Monday, February 23, 2009

February 23, 2009: The Pop Project

Edited to add the Decks and Spitting Nickels show at Cadieux Cafe on Saturday!

Today I’m going to be talking about a CD that I fell in love with long before it ever came out: The Pop Project’s Stars of Stage and Screen. With The Pop Project, the name says it all. It’s pop all the way, and done expertly. Catchy hooks, singable background vocals and happy guitars create a sunny 40ish minutes.

The Pop Project have been around a long time and have two previous CD releases, but Stars of Stage and Screen is their best to date. It’s filled with fun and well-crafted songs that beg for multiple listens. Their brand of pop is slightly sarcastic, but ever hopeful. You’ll find a blend of sounds here, at times feeling like you’ve been transported back to the late seventies, and then whooshed back to the mid-nineties where, the band clearly has found a sonic home.

A personal favorite of mine is “Totally Awesome” (if my phone ever goes off at work, this is what’s blaring out). Dave Lawson’s tale of redemption and acceptance has the best hook ever, “I was a worm/now I’m awesome!” There’s nothing complex about the song or its message, and that’s what’s great about it. It doesn’t even feel tongue-in-cheek to me, but that could be from hearing it more times than I can count. The beautiful vocal harmonies remind you that you’re not just listening to a fun pop song, but one created by talented musicians.

“Hearts and Flowers” is probably my favorite on this album. The first time I saw the band at the Lager House they played this song, and I was singing it on the way home. It’s been with me ever since. Even if you’ve never been in love with someone way out of your league, you’ll still get the message Zach Curd sends with these lines: “Well I felt like my body was breaking/that my teeth were falling out one by one/ and I felt muscles tearing and bones detaching/because of you.” It all feels lighter than this when the chorus hits with “I felt older than my father/when I was staring at your body/but your age didn’t really matter/as much as your beauty”. I guess I just feel like this is a fantastic metaphor for a common feeling.

Ok. One more song. I promise this is it. Although, the whole album is filled with solid songs that you will love, this column is really thin, and it will look ridiculous if I write eight pages. The track is “House of Books”. There was a time when I had two copies of this song in my mp3 player. While it was initially a mistake, I left it that way because at the end of the first copy, I always wanted to hear it again immediately. It saved dangerous mp3 player navigation while driving 70 miles an hour. The song leads in with a vaguely maniacal keyboard riff and rolls along with dare-you-to-try-to-sing-this-fast lyrics and an impressive bassline (Will Yates). Unfortunately, the best part about this song is not on the CD. It’s in the live performance of it. At one of the breaks, the band will stop, and give some instruction to the audience, which they are to perform after the word “Fire” is sung. It ranges widely, from having everyone leave the room (that was the first show I saw) to having a couple from the audience dance under a disco ball. You never can tell what it will be.

So in short, if you like unabashed pop music; something the band doesn’t seem embarrassed to play, you should listen to this album.

Sadly, it’s kind of hard these days to catch a Pop Project show. Here are their upcoming shows:

April 5, 2009 -- Motor City Rock Revue @ The Majestic Complex (Detroit)
April 10, 2009 -- International Pop Overthrow - Detroit @ Paycheck’s Lounge(Hamtramck)
May 9, 2009 -- Northern Lights Lounge (Detroit)

Visit the Pop Project at their website --

Stars of Stage and Screen is CD-1325 at the Ferndale Public Library.

What You Should See this Week
Things are looking a little slim this weekend. Don't worry, next week, things will definitely pick up next week with the Metro Times Blowout.
Thursday 2/26/09 --Lager House (Detroit) -- Terrible Twos -- Fontana
The final Shiftless Decay Thursday at the Lager House. Check out these two great X! Records bands!
Friday 2/27/09 -- Magic Stick (Detroit) – Anathallo -- Zoos of Berlin -- Ribbons Of Sound

Friday 2/27/09 -- Pike Room (Pontiac) -- Love Meets Lust -- The Nice Device -- Eat Sugar

Friday 2/27/09 --The Belmont -- Fields of Industry -- New Grenada --The Interiors --Stroller Coaster

Saturday 2/28/09 Magic Stick (Detroit) -- Outrageous Cherry (CD release) -- The Crooks -- The Pizazz

Saturday 2/28/09 -- Small’s (Hamtramck) -- Prussia -- Lightning Love -- The Juliets -- Ian Saylor

Gotta love Lightning Love!

