Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Profiles in Courage: Ethan Milner

All too often the music reviews around here are done by people who know the band, knows someone who knows the band, or expects to some day know the band. The reviewer doesn’t want to upset their friends, or the wider circle of friends, so the review ends up reading like a press release.

That’s not to say that reviews of local music done by locals have no value. There are a few well informed and talented reviewers around here. Take Jeff Milo and his Deep Cutz blog. His very brief write-up of “Don’t Hang That (On Me)” by the Bad Indians serves as a perfect example of his, shall we say, florid writing style:

“Echo fuzz eruptions - surf-punched drum beats - an effervescent cresting over of reverb - rhythms you could shimmy to, crescendos you could tumble to, and swimming just below the surface, sunburst melodies - ripe with tambourine clatters, harmonica wheezings and organ hums.”

Milo’s review of “Takotsubo” by Darling Imperial contains about what we’ve come to expect from one of his reviews:

Takosubo (sic) retains the chemistry and tightness of their compositions - arresting rhythms and snaring riffs continue to set a steady punch of jangly all-shook-up-ness ("100xSpun"). This time around, working with Jon Weier, they flesh out some more bluesy material (the shimmying march and fiery guitar howls of "You Told Me") that reveals a sensibility for delegating atmospheric sparseness and shambolic, riff-roar-the-walls-down crescendos. Sutured throughout the EP are those striking displays of dueling guitars and soulful vocals, the former coming off like a raucous waltz between psyche-shredded space rock and growling, blues garage, the latter balancing a more delicate, indie-rock air with a stop-you-in-your-tracks belt that stands and struts right alongside all this hard rock rousing.”

He focuses so much on trying to describe the sound, he never explicitly tells us whether or not he really likes the album. I would say that his reviews tend to be value neutral. If nothing sounds bad, how are we to know if anything truly sounds good?

In contrast, over at Motor City Rocks, new contributor Ethan Milner has recently posted his own review of Takotsubo. It’s miles away from being value neutral. Here are some excerpts:

“there isn’t a single thing that is memorable besides the profound similarity some of these songs have to the cannon of pop music”

“The guitar tones don’t help a bit to overcome the Everclear-level blandness”

“But the fact is that after so many listens, all I can vividly recall about takotsubo is my unexcited familiarity with what it has to offer.”

“Ultimately what this record has to offer is a grab-bag of different sounding songs, a survey of 90’s college radio rock and production ideas – all of which you’ve heard before”

“It’s an album that doesn’t take a single risk, and in any day or age that makes for a mediocre listening experience.”

Ethan concludes his review by giving the album a 2.5 out of 5 rating. I think every music reviewer should conclude a review with a straight forward rating. The reader will know when the writer is impressed, and not have to wonder if they're just a review-mill

I suppose it’s possible that Ethan has no presence in the scene, and therefore doesn’t have any fear of attaining a social stigma, leaving him to write with complete objectivity. I choose to believe that Ethan contains a quality that’s rare amongst local music reviewers; courage.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scenester Douchetard of the Week: Greg Baise’s Beard

"And I looked, and behold a pale bike rider: and his name that sat on that rider was Beard, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

Greg Baise’s Beard, you are quite a lustrous pelt. The dark labyrinth of your dense foliage has ensnared more travelers than the Black Forest during the middle ages. You provide habitation to more woodland creatures than the San Diego Zoo. You withstand the brutal elements better than RuPaul’s wig.

People think you’re non-threatening and benevolent like Greg is, but I know just how sinister you really are. You’re the one who convinced Greg to quit working at the Majestic and take the job as talent buyer over at the Crofoot, aren’t you? You just couldn’t be happy at a place that was somewhat centrally located in the metro Detroit area? You claim it was because the Crofoot has better acoustics, but you really just wanted to lure more people into date rape alley. You are more malicious than Hitler’s mustache, more calculating than Atilla the Hun’s goatee, and more brutal than Pol Pot’s pubes.

