Amid all the (relative, mind you) hubbub over maestro Troy Gregory's departure from the anarchic institution that is the Dirtbombs was the explanatory note that he's taking a leave to concentrate on other projects. When you're the bassman in a headlining, working, touring, commercially gregarious outfit like the Dirtbombs, that can happen. So just what plates, exactly, is the artistically overachieving Gregory working to keep spinning?
Well, the dude was uploading new jams as I was typing this very column. How's a chronicler to keep up? Among the tunes he's posted to his MySpace page is a gorgeous solo cover of Roky Erikson's version of Powell St. John's "Right Track Now." He's also offering new and classic tracks from both Witches and Troy Gregory & the Stepsisters. One presumes that his newfound free time should reward us with goods from the same prolific mind that's found the spirit and energy to write his own surreal, stream-of-consciousness obituary on the same page as a thoroughly entertaining, confessional and heartwarming biography. Oh, did we mention that he's also got a movie in the works called World War Love? Well, he does. It's, in his words, a "dark comedy about three Detroit musicians returning to frazzled home lives in a world of masks and the self-imposed drama of temporary realities." He's roped in just about every single member of the downtown music scene (seriously) for it. Looks like a mystic sprawler! Dude's a nonstop font of creative juice. We should feel lucky he's got a little bit more free time on his hands. Mick's loss is our gain, I guess. Check out the trailer:
Man alive! Does the Loco Gnosis tribe ever crank out some far-out sounds! The psychedelic shack-shaking of the Oscillating Fan Club, the instrumental catty wildness of Wildcatting, the prolific noiseniks of Red China ... and (as I'm late to this particular game, perhaps) the worldly experimentalism of Pinkeye. The latter is a multi-headed, lineup-flexible gang of area sonic miscreants that includes dudes from all of the above mentioned outfits, plus a roving cast of guest characters, creating a joyous racket that encompasses threads of Afrobeat, avant-jazz, minimalist indie rock and just plain ear-bending improvisation. They wouldn't exist without the work of one Captain Don Van Vliet, but there's nothing wrong with folks plumbing the outer recesses of genre and group chaos if the results are this engaging.
Case in point: The zooty, spacey call-and-response opus called "Nuclear War Pt. 2." Over a clattery, honking sax and drum vamp, we get the following exchange of sage advice from singer and backup crew: "They're talkin' 'bout/ Nuclear war/ It's a motherfucker/ if they push that button/ your ass got to go/ Whatcha gonna do without your ass?"
Pinkeye did a recording sesh with John Sinclair in July and is slated to appear with him at upcoming shows too. So that should help you triangulate Pinkeye's position a little bit.
Speaking of the Loco Gnosis gang, they also have in their midst a band called Woodman. On a label less eclectic, Woodman might be a misfit. As it is, though, they fit right into the "anything goes" vibe.
Woodman is a family affair, fronted by dad Frank Woodman (who writes the jams), and including daughter Hillary on vocals and son Derek on lead guitar. I'm gonna make an obscure reference (because music critics are like that), but Woodman reminds me an awful lot of this great Columbus, Ohio, band called Moviola. Just pure of heart, earnest and empathetic and rooted in classic twang and pop. (Hell, compare and contrast yourself at myspace.com/moviola.) Woodman's playing at the Pike Room on Oct. 3.
And for a sample of many of the above-cited bands, visit the Loco Gnosis MySpace page.
See you on the Internet.