Tag: Detroit MI

Dale Nicholls is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has spent stints residing in Detroit, MI; Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; New Zealand and elsewhere. When Nicholls returned to Los Angeles, he ended his previous band and initially started his latest project Sky Chefs as a solo recording project, but has recently expanded into a full-fledged band, featuring members of Cherry Glazerr, The Black Keys, Pageants, Psychic Temple and the backing bands of Fiona Apple, Lou Reed and Chris Cohen.

Last year, was a busy year for Nicholls and his backing band, as Sky Chefs released their full-length debut, three EPs and a single and building upon a growing profile, the project’s Chris Schlarb-produced, sophomore effort Ghosts & Goblins carefully walk the tightrope between sly, winking nature and wry, heart-wrenching confessionals as the material thematically focuses on brokenhearted lovers, embittering relationships, our new, perpetually anxious age, batshit crazy families and family members, designer riot gear and the seemingly comic absurdity of living in Los Angeles. And reportedly, the material may arguably the most straightforward Nicholls has written — the material was mostly written and composed in Dublin and Los Angeles, whereas some of his previously recorded material was written in piecemeal and as patchwork affairs in several different locales.

“Poltergeist,” Ghosts & Goblins’ latest single as Nicholls explains is about “toxic relationships and self-destruction. Framed in a spooky groove, with lots of fun percussion. This was the first tune we tracked for the record. Once we got a take, we drenched everything in reverb and went out for shawarma.” Sonically speaking, the shuffling and strutting “Poltergeist” sounds as though it draws from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’Red Right Hand” and Tim Cohen‘s solo work and his work with Magic Trick, complete with a loose, boozy, improvised vibe, 60s psych rock-inspired organ, a soulful horn line and a propulsive bass line paired with Nicholls’ equally boozy crooning describing a viciously dysfunctional and fucked up relationship fueled by a confusing push and pull, deceit and tortuous, zero sum mind games. And as a result, the song possesses a murky undertone.





The Detroit, MI-based proto-punk/punk rock band Death can trace their origins back to when The Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) formed the band back in 1971. Initially, they started out as a R&B and funk-based band — that is until The Hackneys caught The Who and Alice Cooper live. After those concerts, David, the youngest of the siblings pushed his two older brothers towards a much more hard rock-leaning sound, which interestingly enough presaged punk and post-punk and a name change — Death. And as Bobby Hackney explained in 2010, David’s concept was spinning death from the negative to the positive. “It was a hard sell.”

In 1975, the Hackney Brothers with engineer Jim Vitti recorded a handful of songs written by David and Bobby at Detroit’s United Sound Studios. And according to the Hackney family, Clive Davis funded the recording sessions but while doing so, had repeatedly implored that the band change their name to something more commercially palatable. When the Hackney’s refused, Davis pulled out, leaving the band with seven recorded songs instead of the planned for 12. By 1976, the band self released in an extremely limited run of just 500 copies, the “Politicians In My Eyes”/”Keep Obn Knocking” single, recorded from those sessions, followed by their full-length debut with very little fanfare.

By 1977, the Hackneys ended the band, and then relocated to Burlington, VT where they released two alums of gospel rock as The 4 Movement in the late 70s and early 80s. However, by 1982 David had returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis remained and eventually formed the reggae band Lambsbread. In 2000, David Hackney tragically died of lung cancer but reportedly before he had died David Hackney told his older siblings that although they were misunderstood and forgotten in their day, history would prove them and their work as Death as being truly revolutionary — even if it was after his own death. In a wild spin of serendipitous fortune that seems written by a screenwriter, several years after David’s death, Bobby’s sons had stumbled upon the original Death masters hidden away in their parents’ attic. And Bobby’s sons were so impressed by what they heard, that they began covering Death’s material during their own sets as a loving homage that began to receive attention both to them and their father’s and uncles’ work together.

Drag City Records, re-released Death’s original recordings in 2009, 35 years after its initial recording and release, and from those recordings the material managed to not just up hold up, but to reveal an important historical place both for American music history and for Black music history, as their sound, which effortlessly meshed reggae, proto-punk, metal and punk rock managed to presage the punk movement by 3 years while serving as a convincing bridge between Parliament Funkadelic and Bob Marley and Bad Brains, Fishbone, Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, TV on the Radio, Prince and a growing list of contemporary acts that include Unlocking the Truth.