Saturday 2/28/09 -- Northern Lights Lounge (Detroit) -- Hell City Records Showcase
These guys just sent us a bunch of CDs for free! Show them some love!

Saturday 2/28/09 -- PJ’s Lager House (Detroit) -- Gardens -- Silverghost -- The Sisters Lucas -- Dooley Wilson -- John Roundcity
Saturday 2/28/09 -- Cadieux Cafe (Detroit) -- The Decks -- Spitting Nickels

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16, 2009: Frontier Ruckus

Welcome back! I trust everyone had a lovely week and a good Valentine's Day.

This week's CD is The Orion Songbook by Frontier Ruckus. I hesitate to call it a folk album, not because it isn't but because I don't want to scare anyone off. But I'll be brave, yes; I'm talking about a folk record. There are banjos, acoustic guitars, and (gulp!) even a saw.

But there are also some of the most amazing lyrics I've ever heard, dark atmospheres, and beautiful, unique voices.

Let's talk about the lyrics. They feel like poetry. All good poetry especially that which is going to end up as song lyrics, has a sense of rhythm. Matthew Milia's words are not only chosen for meaning, it's clear that he assembled them based on their sound and rhythm. One of my favorite phrases comes from "The Latter Days," the second track. "I know that I am all bitterness and tart/Anatomy to me is a homesick stomach and a broken heart".

Something I feel constantly while listening to this album is haunted. The lyrics are rich with the past, and the spiraling banjo (expertly played by David Jones) along with the singing saw (Zach Nichols) create a sense of longing. Even in the more upbeat songs like "Mount Marcy" with its rolling waves of banjo and happy trumpet there is a tinge of melancholy. Some of the tracks have more or less of this sense, but it's always there, a backdrop of ghosts and undealt-with past.

I think my favorite track on this album (though this probably changes every time I listen to it) is "The Blood". It starts off simply, with piano, the barely perceptible banjo, minimal percussion (Ryan Etzcorn) and guitar. Milia's quirky voice and Anna Burch's high clear one blend to create beautiful harmonies. When the chorus comes along, with the soaring words "And you were sure/that you had the blood/that you had the blood/that all is made of/and that is alright/ that is alright/ I can't think of a better dove/ to carry the blood. The whole song is colored with religious references, and it feels a little like a revival.

You should check out this CD if you like something you can listen to endlessly and always discover something new, especially if you pull out the handwritten lyric sheet. You should also see them live, if you get the chance. They've got a few local shows coming up in addition to what seems like a US tour. Below are their local stops:

March 5 -- Mac’s Bar (Lansing)

March 21 -- Blind Pig (Ann Arbor) -- w/ Chris Bathgate, Charlene Kaye

Mar 27 2009 -- The Crofoot (Pontiac)

Apr 9 2009 -- MSU Union Ballroom (East Lansing) -- w/ Koufax

The Orion Songbook is CD-1376 at the Ferndale Public Library. You can visit Frontier Ruckus at their website

What You Should See this Week

Monday 2 /16/09 – Lager House (Detroit) -- Kommie Kilpatrick -- Turbo Fruits -- The Decks – Beekeepers
Enjoy the 60s-rock-inspired Decks!

Monday 2/16/09 -- Pike Room (Pontiac) -- Thank You -- Mi Ami --Child Bite
Go see the collection of fabulous beards known as Child Bite. You will not be disappointed. In the music. The beards might put you off a little.

Tuesday 2/17/09

Wednesday 2/18/09

Thursday 2/19/09 -- Magic Stick (Detroit) -- Farewell Republic -- The Satin Peaches -- JSB Squad

Thursday 2/19/09 -- Lager House (Detroit) Shiftless Decay Thursdays -- Human Eye -- Heroes & Villains
Come and see two more bands from X! Records play two sets each! You can pick up the Shiftless Decay Compilation on CD this week! That’s what I’ll be doing!

Friday 2/20/09 -- AJ’s CafĂ© (Ferndale) -- New Grenada

Friday 2/20/09 -- The Berkley Front (Berkley) -- The High Strung
The High Strung is fun and poppy. Plus, they’re well-known for playing shows at libraries. What’s not to love.

Saturday 2/21/09 -- Pike Room (Pontiac) -- Millions of Brazilians (EP Release) -- Deastro -- Silverghost

Saturday 2/21/09 -- Small’s (Hamtramck) -- The High Strung -- Chase the Radio -- Shoe

Saturday 2/21/09 -- (Magic Bag) -- Mick Bassett & The Marthas (CD Release) -- Back In Spades
I must have this CD.

