Archive | May, 2012

Kzoo’s The Almanac Shouters to Play One Final Show

May 23, 2012

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Posted by Garret Schuelke

THE ALMANAC SHOUTERS, a trio of Kalamazoo Folk-Punkers who ended their reign of glory in July 2011, is one of those bands that brings out my selfish side as a music lover: I adore the music, and I respect the musicians involved and want them to be successful and happy in their musical careers, but I don’t want them to go away—ever .  Lucky for me, and Kalamazoo’s music scene, the Shouters are having a one-off reunion show this Friday (May 25) at The Ant Hill (check out DIT Kalamazoo for information regarding the house venues location), with performances by Lincoln County War (watch live performance here) and George Costanza, who happen to be playing their first show on their upcoming tour.

In celebration of the Shouters being united again, let’s take a look at their two albums: A Long Road Home, released in January 2010, and Windmills, released in February 2011. Both albums consist of 13 tracks, and are about as similar as the two sides of a piece of tree bark.

A Long Road Home is the more energetic album.  The first song, “Jack Kerouac” (stream below), in itself contains all the themes that make up the album: an enthusiasm for traveling, wonderment at what the world has to offer (physical, spiritual, good, bad, or otherwise), and a search for one’s identity. In the tradition of other Folk-Punk bands such as Defiance, Ohio and Andrew Jackson Jihad, many of the songs have become embedded enough in our minds that, at shows, we can’t help but give our own impromptu performances when Alex Quinlander starts rocking out, with Rory Svekric egging us on with each slap of her double bass (once to the point of one of the strings breaking during a performance).

The more somber songs, like “Vice of Men”, are the type where it’s best to close your eyes and croon along with the chorus. I believe Nola Wiersma’s singing on “Going Nowhere” to be even more emotional and nostalgic than Ryan Woods singing on “Grandma Song” (or any other of Defiance, Ohio’s somber song on “The Great Depression”, for that matter).

Windmills is a more introspective album. Rather than an album that invokes the open road, it invokes sitting in a living room, reflecting on your home life while strumming your guitar, sometimes going off into space. The second track, “Allen Blvd” (stream below), like “Jack Kerouac”, sets the albums stage when it comes to themes and attitude, and while certain songs, such as “A Mountain Song” and “Ann Bancroft” are reminiscent of some of the sing- a-longs on “A Long Road Home”, Windmills seems to avoid anthems in favor of spirituals.

 Some fun facts that you should know: the name “Almanac Shouters” was inspired by The Almanac Singers, a New York Folk group back in the 1940’s that included, at various times, legendary folk and blues musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston, and Sis Cunnigham.  In the tradition of Folk music (not Folk-Punk), two songs on each of the albums seems to be inspired by other famous tunes (“Little Black Train”  seems inspired by a spiritual also titled “Little Black Train”, and “Windmills” tune was taken from Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train”). Nola has also been known to do an intense rendition of “Railroad Bill” at some Shouter performances.

On the invite page for Friday’s show, the description notes that, since Nola is moving away at the end of May, this is most likely the final time the Almanac Shouters will ever perform.  I cringe at this prospect, and hope that the Shouters will come together again sometime in the future, but in case that doesn’t happen, it’s comforting to know that we have the Shouters music to listen to and, like many great musicians and bands that are no longer around, their spirit will always be hanging around somewhere in our heads.

STREAM: The Almanac Shouters — “Jack Kerouac” and “Allen Blvd”
Garret Schuelke is a graduate of Western Michigan University. He writes, sorts clothes, and does all sorts of awesome tricks.
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VIDEO: Ty Beat & MC Friendly — “Elderly Spelling Bee” (feat. Matt Black)

May 16, 2012

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Posted by Aaron Geer

If you’re looking for Michigan produced hip-hop turn no further to Young Heavy Souls. Branded as a “digital music company/distributor” and founded through the eyes of one of our favorite acts of West Michigan, Matt Black, another MI rapper is slowly rising to prominence. MC Friendly, based in Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids, has a distinct taste to his flow, and his producer Ty Beat, also of Grand Rapids, blends swirling electronic synths with drums that bite, bass that floats  between loose hiphop-nouveau and tight sampled rhythms.

Ty Beat & MC Friendly’s Blast Femur – off Young Heavy Souls – is six tracks of dense electronic hip-hop. MC Friendly is nearly flawless because of the high-quality production. Energy drips off each of his rhymes, and Ty Beat never pressures too far into over-marginalizing what’s really at play: the strength in MC Friendly’s writing.

So it makes sense for one of the best tracks off Blast Femur to be titled “Elderly Spelling Bee” (watch video below) because of the tenacity and importance that Friendly puts into each line, going as far as cougar hunting: Tell your dad to keep his eyes on his chick cause I’m a slick motherfucker. Featuring Kalamazoo’s Matt Black, the track is centered around organic instrumentation from Ty Beat and a vox-endcoded chorus that sort-of comes out of nowhere but I can’t imagine the track without it.

Download Blast Femur here

WATCH: Ty Beat & MC Friendly — “Elderly Spelling Bee” (feat. Matt Black)

 

Aaron Geer is the Founding Contributor to Phiendly. He recently graduated from Western Michigan University with a B.A. in English and wonders why he hasn’t been accepted into any graduate school programs. He then remembers that he forgot to apply.
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Made In Michigan: Batcave — “arab legion ii” (WIDR Basement Show)

May 14, 2012

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Posted by Aaron Geer

The other day someone I’m friends with on facebook posted something on the lines of A Nickelback song played on the radio while I was in the shower, pray for me!!!1! The first thought that came to my mind was aww and then why are you listening to a radio station that even has the chance of playing Nickelback?

