by Jeff Milo
Doc Illingsworth knows he and his two rap allies in Detroit CYDI get labeled because of their quirky canon of cuts:
Maybe it's as the ringtone rappers, the enthusiastic youtube-utilizers, the satirical 8-bit-bumping sardonic-sweeteners. What-have-you...
"We're people," Doc said of he and CYDI (Sean Uppercut, Rufio Jones), "and we're gonna make what we want to make."
Adam Pressley of Jamaican Queens is conscious of how labels can smack of tired, lame cliches. He offers that the new band started between he and Ryan Spencer (a disco-mix-tape inspired recording project rising from the ashes of Prussia's break up) is, if anything: "abrasive chamber-hip/hop."
Or...It's whatever kind of dark-n-dreamy groove organically/inevitably tilled when you blend their bladed sensibilities for electronica, hip-hop, reggae and art-rock...
...if you need those labels.
Labels like "alt-country," which Kate Hinote, lead singer of The Blueflowers, acknowledges as a descriptor given to their previous work In Line with the Broken Hearted -
Beyond that, their tastefully twanged tumblers and bittersweet ballads of western-whirled wonder were given the more glamorous tag of "folk-noir" at some point, something she admits that their forthcoming album Stealing The Moon (out June 23) fits a bit finer than In Line.
Music-journalists as anthropologists:: We need to hem these talents into genus and species, box them and test them and compare them against various documented types of genre teasers from the past.
Rap. Country. Chamber-pop.
Don't listen to me.
Listen to them.
Detroit CYDI - June 8 - 555 Gallery - Detroit with: Spec-Illest / Stryfe / Cold Men Young / Clear Soul Forces
With CYDI, you'll inevitably get a zesty blend of hip-hop sensibilities - considering the influences each leaned towards in their younger days. It's telling that Doc Illingsworth underlines the particular influence of the madly multifaceted Wu Tang Clan. But each, be it Sean's leaning towards the East Coast rap as a teen or Rufio's gravitation to the West and the Southern stuff, seems to effectively cover the wide range of rap philosophies.
"There'll always be some kind of balance," said Doc, "or some kind of equal-representation to these different sides."
Jamaican Queens - June 9 - ...a house show kicks things off for this new project...a loft space (the address of which I can't blather out in public) - So sayeth their Facebook Page: "If you're our friend, ask one of us for more details..." (Info) -
Pressley admits: "It's a lot different creating music when you know people are going to hear it...."
Indeed, that toes into the same ol' hang up of -how's-it-gonna-be-labeled or -received (perceived?)
Pressley, who joined Detroit's Prussia as a transplant up from the Bloomington-IL-scene by way of indie-rock band Ohtis, came in just as Spencer and the rest of the group was beginning to record its unintended swan song Poor English. The multi-instrumentalist with hip-hop/electronica leanings emphasized how attractive a two-man writing/producing operation can be (i.e. he had shown Spencer some of the rap-beats he'd been working on and that led to the eventual synced-up-spontaneity of the Prussia Goes to the Disco Mixtape...which, essentially, is the origin of our current subject: Jamaican Queens). Jamaican Queens, however, has grown from a duo to a quartet (acoustic guitar, fuzz bass, acoustic and electronic drums, and a sampler) with Abby Fiscus and Ryan Clancey.
It's best, Pressley said, looking back at how those Disco tracks were written and recorded without any mind towards releasing them, to then embrace some of that vibe of not over-thinking the writing, (that could help keep things freer and breezier for when it's with Jamaican Queens - material they do intend on releasing and were conscious of releasing as they recorded it), but simultaneously not half-ass it or fly-off too half-cocked. (Wow, that sentence got dirty at the end).
Blueflowers - June 23 - Magic Bag - Ferndale -album release (Stealing The Moon) -with: Crashing Cairo and Lost Patrol.
Write-ups for this band are often adorned with twilight curtains, dust-blown banjo wails resonating inside this serene yet supernatural roadside indie/artsy honky-tonk bar outside o' town, far enough away from the light pollution to let the sadly beautiful stars shine.
Hinote jokes that all she writes are "break-up songs."
She's got the voice for it, for sure: wispy/syrupy voice striking that balance of warm fuzzy croons and chilly whispers. "But really, it's true: I can't really explain it, other than that the struggle of relationships, the wanting and the rejection, and even the reject-ing, are universally understood and relatable... and constant. I'm an overly sensitive and pretty dramatic person, though I don't like to think of myself as a drama queen. Those feelings and struggles that I write about are all that comes out when I write..."
Why question it? Because I, the music writer...questioned it...
Ah, labels, they're inevitable. (Or are they?)