By

Billy brandt sugarees

Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com.

Billy Brandt and the Sugaree’s The Time is Now (Drumdancer) is the latest record from the prolific singer-songwriter, a man who seems to have a new record out pretty much all the time. He’s assembled a solid collection of local musicians for this latest venture, including Black Drops man Chris Degnore, John Holk, and Todd Glass. Add to that a very summery cover design courtesy of Mark Arminski and Eric Kelly, and the early signs are good. Ah, but this is Billy Brandt, the chirpy and bearded local folkie with a heart of gold but a back catalog of ok-ish material. The man has spent his musical career trying to fulfill his potential, but he has done so with a big smile on his face. He can play a mean guitar, and his voice is actually quite soothing. He has to have more to offer. The Time is Now is the album he’s been threatening to make for many years. Finally, he’s written 12 great songs that flow along wonderfully, taking in influences from Willie Nelson to Elvis (we think). He croons a song like “Blue Baby Blue,” admittedly sounding nothing of the sort. But his passion for the material shines through like the bat-signal on a foggy day, or more appropriately, like the sun on still water. It’s a tremendously happy, joyous record and, wit the rain pouring down as we write this, that makes for a welcome listening experience.

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Jr. Bob’s Recording Co. is a new project from Orbitsuns man Bob Hecker. The band also features fellow Orbies Vin Dombroski (playing drums here) and guitarist Sir Tim Duvalier, alongside excellent hired gun guitarist Brett Lucas. But this is Hecker’s deal, his songs. Mind you, the main song on the new single, “Beautiful,” was actually co-written by Metro Times man Jim Cohen. Does that mean we’re going to go easy on it? Oh hell no. Fortunately, there’s no issue because it’s an appropriately beautiful little low-key song, a gentle strum and some sexy slide offering a gorgeous backdrop to Hecker’s croon. “Hey America” is a little livelier, as Hecker looks to unleash a few demons. “Stupid, stupid people, what is wrong with you?” he asks. Don’t expect to hear it on Fox News any time soon.

The Orbitsuns have recorded a version of the old sporting anthem “Go Get ‘Em Tigers.” True to form, the band adds some outlaw twang to the ’60s original (which you can hear here). Dombroski adds a few extra lines too, something about meeting on Woodward, and the pace is picked up. At exactly the right time of year, this is a fitting rehash of an old favorite. The Orbitsuns and Bob Hecker will play a double single release show at O’Mara’s this Friday, May 16 (255 12 Mile Rd., Berkley).


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  • eric kelly

    Brett, that cover design was mine. But that logo on it is a redo of a logo mark did, so its probably a 50/50 credit. thanks!

  • Billy Brandt

    Seamless work between Eric Kelly and Mark Arminski…

  • Billy Brandt

    Love the review Brett