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ADULT. Abigail Stauffer Saturday Looks Good To Me Mr. B’s Joybox Express

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MAY 2013 The Buzz



Billy Bragg, James Blake, Purity Ring, Water Hill Music Fest


Youngblood Hawke, Justin Furstenfeld, May Days, The Airborne Toxic Event


Craft Beer Tour, Vampire Weekend, Rodriguez, Of Monsters and Men

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The Dish: Blue Wolf Grill Adventures in Local Food #29 The Bar at A&L Wine Castle

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Abigail Stauffer Saturday Looks Good To Me Mr. B’s Joybox Express


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Water Hill Music Fest // Water Hill Neighborhood, Ann Arbor / May 5


BY JASMINE ZWEIFLER When it comes to music festivals, southeast Michigan has more than our fair share: Movement for the ravers, Top of the Park for the Ann Arbor townies and Mittenfest for us Ypsi weirdos. But one of the least conventional of these is Ann Arbor’s Water Hill Music Festival. Instead of a big stage set up with little satellites of mediocre food stands set nearby, Water Hill is an event that is basically a huge block party…if everyone on your block was an amazing musician. Performers like Chit Chat, Charlie Slick and The Appleseed Collective are among the acts this year. Guests turn up and,

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

Billy Bragg // The Ark / May 1


James Blake // The Majestic / May 3

guided by signs on lawns, set out and explore the neighborhood. Bands just set up on porches and let rip. This event is free and is distinctly non-commercial. No fees, no sponsors, just tunes. It all gets underway at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 5.

Purity Ring // The Crofoot / May 4




I don’t feel like I’m “writing about music” when it comes to Billy Bragg. I’m glad for that. No one makes hints of gloom sound so sublime. His music, his way with words gets me thinking about the big stuff – like what are we doing here, anyway, and what about the universe and our ancestors and who has the answer and whatever happened to that supposed great-leap-forwards. When anxiety or disenchantment haunts your days, it’s this distinctive non-traditionalist folk singer’s subtly gruff, richly rigid style, sung in that east London warble that shrugs and coos with warm, meandering melodies, exacting beautifully succinct, poeticallysarcastic wisdom to the restless riffs on his acoustic guitar, that makes me forget about all the bullshit with the suggested justification, almost like a gutter-punk/blue-collared zen koan, that it might all be bullshit, anyway. “Tooth & Nail” is the songwriter’s latest album in a 30-year solo career that’s blended intriguing re-imaginings of country-westerntwanged folk balladry, adding in a bit of an indie-rockers edge and, lately, aging nicely with a sage-like confidence to his mellower meditations. Be sure to see him when he makes a stop at the Ark in Ann Arbor on May 1.

Intimate, electronic music on a national tour stop with hundreds of your friends – what could be better? Combining love for the classic with the loops and samples of a digital age, James Blake brings his haunting vocals and mind-tripping beats to Michigan. Consider the equal parts soul and electronic experimentation with the love of D’Angelo, Burial, Björk and Stevie Wonder under his belt, it is only expected that the final result would be one that would get you moving and make you think. His latest release marks an evolution in both his sound and result.   After exposing the world to his singular talent from his criticallyhailed eponymous debut release in 2011, his follow-up smartly takes that sound further while bringing in inspirations (Brian Eno, for one) and collaborators like Wu-Tang’s RZA into a completely organic and engrossing long player that sounds naturally enhanced. No filler. Taking his own 1-800-Dinosaur label DJ sets and live shows across the world, expect a prime time gig that brings in the right amount of instrumentation from Blake and band Ben Assiter on drums and Rob McAndrews on guitar, electronic crunch and soul swoon that already found itself worthy on the stages of Coachella earlier this year. Tickets are $20. All ages. 

Early in 2011, Purity Ring was a mysterious band with a gimmicky name and one jaw-dropping single. This Canadian singer/programmer duo has since risen to the forefront of a new wave of artful electro-pop, joining scene veterans such as The Knife and Crystal Castles and influencing talented newcomers such as CHVRCHES. If you missed their debut album, I’d put it on your urgent listen list. It’s full of entrancing melodies with dark edges and sublime imagery with Megan James’ childlike vocals having the effect of an angel in a nightmare. Purity Ring adds a personal visual touch to each live show, turning the stage into some kind of haunted arts and crafts exhibit. There’s no news yet of plans for a second album, but it’ll be something of an internet firestorm when it drops – their latest release, a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy,” crashed their servers with way too many eager downloaders clicking at once. If you want to see Purity Ring, I’d get on tickets fast – they start at $14 from Doors open at 8 p.m. //

The Airborne Toxic Event // The Majestic / May 15



The Airborne Toxic Event isn’t nearly as catastrophic as their name would indicate. This is a good thing, because otherwise the crowd at the Majestic would be filled with hipsters wearing gas masks on May 15. TATE’s interesting smoothie of rock, orchestral instrumentation (the band has its very own violinist) and heartfelt indie vocal stylings have garnered them oodles of fans and critical love. TATE are reminiscent of many things all at once: The Cure are obvious influences and their hyper-literate lyrics (the lead singer is a novelist after all) brings to mind The Smiths. Their album “Such Hot Blood” was just released, and

they are bringing that fresh energy and brand new tunes here to Motown. The sanguine title holds the promise of a vitality and visceral quality to their newest offering that will no doubt be devoured like so many vampires on lovely necks.

Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October // The Ark // May 9

May Days // Woodruff’s / May 10




There is a certain breed of indie band that prides itself not on being hip and opaque, but rather wears its sunny optimism on its sleeve. Bands like Polyphonic Spree and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros know something about this, but Youngblood Hawke has a seat at the head table as well. Their layered, jangly dance tunes are perfect for warm weather and late nights. It seems an interesting proposition, but they are going to try to fit an arena sized sound into the teeny tiny Shelter around the back and underneath St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit on May 8. In their current incarnation, Youngblood Hawke has a tantalizingly spare catalog, but a new album is just a few months away. For just $12 you can taste the rainbow with Y.B. and Southern California friends The Colourist. This show may just be too much fun to handle on a Wednesday night, but we must rise to the challenge!

The eyeliner-bedecked Blue October front man Justin Furstenfeld made it cool to be sad during his many years with the band. According to the information available, the recently solo singer has “bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies.” All of these things make the prospect of his event at The Ark entitled “An Open Book” a good bet for some weepy, emo goodness. The evening is part of a tour Furstenfeld conceived to support the expanded third edition of his book of lyrics and writings “Crazy Making,” which dropped last month. He’s bringing along his guitar and plans to keep the evening acoustic with never before heard songs and some old favorites from his Blue October tenure. With a question and answer session planned as part of the May 9 event and limited numbers of meet-and-greet tickets available, this promises to be a veritable bonanza for fans who want to get a little closer.

Local musicians and merry pranksters are assembling for something more like a conference than a festival. May Days is two days of live music spread between two cities, celebrating the swell collaborative creation in the underground arts community. Inspired by the creative-circles of Michigan’s mythologized past, groups like Duende, Disinformants, Pewter Cub and many more are on two line-ups (May 10  at Woodruff’s / May 11  at the Park Bar in Detroit) stacked with nine bands per night (ranging from indie-pop, thrashy-post-punk and surrealist-hiphop to garage-gored techno-rap…and more). The dual/dueling-showcases come together thanks to the efforts of a music blog, a pair of arts collectives, a local record label and an arts studio all based around Metro Detroit. Both venues have multiple stages and energies should be amicably amped up towards a nervier nature of healthy competition – the summit adorned, also, with psychedelic art installations. May Days will take place on May 10 at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti and May 11 at the Park Bar in Detroit. Music starts at 7 p.m. // @ispymagazine

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

Youngblood Hawke // The Shelter // May 8


Of Monsters and Men // Meadowbrook Music Festival / May 28



This Icelandic quintet formed in 2009 and experienced a rapid ascent to the peaks of indie folk/pop popularity. This was due in large to writing one of the most beloved singles of 2011, “Little Talks,” which reached the top 20 in multiple countries. They’ve been able to back up their debut album with a rigorous string of high-energy live performances, fueled by their four-part vocal harmonies and skills with multiple instruments. They won’t be slowing down this summer, playing at the biggest festival in Scotland in July and at Glastonbury Festival in June. Word is that

Craft Beer Tour // Ypsi + A2 Bars / May 13-19

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013



Warmer weather has finally begun to hold us to her glowy, gentle bosom – and that means that beers and porches need to be at the forefront of all of our minds. Arbor Brewing Company (as always) is doing their part to make that a reality. May 13 through 19 they are unleashing the Craft Beer Tour – a progressive pub crawl with a competitive element – on the Ypsi/Arbor bar scene. To play, all you need to do is pick up a “beer passport” at any participating booze dispensary – places like The Wurst Bar, Arbor Brewing Company and Bill’s Beer Garden are among the watering holes on the list. With the first Michigan beer you imbibe at each bar, you’ll get a little sticker for your passport. Once the week is out, you snap a picture of your (hopefully) bestickered passport. For each sticker, you get an entry into a raffle to win killer prizes. Drink up and win!

they began piecing together a follow-up album in late December, so keep an ear out for new songs. They’ll be coming to Meadowbrook Music Festival on May 28 (tickets start at $20 from ticketmaster. com and doors open at 7 p.m.). Until then, you can catch them if you tune into Saturday Night Live on May 4.

Vampire Weekend // The Fillmore / May 17

Rodriguez // Masonic Temple / May 18



Vampire Weekend entered the indie music scene like they were stepping off a yacht. While other bands were devising new ways to be cool, these four fresh-faced Columbia grads appeared as though they intended to buy popularity with their daddy’s credit card. By now, it’s understood the quality of their music took care of that for them. And the preppy personas have since grown curiously endearing. Borrowing from African pop, punk and new wave, Vampire Weekend devised a style that is at once simple and complex, made all the more distinct by Ezra Koenig’s easy, wry vocal expression. Their first two albums were incredibly tight and detailpacked pop offerings designed for replay, and if their two recent singles are any clue, their third entry will prove to be equally as vital. You can get your fix of Vampire Weekend’s “Upper West Side Soweto” at the Fillmore on May 17.

On par with the storytelling prowess of Bob Dylan, Sixto Rodriguez’s own story is truly amazing. Rodriguez recorded his first two records with Sussex Records (a label owned by Clarence Avant – the former chairman of Motown Records) – “Cold Fact” in 1970 and “Coming from Reality” in 1971. The label quickly dropped him when his albums sold only a few copies in the U.S. However, without any knowledge to Rodriguez, his music developed a cult-like following in South Africa. The music became the anthem of anti-apartheid. On one side of the world in Michigan, Rodriguez lived a quiet life doing hard labor in Detroit, and on the other side, he was a household name – where his records sold over half a million copies, and he was commonly regarded as more famous than Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones. He traveled to Cape Town in 1998 and played six sold out shows with tens of thousands of people. After the biographical documentary, “Searching for Sugarman,” premiered at Sundance in 2012, his fame finally traveled back across the Atlantic. On May 18, Rodriguez will grace the stage of the Masonic Temple in Detroit. Prolific and lingering, Rodriguez’s music carries the weight of a legend, and his lyrics detail the constant search for something more. //




