July 9, 2012

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WATCH: Russ — “Corleone”

When I was 19, I wasn’t doing what Atlanta’s Russ is doing right now, and I really don’t think a lot of people were/are/is/will. A member of Atlanta’s collective DIEMON (Do It Everyday Music Or Nothing), Russ not only writes better than most rappers his age, he produces (every track) better, as well. His most recent album, Straight From Limbo, like all recordings from the collective, is free for download on the DIEMON website here.

One of the better tracks from Limbo is “Corleone,” and, with the video below, it’s clear to see that he’s not afraid of showing what’s lurking: an industry that DIEMON’S ready to annihilate.

WATCH: Russ — “Corleone” 

 

-Aaron Geer

June 7, 2012

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STREAM: Jens Lekman’s newest, “Erica America” off new album, I Know What Love Isn’t

Posted by Aaron Geer

According to Secretly Canadian, Sweden’s most visceral pop star, Jens Lekman, will release his first album since his delightful Night Falls Over Kortedala five years ago. Fittingly titled, I Know What Love Isn’t will be available in the States on September 4 via Secretly Canadian (Sept 3 UK/EU, Sept 3 on Service in Scandinavia). 

The first glimpse we’re given off I Know What Love Isn’t is “Erica America,” a pun-intended, joyous pop ensemble’d four minute tease to the rest of the album. As seen in the track list below, Lekman opens up I Know What Love Isn’t with “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name,” a track he debuted as a solo acoustic performance at Read and Shout in London sometime last year (watch performance here). According to Secretly Canadian, “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name” sets the stage for what’s to come: a simple melody picked out on an echoey upright piano, like a disused one you might find in a schoolroom or church,” so obviously Lekman intends to use an array of instruments instead of the slow yet illuminating guise of the performance in London.But for now, enjoy the first taste of what’s to be handed to us in the late summer/early fall, and stream “Erica America” below.

STREAM: Jens Lekman — “Erica America”

Track Listing:
Every Little Hair Knows Your Name
Erica America
Become Someone Else’s
Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder
She Just Don’t Want To Be With You Anymore
I Want A Pair Of Cowboy Boots
The World Moves On
The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love
I Know What Love Isn’t
Every Little Hair Knows Your Name
TOUR DATES:
07/28/12 – Castelbasso, IT – Soundlabs Festival
09/10/12 – Helsinki, FI – Tavastia
09/11/12 – Århus, DK – Train
09/12/12 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega
09/13/12 – Oslo, NO – Rockefeller
09/14/12 – Malmö, SE – KB
09/15/12 – Gothenburg, SE – Pustervik
09/17/12 – Stockholm, SE – Dramaten
09/19/12 – Manchester, UK – Ruby Lounge
09/20/12 – London, UK – Hackney Empire
09/21/12 – Brighton, UK – The Haunt
09/23/12 – Paris, FR – Gaité Lyrique
09/24/12 – Strasbourg, FR – La Laiterie
09/25/12 – Utrecht, NL – Tivoli de Helling
09/26/12 – Berlin, DE – Postbahnhof
Aaron Geer is the Founding Contributor to Phiendly. He works at a library and pretends to enjoy conversations about people’s dinners. He really couldn’t care less.

May 23, 2012

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Kzoo’s The Almanac Shouters to Play One Final Show

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.

May 16, 2012

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

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.

May 14, 2012

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Made In Michigan: Batcave — “arab legion ii” (WIDR Basement Show)

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)