When the sandy shores of a zombie beach party meet the salty lawlessness of a vintage wild west shoot-out, you would likely find yourself galloping within the Tarantino-lite dreamworld crafted by the latest tracks from garage pop threesome Prude Boys.
The Outlaw, though only two tracks long, make for a grungy Lee Hazelwood x Nancy Sinatra reboot while garnering imagery of seduction and escape with their uniquely refined and playful nostalgia. The opening riff from the titled track is reminiscent of The Dandy Warhols lick from “You Were the Last High” but in Prude Boys uptempo context feels urgent and authentic surrounded by vocalist Caroline Myrick’s haunted warble. Wildly expressive without much deviation, “The Outlaw” is genre-less and toggles between what feels like fantasy cinema and curious reality like a chase through the Hollywood backlots and sound stages, dipping in and out of backdrops of ghost towns and real life coffee shops.
“You Plague My Dreams” follows “The Outlaw” with a jutting rock tale of a lingering lover. Tormented by wanting to stay but the unfair crimes of still hanging around even while deep into the R.E.M cycle, our antagonists find ways to make resentment soft and make guitars sound as though they are slamming doors. Though a little less obvious in its cinematic tonality than the EP’s opener, “You Plague My Dreams” finds itself in the closing credits territory which is apropos for a band with a knack for seeing the bigger picture.
Saddle up and get rowdy with the latest from Prude Boys below:
Detroit-adopted Ann Arborite and premier Motown revivalist, Mayer Hawthorne, returned this week with another funk infused groove, “Cosmic Love” from his fourth solo studio LP (his first in three years) due out this spring. If you’re unfamiliar, you might think Hawthorne is just another white boy relying on soulful affectation. What you should know is that Hawthorne has built his reputation on authentically modernizing funk, soul and Detroit’s signature Motown sound in a way that has always felt fresh and fun but with a soothing melancholy that speaks to what Hawthorne does best: croon and groove.
This time around, however, I feel as though Hawthorne missed an opportunity. “Cosmic Love”, for me, is borderline comical. It could fit into a shaky Shaft-esque 1970’s amateur porn or a montage scene from an Anchorman movie with equal fluidity. It’s satirical in its literal interpretation using galactic twinkling synths, Hawthorne’s spacey echoed vocals, and the breathy female background chorus, all of which makes “Cosmic Love” feel more like a store-bought Halloween costume than a reinvention of your parent’s vintage wardrobe.
Am I a jerk for longing for heartbroken, lovelorn Hawthorne circa 2009’s A Strange Arrangement? Or story driven, assertively dreamy Hawthorne from 2013’s Where Does This Door Go? Considering Hawthorne is an artist who begs us to turn the clocks back, isn’t it natural for me to want to do the same? It should be said that I like “Cosmic Love.” I do. I can appreciate its playful, candied kitsch. The single opens with the lyrics “If I had a dollar/For every dream of you and me/I’d buy myself a rocket/And shoot into your galaxy” and by the end all I can think is that I wished he would have shot a little further.
My first musical outing of 2016 was also the first of the year for The Seraphine Collective, “an inclusive, supportive, and active community of feminists designed to foster creative expression and camaraderie among underrepresented musicians and artists in Detroit.” Our venue? Lo and Behold record and book store, a tiny and toasty hideaway wedged in Hamtramck (or Detroit’s “Little Poland”) perfectly suited for the freezing temperatures outside and our shared, palatable mid-week ennui. Taking to the stage (well, floor, respectively) were three dear-to-Detroit local artists alongside a quietly celebrated up and coming national touring act, all of which provided a unique and unified inspirational soundscape for the year ahead.
The Belle Isles
Owner of Lo & Behold Richie Wohlfeil debuted his two-week-old brainchild The Belle Isles (named, of course, after Detroit’s beloved state park paradise). A slinky lo-fi three-piece (Richie on the mic and guitar along with Conor and Deb on drums) reminiscent of Mayer Hawthorne and MC5 with hints of John Frusciante vocals. The song “Detroit Funk” was a hodgepodge of funk and “do-do-do-do’s” straight from that song by The Cure with all of those “do-do-do-do’s.” “Hey, what should we do next? The Summer Song? I don’t remember the words but fuck it. I’ll make it up.” Richie swigs a beer and rails into a song that he did in fact forget the words to. Good thing we were in a book store, as there were a few he could borrow.
Shelley Salant is a one woman Velvet Underground/Wilco/Brian Jonestown Massacre, but most importantly, entirely herself. Barefoot with nothing but a borrowed electric guitar and a loop pedal SHELLS made seismic waves in our tiny venue. Vocal-less and relying entirely on her ability to collage multiple chord progressions without hesitation or transition was, for me, one of the most impressive moves I’ve seen in a long time. Her songs spoke without words: an abridged novel of noise. Every piece had an exposition, conflict, and a sweeping resolve.
