City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

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Remember – if you send it, it will get reviewed. That’s the City Slang promise. It doesn’t matter what genre the music is – as long as it has a Metro Detroit connection, it’ll get in. Preferably, we’d like to concentrate on new releases but, while we’re getting warmed up here, feel free to send back catalog material too. Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, City Slang, Metro Times, 733, St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 46226. Email MP3s and streaming links to mt.cityslang@gmail.com.

Sam Sherwin is undeniably a bit of an oddball. Like Roy Orbison, he doesn’t seem to want to take his shades off and the Detroit native (now living in New York) has filled his album Iodine Cocktail Blues (Cowardly Lyin’) with the sort of cabaret swinger-jazz-blues that should be nauseating. There’s a tongue-in-cheek quality about him, though, that gifts him with an unfathomable charm. Weird.

Flatland Star’s self-titled EP is fascinating. The band call what they do “rock hop”, which seems to stem from the fact that there is rap and a live band involved. It doesn’t really rock though, although it is awesome. I hear Bristol trip-hop (Massive Attack, Tricky and the like), plus a bit of Tribe Called Quest. Intelligent, sharp and well-produced, this is an outfit worth keeping an eye on.

Bebe Winans is a name known to anyone with even the slightest interest in gospel music. Part of the Winans family, this guy knows his stuff. America America (Razor & Tie) is his patriotic record, and man, is it ever patriotic. How you feel about big bands, long-held notes, and the basic notion of patriotism will dictate how you feel about this record. Winans sounds incredible as he wails through “Star Spangled Banner”, “We’re the United States of America”, “God Bless America”, “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful”. Spot the theme?

Shock Wave is a heavy metal band featuring high school students. I know, I know, I was worried too. Thing is, these guys actually fucking rock. There has been a tendency of late for young bands to focus on learning the technical aspects of their instruments and forget that they’re supposed to be having fun. Fuck technical wizardry, give me a guy who feels what he’s playing. Shock Wave can write a tune that sticks, they can play, and, most importantly, they sound like they’re having a great time. “Bullet Train” recalls early G n’R. “Hello LA” should be called “Fuck LA”, as that place is a sewage pond (stick with the Motor City, fellas), but apart from that, Shock Wave have made a great start.

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