i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013


Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival has grown in the decade plus three since its inception as DEMF at the turn of the millennium from an oversized rave into a verifiable and worldclass cultural event for the city. While the festival has evolved, its home has always been where the Hart (Plaza) is – smack on the waterfront. Movement 2013 will be thumping and bumping its way into the motor city from May 25 – 27. The fest is an annual showcase for musicians in a style that began as extremely niche and has grown immensely as of late. DJs like Deadmau5, Skrillex and Richie Hawtin (all previous Movement acts, usually ahead of their explosion) have come out of the clubs and basements to become household names and powerful pop-culture bellwethers. This year’s lineup includes nearly 120 acts – but, as they are so very fond of saying, it’s not quantity but the quality. And even a perfunctory glance at the artists puts to bed quickly the idea that they favored the former. Heavy hitters like sonic trailblazers Squarepusher will be in attendance with a visual show that has been generating serious buzz for its transporting quality. Those barons of bass boom Big Gigantic are another highly anticipated act, and chrome domed fan of caps-lock, MOBY, will be dishing


out a DJ set. Movement is not only a playground for the big names in electronica and dance music. Lots of local artists are getting in on the fun as well. The ethereal lady-boy duo Phantasmagoria will be on hand as will friend of iSPY, Shigeto. Detroit born and bred K@DOG (get it?) brings his mix of Elliott Smith, The Pixies and J Dilla to the crowd and promises audiences “the purplest journey yet.” Which is good …I think? One of the ways that Movement has grown up is its sprawling takeover of all the surrounding bars, clubs and even a river boat (no joke) with all manner of official and unofficial parties, preparties, after parties and after-after parties. These smaller events provide opportunities for artists not performing as part of the main body of the festival to capitalize on the throngs of music lovers flooding the city. Some of the parties also function as bonus sets for some festival acts. Richie Hawtin’s after party extravaganza at City Club promises to be a big draw. Movement also has found creative and intuitive ways to incorporate visual art into the whole electronic music canvas with several displays at the festival. One of the cooler sideshows at the festival is the interactive technology center, which

is chock full of the newest, hottest and most enviable equipment around that is there for you to play around with. Tickets for Movement can be purchased on their website and run at about $40 for single day passes and $90 for a three day event pass. All your friends are going.


Movement WHEN

May 25-27 WHERE

Hart Plaza Detroit //

2013 Presents the ber ham 12 A2Y2C0


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Blue Wolf Grill

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013



Between two car dealerships on Washtenaw Avenue and across the street from an abandoned gas station lies Blue Wolf Grill. To say that this restaurant inhabits “the in between” does not only describe its location. Blue Wolf Grill occupies the transition space between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and it also belongs somewhere between a fine dining experience and fast food. With high-quality menu items made from scratch and products all locallysourced, it feels like a concept that belongs on Main Street or on Cross Street, yet here it is alongside fast food joints in a building previously used as a Taco Bell. Nonetheless, its uniqueness is kind of charming. In our state all about reinvention and growth, locals can embrace this resourceful, quirky restaurant that supports Michigan farmers and companies. Opening in late 2012, the restaurant is still in its infancy and is always evolving. One of the changes is the new menu that shows where each ingredient comes from – all the way down to the salt and sugar (which come from Bay City, by the way). Cherries are from Traverse City, crackers from Battle Creek and almost all meat from Detroit. The commitment to Michigan ingredients is inspiring. Blue Wolf Grill also supports and serves organic produce from Growing Hope – a non-profit dedicated to urban agriculture in Ypsilanti. iSPY sat down with General Manager/ Owner Charles Molina. Molina says that the idea was always to “keep it simple, keep it small.” Because the large majority of new restaurants fail, he said they wanted to make sure that they had a foolproof way to test the waters with Blue Wolf Grill. In the intimate space, the restaurant can stay open with very few employees. The small dining room

is quaint, cozy and without unnecessary flair. The ultimate goal, Molina says, is to move into a spot with more foot traffic. He sees this venue as a stepping stone. Small location or not, the dining experience is great. Menu items are reminiscent of foods you may see while traveling to the Upper Peninsula along with many American classics. Somehow the restaurant manages to find space for an in-house smoker for menu items like the apple brined chicken and slow-roasted barbeque ribs. Standouts for us were the strawberry and feta spinach salad and the whitefish panini with garlic house fries. And don’t forget to order some Blue Wolf sauce for your fries if you’re partial to the delicious taste of homemade ranch with herbs. Our server almost convinced us to order his favorite dessert, the peanut butter cheesecake – but that will have to wait for a second visit. Blue Wolf Grill is now serving breakfast on the weekends – complete with Dearborn sausage and strawberry French toast – and has more surprises in store.

The Dish WHAT

American Fusion WHERE

Blue Wolf Grill

2333 Washtenaw Ypsilanti

INFO bluewolfgrill. com //

Adventures in Local Food #29


Full Circle


sense, it’s about economics as well as the politics behind the dominance of industrial food, including how land value is conceptualized. In particular, the zoning ordinances that have been passed recently in Detroit and Ypsi to better support urban agriculture, edible landscaping and related pursuits help to redefine what activities can take place where while also revaluing blighted vacant land. These zoning changes highlight how the popularity of urban agriculture has outpaced the rate of legislative change, creating a situation where many operations are encouraged to exist “below the radar.” The reality is that it’s really complicated (and costly) to start up a food business like a restaurant, food cart or even a pie business. It’s a lot easier to start growing produce in your backyard and then sell the excess at the farmer’s market. It’s also a lot easier to sell BBQ sauce out of your trunk than it is to be licensed to sell BBQ sauce at the farmer’s market. In the latter case, this “clandestine” approach may be easier in the short-term, but it may actually expand restrictions for all food businesses instead of challenging food safety and zoning regulations in ways that will move local food forward. But let’s remember, although it’s not right that small producers are subject to the same exact regulations as large producers, we do need those regulations to stop the industrial food system from sickening people. I know that this view is unpopular with those that decry governmental intervention as the thorn in the side of small producers. In my view, however, the real thorn in the side of these small producers is the industrial food system that has made food dangerous to eat while causing the public health crises of obesity and diabetes, the decline of rural communities and a disconnection from how food is produced that has encouraged collective amnesia about

