ayholev1tmbFriday night, Metro-Detroit’s only remaining punk band played their annual show. The night started off with an alternative drum and vocal feel. The Corpse Killers have really redefined their sound. The entire Fires in Japan act even jumped on stage to dance around the amplifier until the guitar screamed in.

The Corpse Killers seemed to be more about the music for the first half of the show. There was no banter between songs and they stood focused on their performance. About 15 songs in Bone Jackson started to do more dancing about 30 ft away from the mic and the rest of the band started to unleash. Good thing there was another 45 songs left because the second half was when the raillery started to fly and the sweat started to pour.

The Woahs, Ohs, and Babies were brash and numerous. Crowd favorites, such as “Jaws 2,” and band favorites, like “The Making of Jaws 2,” littered the set list. Notably absent were classics “Street Fighter 2010,” and “Kyle Reese.”

After the show, Reggie “The Reckless” Fright had to be helped to the bathroom to wash out the paint in his eyes. There are talks of a CD release party, maybe even before next year. 4/5

The next act made it apparent they were from Las Vegas, Nevada. Bitch’n’Dudes are a metalcore band with a slight touch of punk ska. Almost too much metalcore, almost too little ska, the sounds is very blended and almost comfortable or expected. An avid listener to punk ska might feel it does not qualify, while a listener of metalcore might be drunk at the bar already and unavailable for opinion.

The best song of the set was the song about weed. There was plenty of genre bending madness amidst the skanking and squealing. Although the front women is absolutely crucial to the act, one would have liked to hear more of the classic third wave goblin singing that the male vocalists lead with. 3/5

Fires in Japan played a full set with a new guitarist. This was a momentous occasion because the band is almost on their 100th birthday and they finally rounded out the sound. A listener is assailed with visions of 2005 and picking up a date with emotional pop punk chords played on both the down and the up stroke. Fantastic background bar music. 3/5

The Feigers played excessively loud and I did not hear the set because I did not want to blow my ears out. Next time I’ll remember ear plugs. ?/5

The Rockery venue has really improved their sound with some killer insulation. One could imagine it is from all of the noise complaints from one of my managers who lives around the block. Notable events from the evening were the drummer from Bitch’n’Dudes getting on someone’s shoulders to climb the tree in front of the bar, a d-bag who was observed in the audience after telling the doorman he just wanted to “throw this water bottle out,” without paying, the Abominable Duke Baron Von Joshenghoulie passing out from dehydration and fatigue on the pool table, and Dave W getting hit on by another guy.


Witherscape – Witherscape

junkheadv1tmbWitherscape – Witherscape

Some bands, in search of a “sound”, totally just pull two bands names out of a hat and go to work seeing how they can combine them. Witherscape might be the worst of all those bands, combining something really great and something ultra repugnant: the melodic death metal of Amon Amarth and radio-friendly hard rock.

The opener “Wake of Infinity” paints the picture in disjointed strokes: great guttural verses with juicy technical lite guitar work followed by a clean Foo Fighters chorus. The song literally stops about three minutes in and a Nickelback passage enters. Things get better with track 2, “In the Eyes of Idols,” a slightly intriguing mix of melodic death and conventional rock. This keeps most vocals growling and the rhythm playing two chords at a time, throwing in some random synths.

Some synths are okay, but what seems like a light prog touch quickly engulfs the rest of the album. Tracks like “Divinity” and especially the fifteen minute “Northern Sanctuary” are overblown to the point of absurdity, pulling in synth spiderwebs and spontaneous ballads far too often. So yeah, Amon Amarth and Nickelback if they wanted to sound like Dream Theater. Just in case everyone missed how artsy-fartsy they really were, Witherscape throw in a minute long piano piece to wrap things up super shitty.

Of all the tracks, the only great one is “Marionette”, a random goth metal track hidden somewhere at the halfway point. The verses are totally throwaway, but the chorus spreads out with lush keyboards and epic power chords. Too bad its ruined by the Scruff McGruff death metal barks pushed way up front. Then again, it sort of summarizes the whole album: a waste of an idea that wasn’t that great to begin with.

The lowest D+ you could possibly imagine.