In Kalamazoo there’s an independent, commercial-free radio station at the left of the dial. 89.1 WIDR FM is by far the greatest radio station in the state of Michigan, and I’m not saying that because I used to DJ there for nearly two years, it’s because it’s the only radio station where you can hear the newest, the oldest, and the weirdest music that’s never been played on commercial television or radio.

There’s one particular show that does amazing in-studio sessions. The Basement Show gives us Double Phelix‘s Batcave and their krautrock jam “arab legion ii” from WIDR Basement Show‘s show on April 23. Stream “arab legion ii” below and download the podcast of the whole show that includes A TON of other local tunes as well as the amazingly awesome Batcave session right HERE.

Keep a look out for Batcave.

STREAM: Batcave — “arab legion ii” (WIDR Basement Show)

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On the Timeline of R. Kelly, and the “Share My Love” Greatness

May 14, 2012

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Seriously, it’s worth listening to…

Posted by Aaron Geer
R. Kelly’s released one of his greatest tracks recently, and his newest album Write Me Back might put the bumpy, and often times manic career that spans nearly two decades into the same breath and categories as soul and funk legends as Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Barry White

In the 8th grade I bought Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On because it was Rob’s top five album in Nick Hornby’s enigmatic novel on love and music, High Fidelity. Nine years later, I turn to Gaye’s title track when I drink too much and end up on stage singing karaoke, dedicating the track to the cute blonde bartender like I’m some showman wearing a suit and not jeans that haven’t been washed in, well, you don’t really have to wash jeans, right? Right?

I’d like to say I listen to my fair share of the distant-genre’d label of “soul,” but in all reality I don’t have an ear past anything other than Barry White  (I have Isaac Haye’s Shaft hanging on my wall in my living room, per the discretion of my roommate’s fondness of quirky record covers) and of course R. Kelly’s tumultuous roller coaster of a career.

Like most of other millenials like myself, a quirky fondness of R. Kelly comes to mind because of the (literally) out of this world movie Space Jam. In third grade I wore Michael Jordan’s #45 jersey in my school photo and the OST for his WTF? movie was the first CD I’ve ever owned. You could say I was obsessed. I’d say, frankly because I wish it were true, I was merely possessed by not only Michael Jordan and his greatness in not only being the greatest basketball player that was, has and will ever play the game, but also of R. Kelly’s purely-awesome anthem “I Believe I Can Fly.” Singing it in your head already? Yeah, same here.

R. Kelly really looks like Will Smith in Men In Black here. Right?

In 2003, I was the type of kid to complain about the eventual never-ending war in Iraq, only played the acoustic guitar because I (surprisingly) had a girlfriend, but here I was, hiding my most-likely-listened-to-track with my headphones on and AIM set up to troll, listening to R. Kelly swirl his way straight ahead, so instantaneously, into “Ignition (Remix).” He started the track with, also what I would say if I was eventually caught listening to it, Now usually I don’t do this, but uhh. And I would even listen to it on my Walkman as loud as I could and play along on my drums because I wanted to master the hi-hat and what I would eventually speed up to twice the speed to anything that I’d ever play ever again on drums.

And then the glory – oh the greatness and glory – of R. Kelly’s craziest, most insanely beautiful moment when he released the videos for Trapped in the Closet. I felt like everyone was thinking, Have you seen them yet? The midget? Viiiiiibraaaate? I KNOW! and couldn’t help but to play them on YouTube over and over and over again until eventually we all just said Yeah, he’s fucking crazy and pretty much pushed him and the craziest thing ever into the back of our minds.

Now, he gives me an even better surprise: one of the best soul tracks I’ve heard since something I’ve heard on vinyl. “Share My Love” (watch official video below) is full of violins, funky guitar, thick bass, and a piano so laden in lush tranquility that it’s hard not to imagine Al Green or Marvin Gaye singing this on Soul Train. The first single off his highly-awaited album Write Me Back, “Share My Love” pretty much has everything you’d want to have a good laugh and put on at a party when things are getting a little weird and “No Diggity” and “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” are being played on someone’s iPod and there’s a train of nostalgic smiles beaming from everyone. Cause that’s what R. Kelly feels like, a ride back in time.

At the apex of “Share My Love” is a hilarious moment when R. Kelly strips it all bare and does his best R&B mucho-suave, sing-saying “Now that we’re in this room, let’s do what we were born to do: Populate . . . I just wanna share my love with you!” I’m currently reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and one of the central figures goals in life is to make Americans aware of the harrowing overpopulation that is spreading throughout the world, the animals that suburban sprawl is killing worldwide, but really, I don’t think R. Kelly could give a damn. See, what I feel what R. Kelly wants the most is for people to love him for who he is, one of the craziest pop figures of our lifetime, and with “Share My Love” I’m sure plenty of people will be opening their arms up to the guy who pissed on the girls head.

WATCH: R. Kelly — “Share My Love” (official video)

 

Aaron Geer is the Founding Contributor to Phiendly. He recently graduated with a B.A. in English from Western Michigan University and is openly taking donations for paying back his student loans he’s already worried about.
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Stream the newest from Terry Malts, “Disconnect”

May 10, 2012

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Posted by Aaron Geer

 

San Fransisco’s Terry Malts have quickly become one of my favorite bands this year, and (as we’ve mentioned earlier) their stunning LP, Killing Time, is like a roller coaster of insanely good times. Here we have their newest track called “Disconnect” off a split with Dead Angles via Loglady Records.

Like most tunes from Terry Malts, “Disconnect” is vibrant in fuzz, alive in nostalgia and best listened to loud enough to have the cops show up.

STREAM: Terry Malts — “Disconnect”

 

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