City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

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Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com.

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Paul Einhaus’s Five Below (Oyster Sleep) features contributions from members of the Blueflowers, the Beggars, and Prime Ministers and Goober & the Peas. Quite a nice mix, but the volume of guest musicians is odd because this is a generally sparse record. The glory is in Einhaus’ scratchy vocals and open lyrics. There’s a biting wit to songs like “You Wanna See the Stars Explode” and “When You’re Falling Apart” that sets Einhaus’ lyrics apart from other local singer/songwriters, and the garage-like production adds a nice rough quality. Great stuff.

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The Hatchetmen’s Tight Black Dress (Wall Music) is a very cool though incredibly straight-forward boozey rock ’n’ roll album. There’s a touch of ZZ Top boogie about opening song “$1,000,000” and the riffs have a tight blues rock quality throughout – think the Rockets and even a little AC/DC. This is bar room rock played hard and tight, much like the black dress of the title.

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A whole bunch of Detroit jazz greats join Michéle Ramo on his new “Live at Jenuwine Cigar Lounge: A Cigar & a Scotch” (Moon Boat) live album. Bass man Ralphe Armstrong pops in, as does Johnny Trudell on Flugelhorn (is he a flugelhornist?) and Danny Patrona on piano. Heidi Hepler has a beautiful voice too. But what makes this record so enjoyable is the fact that Ramo has captured the intimate, smoky vibe of the cigar bar setting. The title of the record is appropriate, because it feels much like you’re sitting back for a smoke and some whiskey, even if you’re really not. It’s a smooth, sensual jazz record, and it’s also a lot of fun.

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