where food comes from or how to cook it. My experiences on the front lines of local food have convinced me that the struggles of small producers and guerrilla breakfast salons stem way more from the unintended consequences of the dominance of industrial food, than from governmental over-reach. The solution? Support your local growers and producers this farmer’s market season and tell your representatives you support food ordinances and other legislation that makes local food more viable for us all.

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

It’s totally surreal that my personal adventures in local food began five years ago with a chance interview with Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me! fame) about healthy, organic food in Santa Barbara schools. Since then, my project has gotten much larger and more significant than I could have ever imagined. In these past five years I’ve had the good fortune to meet amazing growers, producers, activists, educators, entrepreneurs, advocates, students, urban planners, chefs, artisans, environmentalists and eaters here in Michigan, in California and in many other places in between. Along the way they’ve taught me about the industrial food system, about economic inequality, about social conflict, about food justice, about building community, about reclaiming greenspace and about hope in the face of despair. Whether it has been here in Ypsilanti working at Beezy’s Cafe and sourcing excess produce grown at Growing Hope’s urban farm or selling chard (acelga) to Spanish-speaking customers at the South Central Farmer’s Cooperative booth at the Watts Healthy Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles, I’ve been extremely privileged to be on the front lines of the local food movement. These experiences have taught me how to stay empowered even when change of the food system seems doubtful. In fact, that direct connection to urban agriculture and residential food production has inspired me to connect with local food wherever I go. Literally, I am always at the ready to strike up a conversation about favorite tomato varieties at the farmer’s market, to snap a picture of romaine lettuce growing in a backyard garden or to eat at a new restaurant featuring local produce. Overall, the main lesson in all of this has been one about forging community connections and realizing that local food is about a lot more than increasing healthy food access. It’s also about resilience, self-sufficiency and rebirth. In this




i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

From the outside, it looks like a castle. The first things you see when you walk in the door are cases of Michigan beer – three from Shorts and two from Atwater. When you look to your right, you see racks and racks of wine. Beyond that, more beer and liquor waits for you behind the counter. Every party store should look like this. A&L Wine Castle has served the Ann Arbor area since 1984, which has provided owner Maher Jaboro and his staff with a unique opportunity to observe the evolving market for quality spirits, beer and wine. When they first opened, they were primarily a wine shop, but in the last few years liquor sales have become a huge focus for them. This has been driven by the resurgence of interest in classic cocktails and is supported by the huge number of new brands coming onto the market. “We’ve got new products coming in every week,” says Maher. As a cocktail aficionado, A&L has always been our go-to store for ingredients. In addition to the huge selection of liquor (and a willingness to order anything that’s available in Michigan), they also offer specialty items, like five different brands of tonic water and cocktail bitters from new-to-Michigan brands like Scrappy’s. With our vibrant farmer’s market and local food scene, it should come as no surprise that Ann Arborites apply their locavore values to spirits as well. This is most apparent in the wide selection of Michigan beer – from companies such as Shorts and Atwater to Right Brain, Keweenaw, Jolly Pumpkin, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Motor City Brewing Works, Founders, Bell’s, New Holland, Arbor Brewing, Arcadia, B. Nektar and Wolverine. Newer bottlers such as Crankers, Round Barn, Odd Side Ales, Cheboygan and Greenbush are also


featured. They also have plenty of Michigan wine and spirits from emerging distillers like New Holland and Journeyman, along with all the big names you expect. One of the best things about shopping at A&L is its knowledgeable staff. Beer purchaser Paul has tried just about every beer that they sell. If you aren’t sure what you want, tell him what you like and he will be happy to give you a recommendation. The annual Holiday Spirits Tasting offers staff the opportunity to taste up to two hundred different spirits, and they bring that knowledge back to the store. Sometimes when I come in looking for a particular brand, they’ll steer me to something else, saying, “This is just as good and half the price.” The spirits tasting is open to the public, so mark your calendar for this year’s event on November 1 at Weber’s Inn. Maher reports that he likes to drink “Anything but gin, but whiskey is probably my favorite these days.” And A&L certainly has a lot of that to choose from. This includes an impressive selection of single malt Scotch, including some rare older bottles such as the 30 year old Dalmore Stillman’s Dram. They also get in small quantities of in-demand Bourbon and Rye whiskeys such as Pappy Van Winkle. Join their mailing list from their website or follow their Facebook page to get notified of new arrivals. Asked why they renovated the building to look like a castle, Maher said they wanted to be distinctive. Well, they’ve definitely succeeded in distinguishing themselves as Ann Arbor’s premiere party store. //