Since the re-release of their demos and full-length debut, the current lineup of Death featuring surviving brothers Bobby (bass, vocals) and Dannis Hackney (drums) with Bobbie Duncan (guitar) have had a documentary about their story, released some new material and spent a lot of time touring and playing some of the country’s largest festivals, including Afropunk Festival, introducing their sound and aesthetic to new audiences.

Death’s latest single “Cease Fire” will continue to cement the band’s growing reputations for pioneering sound that meshes punk, metal, funk and soul while being politically charged and urgent as the song features buzzing and crunching guitar chords and some impressive soloing, soaring synths and propulsive drumming and a sinuous bass line while being politically charged — and in particular, their sound and thematic concerns clearly presages the likes of Living Colour and Fishbone, some 10-15 years before they began playing. As the members of the band explain, their newest single “is a continuation of the social conscious voice that Rock ‘N’ Roll music states to all people. If John Lennon were alive in this world today, we are sure he would echo the same sentiments, because we first have to put the guns down and stop the senseless shooting so we can ‘Give Peace A Chance.'”


New Video: The Weird Personal and Deeply Human Hip-Hop of Quelle Chris

Quelle Chris is a Detroit, MI-based emcee and producer, who’s forthcoming full-length effort Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often is slated for a February 10, 2017 release through Mello Music Group and the album reportedly reveals the Detroit-based emcee and rapper as being among a growing list of self-aware emcees/artists, who have focused on the vacillating waves of self-confidence and self-doubt and the difficult (and seemingly endless) search for balance between the two; and in the case of Quelle Chris’s latest effort and that our lives are most often a complicated and delicate tightrope walk between our better angels and their worst devils — all while featuring guest spots from Roc Mariano, Elzhi, Homeboy Sandman, Denmark Vessey, Jean Grae and Cavalier, along with production assists from MNDSGN, Iman Omari, Chris Keys, Swarvy and The Alchemist.

Being You Is Great’s latest single “Calm Before” is a collaboration with Cavalier and Suzi Analogue that pairs Quelle Chris’ and Cavalier’s easy-going yet thoughtful rhyming over a jazzy sample of twinkling keys, stuttering drum programming and a chopped up and distorted sample of Suzi Analogue’s vocals for the song’s hook that sonically ties the song to a lengthy tradition of weird yet conscious hip-hop that includes A Tribe Called Quest and Shabazz Palaces among others but while subtly giving the song a tense, uneasy feel. After all, the song much like the material on the album focuses on the uneasy balance we attempt between our external self-image and our internal self-image and in a way that feels real and empathetic — all while reminding the listener that even your heroes fuck things up royally and aren’t as confident or as perfect as you think.

As an obsessive music fan and as a blogger, I become a fan of particular labels, frequently admiring their rosters and their overall output — and over the years, I’ve become an enormous fan of Stones Throw Records, a Los Angeles-based indie hip-hop label, who have released the work of an impressive array of artists across hip-hop, soul and funk including the imitable Homeboy Sandman; Dam-Funk and his various collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Slave‘s Steve Arrington and others; the great Mayer Hawthorne, whose Impressions: The Covers EP landed at number on this site’s Best of List several years ago; Detroit‘s and arguably the country’s best contemporary emcee Guilty Simpson; hip-hop’s most beloved producer J. Dilla; Vex Ruffin; and counties others. The renowned label has recently started a subscription service: for $250 USD plus a one-time, flat-rate shipping fee, subscribers will received every new Stones Throw Records vinyl album released throughout 2017 as soon as the label receives them — and this includes singles, double albums, 12-inch singles, 45s, box sets and special edition reissues.

2017’s first vinyl release will be Madlib and J. Dilla’s Jaylib Remixes for the first time ever on vinyl — and it’ll include a previously unreleased track “Da Ruckus,” which was originally recorded back in 2002. Additionally, the first vinyl shipment will also include a bonus LP Oh No‘s Ultimate Beats & Breaks, a 17 track instrumental hip-hop album, which also marks the long-awaited return of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats series, a series which can trace it origins to the original series of DJ-friendly compilations that was released between 1986-1991 or so. Created by Lenny Roberts, a Bronx-based record collector, and studio editing partner “Breakbeat” Lou Flores, their Ultimate Breaks and Beats series came about as sampling was beginning to take shape. And as you can imagine, the series was instrumental to the increasingly sample-based hip-hop of the period; but also managed to influence electronic dance music and pop as DJs and producers started using the series to help them create some of their genre’s seminal works.