On Saturday, M and I ventured into dangerous and racially segregated Corktown to hear the annual Crash Detroit street festival music… uh… festival. Bands from all over the US of A and perhaps even Canada temporarily relocate for 24-48 hours to play under or around tents and play obnoxious faux-jazz/rock street festival band music. There is not really a way to explain street festival except it is usually a horde of eccentric people who belong at band camp but were let out into the real world. There are drums, brass, battery powered and backpack amplified electric guitars, and an obsession with shock value. The event started at noon and went past nine but the attention today will be for the acts in the middle of the event, you know, the forgotten middle guys.
Often you will see men wear ghoul face paint and traditional marching band clothes, and women wear semi-bondage style either too tight or too loose “late night” clothing with fishnet stockings on their legs and arms. Rule of thumb for “dead” street festival band look: all clothing must have sleeves ripped off and sprinkled with gooey fake blood. Around five there was Dead Music Capitol Band, which, like most street festival bands, adorned themselves like specters of a terrible zombie horror movie from the 60’s. The band themselves were very well practiced and entertaining. They engaged in the popular run-into-the-audience-pretend-to-be-dead-then-slowly-rise-up-while-playing-unique-polyphonic-melodies, that’s RITAPTBDTSRUWPUPM for short. It probably has a cooler name, like, grave-jump. 3/5
In another tent we saw the next band in their official debut, Bitch, Thunder. They played two sets of quads, a bass, and two floors. They hit the drums. They were pretty okay. 3/5
We ran back to the first tent to hear another band. My Brightest Diamond and the percussion section of the Detroit Party Marching Band teamed up. They played a huge marching in intro and then this huge guy started killing the bell kit. I have never seen scales, skips, steps, tremolos, and doubles hit with such speed and accuracy for what felt like the entire six minute song. The most unfortunate part of this act was the front-women of My Brightest Diamond, who just wailed into a megaphone backed by four other women, each wailing into more megaphones to what M thought sounded like the TV theme for Thundercats. The set up was terrible. One megaphone is often employed in a street festival act since megaphones are the most effective way to shout directions or signal a new part of a song or dance, however, multiple women wailing what one would assume to be song lyrics into multiple megaphones is uncharted territory. It was horrible. Then, after the song ended, the huge guy kept on murdering the bell kit until the front women picked up an electric guitar plugged into a stationary grid-powered electric guitar amplifier, a very taboo move for street festival musicians who embody the concept of movement. She mentioned the song was about the “flint water crisis,” and “the killings.” She did not mention which killings she was most concerned about, but one can assume her worldview permitted her to incorporate all of them. The next song featured a perfectly innocent electric guitar getting unjustifiably desecrated while the only word fully distinguishable blared out in a deeply uncomplicated impossible to imitate melody. I think she said “Obama.” 2/5 only because of the bell kit guy.
Seizing some front row seats, we were unprepared for what was about to unfold. One band started up in this tubular march song and marched right through the tent over to the other one. Then, replaced like office supplies for bubble gum and video games, a slew of randomly dressed mostly old dudes and their grandchildren flooded in. The animal costumes are old hat, and dancers are understandable, but what is unacceptable is sheet music. Each and every musician had sheet music attached to their instruments and their quality of playing exposed this. What would have been cool was a theatrical play of some lady reading H.P. Lovecraft and being attacked by demons and a fat guy in skin tight leopard print spandex except it was played to the tune of Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long” without guitars and drum kit. Awful. 1/5
Fleeing to the next tent, we joined the already in progress Environmental Encroachment act, which, as far as I can tell, is a mash-up of other bands. Melodic percussion was a facet of this act. A waist worn marimba was frequently utilized but the real interesting instrument was a huge assembly of metal pipes with dozens of circular saw blades pounded into tone producing shapes and suspended for hitting with wooden mallets. The whole assembly was worn by a single individual who often used four mallets simultaneously to add an incredible depth to each melody. One of the songs had what felt like a three minute solo that I recorded on video and might link to on youtube. There was also a dude who would pull out this tiny trombone which was about the size of a regular trumpet. All of the musicians were very well practiced and they did perform a deserved grave-jump, which gave the other musicians some much needed rest while the saw blade guy buzzed the audience’s heads off. Somehow they recorded an album and that was bought after the show. 4/5
The last act of the so-called middle acts was the Jefferson Street Band. This band I had seen before and actually had their 2015 album. They played a lot of the same songs and a few new ones. This is actually a smaller band which only uses one of each instrument. The obvious leader is the snare drum player who is very showy with his important playing. At one point he had to help the bass player load up a battery and the song lost about 70% of its oomph, the technical term for snare and bass guitar in this instance. It would have been a better idea for one of the other drummers to help. The set was still good and they appeared professional all throughout. The black guy on the bari-sax is a crowd favorite. When he plays he looks like he is about to blow e’eryone’s birthday candles right off the cake. 4/5
The fairgrounds, being in front of Michigan Central Station, now with glass windows, were a lot more built up than the previous two years. A food truck parked in the street and Motor-city-brewing served drinks. There was a very small merch area and two separate tents for used instruments and a crafting area for children to make their own instruments out of cardboard, which they would immediately take to go play with and march around the actual bands. That could be the best part of this event, getting kids to listen and participate in real live music, even if it is obnoxious and escapes understanding. Crash Detroit is one of my personal favorite attractions in Detroit and I hope it continues to expose people to visual and aural anxiety for years to come. That is it for the middle bands.
Crash Detroit 2016 5/5