ATTENTION YPSILANTI RESIDENTS NEIGHBORHOOD EVENT NOTICE On Saturday, May 11, 2013 Ypsilanti will once again host The Color Run, a nationally acclaimed 5k Run/Walk. As many as 15,000 participants are expected. Saturday, May 11 - RACE DAY! 7:00 a.m. - The streets on the route will be CLOSED TO TRAFFIC starting at 7:00 a.m. on the race morning of Saturday, May 11. There will be NO PARKING on any part of the course starting at 6 a.m., vehicles will be towed or ticketed after 6 a.m. Please plan in advance to move your vehicle. 8:00 a.m. - RACE STARTS! GO! The race begins on River & Cross St. Participants will be staged on Cross St. through Depot Town. Noon - The streets will begin to reopen (starting early on the route first) at about noon or after the runners have passed and the crews completely clean the area. Detailed Street Closures - Streets to be closed include: Cross Street from College Place to North River; North River Street from Cross Avenue to Forest Avenue; Forest Avenue from North River Street to College Place; Lowell Street from North Huron River Drive to Forest Avenue; College Place from Forest Avenue to Cross Street; Hamilton Street from Lowell Street to Michigan Avenue; Westbound Michigan Avenue from Hamilton Street to North Huron Street and North Huron/Huron River Drive to Lowell Street Traffic will be allowed to exit/enter periodically at Michigan and Adams, however the delay could be quite substantial. Ypsilanti Police will be monitoring and directing traffic at all major street crossings and emergency vehicles will always have the "right-of-way." AATA: The AATA Ypsilanti Transit Center will be temporarily moved to Ferris Street on Saturday, May 11th from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm. Beginning at 12:00 pm bus service will resume from the Ypsilanti Transit Center on Pearl Street. Farmers’ Market: Depot Town Farmers Market will still be held but in an alternate location on this date only. Please see for the time and temporary location. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your support and understanding. Please be assured the city and race crews will restore the area to its pre-race condition at the conclusion of the event. Learn more about this event at



MAY 2013


• Justin Furstenfeld, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor Masonic Temple, Detroit 5/10: • Soul 70s Super Jam, 8 p.m., Fox • Jake Miller, 6:30 p.m., The Crofoot, Theatre, Detroit Pontiac • Kickstand Band, 9:30 p.m, Blind Pig 5/1: • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 7 p.m., Ann Arbor • All Time Low, 6 p.m., The Fillmore, Saint Andrew’s Hall, Detroit • Bill Frisell, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor Detroit • Paramore, 7 p.m., The Fillmore, • Kathleen Madigan, 6 p.m. and 8:45 • The Alcoholic Oracles, 10 p.m., Detroit p.m., Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Black Moth Super Rainbow, 8 p.m., Oak • The Blue Squares, 9:30 p.m., Blind Magic Stick, Detroit • Adam Plomaritas, Friends and Family Pig, Ann Arbor • May Days Festival, 8 p.m., Woodruff’s, wsg Jason Dennie, 7:30 p.m., Ann • Billy Bragg, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Ypsilanti Street Music Room, Ypsilanti Arbor • Hard Rock Freak Show, 9:30 p.m., 5/5: • Remembrance: The Universe of Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • D.O.A. Rap Battle, 4 p.m., Shelter, Charles Ives, 8 p.m., Kerrytown • Cairn to Cairn, 9 p.m., The Ark, Ann Detroit Concert House, Ann Arbor Arbor • Boylesque, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, 5/2: • Joe Reilly, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert Ypsilanti • Dirtyphonics, 8 p.m., The Crofoot, House, Ann Arbor • Water Hill Music Festival, 2 p.m., Pontiac 5/11: Water Hill Neighborhood, Ann Arbor • Beach Fossils, 9 p.m., Magic Stick • Teddy Carpenter, 8 p.m., Scottish Rite 5/6: Lounge, Detroit Cathedral at Masonic Temple, Detroit • Zoe Keating, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann • Wednesday in May, 9:30 p.m., Blind • Hanzel Und Gretyl, 8 p.m., Token Arbor Pig, Ann Arbor Lounge, Westland • Black Pus, 9 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann • A Pete Seger Birthday Tribute, • Limp Bizkit, 8 p.m., Saint Andrew’s Arbor 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor Hall, Detroit 5/7: 5/3: • Fabolous & Pusha T, 8 p.m., Royal • Alex Clare, 7:30 p.m., The Crofoot, • James Blake, 8 p.m., Majestic Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak Pontiac Theater, Detroit • Dragon Wagon, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, • David Lindley, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann • Joe Bonmassa, 8 p.m., Fox Theater, Ypsilanti Arbor Detroit • The Ragbirds present Ebird and 5/8: • Titus Andronicus, 8 p.m., Magic Fridns Kids Show, 1 p.m., The Ark, • Youngblood Hawke, 7 p.m., Shelter, Stick, Detroit Ann Arbor Detroit • Wax Kings!, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, • The Chenille Sisters, 8 p.m., The Ark, • Emily Wells, 8 p.m., Magic Stick, Ypsilanti Ann Arbor Detroit • Ann Arbor Soul Club, 9:30 p.m., • Let’s Get Weird Variety Show, 7 p.m., • Champions of Breakfast, 10 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor LIVE, Ann Arbor Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Mountain Heart, 8 p.m., The Ark, • Ben Jansson, 8 p.m., Kerrytown • Tyler Hilton with Ryan Cabrera and Ann Arbor Concert House, Ann Arbor Teddy Geiger, 7 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann • Needtobreathe, 8 p.m., Royal Oak • The Best of Your Fave – New Wave, Arbor Music Theatre, Royal Oak Retro-Alt, Red Room, Necto, Ann • Bill Staines, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann • Dave Sharp and the Secret Seven, Arbor Arbor 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, 5/12: 5/9: Ann Arbor • The Breeders, 8 p.m., Majestic • The Cliks, 7 p.m., The Loving Touch, 5/4: Theatre, Detroit Ferndale • Taylor Swift, 6:30 p.m., Ford Field, • The English Beat, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, • Trick Trick, 8: 30 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit Ferndale Detroit • Senses Fail, 7:30 p.m., Magic Stick, • Simple Machine, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, • Captured! by Robots, 9:30 p.m., Blind Detroit Ypsilanti Pig, Ann Arbor • Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, 8 p.m.,