“Breakbeat” Lou Flores is reviving Ultimate Breaks and Beats — this time as a producer series, debuting with an album by renowned producer Oh No, which was made entirely from samples from the original UBB series. Check out the  first single off Oh No’s Ultimate Breaks & Beats, “The Troubled” a swaggering track that features twinkling piano chords, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, warm but distorted blasts of horns and vocal samples coming out of the ether. And while nodding at J. Dilla,  the track possesses a cinematic quality just underneath its crowd-pleasing hook.


Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past two years or so, Detroit, MI-based electronic music duo Gosh Pith have added themselves to a growing list of mainstay artists across a wild variety of genes and styles — all while receiving a growing national profile for a sound that seamlessly meshes elements of hip-hop, electro pop, stoner rock, indie rock, dub, trap music, drum ‘n’ bass and other related genres and for being rather prolific. In fact, over the past two years, the Detroit-based duo have been experimenting and expanding upon the sound that first caught my attention and that of the blogosphere.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “In My Car,” a single that had the duo pairing tweeter and woofer rocking beats, stuttering drum programming, swirling electronics and brief bursts of guitar. And while being one of the more sultry songs they’ve released, it was an ode to just fucking around without any particular purpose and seeing where the night could take you.

The duo’s latest single “Medu$a” continues on a somewhat similar vein as twitter and woofer rock beats and rumbling low end, stuttering blasts of synth, industrial clang and clatter and a sinuous yet infectious hook paired with Josh Smith’s plaintive vocals. Lyrically the song  describes a dysfunctional and unrequited relationship in which the song’s narrator is absolutely lovesick while the object of his attention is materialistic and treats him unfairly — and is only into the song’s narrator for money and the promise of stuff. And while the song’s narrator knows that this person isn’t good for him, he’s acknowledging that he can’t seem to get away from her mysterious pull. Interestingly, while the song seemingly draws from the personal experiences of the songwriters, it may arguably be the most straightforward and radio-friendly song they’ve released to date.


Karriem Riggins is a Detroit, MI-born, Los Angeles, CA-based hip-hop producer and jazz drummer, who received national attention with the 2012 release of his solo debut effort Alone Together, which was released through renowned hip-hop tastemaker label Stones Through Records. Now, it’s been a little while since we’ve heard from him as a solo artist; however, Riggins has been pretty busy. Earlier this year, Riggins and J. Rocc collaborated on a Stones Throw Records’ Dungeon Session tribute to beloved producer — and fellow Detroiter J. Dilla. Along with that Riggins produced Common’s 11th full-length effort Black America Again.

Reportedly Riggins is working on a new and long-awaited full-length effort, slated for release sometime next year. In the meantime, Riggins released a new single “Bahia Dreaming,” which may presumably offer a taste of the new effort’s sound may be. Clocking in at a little over 2 minutes, “Bahia Dreaming” manages to be slickly produced synthesis of influences as the 3/4s of the song owes a sonic debt to J. Dilla with the song featuring twinkling and cascading synths and keys, skittering drum programming, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, and a chopped up, soulful vocal sample — that is until the last 40 seconds or so when the song suddenly turns into a bop era jazz composition bolstered and held together by tweeter and woofer rocking beats. Interestingly, the single reveals that Riggins has refined his sound — and in a way that possess an easy-going, cool as hell, strutting swagger paired with a dreamily thoughtful feel.




Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a number of posts about Detroit, MI-based electro pop duo Gosh Pith. And in that period of time, the act has not only become a JOVM mainstay, they’ve seen a growing national profile for a sound that seamlessly meshes elements of hip-hop, electro pop, stoner rock, indie rock, dub, trap music, drum ‘n’ bass, indie rock and several other related  genres.

Interestingly, the duo’s guitarist and vocalist Josh Smith has a solo side project under the simple mononym Joshua. Influenced by Morrissey, Frank Ocean, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Jean-Luc Goddard, Jim Jarmusch and others, Smith’s first single as Joshua is a mash up/cover of The Weeknd‘s “Starboy” and Kiiara’s “Gold,” that he has dubbed “GOLDBOY.” Smith’s mash up/cover retains the glitchy and stuttering production of “Gold” but pairs it with Smith singing The Weeknd’s sultry lyrics. Admittedly, I’m not a big mainstream pop guy but after listening to both songs, my immediate thought was similar to the folks at All Things Go  — “Holy shit, those two songs work together. How come no one has done that before?” Sonically speaking, will further the reputation Smith developed while with Gosh Pith while gently and subtly breaking their mold.