Micro-Reviewery 12: David Dexter,, Tommy Trull, YeahBoys




David Dexter – Death Design

A lot of that chill coldwave is the en vogue goth, but David Dexter’s instrumental destruction is too smart for that crap. Subtlety is thrown out the window as harsh drum loops, rumbling bass, and bloated guitars dominate. Most of this is pounding rock, with “Nibiru’s Orbit” and “Dead on Arrival” grafting holes in your ears, but “Cruel Work of Nature” sneaks some straightforward pop melodies in when you’re not looking. The near seven minute songs could be shaved a little, but now I’m just nitpicking.


Various Artists – We Are The

If you like chiptune music and metalcore, this is for you. Three tracks from three different bands, none of which sound particularly different. “Septic Wave” is half good, with cool death metal grow vocals and great spiraling NES sine waves butting heads with beyond generic J-Rock wankery. Plodding jazzy Meshuggah drum junk is matched with little else on “Nerd is Dead!”, but the final track takes a similar polyrhythmic element to an extreme. After mixing in grindcore and even a female singer, Lost my Proust’s “extraterrestrial” has a schizophrenic sound that steals the show. If you think clean vocals have any sort of place in metal music, you can add three million points to my score.


Tommy Trull – Songs

As an enormous fan of Michael Nesmith’s brand of early country pop/rock, this is absolutely perfect. “Saddle Up” channels this best: vaguely hip cowboy lyrics are mixed with a perfect melody and a rolling strum. Trull covers a little more ground than that: “Comfort Zone” is pure bubblegum folk and the deliberate jangle of “The Hero of Hide and Seek” never misses a step. There’s even some sort of slow dance thing with “Secret Sun”. I was going to save this last sentence to say something negative, but I can’t come up with anything. Wait, here’s one: very original album title, you talented dipshit.

YeahBoys – YeahBoys

Straight-faced power pop can be difficult to pull off for longer than thirty seconds, but YeahBoys does okay with their seven song demo. Stupid rhythm sequences in “Long Time” and awful guitar on “Everything” aside, there’s a manufactured pop swagger that clicks most of the time. None of the tracks really stand out, but hey, what do you expect when it’s totally free?


Dust Bolt – Mass Confusion

junkheadv1tmbDust Bolt – Mass Confusion

Back in high school, I was a huge DRI fanatic. I listened to Dealing With It religiously, blasting it everywhere I went. One time my friend Dave and I were driving down a downtown avenue, just looking around and making fun of people as we normally did. After only thirty seconds of diverted attention, we looked down at his speedometer: we were blasting through the 30 mph street at 65 mph. The music filled the atmosphere with energy, and all it told us was to go fast, fast, fast.

Still, some things are better off dead. The world can live without feudalism, World War II, mass genocide, and crossover thrash. If you think one of those doesn’t belong, you’re right: crossover isn’t the worst thing ever, but it definitely suffers in the shadow of good genres. Power violence, thrashcore, grind, virtually all of it’s punk/metal hybrid cousins trump it.

