Monday, June 29, 2009

Biking through the Randy Rainbow Nation

So 4th of July week – so busy, right? You’re all gearing up for Cityfest I’m sure… But you know what’s gonna make Cityfest even more awesome? Bike Valet!! Wheelhouse Detroit will be offering free bike parking during the event. Bike Valet will be offered during event hours which are 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m Wednesday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The lot is located Cass and Grand Boulevard, as shown on the festival map (bike corral). So let’s ride bikes! Who’s with me? I am so excited that I’m italicizing left and right! Whoa.

So your Wednesday through Sunday “Proud-To-Be-An-American” plans are taken care of, but real Americans will get things started tomorrow night at the Magic Stick with the Sik Sik Nation, Deastro, Black Moth Super Rainbow show. This is a show for True Patriots. How do I know? Simple – the three bands here have NOT been chosen by accident. Taking one word from each band name (with the added bonus super secret knowledge of Deastro’s real name) and what do you come up with? “Randy Rainbow Nation.” I am hoping that they’ll be handing out lapel pins with this name on it so we can boast our true Patriotism to jealous Cityfest-only attendees. Suckers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Record Review: Deastro

The last thing you need is ANOTHER local blog fawning all over Deastro, so I took advantage of a clever loop hole. Read my review of Deastro’s Moondagger at the totally not local site, Tiny Mix Tapes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Record Review: Sonic Youth

Today’s brand new Metro Times has my review of the new Sonic Youth record The Eternal. It took a little time to grow on me, but I’m really liking it. Ever since 1992’s Dirty I’ve been waiting for a Sonic Youth record to come close to changing my whole world the way that record did. I’ve liked most of their input since, but I’ve yet to repeat that socked-in-the-gut feeling. Then again I was fourteen when Dirty was released, so it probably has as much to do with right-album-right-time as the record’s actual greatness. I always loved the cover of Dirty – I even had it on a t-shirt that I wore pretty much all the time. Also, according to my mom, the cover’s odd stuffed orange creature looks like a “crocheted uterus.” I think that uterus-as-craft-project is most likely outside the realm of most people’s thinking, but she’s a labor and delivery nurse and taught Lamaze Classes way back in the day. Growing up, we had a lot of pregnancy-related props around the house. I remember playing with both poster-sized pictures of fetuses in different stages of development and a pelvis bone model that we used to use for Barbie carriage rides. My mom didn’t actually own a crocheted uterus though – I think it was something she saw in one of her child birth technique teaching catalogs. So somebody, somewhere thought that was a great idea for a teaching aid.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Sonic Youth on Monday – I’ve only ever seen them once before and it was at Lollapalooza at Pine Knob and I just remember the sound being terrible. I had a dream recently that I was at the Sonic Youth show and Kim Gordon was visibly pregnant and flashing her vagina at the audience. I was alarmed, but then realized it was a pretend vagina she was flashing. So then I was like, “Okay, yeah – that’s fine. Of course she’s flashing a pretend vagina, like who doesn’t do that?” It was not a crocheted vagina though, as far as I could tell.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Music Writing: The Prime Ministers

Oh, the plans I had – but a stupid flu bug knocked me on my ass and I missed all the good stuff this past weekend. The only thing I managed to get to was the MI Music & Merch swap which was really great – like a church rummage sale, but at a bar and no used granny pants on the two-for-a-dollar table. Though there WERE New Grenada bikini underwear. I’m not making that up. I picked up some fun stuff for cheap from my favorite local labels- none of my purchases being undergarments of any kind. Then I basically went home and collapsed in sickness and had a sad over feeling too crummy to go to the Prime Ministers record release show. Though, based exclusively on the strength of my daring expose in the Metro Times, I hear they had a great turn out. You should for real check out their new record Compromiser – it’s one of my favorite of the year so far, and it's currently available for free download.