Saturday 2/21/09 -- Elbow Room (Ypsilanti) -- Chris Bathgate -- Black Jake & The Carnies -- Drunken Barn Dance -- JENNY'S BIRTHDAY
I’m not sure who Jenny is, but this is gonna be one heck of a birthday! Chris Bathgate is always a delight to see, whether he’s playing solo or with nine musicians; Black Jake and the Carnies’ brand of bluegrass will have you slapping your knee and singing along; and Drunken Barn Dance’s spirited folk tunes will make this a great evening

Saturday 2/21/09 -- The Blind Pig (Ann Arbor) The Von Bondies -- Nico Vega -- Lightning Love
Local boys done good, The Von Bondies just put out a new album. Check out their signature Detroit garage rock. Plus, well, you know how I feel about Lightning Love.

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009: Lightning Love!

Edited to add: Apparently, every local band in the Metro Detroit area feels the need to play on a Friday the 13th. I've added The Friendly Foes show at Small's in Hamtramck to my list.

You came back!

A few words before I move on to today's CD. Did you go out and see any music this weekend? Leave me a comment if you did! I made it to see The Mahonies and The Frustrations at the Lager House on Thursday and The Eat This City Acoustic show Saturday. Two completely different shows, which is the thing I really love about Michigan music: the variety.

Today's CD is Lightning Love!'s November Birthday, which came out in December.

Leah Diehl's vocals are the first thing you notice, arresting you with their child-like quality, and sometimes etherealness. The next thing you notice is that this sweet child seems to be singing about alienating her friends, drinking and the coldness of the winter destroying her ability to love. This juxtaposition is what makes November Birthday a great album. Catchy songs that you find yourself singing along to before you really realize what's invaded your psyche. Case in point, "Good Time". The hook, "I can't help havin' a good time," is begging to be drunkenly hollered at their shows, yet listen closely, and you'll hear, "Guess I'm too young not to mess around/It's just what happens when you're out of town". This makes for a much more complex "story" than a simple sing-along.

Paired nicely with the sweet-as-sugar vocals are lo-fi keyboards, simple plinking piano (although on the track "November Birthday" you'll hear that Leah Diehl is quite an accomplished pianist) and happy guitars. This is the formula for infectious songs that are much more melancholy and dark than they seem on the surface. Yet this juxtaposition is not merely ironic, it feels more like a device to make us all face the things about ourselves that aren't too pretty. If you declare that you're no good, you might as well have some happy music as your soundtrack.

"Friends," a funny-but-sad ditty about drunken antics bad enough to keep your friends away, feels like what you would say to yourself if you sat around for two weekends with no phone calls after acting this way. It doesn’t feel self-pitying, really, it’s more like fairly accurate account of events and the feelings associated with them. This is yet another great feature of November Birthday; the sentiments are honest, there's no shying away from the embarrassing or ugly here.

Another track I'm in love with from November Birthday is "Girls Are Always Wrong". The tune is fairly forceful, and it's got you bobbing your head before the vocals even come in. Also charming is the boy and girl verses, the boy verses sung by Ben Collins, whose voice is a perfect complement to Diehl's. By the time they're singing together, you feel as if the battle of the sexes has ended in a truce; two adorable indie rock kids meeting in the middle and declaring, "I am always wrong, but I've known it all along...and it's so great." Keeping us all dancing along is Aaron Diehl (he and Leah are siblings), with his quick, and cymbal-laden drums.

Albums like this make me wish more Top 40 listeners would venture out into their local venues to hear music. You can dance to it, sing along with it and form crushes on the band members; why does it have to be released by a major label? So, the moral of the story is, there's great, poppy music being produced all around you. Sometimes next door to you! Go out and see it! Or, check it out from your library!

Lightning Love! have a ton of shows coming up in the next few months. Do yourself a favor and check one out!

Feb 21 2009 9:30P -- Blind Pig (Ann Arbor) w/ THE VON BONDIES
Feb 28 2009 9:00P -- Smalls (Hamtramck)
Mar 7 2009 8:00P -- Belmont (Hamtramck) -- 2009 METRO TIMES BLOWOUT
Mar 27 2009 9:30P -- Blind Pig (Ann Arbor) -- THE SATIN PEACHES CD RELEASE
Mar 28 2009 9:00P -- The Heildelberg (Ann Arbor)
Apr 4 2009 3:00P -- RELAY FOR LIFE -- Ann Arbor
Apr 11 2009 9:30P -- Elbow Room (Ypsilanti) -- DAMON’S "FAKE" BIRTHDAY

November Birthday can be found in the library's CD collection, it's CD-1381.

