D’Angelo and The Vanguard
By: William Georges
Michael Eugene Archer, who goes by D’Angelo onstage, or R&B Jesus as dubbed by Christgau, has released his first album since Y2K, Black Messiah. The savior of modern R&B, his first two albums, Black Sugar, and the more upheld 2000 album Voodoo, combined the samurai sampling of Wu-Tang (thank you J-Dilla), the spirituality of Aretha Franklin, the seductiveness of Al Green, and the brute power of Prince, whisking them into a bowl of southern innovation.
Black Messiah, or any of D’angelo’s releases, are unique in that they do not simply showcase a voice that could melt even the most stalwart metalhead. Every second of Black Messiah is a reminder that D’Angelo still isn’t finished expanding R&B. Tracks like “Ain’t That Easy” and “1000 Deaths” harmonize arousal and spirituality behind sensual electricity, muted bass plucks and choir with some of the oddest time signatures this side of the Mississippi.
Nowhere in this album does D’Angelo put all his eggs in one basket—i.e“Sugah Daddy”; a juicy five minute R&B[anger] featuring choir falsettos, riding up and down sassy trumpet scales alters an already dynamic atmosphere. Additionally, D’Angelo proves that letting a simple hip/hop rhythm carry melodies like “Back to the Future (Part I)” isn’t necessarily succumbing to familiarity or reaching for ‘experimental minimalism’.
..But wait there’s more. For what would the king be without capturing the painful clapping and whistling Mississippi Delta blues? “The Door” paints D’Angelo as a prophet of drunken southern blues, reclined on train tracks howling as the city’s outliers clap in unison to his anthems of pain and regret.
Though probably not intended, D’Angelo’s Black Messiah feels like a memento of the 2000’s. With odd sampling reminiscent of Madlib’s “The Unseen”, the shrills and simplicity of Gnarls Barkley, the ambition of Andre 3000, and the sheer gravity of Jack White’s Mississippi Delta Blues reincarnation, D’Angelo comes back strong in 2014.
Start with: “1000 Deaths”, “Sugah Daddy”, “The Door”, “Another Life”
Similar: Frank Ocean, Gnarles Barkley, Outkast
White Clouds Tour
The Pike Room
December 9th, 2014
Story By: DJ Kobe
Photos By: Donnarice Photography
Upon arriving at the Pike Room in downtown Pontiac, I realized that I have never seen or heard of anyone on the bill except the headliner, Lil Debbie. The show started off slow with a slew of technical difficulties as well as a luck luster performance from the local opening act. Luckily the White Clouds Tour would not disappoint.
Chicago rapper Chi City was the first representation of the actual tour and his performance would set the tone for the rest of the event. Mixing his lyrical style with heavy 808 instrumentals, Chi City amped up the crowd with good energy and an overall good time. I like the fact that after his time on stage Chi City spent the remainder of the evening moving thru the crowd with fans.
Up next was rock rapper Godz. The rock rapper received a very good response from the crowd. However this wasn’t my favorite portion of the show simply because I had a hard time understanding what was being said on stage. What I could make of the lyrics seemed to be words of positivity. Godz came fully equipped with a drummer and a DJ.
New Cash Money Records signee Caskey was without argument the surprise of the night. The tattoo-covered MC fought through troubles with the sound system, rapping a good portion of his show a capella. Though his merchandise table was one of the rudest places I’ve ever been to, Caskey was very humble and very talented.
Last but certainly not least was Lil Debbie. Debbie took the stage around 11 o’clock for a packed house of mostly high school girls. I didn’t know what to expect; before December 9Th I was almost positive that I was the only person with an appreciation for songs like “Michelle Obama” and “Work The Middle”. I was wrong.
The California Sweetheart performed an energy packed show including her own person twerker. The crowd loved every moment. One fan even brought Debbie a dozen roses as a token of appreciation.
By the end of the show myself as well as my cameraman found our way to a back stage area where we got a chance to chop it up with Caskey, and Chi City. All in all the show was great. I’ll be keeping my eye on all of these artists as they progress in their careers.
The Loving Touch
November 29, 2014
Story and Photos by: Amber Lemons
Let me set the scene for you. You’re at a small bar that doubles as a concert venue. The place is packed with hipster men and women, and everyone seems to be having a good time. As soon as the first opener band strums a guitar chord, everyone cheers. Sounds like a great time, eh?
With my WXOU press pass and camera in hand, I spent my Saturday night chillin’ at The Loving Touch seeing Frontier Ruckus. Boy, was I glad I had the opportunity to attend this show!
The Kickstand Band was the first opener and they presented a chill vibe to. Most of their songs mentioned summer in them, and it made me wish it were! I can picture myself hanging out on the beach listening to them. The crowd seemed to agree with me because there was some head bobbing to the beat going on.
Mexican Knives took the stage next. The first thing I noticed was how laid back they all seemed to be. Most of them were drinking a beer when they began to play. This band is great if you are looking for grungy rock n’ roll. The lead singer, Ruth, had some vocals I was not expecting AT ALL. As soon as she opened her mouth I thought, “dang girl, get it!” Her voice is was powerful and I loved it. Mexican Knives had a bit awkward stage presence. Ruth would end up facing the opposite way than the crowd, which I found a bit odd. The crowd didn’t seem to care much though; they still hooted and hollered to show their appreciation.