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013



• Shape Note Singing, 2 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Leon Redbone, 7:30 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Bo Burnham, 7 p.m., Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak • All About the Trio, 2 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor 5/13: • Peter Murphy, 8 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • Coliseum, 9 p.m., Majestic Café, Detroit • Goth Prom, Necto, Ann Arbor 5/14: • The Uv Race, 8 p.m., Magic Stick Lounge, Detroit • Deniz Tek, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Kristin Hersh, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Arborsong Chamber Choir, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor 5/15: • Relient K with Hellogoodbye, 6:30 p.m., The Crofoot, Pontiac • Capital Cities, 7 p.m., Shelter, Detroit • Shout Out Louds, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, Ferndale • The Airborne Toxic Event, 8 p.m., Majestic Theatre, Detroit • Algernon, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Willie the Kid, 9:30 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • Shinyribs, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor 5/16: • Wednesday 13, 5 p.m., Harpo’s, Detroit • Cheap Trick, 8 p.m., Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel, Detroit • Dessa, 8 p.m., Pike Room, Pontiac • Paul Kelly, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, Ferndale • Vietnam, 9:30 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor




5/19: • Shooter Jennings, 7 p.m., Saint Andrew’s Hall, Detroit • El Ten Eleven, 8 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • Of Montreal, 8 p.m., The Crofoot, Pontiac • Mitch Bradford, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Mr. B.’s Joybox Express Concert/ Fundraiser, 1 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Jeffrey Foucault & Cold Satellite, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Ann Arbor Concert Band presents Home At Last, 2 p.m., Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor 5/20: • Vandaveer, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor 5/21: • Juicy J, 8 p.m., The Crofoot, Pontiac • Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, 7:30 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • The Moth, 7:30 p.m., Circus, Ann Arbor 5/22: • Fall Out Boy, 7 p.m., The Fillmore, Detroit • Marina & the Diamonds, 7 p.m., Saint Andrew’s Hall, Detroit • Red Stone Souls, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Beaumont String Quartet, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor 5/23: • Boldy James, 9:30 p.m., Bling Pig, Ann Arbor • Stewart Francke, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor 5/24: • Eddie Money, 7:30 p.m., DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston • Kadim Al Sahir, 8 p.m., Masonic Temple, Detroit

• Matt Pryor, 8 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • Anamanaguchi with Chrome Sparks and Phantasmagoria, 8:30 p.m., Shelter, Detroit • The Staves, 9 p.m., Majestic Café, Detroit • Alexis, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Third Annual Nirvana Tribute, 9:30 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • Livingston Taylor and Chelsea Berry, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor 5/25: • Movement Electronic Music Festival, Noon, Hart Plaza, Detroit • Joe Stump, 8 p.m., Token Lounge, Westland • Saturday Looks Good to Me, 9 p.m., The Loving Touch, Ferndale • PhoenixPhest Faculty Concert, 7:30 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor • Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Super Happy Funtime Burlesque, 9:30 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • Gangstagrass & Caginet, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor 5/26: • Bass Boat, 11 p.m., Detroit Princess Riverboat, Detroit • Paul Samotis, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti 5/28: • Of Monsters and Men, 7 p.m., Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills • Mike Vial & the Great Lake Effect, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor 5/29: • Alkaline Trio with Bayside, 6:30 p.m., Clutch Cargo’s, Pontiac • Blue Snaggletooth, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s,Ypsilanti 5/30: • Bizarre, 7 p.m., Shelter, Detroit • JD McPherson, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, Ferndale • The Stranglers, 8 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • The Alcoholic Oracles, 9:30 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor

• Abigail Stauffer and Kate Peterson, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • A Small Fire by Adam Bock, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor 5/31: • Against the Grain, 7 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • Mario Frangoulis, 7:30 p.m., Fox Theatre, Detroit • Autumn Wolf, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, Ferndale • Carlos Mencia, 8 p.m., Detroit Opera House • Nicole P’Simer, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • The Smiths United, 9:30 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • Edwin McCain, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • A Small Fire by Adam Bock, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor • Velvet Hammer, Corner Brewery, Ypsilanti


5/5 – 5/9: • Ann Arbor Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor 5/8: • Rita Malone Gallery Reception, 5 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor 5/10: • Ladies Night Out, Downtown Ann Arbor 5/11: • Color Run, 10 a.m., Ypsilanti 5/12: • Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, downtown Ann Arbor 5/13 – 5/19: • Progressive Craft Beer Tour, Participating Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor locations 5/16: • Ypsi Pride Fundraiser, Corner Brewery, Ypsilanti 5/18: • Manchester Blues and Ribs Feast, Carr Park • Ypsi Pride, Ypsilanti