DRI’s switch to crossover thrash in the mid-80s was dreadful. The blur of chords was switched to lots of metal space between the notes. It’s like if instead of cruising at 65 down the main strip, we were pumping the brakes every half a second. Going from teen angst to preaching about the dangers of acid rain, it was simply lame and, if the republican party’s opinion of global warming is to be believed, inaccurate:

“Will our children look back
With hatred or despair
At a generation of idiots
Who just didn’t care
About the fossil fuel fumes
And the aerosol sprays
That put holes in the ozone
And let in the rays”

In many ways, Dust Bolt recreates that DRI, whether it’s Lenny doing his best Kurt Brecht impression or the guitars chugging like it’s 1991, but they benefit from hindsight.

Able to eschew the throw away “dun-dun-DUN-dun-dun-DUN” riffing of yesteryear and the aforementioned banal lyrics, this enigmatic band knows how to make crossover thrash good. The same basic principles are there, but “Blind to Art” and “Mass Confusion” rip hard and fast. It has the one piece of the equation that most bands lack: good riff writing.

Unfortunately, for every step forward, there’s a back flip belly-flop that accompanies it. “Exit” is a flaccid power ballad that just can’t muster any strength, while “Mind the Gap” is way too metalcore for comfort. Why bother experimenting so much when you have a decent niche?
So yeah, crossover thrash still sucks. Sorry guys.


Micro-Reviewery 11: Satellite Skin, Minutes of Decay, Lana White, Vaginal Diarrhoea




Satellite Skin – Is This The Desired Effect?

This five track mini-thing is pretty cool when it’s loud, but that doesn’t happen very often. The opener “Waking Up” nails some lo-fi grunge guitars cutting through spacey drums and vocal echo. Even better is “Pissed Work”, a song that sounds like two or three different tracks playing simultaneously. The remaining three snoozers are definitely yawn-worthy, although “I Don’t Understand” has a great moody garage thing going on, sort of like the Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” for the bedroom lo-fi purist.


Minutes of Decay – Inchoate Death

This Metal/emo thing ends way too quickly. The first two tracks catch fire slow with doom riffs burrowing a hole into your brain. Filip Stojiljkovic strikes the perfect balance between screaming and whining, although it’s weird when the occasional clean vocals pop in. Unfortunately, the last track gets all fast metalcorey at the last minute and is thus less good.


Lana White – Letting Go

Sometimes I hear music my body doesn’t react well to. The melodies permeating the atmosphere invade my head, infecting my brain. My cerebellum bloats so much that it starts pressing against my skull until it’s going to rupture. In a fit of confusion and deep despair, I grab anything resembling a nail and furiously trepan my skull until I feel some sort of relief.

At first I thought this was the case here, but Lana White seems okay. “Letting Go” is definitely the stand out. The pop/folk singer-songwriter crowd should probably add a million points to my score here.


Vaginal Diarrhoea – Rotting Paradise

Ever since that dude from Mortician went crazy and stole a taxi cab a million years ago, there’s a huge gaping hole in the goregrind lexicon. Thankfully or unfortunately, there’s a million imitators out there, although few are as cool as Vaginal Diarrhoea. The classic Well Fuck Me Dead was definitely one of the better albums of 2009 and this better-late-than-never follow-up surpasses it in every way. Sludge guitars and tinny drum machine blast beats are all you get, battering the listener with a down-tuned onslaught that makes me want to bulldoze the fucking Earth.




Neil Young and Promise of the Real – Earth

Do you love classic rock? Do you love the earth? Do you love listening to bees suddenly buzzing in your ear? Do you want to hear Neil Young sing “GMO” auto-tuned? If you answered yes to any of these questions then Earth is the release for you. Ecological propaganda and synchronized animal sounds are richly dotting this two disc release. The smooth groove of Promise of the Real blends perfectly with the crows cawing artistically throughout the entire set.

This is a recording of live performances from last year, 2015. The majority of the instrumentation is excellent. Some of the guitar solos are odd and might be trying real hard to be dirty, that or Young was busy wrestling the guitar out of the hands of Promise’s frontman and son of Willie Nelson, Lukas. The result is some dirty guitar solos.

