I saw Fur at Donovan's in Mexicantown earlier this year as a three-piece and was impressed with their sound. Though there seemed to be a physical/visual wall between the band and the audience, the sound was engulfing. Driven and dark, with lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan O'Rourke's downward slouchy gaze adding to the darkness but defying the drive, the band was connected and full. I really enjoyed what I heard. I downloaded their debut EP last week, and throughly enjoyed what I heard there, too. For a first release it sounded precise, well-mixed and professional--not at least due to the fact that they recorded at Tempermill Studios in Ferndale. Okay, I'm going to forgo the restraint and admit that I think it's one of the best debut releases I've heard from a Detroit band in the past few years. The songs are all energetic and moody, a kind of mix between Black Mountain and Interpol. I love the fact that bass and drums are heavy in the mix, and the vocal sound pushes Ryan's unique voice into an integral instrument instead of a showy top layer (especially in the second track). Drummer Zach Pliska is a very solid player, and the songs emphasize this. He leads in the opening track, "Here's to the Angels (West-Coast Swag)", which explodes into this oddly catchy distorted rock tune. The second track, "Pretty Thoughts", really illustrates Fur's connection to dark psychedelia, tom-heavy and distorted, but then adds this weird Killers-esque synth part (by newest member Johanna Champagne) that I actually really dig as an addition. The closer, "Foxtrotsky", is more atmospheric but builds on the toms again. "Foxtrotsky" is what I think Muse might sound like if Muse had any talent, creativity, rawness and edge. Michael O'Connor's bass lines in this one are spectacular, a saxophone just barely makes it into the raging end of the song, and the music is just well-written all around. Kudos to Fur for putting out an incredible first release. I really look forward to hearing and seeing more in the (near) future!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Affirmations is an ideal place to display displayable art (if you're not, like, famous yet). It's a community center smack-dab in the middle of downtown Ferndale, it has a positive and art-friendly atmosphere, and has an open, airy, large-windowed edifice. So, if you walk by there, stop in. The shows there have been improving in their curation. While I've always seen an incredibly diverse group of artists (LGBT and allies, of all races and backgrounds) displayed in one place, their level of experience is getting to be more similar, whereas I used to be able to easily spot the gap.
Affirmations largely supports LGBT youth and community, which abounds in Ferndale. When I stepped into the lobby where the art was exhibited, I noticed first that there was a lot of work there (hung salon-style). It was almost too hard for my eye to rest, but there was that huge painting oddly composed in vibrant colors right in front of me, and there were those two smaller encaustics that seemed to bounce joy off the other walls. Ah. And then my interest was held. And kept, for the most part, around the corner where an Ernst-like kettle boiled and men stood in front of their houses in micron pen, past the hand-painted trans women standees that laughed in unadulterated happiness, and across the opposite wall where abstract watercolor shapes created their own terraforms and felted intestines cascaded down the walls. The fixtures for hanging, which I'm sure are very efficient and a functional godsend, were also the only distraction in the show.
Each artist in this exhibition has a unique sense of play. That is what united them. You may not be someone who goes to art shows, but it doesn't take more than five minutes to see what the wonderful people of metro Detroit are up to--and it's pretty amazing.