Last but not least was the main act, Frontier Ruckus. You could tell the crowed was very excited for them to perform because almost every single person there fought their way onto the floor so they could be as close as humanly possible to the stage. I thought they had a great set list; a few of their older songs and some from their new 4th album, Sitcom Afterlife. We have this album at the station in our music library and I highly recommend you listen to it if you are into folk rock at all. I would describe their genre as garage band meets folk.
The band put on a great show, especially with the banjo and trumpet solos that the crowd loved. They were also very interactive with the crowd. It’s so much more fun when the band will actually talk to you rather than just perform and get off the stage.
At one point in the night, the lead singer, Matthew Milia, commented on how warm it was in the venue due to how many people were there. “This is the best kinda warmth, human generated warmth. Y’all should come live in my apartment with me all winter long.” Although I’m sure some of the fans would love to live with him all winter long, it might get a little crowded.
Overall, this was a great show with some great bands. I look forward to seeing all three of these bands again.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
I’m In Your Mind Fuzz
By: William Georges
King Lizard and the Gizzar…errr Wizard and The Lizard’s Gizard? KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD! This psychedelic rock outfit hails from Victoria, Australia. This band, whose name sounds like a strain of some bad drug, is relatively new to most people’s ears despite having a 5 album discography. Two of these five albums were released in 2014, the latter being I’m In Your Mind Fuzz.
The album starts out with three songs that display incredible continuity (“I’m In Your Mind,” “I’m Not In Your Mind,” “Cellophane”). If you didn’t pay attention to the track list, you probably wouldn’t think the songs changed to the next. The first track opens up with fast-paced snare drumming backed by a forward guitar melody and a fast-paced, bouncy bass guitar. Towards the end of the opening track these eerie warped, noises that sound like they were taken from an old episode of Scooby Doo accompany the extremely lush sound of a harmonica. Not only do these tracks achieve beautiful continuity, extremely rich instrumental composition and a driving force of forward paced rhythm, they are seasoned with the lead singer’s drug addled vocals, whose voice bubbles just above the surface of coherency for the audience.
The album breaks its momentum on the track “Empty”, with its hypnotic and looped instrumental, sounding like a mashup of crunchy low-fi guitar, flute, and organ. When you think you’ve been surprised enough by not only the creativity of the instruments and licks, the flute-led song “Hot Water” ushers in a soothing landscape with the lead singer injecting his voice into whispers all over the track.
Finishing up the album are the tracks “Satan Speeds Up” and “Her & I (Slow Jam II).” By its title you might think “Satan Speeds Up” is a sign that the band might be taking itself a tad serious, thankfully KG&TLW fools you. Though the melody on this song hits its darkest and bluesy-ist and the lyrics existential “Every life is like a song that takes forever to be sung” and accusing Satan of spreading slander to loved ones behind his back, the content feels inherently good-willed through conveying the genuine aimlessness and sorrow of a young adult. “Her & I (Slow Jam II)” closes the album with a creamy Latin Jazz sound with spurts of dwindling, spiraling noises that rain down on the track over lyrics like, “Her will will shine, from up above/ fill her heart with a lot of love, so the sun can shine a little brighter on her and I.”
Much of this album can be easily overlooked the first few times through with its distracting and awesome composition of instruments that flood the entirety of the work. What makes this album shine a little brighter are the smaller details that come along with multiple listens
With some of the boldest and most invigorating sounds psychedelic rock has heard since Merriweather Post Pavillion, I’m In Your Mind Fuzz stands triumphantly among sitting peers.
Start with: “Cellophane”, “Hot Water”, “Her & I (Slow Jam II)”
Similar artists: Animal Collective, Tame Impala, Foxygen
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The Crofoot Ballroom
Saturday November 22, 2014
Story and photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak
Nascar fans were sorely disappointed when hometown heroes Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. made a triumphant return to Michigan Saturday night.
After playing 22 dates across the country over the last month and a half, the Detroit-based duo had two more shows left on their tour. Both shows were scheduled at The Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac.
WXOU was in attendance Saturday night for the first of the two homecoming shows.
Local acts Flint Eastwood and Friendship Park opened up the show. Each band brought a different element to the table. Friendship Park was goofy yet melodic, while Flint Eastwood was more of a traditional rock band.
The choice of openers was interesting because Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. combines both of their respective elements along with dance and pop tricks to create a much more varied sound.
“I thought it was great. Three really good bands in a row which is different than most shows I have gone to,” said attendee Ian Ruhala
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage around ten p.m. They played through a blend of new songs, including their new single, “James Dean.”
“This one turned out to be our most popular song even though we didn’t mean for it to be,” co-founder Daniel Zott told the energetic crowd.
The band also touched on better-known songs like “If You Didn’t See Me On The Dancefloor”, “Run”, and their Michigan anthem, “We Almost Lost Detroit.” Judging from the amount of hands waiving in the air, this song was the fan favorite of the night.
The show ended with multiple encores – one of which included Zott and his former band The Great Fiction taking the stage to play one of their old songs.
After another exit offstage, the band came back onstage wearing different Nascar jackets – a poke at their band name and perhaps the misconceptions that it brings.
During the final encore, there was also a failed stage dive by Zott in which he jumped into the pit area in front of the stage to crowd surf. No one caught the airborne singer and he fell to the wooden ballroom floor…hard. The impact could be heard from ten feet away over the sound of the music onstage.
Zott recovered quickly, jumped back onstage and the group finished their set to a cheering crowd.