Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Record Reviews: The Blueflowers, Telekinesis! and the awesome new Merge Records covers comp

I love Merge Records. They are responsible for some of the most meaningful and life changing albums in my little life. The Magnetic Fields Charm of the Highway Strip for instance. A few years ago, I was going through some things and I found an old picture of my friend Meghan and I – it was from high school, and it was taken at my little sister’s birthday party. This party was held at a place called ‘Plaster Works” which was kind of like an “art studio” at which you would pick out your very own plaster statue to paint and decorate yourself, and inevitably take home and proudly display. I use the term “decorate” here loosely, because I love my family even if I question their actual abilities when it comes to visual arts. For some reason, my mom and my siblings really enjoyed this activity, making and bringing home countless pieces of ‘art” which then decorated our home: free-standing tropical fish, a “wicker” (plaster!) basket, a Halloween-themed napkin holder, and even a statue of Bart Simpson lovingly painted by my brother which I think is still in his room. Anyway, I mention this because in the picture, my friend Meghan is wearing a Merge Records T-shirt and it reminded me that our friendship and my love for Merge both came about at the same time. So I can take comfort that even if I hadn’t talked to her in years, I’d be able to pick up the phone today and at least say, “Have you heard that new Merge covers comp? And hey, remember Plaster Works? What the hell?!” Now that’s real friendship. Speaking of Merge, read my review of their new covers compilation and Telekinesis! in today’s Detour New Music Preview. Also included is my review of the Blueflowers. They’re local, and yet another band that was on my Blowout short list that I didn’t get to see. If this record is any indication, that was totally my loss. I will be checking them out live as soon as they announce more shows. (Confidential to the Blueflowers – announce more shows.)

Wonder Twins Review: Ra Ra Riot @ The Blind Pig Thursday March 26th

Ann Arbor is a funny place. Not as in humorous, but more like, “That’s funny – I’ve been here how many times and wow, I am lost! Again!” I think that’s one of the main things that keeps me away from the place – the underlying anxiety that I feel each time I head out that way. Of course I can now add the anxiety of, “Is this in fact a very poorly labeled handicapped spot, or have I really just found a great and (free after 6pm!) parking place in this wretched town?" But alas, that’s life. I DID get to check out the Blind Pig for the very first time with D’Anne – a venue I can tell I will like in the future for shows that are not filled to capacity. Check out our Wonder Twins review on the Metro Times Music Blahg here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Operation: This House Ain’t Gonna Clean Itself

Dear Mr. Daniels:

I just received your Group Volunteer Project Request Form and wanted to thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding your “Operation: This House Ain’t Gonna Clean Itself” event. I can tell by your very thoughtful and lengthy answers that you were really looking forward to our organization’s participation and help with this project. As a result, it’s with much regret that I must deny your request. First of all, we only coordinate with 501c3 non-profit organizations. Under the “Non-Profit Status” section you put: "I don’t have any money or a job – so that should count as a non-profit, right? As for 501c3, I do not have any current penal code violations to the best of my knowledge. That thing with my neighbor shouldn’t count because that bitch told me she wouldn’t press charges.” Secondly, in the “Please describe your project and include number of people and hours” section, you’ve basically come up with a very detailed “spring cleaning” list for what I presume is your personal residence. You have also listed as the reason for said project something about “wanting the place to look nice for when I can afford a straight up prostitute for an entire evening.” Although we at VIM like flexibility in a project, we’re afraid your request of, “a few people, whenever. I am almost always home unless I’m at the liquor store” is a bit too vague. Additionally, though our volunteers sometimes bring some materials with them for various projects, your inability to provide even the most basic of cleaning supplies is unacceptable. I realize in your explanation you said, “I called Molly Maids and those bitches bring their own stuff, so your guys should too” but I think you’re missing the distinction that Molly Maids is a for hire service whereas Volunteers In Motion provides volunteers for worthy endeavors for free. The bottom line is, we are exceptionally uncomfortable with the idea that our volunteers would be working to clean your home with their own personal supplies in order for you to have a more hygienic place in which to participate in illicit activity. Again we thank you for your interest and we’re sorry we cannot accommodate your request.