Visit Lightning Love! at their myspace:

Things you should see this week

Monday 2/09/09

Tuesday 2/10/09 -- Magic Stick (Detroit) -- Von Iva -- Semi Precious Weapons

Wednesday 2/11/09

Thursday 2/12/09 -- The Lager House (Detroit) -- Tyvek -- The Johnny Ill Band -- FREE SHOW
This is the second week of the month-long set of shows promoting X! Records' Shiftless Decay: New Sounds of Detroit" compilation. Each band will do two different sets. I've been assured that I will love Tyvek, so you should come out and we'll discover them together! Plus, X! Records is based in Ferndale. Gotta support the homeboys!

Thursday 2/12/09 -- The Blind Pig (Ann Arbor) -- Champions of Breakfast -- Howlies -- H.O.M.E.S.
Although I'll be at the above show, I can't, in good conscious, not recommend that you see Champions of Breakfast. You will have the opportunity to see them again Friday, if once isn't enough.

Thursday 2/12/09 -- Woodward Avenue Brewery (Ferndale) -- Wildcatting -- Oscillating Fan Club -- Running With Panthers --Hello Commander -- "The Sweethearts of Ferndale Show"

Wanna keep it really local? check out a Ferndale band in a Ferndale bar! In fact, you could hit both the library and the WAB in about 3 minutes. Oscillating Fan Club is bassy, with sparkly, surf guitars. Wildcatting's fuzzy guitars and 60s/70s rock flavor will have you thinking about heading out to see them the next day, too!

Friday 2/13/09 -- Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (Detroit) -- Sea & Cake

Friday 2/13/09 -- Small's (Hamtramck) -- Friendly Foes -- Fur -- The Calls
I'm not sure how I missed this one when I first posted, but it's one of MANY shows this Friday. The Friendly Foes are always fun, so it would be a good choice.

Friday 2/13/09 -- The Lager House (Detroit) -- Wildcatting -- The Howlies -- Champions of Breakfast

Were you conflicted about what to see Thursday? Go to the Lager tonight and hear Wildcatting AND Champions of Breakfast together!

Saturday 2/14/09 -- The Lager House (Detroit) -- Electric Fire Babies -- The Nice Device -- Goudron -- NikTronic

I'm a big geek for the Electric Firebabies. Spend Valentine's Day dancing with them. That's better than any romantic dinner and chick flick.

Sunday 2/15/09

Have a good week!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Inaugural Post: Notes & Great Lakes Myth Society

Welcome to the 780s! General music is cataloged in the 780s in the Dewey Decimel System. The ".00" is silent. Let me introduce myself. I'm Kelly, and I've been working at the Ferndale Public Library off and on (mostly on) for about ten years. If you frequent the library, I'm the one with the red hair. I've recently started developing a collection of local music CDs for library patrons to check out. That project as well as this blog have grown from my ever-increasing love of Michigan music. I just had to find a way to make my weekdays and weekends connect.

This blog will be updated at least once a week, probably on Mondays. I'll be highlighting one CD from the library's local music collection per entry. I wouldn't go so far as to call these reviews, just a blog version of what I might do at the circulation desk. I will also endeavor to recommend some live shows for the week, stuff that I know will be good, what I heard will be good, or things that just look interesting.

Some notes before I jump into my inaugural entry (eek!). First, I'm not an expert on this stuff. I just want to get the word out about the amazing music being produced around me. If one person checks out a CD I recommend or goes to a show because of this blog, then I'll be happy. Second, I'll be linking to a lot of things on this blog. Not all of them are going to be suitable for children. I will do my best to keep this space suitable for all ages, but be warned that not every blogger works for a public library! Third, if you have a local band or love a local band please do not hesitate to leave me a comment or email me with your recommendation. I'm always looking to expand the collection. Finally, we are always willing to take your local music donations, so feel free to drop by with them or mail them to us at:

222 E. Nine Mile Road

Ferndale, MI 48220.

Well, that's enough of that. On to the first CD!