Bonus prize - A great public apology letter from a Bob Mould fan

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wonder Twins Review: “Rock Stars’ Cars & Guitars” at The Henry Ford

The Metro Times that hits the streets (and internet) this very day has the latest Wonder Twins column. This week, we take you into the crazy world of excess and shameless display that is the motoring habits and instrumentation choices of famous makers of music. I figured this exhibit (running now through Sept 7) would be interesting, but I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it, and was overly impressed with the Henry Ford. Henry Ford was a visionary – a crazy, racist visionary – but the museum that shares his name deserves your support and patronage. As do all the cultural institutions of metro-Detroit this summer… Unlike Cobo Hall, they really are precious jewels.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shows for the week

Today marks the beginning of a pretty full week of shows.

Tonight was a tough call between St. Andrews and the Magic Stick. I really like that Harlem Shakes record and Allan James & the Cold Wave are always great, but Emily Haines and a potential lesbian cat fight wins out.

I could, for the sake of play pretend, act like I’m going to make it out the next night to see the Rosewood Thieves, Blasé Splee and Wild Years at PJ’s Lager House, but honestly, I have to fix the pipe, drain and sink in my basement so I can do laundry again. Well, to be fair, I’m going to try to be helpful in some way as my girlfriend fixes the pipe, drain and sink in the basement. Maybe I can bring her little sandwiches and lemonade as she toils away. But you should consider going to that show in my honor.

Wednesday I’m sensing, will be day two of “operation laundry.” It’s a good thing there aren’t any shows on my radar that night, as by then I should have no clean clothes left to wear.

I hope I have clean clothes by Thursday though – because I’m going to the Belmont to see some bands I like… I think? Who knows! It’s the "Thursday mystery show" at the Belmont! Check the Allan James & the Cold Wave My Space page, and you’ll see a listing for their show with Big Mess and Computer Perfection on Thursday the 18th. Perfect! But according to their My Space page, Big Mess is playing at the Belmont on Friday the 19th with Allan James & the Cold Wave! Hmm... Computer Perfection actually has an actual for real flyer on their page listing a show on Thursday the 18th – with Prints and Big Mess! But the Belmont page says Thursday’s show will be Prussia, Computer Perfection and Grandchildren! Prussia’s page has them playing a show in Fresno California the 17th, and then in Los Angeles the 19th. Though it is fun to think they have the resources and the inclination to fly in for a one-night-only Belmont performance before jetting back to California, I somehow doubt it. Whoever the hell is actually playing, the odds are good that it will be bands I like, so I’ll be there.

Friday is Pansy Division at Small’s! Since I did not attend Motor City Pride this year, I will consider attendance at this show fulfillment of my contractual “showing pride” agreement with the gay community.

Saturday is the MI Music & Merch Swap at the Loving Touch in Ferndale and then the Prime Ministers CD release show in Pontiac. The record is called Compromiser, and it’s one of my favorite of the year so far. Darling Imperial is playing as well, which is great because I’ve been wanting to see them again ever since Blowout.

Sunday I think I’m going to finally get around to watching Ghandi. I bought it like, a year ago and it’s still in the shrink wrap and everything. I will also spend some time using my new shop vac. I’ve never been so excited to own a power tool (does this count as a power tool?) and I can’t wait to vacuum my car and porch! Jealous much?

Monday, June 8, 2009

"A victim of a terrible accident"

"... a victim of a terrible accident." That wording is from the statement released by the good folks at Kill Rock Stars regarding the death of Jeff Hanson. At this point, it's looking like he died after falling in his concrete-floored apartment, which he had just moved into days earlier. Maybe it's because he's the same age as me, or because I have an OCD fear of falling and suffering death or a closed head injury, but I can't stop thinking about this. It also might be because this wasn't a suicide or drug overdose like so many musicians before him. In my head I see a guy who's excited to show his parents his new place standing on a chair trying to put something away on a high shelf and his foot slipping.