Best of luck with your project,

Tim Miller
Project Coordinator
Volunteers In Motion

PS – Enclosed you should also find the dollar bill that you included with your Group Volunteer Project Request form. I am not sure why you sent this to me, other than maybe as a possible bribe? Such actions are unacceptable, and frankly insulting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Show Review: Neil Halstead @ The Pike Room 3/20/09

My girlfriend and I went to see Neil Halstead a few days ago. Detour has posted my concise show review. I always have a hard time at shows that are all quiet and where half the people sit down. You’d think that a crowd of people being quiet and sitting down would be nonthreatening, and I am guessing the majority of people there are. But I’m always afraid of the “hush patrol:” those people who are so dead set on making sure that the rest of the audience is as mutely rapt as they are, that they can’t possibly be enjoying themselves since the whole show they’re darting mean looks around the room and hushing people who dare make a sound. I don’t at all condone people talking really loud and interrupting quiet shows, but we’re not at the movies. So lighten up. If we were at the movies, you could either shoot me in the arm, or roll up the top of your popcorn bag and beat me in the face with it (as I once saw a woman do to a man after she stood up mid-movie and yelled “Tell your kids to shut the fuck up!!” This was at a showing of the Jim Carrey masterpiece How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Thankfully, there were no real "hush patrol" members to be seen at Neil Halstead and nobody was shot or pummelled with popcorn.

Show Review: The Darts, Divine Comedians, Big Mess, Prussia @ PJ's Lager House 3/21/09

Although under most circumstances, I would say it's never alright to do this, my sister called me this morning and started the conversation with, "Did you see my most recent Facebook status update?" This is worse than calling somebody to see if they got the e mail you sent them, because in a status update, you're (usually) communicating your life rather generally, not specifically trying to communicate information to one person. So such a call is akin to saying, “I can’t stand the thought that you might not know what I’m doing RIGHT. NOW.” But considering she and her wife woke up this morning to the sounds of their cat meowing from inside their furnace, I will totally give her a pass. Thank goodness they like their house so frightfully cold all the time – I don’t want to think about the horrors they would’ve encountered had the damn thing kicked on. What does this have to do with this past Saturday’s show at PJ’s Lager House? Nothing really. But I encourage you to be adventurous and curious about live music. Even if sometimes that means you might end up crawling though a vent and getting trapped in the furnace.

Record Reviews: Condo Fucks, 1990's

As each Tuesday morning comes into focus, there are two things you can be certain of: that it is no longer Monday, and that the Detour New Music Preview will be posted for your reading enjoyment. This time around I write up the 1990’s and Condo Fucks. Hold on. I just read that first sentence again, and it’s just not sitting well with me. Truthfully, you can’t completely be sure of either of those things. Or anything for that matter. For all you know, you’ll go to bed Monday night and a meteorite will hit your home. Or, considering they don’t really need to be all that accurate in their impact to kill you, your neighbor’s home. Either way, no Tuesday morning for you! Likewise, if a meteorite hit all the houses of anybody with the ability to upload content to the Detour site, there would be no New Music Preview, even if your lucky ass survived this freakish and deadly celestial accident and was able to read about it on the internet. Actually, I recently learned that there are no accidents. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Music Writing: Indie Parents

When it comes to children, Whitney Houston and I have a similar opinion: We both believe that we “need a man who'll take a chance on a love that burns hot enough to last.” No wait – that’s our shared opinion on wanting to dance with somebody, and ultimately feeling the heat with that somebody. Never mind. I have been thinking a lot about kids lately though – not as in, me thinking about having kids. I mean, it’s fine for some people, but I don’t want that kind of life for myself. But my sister and her wife are expecting their first child in July – this will make me an aunt for the very first time. When I think of this, I alternate between a sense of awe and being drunk on the power my influence will yield over their child. I pretty much think I was born to play the part of the cool aunt. Also, frequent exposure to me lessens the chance that when said child encounters another short haired woman, that he will either ask her or whisper to one of his moms, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I love that this has happened to me more than once.

