Posts filed under ‘Concert Reviews’

Album Review: Jolie Holland- The Living And The Dead

Jolie Holland has returned to the music world with a new release titled “The Living And The Dead”. Her earlier releases had a kind of rustic lo-fi charm about them that felt like actual artifacts of many years ago. 2006’s Springtime can kill you was a decidedly glossier affair, with slinky jazz instrumentation amping up Jolie’s sultry vocals. On this new release, she has taken a fairly straightforward approach to her song structures which heightens certain aspects of her aesthetic, but ultimately fail in pushing her discography to new innovative heights.

The first single, Mexico City , sets the tone for the record with a rollicking rhythm set to Jolie’s ghostly voice which weaves in and out of the simple guitar progression. Unfortunately, this same sound is replicated a few too many times on the record on tracks like Palmyra, and Your Big Hands, diffusing the effectiveness of this new approach.

The standouts on the album are the tracks that recall a more traditional songwriting angle such as the breathtaking Love Henry, and Enjoy Yourself, which highlight her outstanding voice in more challenging tempo situations. All in all, a strong record, that will age well, but I get the feeling that we haven’t seen the peak of this singer songwriter yet.

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October 15, 2008 at 8:11 pm Leave a comment

Concert Review: Breathe Owl Breathe At The Earthwork Harvest Gathering

I recently was lucky enough to attend the 8th annual Harvest Gathering put on by Earthwork Music in Lake City, MI. The festival boasted a host of quality Michigan folk artists such as Seth Bernard, Daisy May, and Chris Bathgate. One of the highlights came from East Jordan natives Breathe Owl Breathe.
They played a wide variety of tunes, including some cuts off of their latest release, Ghost Glacier. Incorporating quirky vocals, rich cello, and smooth drum quips, Breathe Owl Breath definitely stepped up to the plate as one of Michigan’s premier folk acts.

Crowd interaction was abundant as cellist/vocalist Andrea Moreno-Beals invited the audience to transform into saber toothed tigers using their hands. Guitar/vocalist Micha Middaugh in turn jumped into the audience and instigated an epic wave.Percussionist Trevor Hobbes displayed a wide variety of instrumentation, leaping from his kit to violin, to organ. Definitely a festival worth exploring for unknown and known acts alike, the Earthwork Harvest Gathering is a special place to indulge in the finest folk music Michigan has to offer.

October 1, 2008 at 2:50 pm 1 comment

Concert Review: Andrew WK 7/28/08

Last month Lansing was rocked hard by one man. One man wielding a single synthesizer. One man whose good will and exuberance was enough to turn Basement 414 into a writhing love fest for all things relating to rock anthems. Apparently on a trip to visit family and friends in his native Ann Arbor, Mr. WK was kind enough to stop by the intimate venue to share his anthems of love, goodwill and partying. By and large the set consisted of requests from the ecstatic crowd, running the gamut of hit singles such as We Want Fun, and Party Hard. Though the set was stripped down, the rousing nature of his compositions matched with his larger than life personality had much of the club hopping, dancing and decidedly befuddled. And as soon as it had started, his key bashing, hair swinging, fist pumping performence faded out into completion, and the attendees stumbled out into the muggy eve, all the better for having seen this opportune rock event.

August 8, 2008 at 6:58 pm 1 comment

Concert Review: Movement 08- Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival

Detroit started the summer of 2008 off with a synthesized bang last month, with the annual Detroit Electronic Music Festival. The lineup this year was pretty eclectic, ranging from laptop superstar Moby to the smooth grooves of Carl Craig. The former capped off the evening I attended, encapsulating the sense of freedom and community that was accrued throughout the sweaty, flashing funk fest.

Approaching Detroit’s Hart Plaza, there can be no mistaking what is happening. A line of colorfully dressed characters stretches all the way down to Cobo Hall. They are grooving to the overflow of beats emanating from the wide range of stages within the plaza. The sun is heavy overhead, but contributes to the sleepy throbbing ambiance of the midday sets, prepping the crowd for the madness that nightfall will bring.

With each different stage, there is a completely different environment. The open air pit is a zone for congregation and light free flow dancing. The underground realm is a breeding ground for the intense folks, who don’t feel like messing around with the pesky sun. Armed with gas masks, glow sticks pacifiers, and a will to get down, these creatures of the night dazzle the senses with their swirling, grooving moves. Elsewhere break dance battles are rampant, as well as every other kind of interpretational dance imaginable. As the afternoon wanes, the crowd starts to swell and the evening begins with a rousing set by euro favorite Benny Benassi. Soon however, the attention begins to shift over to the stage overlooking the Detroit river with a fantastic view of Windsor, Canada, as the Cool Kids take the stage.

