CHAMPIONS OF BREAKFAST
Who: Val Hundreds, long bass, vocals; Moses Jackson, expensive guitar, gold keytar, rock amp, vocals; Donny Villalobos, management.
What: A Champions of Breakfast experience (because "concert" doesn't really cut it) is a glitzy, art-elevated, sweat-along dance throwdown as hosted by your two most outrageous party friends, wielding outlandish prop instruments and singing along to prerecorded computer jams. According to Hundreds, they're "heavily influenced by mythological creatures, especially wizards and unicorns, D, sensuality, magic, magic cards and awkward romance."
Why: "Cows give milk because it's in their nature to do so. We're Dutch, we make technopop," Hundreds says. (How do you argue with that?)
Where: Detroit via Amersfoort, Netherlands (birthplace of Piet Mondrian!).
Killer quote: "We play homemade instruments and force audiences to interrogate the collision of artificiality and pop music. But what we do is, in fact, very 'real' — perhaps more so than a lot of other acts" says Hundreds. "The biggest mistake would be for anyone to misunderstand it, writing it off as a novelty or a joke or something."
Life-changing records: Wham! in China on VHS. "[It] is something we come back to a lot," says Perry. "It seems like it's a cutesy and ironic choice, but it's got a very real visual density that, coupled with the audio, makes the whole concert experience come alive to a totally virgin crowd. By the end of the set, no one knows what to think, but they all suspect that what they saw was somehow important. I think that's what we're trying to do."
Essential listening: Raise Your Hammers, Oh Dance Rock Gods! (Demo EP), Pleasure Mountain (LP to be released March 2008)
Web site: myspace.com/thechampionsofbreakfast
— Chris Handyside
11 p.m., Thursday, March 6 — Baker's Streetcar, 9817 Joseph Campau; 313-873-8296. With the Darts, Empty Orchestra and the Decks.
Who: Loretta Lucas, vocals, guitar, autoharp; Julie Lucas, vocals, keyboard, xylophone; Jamie Dado, bass; Cheryl Larson, bass clarinet; Brett Lee Pickens: drums.
What: Although they've been described as everything from a "country jug band" (obviously by someone who'd not actually heard them!) to pop chanteuses, the Sisters Lucas really trade in a flavor of progressive pop music that mixes melancholy with hooks, quietude with quiet, powerful dynamism. Twin sisters Loretta and Julie lead the way with bittersweet vocal interplay on classic themes of love, loss and the fruits of feminine introspection. They recently recorded a session with Don Was for his Wasmopolitan Detroit Roadtrip Web site and their jams can be found at their MySpace page. They plan to release some singles and goodies for consumption soon.
Why: To simply spread their music far and wide. Should be reason enough, eh?
Killer Quote: "Our motto [is] (from Project Runway's Tim Gunn) 'Make It Work!' You'll be hearing from us!"
Life-changing record: David Bowie, The Man Who Sold The World, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Zane. Plus, Billie Holiday's early recordings; Tropicalia movement of 1960s Brazil; and Selda of Turkey's self-titled album.
Web site: myspace.com/thesisterslucas
— Chris Handyside
1 a.m., Saturday, March 8 — Kelly's Bar, 2403 Holbrook; 313-873-2428. With Molly-Jean, IndoorPark and Gino Fanelli.
Who: Lo-fi Bri, guitars, drum machines, samplers, vocals, masks, antics and the occasional robot fire.
What: Lo-fi Bri describes his music as "Electronic robo-rock" — but that appellation undersells it. His shows consist of a dude — masked to one degree or another — freaking out to the inputs of sound created, transmitted, found and accidentally and purposefully mauled. He finds experimental edges without losing rawk power, accomplishes a great deal of cacophony without sacrificing head-bobbing and scratching structure, and still manages to keep the attention of a bar full of fans and mooks alike, with antics and enthusiasm that are infectious. A devotee of audio discovery, Carjack's roots lie with the '90s indie rock of outfits like Brainiac and other left-field lo-fi heroes of the Midwest.
Why: "For my own amusement," says Bri. "I've been writing and recording songs since my very first four-track recorder purchased back in 1994. I've always enjoyed experimenting with sound. I have tons and tons of songs and ideas on plenty of tapes to last me for like four careers at this point. I just finally got the guts and the interest to play out live in the past two years."
Where: Ferndale, via the ex-planet Pluto.