Most of the songs were selected for their message. Any tree-hugger will feel right at home listening to lyrics about sucking the oil out of the earth and the personification of nature as a feminine figure, if referring to concepts of energy as a mother are still socially acceptable. Most of the songs are rock songs, and Promise of the Real might be called Promise you won’t fall asleep until the ballad. Thank gaia Young’s voice is as warbley as the nearly extinct kirtland warbler and will keep you awake to hear the second disc.

Before we go any further, let us take a moment to reflect on the real messages here. Neil Young has been making music since he was 15 and probably earlier. He was popular over 50 years ago, already recognized as one of the most influential song writers of the era. This release contains many songs about a lost time. Neil Young may have felt his beloved Canada fading in the sixties as much as one might look at the time Young came from as the golden years of song writing and positive messages.

The truth is Young is one face in a crowd. In the sixties the majority of mainstream music sucked as much as it does now. The only real difference is any real artistic development risks being permanently lost in a sea of similar attempts struggling to stay afloat as the media machine churns the surface of the torrid black waters with bigger and bigger whirlpools. The momentum generated during the post WWII years floats larger and larger garbage heaps full of plastic-y waste aka top 40 million. Everyone makes music now. People who would have never touched a physical musical instrument pound old and used tunes until the curds of fetid death spurt out of a churn and right onto the billboard.

Young and Promise’s new release is very modern. It covers many current trends. Like our attempt at repopulating the kirtland warbler, who can decide if we should try to become a people who restlessly attempt to preserve the classics or pioneer forward until everything is used up? Tongue in cheek, Neil Young, his cow sounds, Promise of the Real, the honking of cars, the backup singers, and the repressive crows think “People Want to Hear About Love, ’cause it will make them feel alright.”


Micro-Reviewery 10: Meat Loaf, Ghost Community, Ally Gold, Sequestered Keep




Meat Loaf – “Going All The Way”

If you were excited about the newest Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf collaboration coming September, this single is sure to dispel any hope in humanity. Meat Loaf sounds like he’s slobbering all over his microphone, obviously ready for his next dose of geritol. The mandatory female vocalist character makes Meat Loaf sound even older, and the production’s synthesized instruments give it a super cheap feel. I don’t think Jim Steinman remembers what it’s like to be teenaged anymore either, making the entire affair a flaccid dullride.


Ghost Community – Cycle of Life

Prog is a very dirty four-letter word, but Ghost Community’s brand of adult alternative/AOR/prog/Dio/rock definitely excels. The secret is great songwriting. There’s never a moment wasted, with instrumental passages serving only to push all six tracks to a powerful climax. John Paul Vaughan has a clean, silky power, while Moray Macdonald’s whirling keyboards always left me wanting more. Hopefully this stuff isn’t too dense for the melodic rock crowd: nothing is under seven minutes, all tracks like an epic juggernaut of emotion and atmosphere. Sometimes you dig the music, but this music digs into you.


Ally Gold – The Noise Collective

Twenty years too late, these noise-pop zombies have some decent hooks to share. The opener “Caffeine” has this twangy shoegaze James Bond guitar thing going on, while “All My Old Friends (Follow New Trends)” displays rockin’ capabilities. The remaining two get a little too self-conscious for me, aping shoegaze and lo-fi sensibilities in that order, but if I knew anything about indie credibility, this website would have millions of hits a day and earn me and Ay-hole enough money to comfortably retire on a remote private island off the coast of Argentina where I’d sip on expensive margaritas made by my private Chilean bartender Franco Vicente. Ally Gold could play there sometimes if they want.


Sequestered Keep – Dawn of Battle

More metal than you’ll ever be, Sequestered Keep’s take on medieval ambient is absolutely perfect. I can feel my blood pump listening to “Parapet Wizard” and “Into A Grim Forest Battle”, their swirling synth-orchestra and subtle military beats filling my soul with delicious melancholy. “Upon Its Hilt A Shining Light” and “The Silent Call of Hidden Paths” also nail the dark atmosphere, but the real killer is “Tattered Banners Across the Fields of Thousands-Slain”. I don’t think the title could be more appropriate. This is my new vote for best kept secret in underground music.