Greg Baise’s Beard, for all these reasons and more, you are Broke in Detroit’s Scenester Douchetard of the Week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Missing Person: JRC

JRC hasn’t made a blog posting in almost a month. People who know and love him don’t know his whereabouts, and they’re concerned for his safety. Here at the Broke in Detroit Tactical Response Unit, we’ve been compiling a lot of promising leads and we’ve developed a few theories.

1. After walking out of The Crofoot in Pontiac one night, a group of dude-bros who were leaving Tiki Bob’s Cantina saw JRC, and upon seeing his backwards baseball cap, assumed that he was one of their own. They pulled him onto their date rape party bus, and dragged him along on their tour of terror. After prolonged exposure to their bizarre rituals, and consumption of copious amounts of Jaegermeister, he is beginning to exhibit signs of Stockholm Syndrome. He was last seen hanging out of a party bus window with a bottle of Bud Light in his hand, shouting “Get some!”.

2. He has been sent on a clandestine mission by the U.S. State Department to Belarus. There he is teaching his blogging skills to the resistance movement trying to overthrow the autocratic government. With this knowledge, the movement will be able to bypass the government’s restrictions on the press and free speech. He of course had to replace his backwards baseball cap with an ushanka in order to blend in.

3. JRC came in to possession of a diary written by Jim Diamond in the 90’s. This diary contains many cryptic clues that point to the existence of an ultra rare vinyl pressing, believed to be the accidental recording of three minutes of Meg White tuning new heads for her drum kit. Since only one copy exists in the whole world, it must therefore be priceless. He is determined to find it, no matter how dangerous the search is, or how far he’ll have to travel by planes that leave trails of solid red lines. JRC has no interest in making a profit off of this item. He is a man of principle, and he insists that its proper place is in a museum.

4. He is starring in an off-Broadway adaptation of Huckleberry Finn. This is a revisionist version, and his role is Baseball Cap Jim, in place of N****r Jim. Audiences are riveted as Huck and Baseball Cap Jim try to escape the limited and hollow options offered by the mainstream record companies.

5. Late one night Jasper and JRC were cornered by a group of bullies in the park. Jasper lashed out, stabbing and killing one of the bullies. They had to hide out in an abandoned church out in the countryside. After a week of hiding out, they ventured into a nearby small town to eat a proper meal. When they got back to the church it was on fire, presumably as a result of them being careless with their cigarette butts. A group of children out on a field trip were trapped inside the burning church. Jasper and JRC rushed inside to get them out, but unfortunately Jasper suffered major burns and a broken spine after the roof collapsed on him. Jasper’s dying words to JRC were “Stay gold, Jimmyboy”.

6. After many failed attempts to convince Mick Collins to release The Dirtbomb’s cover of Sharevari as a 7” on Five Three Dial Tone Records, JRC felt he had to resort to desperate measures. Employing a radical new method of thought inception, he managed to bring Mick’s subconscious mind into his own. While they were in a dream, within a dream, within a dream, JRC’s projected self was killed by a manifestation of Ko Melina, who crushed his skull with a bass guitar. Ko is very crafty, and proactive. She had already constructed defenses in the subconscious minds of all her band mates. Since time in a dream within a dream, within a dream, passes exponentially slowly compared to real time, JRC has spent what seems to him as several lifetimes lost inside the unstructured ether of subconsciousness. The effect can rot someone’s brain, and JRC is currently lying in a persistent vegetative state, with no chance of recovery.

7. A family of French fur trappers that have been secretly living on Belle Isle for generation after generation for 300 years killed him. They thought the red pelt on the lower half of his face would fetch a good price.

8. Both Jasper and JRC were madly in love with Liz Wittman. Believing that Liz had chosen JRC over him, Jasper killed JRC in a fit of jealous rage. After letting it decompose in his basement for a few weeks, Jasper cleverly dumped the body. It is currently encased in ice in the basement of the old Detroit Public School Book Depository, across the street from Michigan Central Station. The tragedy of these events are heightened by the fact that Liz was actually completely oblivious to how either of them felt, as she assumed that they were completely gay for each other.

9. He woke up on December 18th, 2010, and declared “Blogging is lame. I’m totally over it”.

JRC, if you’re reading this, please let us know that you’re still alive. We’re worried. Very worried.