Thursday, January 28, 2010

My New Podcast/Radio Show: Say 'hello' to Different Beat Radio!

Folks, attempting to get my Podcasting chops going here. For now, it's going to be called "Different Beat Radio". (Different Beat was the name of a Indianapolis music magazine I helped publish for two runs, in the late-80's, and mid-90's.) It's going to be a radio show about all the music I'm involved with at the studio: recordings-in-progress, interviews, live performances, material from the vast Hit City archives. First episode features Ann Arbor's Monument Valley (see below blog entry) and Rosetta Pebble from Detroit. The approx. 20 minute show was a blast to do, and I hope it will become a great way to share all the good stuff we're doing here with all of you. Like I say, still trying to research/understand/get the hang of this whole Podcasting the meantime, you can click here to listen!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Greatest Band Of The Decade

This is Monument Valley (L to R: Zack, Dustin, Colin, Jesse). They are from Ann Arbor, MI and they are the Greatest Band Of The Decade. I had the distinct pleasure of recording their debut album last week and, let me tell you people, it is some phenomenal rock and roll, roaring along in the footprints of ancestral Ann Arbor rockers like Iggy and The Stooges, The MC5, and The Alice Cooper Group. It's always hard to categorize a "sound", but imagine Jeff Buckley fronting King Wainright fronting Gang of Smith fronting The Doors with angular guitar and weird synth instead of all of that bloody organ. Aww, you're just gonna have to hear it for yourself, so here's a rough mix, the opening salvo of The Rock and Roll of the 10's, "Wino On The Wagon". Click here to listen:

Guitarist-vocalist Zack Jones' songs are intricate poetic and musical constructs, not self-consciously trying to be different, but organically-created original compositions that have an arcane structure all their own. And his voice - despite the above comparisons - is also his own, a careening emotional roller coaster ride of a voice that soars perfectly above the twisting musical tracks. Like early Michael Stipe, you may not be able to make out all the words (partly by design, partly by overly-complex syntax) but phrases pop out: "to defray", "sycophants", "praises God in golden cuff-links", "moral continuity". And then there's the killer chorus, "I'm not here in the world, speaking only in slurs", and the extended, elegaic coda which somehow mixes Three's Company with the Great Wall Of China. Through my long days/nights of work with them - and the repeated listens that go with that territory - I was able to glean a bit of a story here though, a redemption song of sorts, that leaves the protaganist alive, but truly living?

Well, Monument Vallet is totally living, for crissakes. The band (also including Zach's brother Dustin on deceptively simple beautiful synth lines, Colin McCormick on solid, funky-by-way-of-Manchester bass and Jesse I-don't-know-his-last-name-but-he's-cynically-awesome on drums) is obsessively well-rehearsed and so good, so artistically supportive of Zach's superlative material that Monument Valley has restored my faith in the undying transcendental power of true rock and roll. Stay tuned for an Indy show (in the newly-constructed Happy Channel TV studio at Hit City) and news about the album release later this spring.......