I hope his friends and family can take comfort in the fact that news of his death is causing people to rediscover his body of work or even listen to it for the very first time. I also hope that his music - the ability to hear his voice - is, and will continue to be, a comfort to them.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Record Review: Scott Walker 30 Century Man: Music Inspired by the Film

If there’s anything I’m gay for, it’s over-the-top orchestral pop with an equal twist of camp and intelligence. Unless it's Marc Almond. He gives me the creeps. Anyhow, it’s not a surprise that the first time I heard Scott Walker, I immediately loved him and wanted everything the man had ever recorded. I almost have everything at this point, and from his early 60’s pop Walker Brothers days to his more recent work (over-the-top orchestral pop no more!) I love almost all of it. So I was totally excited when I heard about this compilation. As I say in my Tiny Mix Tapes review, mixed in with nerdy Walker facts and musings, it’s a good comp. I have not seen the movie yet though - anybody see it? tells me the DVD release date is coming up mid-June! So maybe I can convince my girlfriend to add it to her Netflix queue in between lez-out-movies like The Color Purple and Changeling.

Wonder Twins Review: GoComedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale

This week's Metro Times features yet another Wonder Twins saga - this time we venture away from music for a moment to check out some improv comedy. I've always been a big fan of improv when it's done well, and GoComedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale is a place to see good improv. Also, no smoking venue! I would probably attend a Colin Meloy/Decemberists review as played by mulleted lesbians who drove to the gig in their "No War" sticker-clad Subarus as long as the venue was no smoking. Oh, also, in case you were wondering what D'Anne and I look like, the column actually has a picture. And it is an exact replication.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My letter to Trans World Entertainment

Below is the e mail I just sent to Trans World Entertainment - the parent company of FYE. I purchased the new Depeche Mode CD from an FYE store a few weeks ago. It came with a three dollar rebate offer. Read on to see how I feel about that.

TO: John J. Sullivan
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Secretary

Mr. Sullivan:

Hello. I am as surprised to find myself writing this letter as you might possibly be to receive it. You see, I was merely planning to send away for the promised $3 rebate offer for purchasing the new Depeche Mode album Sounds of the Universe. Have you heard it? If not – I’d recommend it. Not in a “Wow, what a groundbreaking album – this is their best work YET” type way, but more in a “Wow, their last few studio albums have not been all that great, and this one is way better than those, particularly if (like me) you’ve been a fan ever since Violator, but your favorite albums are Black Celebration and Some Great Reward because you’d be dumb not to recognize that those are the best ones” type way. But I digress…

The rebate offer. First of all, I think it’s an odd thing to have a rebate offer for a CD. The last rebate offer I sent away for was for cat litter. Which is, of course, the type of product you’d expect to offer you a rebate. After all, it’s a product that the typical purchaser most likely buys a lot -- for the life of their cat presumably, and that can be upwards of 20 years! Actually, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest cat ever, Crème Puff, was born August 3, 1967 and died at 38 in 2005! Adjusted for inflation, that means Crème Puff’s owner probably spent like, $16,000,000 on kitty litter alone. So they completely deserved a rebate offer every once in awhile. But a CD? That’s a new concept. But not a “new concept” like an “innovative idea.” It’s more like an admission that your product is overpriced, but instead of realizing this and giving consumers a break, you’re offering them a three dollar pain-in-the-ass rebate. Frankly, it’s insulting and yet another sign that you don’t show any respect for the people who purchase your product. Congratulations.

And that brings me to my main reason for contacting you. As you well know (because you never shut up about it), there are many people out there who “steal” music. Not to mention the fact that music can be purchased digitally by people who don’t have any desire to own the physical product. Because of this, retail music establishments are struggling. So who actually buys physical, legal CDs anymore? Old people, and collectors. I fall into the latter group, though I am sure there is some existing demographic data out there that would also put me in the former. But that’s not the point. The point is, what’s the last thing a collector, who purchased the physical product because he or she presumably wants the packaging, art work etc., is likely to want to do? I’m going to go with, cut the fucking UPC code off the back cover of the CD artwork and send it to you. Are you kidding me? First you insult me by making me jump through hoops to get a savings I should’ve gotten in the first place, and now you’re telling me that the only way to get this savings is to physically deface the product I purchased because photocopies will not be accepted. You are total assholes. You can keep your three dollars. Frankly, when you finally tank because your business model is so backwards and contemptuous of your customers, you can use it to buy some credibility. Not that it will get you very much, but it’s a start.

Thank you for your time.

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