One member a Chicago native, the other hailing from Detroit, The Cool Kids definitely have a handle on the aesthetic of the Midwest, making them a particularly good fit for DEMF. In fact, their whole set seemed to be steeped in nostalgia, creating a wholly satisfying homage to the MCs that paved the way for them throughout the years. They hit tracks from their new release Fish Riding Bicycles as well as their two EP’s, Totally Flossed out and The Bake Sale. The centerpiece of the set was a montage of old school jams which they invited everyone to sing along with, including cuts from The Notorious B.I.G. and Skeelo. Full of energy and charisma, the Cool Kids appreciation of the fruits of Pop’s past was a perfect segue way into the set by Girl Talk.

I have always enjoyed the DJ stylings of Girl Talk, but was converted by his transformative live performance. Things really got rolling before the show even started when he took the mic and invited the crowd to join him on stage. This resulted in near pandemonium as legions of frenzied techno freaks leapt over security and started the party. The set started shortly thereafter with an announcement from the performer informing the audience that he was Girl Talk and that there were to be no rules at this show. This announcement was followed by an explosion of beats and a roar from the crowd. Girl Talk himself proceeded to run frantically around the stage betwixt writhing crowd dancers, jumping and diving, and eventually ripping off his clothes down to his boxer shorts.

The set was basically an orgy of classic pop hits fused together almost beyond recognition, including jams from The Notorious B.I.G., Abba,Elton John, Bruce Springsteen,Wu tang Clan, and Ace of Bass, among many many others. With the culmination of this set, the crowd migrated to the only remaining stage, where the smooth jazz stylings of the legendary Carl Craig were fused with beats and live session musicians. A cathartic, suiting climax to a long day of digital debauchery.

June 6, 2008 at 8:49 pm 1 comment

Live: Matthew Good at the Magic Stick, Detroit

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The fog rolled in last Tuesday, obscuring the city blocks of Detroit until I might as well have been in Canada. After all, I was about to see one of the biggest rock stars of the countries history in a rare, intimate, U.S. performance.

The eccentric troubadour took the stage of the Magic Stick in a relaxed, casual manner, and dove into a stripped down acoustic set, comprised primarily of cuts off of his latest release, Hospital Songs. First and foremost, Good is a first class guitarist, and his warm tones cut through the venue, cutting through the smoke and hubbub, frequently inciting sing-a-longs to old favorites such as Apparitions.

Between song banter included a rant about the industry scouting techniques used at SXSW, his severe flu that he was afflicted with at the time, and some humorous anecdotes about touring in the 90’s.

Good would have done well to stick to more singular acoustic adaptations, like those featured in his career retrospective, In A Coma, as opposed to production heavy hits such as Avalanche, or Weapon. Nevertheless, the performance demonstrated a rare textural interpretation of these selections, as well as highlighting the anthemic qualities of some of his old standards.

For more info on Matt Good, check out his prolific BLOG

For my review of his latest album, Hospital Songs,go HERE

March 25, 2008 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

Live at Macs Bar: Frontier Ruckus

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Epiphanies and Revelations, Ohhh’s and Ogalilahs, Frontier Ruckus brought it all last night in Lansing with their unique brand of down home stylings. Playing to a packed house right on the heels of Great Lakes Myth Society, they played an atmospheric set comprised of new road tested material, and old standbys. Banjo breakdowns, soaring singing saw, and a wealth of heartfelt harmonizing all made for a really enjoyable evening. For more on the band check out their website. LINK

Frontier Ruckus-Dark Autumn Hour.mp3

September 8, 2007 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Blissfest 07: A Retrospective

So last month I decided to discover firsthand exactly what Bliss Fest is. In a time of big production, over the top music festivals, there are still some striving to create an intimate enjoyable large scale concert setting that is more about the music than media exposure. Bliss Fest is a perfect example of this mentality.

Not knowing what to expect, I ventured on a road trip with some friends deep into rural western Michigan to investigate the mysterious Bliss Fest. We were met with a giant field complete with three stages boasting eclectic acts ranging from folk to roots to blues to dance and back again. A great atmosphere carried over to the night where forest drum circles and hidden clusters of busking were abundant. All in all the most chill and easily navigable festival I have ever been to.

August 8, 2007 at 8:28 pm 1 comment


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