So thinking about kids, particularly ways I can share my passion for music with my nephew, is what stemmed the idea for my first feature for Detour: Indie folk and their kids. I wasn’t totally sure what angle to go with, but after talking with some folks and getting such interesting and thoughtful answers, I decided to just feature a handful of people who are involved with and/or love Detroit music in some way and see what role that love of music plays in their relationship with their offspring. We had so much fun with it that Detour has declared that this is part one of an ongoing series. So if there are some music moms and dads in Detroit you think would be good for a piece like this let me know – I’d love to get your feedback.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Show Review: Langhorne Slim @ The Pike Room 3/15/09

I saw Langhorne Slim last Sunday at the fantastic Pike Room in Pontiac. So did several rabble rousing hippies or "college kids" as they are sometimes known. I was not familiar with Langhorne Slim until a few months ago - my girlfriend is a big fan of his. It's one of several bands/artists she's brought to my attention that I really like. I love that part. As an added bonus, openers Empty Orchestra played an awesome song about the Flint sit down strike. The song kicks ass. It's available as a 7 inch. This 7 inch is white vinyl. Go here and get it. They are from Flint, so if you don't buy it, they can probably kick your ass. It was a good show, and Detour's photographer Bianca Garza was there too, and got some nice shots. Read it/see it here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Record Review: Morrissey

If there's one unwavering thing that can be said about my musical tastes, it's that I'm totally gay for Morrissey. So gay in fact, that he's the only man I'd ever sleep with - which would work out perfectly, seeing as we'd just cuddle and talk about music. Needless to say, every Morrissey release is a big occasion for me - and the release of Years of Refusal was no different. I'm happy Metro Times let me review it, as the nominal fee for this service will cover a small portion of the costs for the three different formats of the album I purchased, plus the tickets to both his Ann Arbor show on Tuesday the 31st and his Chicago appearance the following Saturday. His last album, Ringleader of the Tormentors, came out in 2006, and the two new songs on last year's (do I still have any right to call this release fairly gratuitous since I bought the deluxe edition?) Greatest Hits album can only tide a girl over for so long. Now, I can think of SO many exceptionally nerdy, detailed things to say about Morrissey, this new record, his career, etc. But I am stopping myself, because I fear I'll sound like a Star Trek geek - you know: the kind who, when you mention you've seen the show before, launch into their deepest thoughts, feelings, philosophies, and episode dissections before you can say "The Trouble With Tribbles." I don't want to be that guy. But if you're ever up for a Morrissey minutiae conversation, come talk to me. But don't fucking talk to me about Star Trek. Seriously.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Record Reviews: Mazes, Anni Rossi, Swan Lake

Welcome to the Happy St. Patrick's Day edition of Pillow Fights & Boxing Tuesday. For this special O'Holiday, I cleverly chose to review three records for Detour's New Music Guide that fit the bill: Mazes (from Ireland!), Swan Lake (all part Irishmen!) and Anni Rossi (totally looks Irish!). No. None of this is true. Well, actually, I don't know the ethnic make-up of those guys from Swan Lake. Nor do I care. Because I don't especially care about St. Patty's Day. Since I'm not even good at getting drunk, it's not exactly a holiday that has a strong appeal for me. Also, I don't like getting killed by drunken drivers as much. Woo! Woo! Woo! Did somebody call the Fun Police? I figured, because my phone is ringing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Record Reviews: Elvis Perkins In Dearland, Julie Doiron, Handsome Furs

In case you have not yet heard, Detour has been revamped, relaunched and is back in the game. That game being Chutes and Ladders. Detour will be spinning a numbered wheel and subsequently climbing precariously placed ladders and zooming down attached-to-nothing slides that would give any OSHA representative a heart attack. Detour understands that if, when nearing the 100th square, it overshoots by spinning a number greater than that of the remaining number of squares on the board, Detour loses a turn and will have to keep spinning until they land on 100. So in other words, I'm hoping to help them keep spinning until they land on 100. I am sure you understand.