Killer quote: "Literally into my first song, my buddy overheard one biker say to another 'Why don't we say we throw his shit on the front lawn. How about it?' Now that's a quote and that's punk rock. Ha-ha!" — Carjack on playing at the legendary biker hangout, oldest-standing bar in Detroit, the Stone House.
Life-changing record: "My brother and I used to listen to the Electrifying Mojo a lot when we were young."
Essential listening: Carjack EP 2003, BoomBox EP 2003, Carjack Sampler 2006 (limited edition: First 100 copies featuring handmade 5.25" Floppy Disc Artwork.), Planet of the Amps (recording it right now at home. Release date, label TBD)
Web site: myspace.com/carjackband
— Chris Handyside
1 a.m., Friday, March 7 — The Belmont, 10215 Joseph Campau; 313-871-1966. With Chris Richard & the Subtractions, Ancourage and Friendly Foes.
Who: David Iannuzzi, drums, guitar; Clyde, electric bass, upright bass; Dustin Leslie, guitar, piano, organ, vocals.
What: Dutch Pink formed in 2004 for that most-classic reason: A friend offered them an opening slot, with the proverbial limited time to rehearse. The gig went so (literally) smashing that it took them two years and a name change to book another gig. But they came out of that period with an evocative moniker that matches an evocative sound, which Leslie likens to "Coming to in the midst of a wine-fed blackout with blood on your hands." Leslie's gravelly, carnival-barker vocals often feed comparisons to Tom Waits, but their sound's their own — a twisted indie-fed take on American roots music, a dash of cabaret, folk and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. Wildly diverse, you really never know exactly what you'll get at a Dutch Pink show. Remember: This is the band that throws an annual bus tour-pub crawl, playing a full set at a handful of bars over the course of a night so that they can burn through their whole catalog of songs and styles (and tackle some extra-bandular jams as well).
Why: "To add ourselves and our work to a growing litany and tradition," says Leslie.
Killer quote: "We expect to be found in the Tower Record bargain bin."
Life-changing records: Leslie: Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde "because it was both spurious and literate. A perfect blend of tradition and Rimbaud's 'One must be absolutely modern.'" Clyde: "I got a Berenstain Bears picture disc and Michael Jackson's Thriller from K-Mart at the same time. One was worn out a year later; one collected dust." Ianuzzi: Pavement's Wowee Zowee
Essential listening: Dutch Pink EP 2006, Idols and Infidels LP 2007, Six Little Songs of Ourselves EP 2007
Web site: myspace.com/withagainst
— Chris Handyside
11 p.m. Thursday, March 6 — Chill & Mingle, 9735 Conant; 313-873-8417. With Pewter Club, Silent Violet and Solitary States.
Who: Nick Schillace, Guitars/loops; Jon Moshier, drums/audio collage
What: Moshier describes IndoorPark's extended, atmospheric jams as "found sound meets lost rock. Life is a movie and we make the partial soundtrack — you fill in the rest." Seems like a perfectly apt description for a band founded on seeing what happens when a Plunderphonics audio collage devotee, music librarian-drummer (that would be Moshier) and a classically trained, experimental acoustic guitar virtuoso (Schillace) throw down to see what happens when both truly plug in.
Why: "We both play for the challenge of pushing what two people can do in an all-instrumental ensemble," says Schillace. "It's a blast." Plus, adds Moshier, "playing music is easier communication than opening our mouths."
Killer quote: The band operates with the mantra "Duo for life" — reaffirming the interplay between two adventure-bound audiophiles. Moshier sums up their attitude with a quote from John Cage: "It's useless to play lullabies for those who cannot sleep."
Life-changing record: The Legend of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey
Essential listening: Self-titled EP (self-released), The Neutral Mile (Deep Water) (scheduled for release April 2008).
Web site: myspace.com/indoorpark
— Chris Handyside
Saturday, March 8 — Kelly's Bar, 2403 Holbrook; 313-873-9428. With Molly-Jean, Gino Fanelli and the Sisters Lucas.
Who: Xiao Dong Wei (aka Madame XD), erhu, guzheng, pipa, vocals; Gregory Neils, guitars, bass; Jon Dameron, drums; Thomas Dameron, guitar; Ken Hottmann, bass, guzheng; Keith Beber: percussion.
What: The Velvet Underground if they had grown up in Beijing and Nico had been Chinese. The group's sound has been described as "indescribable" by one reviewer, and Girlistic magazine gushed that the band's 2007 CD, String Theory, featured "seemingly incongruent sounds" converging "in a gorgeous display of string virtuosity, ... a masterful album that encompasses many world sounds, mixing into a rich broth of musical ambrosia." In other words, this is something that must be heard and seen to be believed. But all rock 'n' roll hyperbole aside, Xiao Dong Wei is a force to be reckoned with: a classically trained instrumentalist who has performed as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and as part of a duet with Japanese-born pianist Yuki Mack. True that. Respect.
