Spring Mix Tape: It’s May. School’s out for summer…

. May 2, 2012.
cassette2

Hereupon the fifth month of the year, I sat down to make a “Top 5” favorite local rock songs – so far – of 2012. With the death of CD’s, it seems like the MixTape is undoubtedly back to being on actual tape. Actually, some of the songs listed here are available only in the cassette format.   

1. Chit Chat – “Cruisin” – This Ypsi trio are exactly what I want a band to sound like if I hear the prefaced descriptor: pop/punk – they’re like spinning tops’ ricocheting from guttural noise, to hazy indie-rock grooves, to elbow-scraped jostles, to daydream-sunshine struts, all of it glistened with that surfy reverb guitar shimmying over a buzzy low end pipeline. One song is chaos, the other is jangly, and “Cruisin’” is a lovely driving sunset ballad that soars for its first two acts and then revs up into a sweet squall of riffs.   

2. Matt Jones & the Reconstruction – “Special Forces” – Josh Malerman (of the High Strung) sat beside me as Jones performed this song (aided by Chris Bathgate on mandolin) inside Jim Roll’s studio. As the hushed acoustic guitar jittered and jigged towards the rushing, cello-sawed poignancy of the chorus, I nudged Malerman and whispered with dorky enthusiasm that this’ll be the song to make Jones famous. Compared to his usual fare — elegant/eerie, sweet/supernatural chamber-pop — this is practically a pop song.   

3. Secret Twins – “Hands Up (Arms Down) – Drummer Tim Thomas still calls Ann Arbor home, even if his “twin,” singer/guitarist Dina Bankole, recently settled east in Hamtramck. They released this song at the end of November: not-even-2-minutes worth of a jangled, jogging, stomp and slide ditty – Bankole’s crooning-cooing-belt harmoniously sweetening what’s just two shades sunnier from being a punk-rock punch-out.   

4. Nightlife – “Radio” – Going off, similarly, of dulcet voiced lead-female vocals – this Ann Arbor duo is coolly rollicking in the darkly beautiful seas of new-
wave-bedazzled, dance-pop – the hazy, dreamy vocals winding their way through finely composed layers of buzzy synths sawing and chiming like a synthetic orchestra.   

5. Bad Indians – “The Other Side” – Okay, back to punk…well, punk-esque? Psychedelic-rock? I’m cheating here, since this song is part of an EP that won’t be out for a month (even if you can stream this single, now, on the band’s bandcamp-site). This band’s always open to experimentation (and copious reverb), but sometimes they can settle in for 3-minute shambled-up jams where the quavering organs dazzle your ears, the snaky guitars put the hook in you and the drums keep kicking you forward.

And then… my “top 5” quickly broke down and opened up to further entries…

Photographer Kenny Corbin just bent my ears toward a new-ish Ann Arbor band (with two albums out) called Pity Sex (check out “When You’re Around”) who are quenching nostalgic thirsts for the intricate, knotty-guitar-slung avalanches of more eclectic 90’s-indie-rock.  And then there was the post-hardcore shreds and guttural guitar grinds from a band called All The Wild Children (a group made up of most of the now-defunct Sharky & the Habit) – but whose faces, voices and instrumental stylings are likely already familiar to Ypsi rock crowds (check out “Breaker Breaker.”) They play at Woodruff’s in Ypsi on May 5th.  An eighth song for my list would be from a Detroit-based collective with some Ypsi-ties: Infinity People is a staggering (super) group made up of more than a dozen avant-garde, psychedelic/noise/performance-art-leaning rock provocateurs – They’re double album In Love With The Light came out last month on Fred Thomas’ label LifeLike.  And while I’m on the subject of singer/songwriter Thomas, one of his most revered projects, Saturday Looks Good To Me, reassembled last month and recorded their first proper album in five years, which is coming out this summer on Polyvinyl. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been listening to, so far.

Trending

Mittenfest

  Here’s what Mittenfest means to me… If I imagine a day when I’m no longer ‘on the scene…,’ when I’m no longer as ‘into’ live local music…, when I’m slowing down and not keeping up as much as I do…, then the fondest memories, the most vivid mental Polaraoids that will slide through my

Domino’s Farms Aids Ann Arbor’s Need for Office Space

Domino’s Pizza and Arbor Research are both launching new office building projects at Domino’s Farms. Domino’s Pizza is creating a 33,000-square-foot building on the north side of Domino’s Farms, expanding to their current space. Arbor Research is creating a new 49,500-square-foot headquarters building on the east side of Domino’s Farms. Both buildings should be completed

A Physician’s Perspective on Legalized Cannabis

On Tuesday, November 6th, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Ten years ago, we had become the 13th state to legalize Cannabis for medical use. I voted for the medical cannabis law years ago because, in my view, cannabis is not a dangerous product, and too many people were being imprisoned for its use. At that time, however, I did not subscribe to the argument that there were legitimate medical uses for cannabis. How things have changed.

Tiny Expo at Ann Arbor District Library—A Curated Holiday Gift Fair with Flair

The Tiny Expo is a gem of an indie arts and crafts fair for vendors with original and unexpected products that make wonderful gifts but may not be an obvious fit for Ann Arbor’s mainstream art fairs. Shoppers who crave artistic, high quality products with diverse price points will find a rich variety of unique, handmade products to choose from.