I love the new Detour look and expanded content and I'm happy to be able to write some stuff for them. Today marks the first "Detour New Music Guide" which will go up every Tuesday. It's a little scaled down this week, but will eventually be 12 reviews for your reading and listening pleasure. I'll be reviewing three records a week. This week I chose Elvis Perkins In Dearland, Julie Doiron and Handsome Furs. I liked all three of these records, but particularly the Elvis Perkins. That one was a pleasant surprise and I highly recommend it. Fans of Langhorne Slim, Avett Brothers, and other such "alt-country" mish-mash should be fond of it.

Also, as good as the record is, am I the only person that really dislikes the Handsome Furs album cover? If your friend showed that to you and said, "Hey - here's the mock up of my band's new EP - do you like it?" I would hope your answer would be as honest as your friendship is strong. For instance, if it's a really good friend, you might say, "Wow. Is that your only copy?" When they said "Yes. It is," because they obviously bypassed technology and did it with scissors and paste like a collage one might make at a senior center, you would grab it out of their hand and, panicking, stuff it into your mouth, chewing furiously. They will look on, shocked into inaction by their horror and surprise. You will then spit it on the ground and say, "I'm sorry - I did this because I love you." If they're not that good of a friend, just say, "Yes. Nice mock up." Because who cares about their stupid band anyway?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wonder Twins Review: The Metro Times 12th Annual Blowout, Day 3

I am too tired to give you a long intro. But here's our day three recap.

A note about day 4: I hear it was awesome. I took a Blowout break and attended the Prussia/Ohtis/Dent May show in Pontiac. It was worth it. BUT I was at Blowout for a most awesome part of it - namely the Friendly Foes set that wrapped up the event. Sadly, earlier in the day D'Anne succumbed to "the vapors" like Southern ladies did in the olden days, she was unable to attend. This foiled our 'Wonder Twins Blowout Day 4 Recap: gratuitous Friendly Foes edition" plans. But suffice to say, it was awesome. I was worried about not being able to get in, seeing as Friday night's I, Crime set had the Belmont filled to capacity. But my girlfriend and I arrived between sets and were able to get right in. And subsequently RIGHT up front - which is the only way to see stuff properly at the Belmont, and considering how oddly narrow the venue is, something only 4 or 5 people can really do. This guy was there right next to me. Which is exactly how I ended LAST year's Blowout: Ryan Allen, Smoke, and the guy who became my first friend back in Detroit. I owe him flowers or something.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wonder Twins Review: The Metro Times 12th Annual Blowout, Day 2

Day two of the already off to a phenomenal start Blowout is over. I am not nearly as tired today as I thought I would be. I'm sure some of you managed to squeeze in more than 7 bands, but I was happy with the flow of our evening. Though there were still so many bands I wish I could've seen as well: Zoos Of Berlin, Love Meets Lust, Fields Of Industry, The Darts and The Decks... some of these bands have been on my "I need to see them!" list for a million years now. However, we DID see some kick ass stuff. And now you can read about it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wonder Twins Review: The Metro Times 12th Annual Blowout, Day 1

Well, well, well... Blowout 12 has started and I could not be more excited. Not only is it just an all around awesome event and yet another reason to be proud of the Detroit music scene, but it also marks one year back in Detroit for me. Last year for Blowout, I had been back in Detroit all of a week. I had actually called Maria Stella at the Metro Times while I was still in Charlotte, NC to ask her about volunteering. It seemed like a good way to get involved, meet some folks, and start my immersion into the music scene of my hometown. Wearing an official shirt that was way too big for me, I put Blowout wrist bands (a much more intimate activity than I was comfortable with) on countless people at Atlas Bar and the Painted Lady. I also saw some excellent bands, and when Thunderbirds Are Now! and Smoke did their impromptu jam session that ended with the crowd in a frenzy, I knew that coming home was the right decision. This year the Wonder Twins are on the Blowout case. Here's our day 1 recap. Have fun this week - it's gonna go by in a blur whether you're drunk or not.

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