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

5/17: • Vampire Weekend, 7 p.m., The Fillmore, Detroit • Ghost B.C., 8 p.m., Saint Andrew’s Hall, Detroit • Newsted, 8 p.m., The Crofoot, Pontiac • Pink Droyd, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, Ferndale • The Whigs, 8 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • The Thermals, 9 p.m., The Loving Touch, Ferndale • The Afternoon Round, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Colin Stetson, 9 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • Grant-Lee Phillips, 8 p.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Jesse Cook, 7:30 p.m., Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak • Detroit Jazz All-Stars, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor • Pride Prom, Necto, Ann Arbor 5/18: • Sponge, 5 p.m., Saint Andrew’s Hall, Detroit • Bennyfit 3, 6 p.m., Magic Stick, Detroit • Laith Al-Saadi, 8 p.m., Magic Bag, Ferndale • Mitch Ryder, 8 p.m., Macomb Music Theatre, Mt. Clemens • Legends of Hip Hop, 8 p.m., Fox Theatre, Detroit • Rodriguez, 9 p.m., Masonic Temple, Detroit • Yo Gotti Birthday Bash, 9 p.m., The Fillmore, Detroit • Elbow Deep, 10 p.m., Woodruff’s, Ypsilanti • Kaleido, 9 p.m., Blind Pig, Ann Arbor • The Verve Pipe Kids’ Show, 11 a.m., The Ark, Ann Arbor • Ann Arbor in Concert presents Ragtime, 8 p.m., Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor • Pierrot Lunaire & L’historie du Soldat, 8 p.m., Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor



See Her i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013



Abigail Stauffer WHERE

The Ark Ann Arbor WHEN May 30 8 p.m.

On the road to Sesame Street with Abigail Stauffer SEE THEM



“I grew up eating fast food like everybody else, but there’s something about being in Ann Arbor that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. People have really good food values here, and it starts to become your lifestyle too.” // @ispymagazine

tracks, she says the songs range from blues and folk to “poppy synth.” Stauffer says that the range of styles fits because it’s all different sides of her personality. The album is all about “letting go and moving forward,” she says – “moving from a place of fear and insecurity and into a place of progress.” Along with Jim Roll, Stauffer recorded with producer Christopher Norman. She credits Norman with coaxing her into making another album altogether. “I was really hesitant,” she says, explaining how emotionally tolling making an album can be – not to mention the money and recording hours involved. Norman convinced her to start with five songs, an EP. “Now we have a 12 track album,” she exclaims. Stauffer also collaborated with solo artist Chris Dupont and Mike Shea and Joe Dart, formerly of My Dear Disco. She says that working with Shea and Dart in the studio was a completely new experience for her as a long-time solo artist. “They bring so much energy. It’s a whole new sound,” she says. Because Stauffer is used to getting up on stage alone, she has perfected a vulnerable confidence with an undeniable and easy charisma. She is a warm, accessible person to be around and always manages to bare her soul in front of an audience. In another moment of modesty during our interview, she explained to me what an honor it is to have Kate Peterson open for her at The Ark this month. She says there’s a common misnomer about “opening” for someone that implies the opener is somehow lesser. Stauffer is a huge fan of Peterson and her folk duo, Nervous But Excited. “She is gracing The Ark and my show. She’s going to have an amazing draw and an amazing performance,” Stauffer says. But how will Stauffer know when she’s truly made it in music? “Definitely when I get to be on Sesame Street,” she says. Her theory is that all the truly legit artists eventually get to sing on the show (The Goo Goo Dolls, Norah Jones, Lena

Horne, etc.). Feist – one of Stauffer’s musical inspirations – even made a re-creation of the video for “1, 2, 3, 4” with the puppets of Sesame Street (the Sesame Street version got 30 million more YouTube views than the original version). It’s safe to say that Stauffer’s career is certainly moving in a forward progression, just like the theme of her new album – so when we see her alongside Cookie Monster one day, we won’t be surprised. Abigail Stauffer will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 at the Ark along with Kate Peterson of Nervous But Excited.

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

“A well-fed musician is a better musician,” according to Abigail Stauffer, local musician / promoter of good eating and the force behind recent internet sensation Rap For Food video, “We Are Never Ever Eating Bad Together,” that showcases Stauffer singing about food to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Uplifting and funny, in the video, Stauffer sings at the Farmer’s Market and other locations around town. Rap For Food supports localization, sustainable food, and youth gardening through the arts. However, Stauffer says she definitely didn’t always eat healthy. “I grew up eating fast food like everybody else, but there’s something about being in Ann Arbor that sucks you in, and doesn’t let go. People have really good food values here, and it starts to become your lifestyle too,” she says. Which is why we caught up with her at Beezy’s Café in Ypsilanti – one of her favorite food hangouts (and ours, too). Bee (Beezy’s owner and cook/food mastermind) is all about the local food movement and fostering the community of farmers and foodies. Stauffer says she has a special connection to this place because Bee’s husband, Jim Roll, produced some of the music for her upcoming album, “No Contradictions.” Jim and Bee Roll “are the marriage, literally, of excellent music recording and excellent local food,” she says. This new album is a big evolution from her previous project. Stauffer’s first album, “Alone to Dream,” was released in 2011. It is beautifully calming, soulful and emotional. “People say good music will make you cry, laugh or dance. I’ve done two of those things.” She adds that many people have laughed and some have cried at her shows before. “Which is, of course, completely flattering,” she says. “But how do I make music that people get down to? I’ll keep figuring it out.” “No Contradictions” will show a whole new side of Stauffer as a musician. With many more upbeat



See Them i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013



Saturday Looks Good to Me WHERE

The Loving Touch Ferndale WHEN May 25 9 p.m.