Why: Multi-culti extroversion run amok. Madame XD sizzles while stroking a bow and wearing a tight red dress at the same time.
Where: Originally from far east side of Beijing. Currently from east side Detroit.
Killer quote: "Stand back!"
Life-changing record: Anything by JS Bach and Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones.
Friday, March 7 — Chill & Mingle, 9735 Conant; 313-873-8417. With Darling Imperial, Il Segreto String Quartet and THTX.
MICK BASSETT & THE MARTHAS
Who: Mick Bassett, vocals, guitar, piano; Erik Roosen, drums; Allison Young, trombone, percussion; Jesse Shepherd-Bates, bass; Gordon Smith, guitar, trombone.
What: Perverted trombone blues balladry with a bit more than a hint of Dylan '66.
Why: Why not? You'd rather listen to a band inspired by Donovan '66?
Where: Some live in Detroit, others in Ann Arbor. Some between Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Killer quote: "I ain't lookin' to deny, defy or crucify you ..."
Life-changing record: Charles Mingus's "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady."
Essential listening: The band released an EP, Here's the Whirlwind, on Sleek Speek Recordings last year.
Web site: myspace.com/mickbassett
12 a.m., Friday, March 7 — The New Dodge, 8850 Joseph Campau; 313-874-5963. With Novada, Blue Black Hours and Zoos of Berlin.
GEORGIO "THE DOVE" VALENTINO & THE MONSTROUS LEVIATHANS
Who: Georgio 'the Dove,' voice, guitar, situations; B. Luckett, drums, naïveté; Jeff F., bass guitar, lovemaking.
What: A hybrid of Brit and French pop, accented by torch-song psychedelia (think Paul Quinn, Mark Hollis, Scott Walker and Serge Gainsbourg) with a backbeat.
Why: Motivated by a love of carnage and opportunities, their goal is to submit over-the-top, self-referential ramblings ... and do it all for you onstage and in living color.
Where: Based in the DIY art and music capital of Michigan — Hamtramck!
Killer quote: "At its best, it sounds like the music one hears in a nightmare, its atmosphere nauseatingly thick and its innuendo downright oppressive. At worst, it sounds like a hack new-wave band ripping off the most tired and ridiculous affectations of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. There. I said it." (But can you dance to it?)
Life-changing record: "Falling and Laughing" by Orange Juice.
Essential listening: An excellent seven-track mini-LP, You Brought a Knife to a Gunfight, is out now.
Who: Ben Audette, guitar; Nick Jones, bass; Scotty Iulianelli, guitar; Brandon Moss, drums.
What: This instrumental band is obsessed with weird, loud noise and texture, thinking of their songs as "fun little experiments." Called a "post-rock" band by some, Wildcatting argues that term is bullshit, a fancy way of saying, "Hey! You don't got a singer!" The band has released an album, How to Survive a Sneak Attack, available as a download from its Web site.
Why: "Playing with dudes who feel the same way you do about music is fucking awesome!" Just wait a few years, dude, and tell us what you think then ...
Where: All the young dudes slum it in South Oakland County — three in Ferndale, one up the road a piece in Berkley.
Killer quote: "Start small!"
Life-changing record: Master of Puppets by Metallica.
Web site: myspace.com/wildcatting
1 a.m., Friday, March 7 — Paycheck's 2932 Caniff; 313-874-0909. With Kindle, Prussia and Duende!
THE SPANISH CASTLE
Who: Ali Clegg, bass, vocals and some other things; Tovio Roberts, guitar, vocals and everything else; Richard the Lion Hearted, drums and percussion.
What: The Earth and Heavens make love in the reverberating air in front of their hallowed instruments, giving birth to tender melodies and moods of long ago.
Why: Driven by little more than their voluptuous spirits, the Spanish Castles glean rare objects of beauty from their raw musical elements akin in obsession to the production of ancient samurai swords or arches of the old roman road. They self-released a CD called The Bull With the Dainty Hoof last year.
Where: Detroit — the Cass Corridor, Trumbull Avenue and the great outdoors, respectively.
Life-changing record: Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (soundtrack)
Killer quote: "And this would be my counsel to others also, to sail back home again, since no longer shall you find any term set on the sheer city of Ilion, since Zeus of the wide brows has strongly held his own hand over it, and its people are made bold."
