Archive for ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Lifestyle’

March 13, 2012

Led out of the dark by ‘The Black Path,’ to Matt Jones’ cathartic new mini-LP

It’s no secret that I do really cool things sometimes. In fact, my absence from Hearingade can quickly be explained away by the fact that I was on tour with that really rad band I hang out with, The Appleseed Collective (and don’t fret, a comprehensive tour diary will be coming your way next week!). Even for me though, being a part of Matt Jones’s recent in-studio concert, filmed and dubbed Lesser Birds, was one of the cooler things I’ve gotten the chance to experience.

For the uninitiated (read: Those outside of Michigan), the name Matt Jones probably means next to nothing. But chances are that your favorite mitten-based music act is a fan of Jones even if you aren’t. Around these parts, Jones is a near legend, a veritable veteran of the remarkably solid Ann Arbor folk scene that features more than a few Paste magazine darlings that get quite a bit of love on Hearingade. Of all these amazing Michigan acts, Jones remains my favorite. The music Jones makes is atypical folk, influenced by ragtime and the civil war era. His lyrics, sung at a break-neck speed that would leave The Hold Steady in awe, are tinged with an enrapturing darkness. Combined with intricate guitar, Jones makes music that can be described with words like “breathtaking” and “remarkably affecting”. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Jones yourself.

So when Jones invited me to Jim Roll’s Ann Arbor studio, Backseat Productions, for an intimate concert, I jumped at the chance. Honestly, I didn’t even know what I was signing up for when I told Matt Jones I’d be there. I just knew something awesome was happening and I could be a part of it. I wasn’t completely sure what I’d even done to warrant an invite but I wasn’t going to refuse. Jones is one of my favorite musicians but unlike bands like The Ultrasounds and The Appleseed Collective, I’m not exactly friends with Matt. I don’t really know him as a person. But I do know him through his songs, and those songs mean the world to me.

What happened at Backseat was an incredibly small, intimate concert that found a dozen or so of Ann Arbor’s finest sitting on folding chairs only feet away from Jones, cellist Collette Alexander, and vocalist Misty Lyn, as they played a comprehensive set of music spanning from Matt’s first EP to (the as-of-then yet-unreleased) new mini-LP, Half Poison Half Pure. I don’t really need to even talk about it because you can just watch the whole thing.

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January 23, 2012

It Was The Best Party Ever: With The Ultrasounds!

Lately, I’ve felt as if my shindigs have been becoming increasingly more and more successful but I have to level with you, my parties very well might have reached their pinnacle of awesomeoness with the New Year’s Ultraparty. It was named as such because of the featured band The Ultrasounds and boy, let me tell you that this was most certainly, at many times, the party that we all thought would never happen. Planned specifically around the fact that our Chicago friends The Ultrasounds were in town, our private, speakeasy-themed New Year’s bash was plagued by last minute venue changes, personal drama, and all sorts of other craziness but when the proverbial clock struck twelve, all of my friends and I rang in 2012 at the most massively successful party ever.

There’s a lot I can tell you about New Year’s Eve. I can tell you how great Nora’s cleared out living room was as a makeshift stage. I can tell you how amazing it was to be surrounded at all times by my friends, a handful of which are very talented musicians who were there specifically to play an awesome house show for all of my friends that aren’t very talented musicians. I can tell you how we were loud and young and stupid and drunk and I can tell you that the cops did not get called a single time. What I can’t tell you, however, is the one thing I’d love to tell you: How great The Ultrasounds were. I mean, by the time the band actually started playing, I was totally peaking, a term which here has nothing to do with drugs whatsoever. Thankfully, however, I’ve seen The Ultrasounds a number of times in the past, dating back to just over a year ago when my friend (and co-party planner) Matt forcibly made me listen to the band because they were “just so rad.” Thankfully, Matt is one of those people whose taste can be trusted, especially so far as music is concerned so it was only natural that I loved The Ultrasounds. Before long, the band became my friends too. When the opportunity arose to plan my New Year’s party around an Ultrasounds live show (the band was in town to play the Michigan-themed bash, Mittenfest), I was super stoked because I knew it wasn’t going to be my usual party. It was gonna be much more epic.

See, the thing about me that you might have picked up on is that I’m a pretty big folk music fan. Naturally, this means “Amber party” bands are usually much more in the vein of past party players The Appleseed Collective than, you know, Pantera. This is all well and good but nothing livens things up like a change of pace and I was pretty gung ho about making n.y.e. rocking enough to put Dick Clark to shame. Naturally, what I’m getting at here is the fact that there’s nothing folky about The Ultrasounds. I mean, there might have been a smoke machine in their living room show! I say “might” because I know there was going to be a smoke machine but I don’t remember if it happened or not. Regardless, nothing says “rock and roll” like a power trio of jean-clad Midwestern kids with a smoke machine and a tight, psychedelic sound.

The Ultrasounds – After You Close Your Eyes

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December 27, 2011

It Was The Best Party Ever: With The Appleseed Collective!

As much as I hate to be the girl who continuously talks about how rad she is, I have to admit that my friends and I throw the best parties. It really only started recently. Partly, this was because I feel like the transition into adulthood means that instead of getting trashed on your friend’s back porch nightly, you start doing things like throwing dinner parties and other fanciness. Another reason for my increase in ridiculously legit parties is that I met Nora. Nora is basically my party-throwing soul mate. She’s every bit as enthusiastic as I am, a great cook, and an all around awesome babe with access to a big enough house to cram all of our super cool friends inside of. Every time Nora and I have set out to have a shindig, our social circle pulls out all the stops for a raucous, fun-filled, and surprisingly adult evening of food, drinks, and music.

Last week, Nora and I threw together a ramshackle White Elephant party that turned out ridiculously well-put-together despite the fact that we barely did any party prep. In the evening, we made trillions of cookies, wrapped presents, and decorated the tree. By the time the guests had mostly all arrived, there were bunches of mystery presents under the tree (ranging from a badminton set to a really legit hat that I got but my best friend stole from me) and people were at an appropriate level of fuck-upped-ness for some legendary stuff to happen.

And that’s when The Appleseed Collective showed up and played a show at our party right next to the dang Christmas tree!

The Appleseed Collective – Sugar Cut My Teeth

The weird thing about being friends with The Appleseed Collective is that they’re genuinely one of my favorite bands because they’re just preternaturally talented. It’s strange being friends with one of your favorite bands, but it’s mostly just really awesome because it imbues your life with a sweet sense of awesomeness at all times. I’ve got a lot of friends in bands, but there are only so many whose music that I actually, legitimately love. Appleseed is just so good that it’s impossible to not be charmed by their d.i.y. gypsy jazz style.

Nearly every member of Appleseed contributes equal parts to the songs, with guitarist Andrew Brown, bassist Sophie Tulip, and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Worder taking turns on lead vocals. Brown belts out songs with the detached grit of a young Justin Townes Earle while playing guitar like some sort of Delta blues man. It’s sick. Worder plays violin and mandolin so well that I’m pretty sure Will Sheff would recruit him for Okkervil River, if given the opportunity. And did you listen to “Sugar Cut My Teeth”? Sophie Tulip sings like a sweet baby angel. Imagine that song being played next to a freakin’ Christmas tree with twenty-five of your closest friends all singing some harmonies. It was so magical!

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