It feels fitting to start at the beginning. Well, the beginning for me at least. I first saw Great Lakes Myth Society at the Magic Stick's annual Zombie Dance Party in 2006. It was just something for me and my roommate to do for Halloween; get dressed up, see some bands and have some fun. I had no idea that it would change me into the kind of person who would drive up to Houghton for a weekend of local music.
Back then, GLMS only had one album, their self-titled 2005 release. I left the Zombie Dance Party with several of their songs lingering in my head, a phenomenon I had rarely experienced after seeing a band for the first time. "Across the Bridge," which seems to be everyone's favorite GLMS song made an instant impression and I went home able to sing the chorus and the oft-screamed lines "Hiawatha/Escanaba". Before I went to bed that night, I had downloaded Great Lakes Myth Society from iTunes, and the love affair with this album began.
There is a lot of texture on "Great Lakes Myth Society". Voices overlapping, storms raging, and a myriad of instruments. I would recommend listening to it on headphones at least once, so you can pick out the song fragments in "Lake Effect," and hear all of the parts in their famous harmonies.
Another thing I love about this album is its connection to time and place. You can just taste cheap beer and feel the cold snow on your face when you hear "Isabella County, 1992"; feel a pang of fear as you hear a roaring Michigan thunderstorm in "Buffalo Nickel"; and picture the geography of the Great Lakes area, believing it could have been Big Jim Hawkins and Paul Bunyan who stomped, fought and spit the place into existence.
Frankly, the best thing about Great Lakes Myth Society the band is seeing them live. Which you should do. As often as you can. I will not embarrass myself by stating how many times I've done just that, but let's just say I know what I'm talking about when I say you will have a good time. After they impress you, make you laugh and make you raise your glass during "Heydays", go up to one of the guys and tell them you enjoyed the show. They'll be glad to meet you, and the next time you see them, you might just get a handshake or a clink of your PBR.

Great Lakes Myth Society can be found at the Ferndale Public Library in our CD section under the call number CD-1318. Go to the library's online catalog to search for this and all of our local CDs.

More info about Tim, Jamie, Greg, Scott and Fido can be found at

The only confirmed local date I have for GLMS is Friday, March 6th at the Atlas during the Metro Times Blowout. It's sure to be a blast!

What You Should See This Week

Monday 2/2/09Rest up, it's going to be a long week.

Tuesday 2/3/09 -- Pike Room (Pontiac) -- Gil Mantera's Party Dream -- Carjack -- Champions of Breakfast
If you like to dance, you'll like this show. Carjack and his army of robots will grab you and MAKE you move. Champions of Breakfast, well you have to see and hear (together) to believe. Watch out for over-sized fake guitars and their brain-burrowing earworm of a version of "We Built This City".

Wednesday 2/4/09 Be ready, you have at least two shows to choose from for the rest of the week! Thursday is the new Friday!

Thursday 2/5/09 --The Lager House (Detroit) -- The Frustrations -- The Mahonies --FREE SHOW
This is a free show promoting "Shiftless Decay: New Sounds of Detroit" compilations coming out on X! Records. Come out and see this if you like punk. And I mean punk, not emo, not melodic.

Thursday 2/5/09 -- The Blind Pig (Ann Arbor) -- CETAN CLAWSON REVOLUTION -- SIK SIK NATON -- TONE & NICHE --TOKYO SEXWHALE
Sik Sik Nation brings the psychadelic rock, complete with one of those overhead projectors and a plate of colored water and oil.

Friday 2/6/09 -- Corktown Tavern (Detroit) -- Zoos of Berlin -- The Antivillains -- Wildcatting
Wildcatting's chugging guitars and Zoos' atmospheric pop go together quite well.

Friday 2/6/09 -- MOCAD (Detroit) -- THE Necks, with special guests: Pink Eye

Saturday 2/7/09 -- The Lager House (Detroit) -- EatThisCity Presents: Unplugged Detroit II w/ The Hard Lessons, Friendly Foes, Mick Bassett, Deastro, & Carjack
I'm listing this one as the go-to show on Saturday, not just out of loyalty but because this promises to be spectacular. The chance to see all of these guys do acoustic sets is impossible to pass up. What will acoustic Carjack even be like?!

Saturday 2/7/09 -- The Elbow Room (Ypsilanti) -- Matt Jones -- The High Strung -- Jim Roll
Well, I've got some serious thinking to do. Matt Jones' CD has been a long time coming, but that Detroit show up there is sure to be a blast...Why hasn't the transporter been invented yet?

Saturday 2/7/09 -- The Magic Stick (Detroit) Jim Shaw Benefit - The Go -- Gardens -- Human Eye -- Greg Cartwright -- Tyvek --Dan Kroha +more
This is a benefit for Jim Shaw who has been diagnosed with cancer. There will also be an art auction.

Well that's it for this week! Leave me nice comments!