Web site: myspace.com/thespanishcastles
11 p.m., Thursday, March 6 — Painted Lady, 2930 Jacob; 313-874-2991. With Eric Dilworth, Indian Guides and Georgio "The Dove" Valentino.
Who: Ryan Allen, guitar, vocals; Brad Elliott, drums; Liz Wittman, bass, vocals; Scott Allen: keyboards.
What: Friendly Foes first took form as a solo project of Thunderbirds Are Now! frontman-guitarist Ryan Allen. The outfit shares TAN!'s nervous energy (and, naturally, Ryan's itchy adenoidal man-child vocals), but the band tips its hat to latter '90s indie-rock instead of TAN!'s Brooklyn-damaged dance-rawk. Sez Ryan: "Our jams are constructed using the simplest of methods — a few chords, some lyrics about people we hate, some crashing, some banging, some thudding and some rumbling."
Why: Ryan says, "After spending years riding around the country in a rickety van, sleeping on hardwood floors and eating enough Burger King chicken sandwiches to feed a third-world country with Thunderbirds are Now! — this band functions on the pure necessity to just have fun. There are no lofty expectations set, no dreams of 'making it big' ... just three buddies who like playing music together and hanging out."
Killer quote: Ryan: "This band is basically a replication of my 7-inch collection from 1996, and I'm proud of that."
Life-changing record: "It's a pretty difficult choice," Ryan says, "but if there was a six-shooter held to my head, I'd have to go with Sloan's Twice Removed. At the time, I wasn't sure who I liked more — Silverchair or Pavement. When I heard [Sloan's] "Penpals" on the radio for the first time, though, I felt like I had found my personal Beatles."
Essential listening: Demos available on MySpace.
Web site: myspace.com/friendlyfoes
— Chris Handyside
12 a.m., Friday, March 7 — The Belmont, 10215 Joseph Campau; 313-871-1966. With Chris Richard & the Subtractions, Ancourage and Carjack.
SH! THE OCTOPUS
Who: Christine, keys, vocals; Randy, vocals, guitar; Joel, drums; Chris, bass; Andy, guitar, vocals.
What: The band's album, The Carrot Chase, sounds like Iron Maiden filtered through Napalm Death (with a little twang thrown in).
Why: "To have an excuse to wear circulation-eradicating jeans as often as possible." (Good answer, kids.)
Where: The east side triangle made by Detroit, Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods.
Life-changing record: "A tie between Ismael Rivas Falcon of Spain pulling a three-ton train with his beard and Eric Lean of the U.K. drinking nearly eight pints of Imperial Stout in five minutes." Huh? (Oh, those circulation eradicating jeans-wearing east siders ...!)
Killer Quote: "Aww, man! I thought the ad was for The Octopus Project..."
Web site: shtheoctopus.com
10 p.m., Saturday March 8 - Shananigans, 3216 Carpenter; 313-891-0233. With Fontana, Sons of the Gun and the Questions.
Who: Deastro, aka Randolph Chabot, drums, keyboards, guitar, xylophone; computer plays everything else.
What: The alarmingly prolific Chabot (who also creates under the name My Brother the Megazord, among other monikers) makes lush, romantic-unto-hopeful-unto-bleak-unto-transcendent pop-via-electro jams that rescue some of the best elements of '80s Anglo-pop and marries them to a curious, literary- and sci-fi-culture-crammed perspective on life. He reckons it's "Disney, sci-fi, rock." You can bliss out to it, bob your head and shuffle your feet too!
Why: "To understand the world around me and to make more friends!"
Where: The verdant, sparkling hills of Sterling Heights.
Killer quote: The mercurial Chabot says his ideal future would include "playing for beings on other planets" and says the band motto is ""Read more."
Life-changing record: Seven Swans for Seven Lakes, Sufjan Stevens — "It opened up my heart to a whole new world of questions that I have been really into figuring out," says Chabot.
Essential listening: We Will Never Waiver Quiverstar, 2007 (self-released), The Young Planets, 2007 (self-released), The Phantom Clause, 2007 (self-released), Powered E.P.#1, 2008 (self-released), Powered E.P. #2, 2008 (self-released)
Web site: myspace.comdeastrothetracker
— Chris Handyside
11 p.m., Friday, March 7 — Painted Lady, 2930 Jacob; 313-874-2991. With Leaf Erikson, the Sugarcoats and the Hadituptoheres.