Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Local Humans and the Things they Do with their Faces, Feet and Hands

Here's some stuff about records.

Pewter Cub
is pretty alright in my book (see page 78, rethink.d: The Early Years) and they had a party at Smalls some months ago for their LP, The Door Opened; You Got In. I enjoy the appropriate use of the semicolon in their title. I also enjoy the tracks, which range from the very Black Angels-ish opening song "As You Were" to the noisy pop of "Surface", though they linger toward more the former, black psychadelia. I find the recordings to be very good, however I don't feel that the band is quite as moody as this EP implies. When I've seen them live they've been more flippant/fun/raucus, or at least have presented themselves in that way. Perhaps in the recordings they showed more the reality of their lyrics? Drum-heavy and deep, the tracks have a vast spacial resonance, with vocals that shine but lack the same depth as the other instruments. Regan, Dave and Scott have quite beautifully fitted talents, though, and the dirty guitar melds with the syrup-sweet voice and booming toms in an unexpectedly full-sounding 8 song album.

Here is an awesome video of the aforementioned "Surface". It's really great because 1. The director did a wonderful job; and 2. It hearkens to the less dark (at least musically and performatively) aspects of the band.

Macrame Tiger was all a-buzz around these parts this summer and into fall. I work with 2 of their members, so I get an exclusive inside scoop and I'm going to tell you all the juicy details of their torrid affairs (devastate the details, get it? Ha... ha... hm). Just kidding. But I do know that they are ready to move forward with a ton of new songs; it seems they were over their EP as soon as it was released. No one else has been dismissing it as much as the band themselves, whose final track "Lucy Sue" was named the #1 local song of the year by the respected Jeff Milo. The consensus seems to be that the record is awesome, though from what I hear from Pedro and Kerry, all of the new material is far more comprehensive and involves Marilu and Kerry in more integral ways. Each of the tracks on the EP is a solid single, yet a single idea they do not make. Somewhat disjointed, they dance between spacey prog-y post-punk bars andfolkey honkey-tonk campfires. Both styles are executed well and sound fantastic on their own. Together, they can become a little patchy. And what's with the super-Frank Zappa feel of "Sparklewood Friendship Society Club"? I'm not complaining about any of it individually--all the songs are catchy and smart--I simply hope they weren't trying for continuity. This EP is, to me anyway, a show of power, to say, "Not only can we do this, but this and this too! So watch out, motherfuckers." And I do love those weird and layered vocals and shimmery effects; it's as if Animal Collective was a band I liked. I'll be on the look-out for Macrame's new stuff.

Fur just recently released another EP. In the same fashion as their debut EP, they released it online and you can get it for free. This one is called Devastate the Details and has a similar sound to the first, though longer. After listening to the EP twice, I felt like I knew the songs from somewhere else--their hooks are brilliant enough. I've said before that this band has a great way of fusing the same ol' garage rock with a heavier and darker pallet. However, it has the opposite problem that Macrame Tiger's does, in that its tracks sit in a small margin of sound. Each song becomes similar to the next when the mood of cathartic anger prevails. There's nothing wrong specifically with the songs; they just could use some variance to avoid loss of interest. I'm looking forward to more of the unconventional way that Ryan plays with vocals. He really does see his voice as an instrument within each song, and yet he doesn't draw attention away from the equal amazingness that is happening with the other three members of the band. Johanna (keys) is featured more on the album, and I really like it, though my Killers-saturated mind keeps hearing "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" everywhere. Drum sound is fantastic, with Zach's organic breakbeats rich and dynamic, and Mike's stellar work on bass is more prominent this time around than it was on the debut. With all the fuzz cutting through the songs, there is a slight expectation that the formats and lengths will devitate, but they are all under 5 minutes. The last track seems to me to be the best single and also the most standard, forcefully energetic and a great last impression. The use of guitar effects could be played with in terms of integration with songwriting; I think that might be a good step for the sound to go in.

So there's my triple review. I hope I still have friends.


  1. Great reviews Julia,
    Don't worry about being too critical. Detroit needs actual criticism! I'm sure it's all appreciated, musicians and visual artists only benefit from it in the long run, and if people are not mature enough to handle that then they shouldn't be doing this. You highlighted the pros of each group, and also gave them a perspective on things to be conscious in the future (which can be taken or left). Ain't nothin' wrong with that! :D

  2. Thanks Lisa! I know, other people have said the same thing to me; I'm just so not used to it!