On an ambitious 43 show tour Seattle-based Mega Bog stopped by our little haven. The most playful of the night, they infused Jenny Lewis’ whimsical style with Fleet Foxes’ (but only if they had been listening to Best Coast records). Erin Birgy fronts and mothers Mega Bog. She is effervescent in the way her voice hops around, reminding me of the way Regnia Spektor used whimsical manipulations of vocals on Soviet Kitsch, which is perfectly paired with the Mega Bog’s dissonant, dreamy instrumentals. Any band that actively uses a triangle, I’m in.
Stef Chura alongside boyfriend and Jamaican Queens drummer, Ryan Clancy filled the space with what felt like a collaboration between Karen O and The Modern Lovers Jonathan Richman if they scored a 90’s teenage runway film. Stef’s voice is dominant with a confident meekness that is shrill by means of catharsis. So much so that guitar and drums seem secondary. Her vocal playground is purposeful, warped, and effective. It’s a freeing expelling of emotion but stripped down and wonderfully messy like early Flaming Lips recordings.
Few bands are as aptly named as psychedelic Detroit four piece, Moonwalks, whose upcoming release Lunar Phases could act as a wild, yet tailored, road map to uninhabited galaxies and black holes, alike. The band’s first LP, scheduled to release via cassette tape and digital download later this month (MANIMAL Vinyl) is as warm as it is cooly intergalactic and is as 1960’s retro as it is refreshingly modern. Collectively, Jake Dean (guitars/vocals) Kate Gutwald (bass), Kerrigan Pearce (drums) and Tyler Grates (guitar) admit to being moved by the production of old Lee Hazlewood records, which makes sense, considering Lunar Phases has an undeniably sultry, Western-shootout vibe. (If the shootout was between aliens and cowboys, directed by a 90’s Tarantino respectfully.) “We’re becoming more collaborative as a four piece,” says Grates. “When making music, it’s important for me not to consider any influences I have at the time. Anything can sound like everything. However, it’s a little different in the recording process. We all have similar taste but different ideas, so we’re constantly coming up with different landscapes of sound.” More than Brian Jonestown Massacre-esque jam rock moments or sedated Jeffry Lee Pierce vocals, Moonwalks’ sound is the figurative dusting off of something once lost. Like water on Mars, Lunar Phases taps into what you thought you knew, but with an exploratory freshness best suited for lovers of reverb, distortion, and unexpectedly emotive cosmic collisions of past and present.
What is most surprising of their debut LP is the seamless cohesion not only between tracks, but in Moonwalks’ shared cadence, notably in their confidence in letting each instrument/effect have space to swell, breathe, and explode. This is glaringly apparent on vocal-less track “Cream Cheese Ashtray,” a demanding instrumental that gives the aural illusion of bending time; warped but never “off,” askew but never elementary nor hesitant. Delay heavy track, “Painted Lady” (one of two songs named after beloved Detroit bar/venues) is reminiscent of early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club minus the cliche hook/verse progression, artfully distorting your notion of what comes next; another example of Moonwalks’ ability to give new life to the already familiar.
Lunar Phases is, for the lack of a better word, mature. The album, a richly dynamic and attentive mosaic just under thirty minutes long, manages to achieve the robust fluidity that most bands don’t find until their second or third release (if at all). With extensive touring planned for the coming year and by the sounds of it, more studio time, too, Moonwalks exudes a completeness but with ample room to morph, grow, and reimagine. “I think were becoming tighter as a band,” Grates explains. “We’re getting more comfortable with playing shows and touring around the country. I think if the four of us weren’t in a band together, we’d still be hanging out all the time.”
While we await the release of Lunar Phases, satisfy your hunger by checking out Moonwalks’ 2014 EP:
Sleep in late. Roll out of bed disheveled. Creep up the volume on our track of the week BETS “Don’t Give A Fuck.” Over an entrancing retro beat, “I don’t don’t don’t give a fuck, don’t don’t don’t give a fuck” teases the sultry bicoastal singer/songwriter before warning, “Everybody knows…I never fall in love.” An image is evoked of a lazy morning and the electro-pop artist in a floral silk robe with hair tousled pouring black coffee, perhaps a morning toke, while ignoring her lover still sleeping from last night’s antics. BETS is too busy writing a song in head swept from the day’s early glow and the late night memories. The electro-pop tune provides recurrent reminders via pulse and vocals lifting you into a mellow trance. Start your day with this one, I’ve always said not giving a fuck is an important part of the path to enlightenment.
The track is off of her upcoming 2015 debut LP Days, Hours, Nights.