Saturday Looks Good to Me BY JEFF MILO PHOTO BY DOUG COOMBE //

Genius. Perhaps that word’s too liberally used in realms of culture reporting. Sometimes, maybe, it’s prematurely pinned on mere modest musical projects rolling out of local studios, week to week, tracked by those quirky yet affable artsy types who are likely your next door neighbor or your regular morning barista. Still, when Fred Thomas comes up in conversation with the local musicians who’ve worked with him …that word has been dropped in more than a few times. And I twitch over typing it into a music article. Sounds cliché, right? But something hooks you when you hear a Saturday Looks Good To Me song. You’re not sure what exactly or how he did it. Then, the next song you hear, you’re hooked just as securely into a pop sublimity, only in a different direction entirely. The secret’s in whatever Thomas’ is hearing in his head that particular day – some brilliant, meticulously crafted four-minute auditory idealization. The true “genius” of Ypsi-native Fred Thomas is that no one can be upset if his band’s new album doesn’t live up to the last album. “One Kiss Ends It All” doesn’t sound like “Fill Up The Room” just as “Fill Up The Room” doesn’t sound like “All Your Summer Songs.” His signature as a songwriter/producer can’t be forged. If he’s into noise one day but into twee-leaning lo-fi acoustic pop the next, he’s going to follow all roads (even if it involves calypso-clutched brass boogies or found-sound-fx splashing water buckets in rusty laundry room sinks – at least that’s what it sounds like…). “I’ve gotten really good at rolling with whatever happens,” the progenitor of local pop collective Saturday Looks Good To Me says. “That got instilled in me from the earliest days of basement shows where everything always broke and you had to improvise.” “Everything still always breaks…” “One Kiss Ends It All” comes out this month on Polyvinyl Records, and it’s the group’s first album in six years. By “group,” we could mean Thomas. Or, at least, we’d like to just sum it down to “Thomas.” Just as we can’t trace Thomas’ specific pop style, we also can’t frame one specific Saturday “line-up.” “Kiss…” bares pop-music pen strokes from the likes of vocalist Betty Barnes and engineer Brook Davis and many more. Many more, still, have scheduled comparable Saturday sessions. “So many of the people I’ve worked with over the years are so ridiculously creative,” says Thomas. Beyond our clichéd narrative of pop-“genius” or musical mad scientist with his intricately layered compositional experiments, Saturday’s uncanny chemistry comes from the special musical

scientists who’ve poured through its laboratory. Saturday has been “so many different bands,” specifically in its live incarnations. “Playing music in Detroit in the late 90s and early 2000s was formative to the revolving-door kinda thing,” Thomas says. “A lot of the bands I knew had different people almost every tour.” Thomas is known for being all over the map – different sounding songs with different performing groups. But the he nonchalantly shrugs uncategorical canon into perspective: “Working on music together becomes a really positive way to hang.” Everyone collaborating on Saturday’s stuff has, at one time or another, “helped each other out with their own respective projects,” swapping them so that “it feels less one-sided.” Thomas records works of other local bands out of his home studio. He also writes and records his own songs every week fueling a handful of distinct groups like the ambient-noise outfit City Center or the buoyant surf-punk quartet Swimsuit (or his own new-weird solo stuff). He also heads his own tape-centric, experimentally-inclined label called LifeLike. The only sensationalism for “Kiss” shouldn’t be the genius-stuff or the comeback angle – the big to-dos merely in rewarding secrets and evocative acoustic dynamics sutured throughout these shimmering timbres, tumbling rhythms and boogie-able summertime pop ballads. Forget that “…it’s been six years.” Because, “re-”is such a treacherous compound for bands in this situation. Is it a re-union? A restart? A re-boot? Saturday always exists, has existed and re-exists-again in some form or another. And it’s been able to shine in a post-millennial, internet-shuffled music world because true talent no longer requires a lot of big money to be “realized.” “I mean, we can talk about the Illuminati if you really have a few hours to kill,” Thomas quips. “But, I’d rather talk about the new Saturday record.” Carol Catherine, Autumn Wetli, Scott Deroche, Richie Wolhfiel, Justin Walter, Ryan Howard, Shelly Salant and “many many more” were among the instrumental players for this recording across “mostly nights and weekends, piece-meal style” in the very early Spring of 2012. This was a longer session than most Saturday studio stints with “more changes and refinements than we would have normally,” Thomas says. His unconventional song crafting is “not nervewracking.” “I just always accept whatever results come through and work to make the songs some combination of production and performances. (Producer Brook) Davis really pushed for tiny changes and minutia that I would have breezed

FEATURE past,” he says. “And,” he says, “I’m hesitant to say anything is ‘realized’ to its ‘fullest potential,’ but this record does have more complex songwriting devices than most of our others. Everyone who worked on (“Kiss…”) was almost too solid [helping make] a thousand ideas come together as a single work.” Saturday’s illusiveness extends, inevitably, to its live incarnations. When they are “live” (and by “they,” you know by now, we could mean any great number of unique, talented contributors), it’s “more about exploring songs in different ways. I enjoy the idea that anything you make becomes what it is based on how you present it to an audience.” “People seem more excited about music now than they ever have,” says Thomas, whose anthropologic research of audiences and listenership is edified by nearly two decades of songwriting, recording and extensive-overallband-living (national tours, countless concerts) as well as numerous years as a cultural clerk of myriad avant-garde / underground music from behind the counter at Encore Records. His group’s coming back into a somewhat different music world though, further altered by the internet’s influence. “There’s so much out there, and it’s all free – so you really have to be paying attention to know what you like and give it some value. It’s similar, if yet converse, to when I was growing up and getting into music back in the 90s. Then, there was no access to anything, so you had to search out things you could relate to and love,” he says. This reflects Thomas’ appreciation for his audiences who still show up – even after six years. “People seeking things out customize their music findings to their lives. People who want to be at Saturday shows really want to be there and are super excited. They’re not just showing up because they read about it or there’s nothing else to do. There’s plenty else to do.” “One Kiss,” (similar to Saturday’s “core,”) is a collage – 11 four minute pop songs documenting a studio-set experiment of “cobbling together various free-flying elements into a unified whole. [“Kiss”] is deeply collaged. It wasn’t until the entire thing came together in the final editing phases that the vision I’d had all along became clear.” Thomas surmises, “It’s a little different from anything we’ve done before.” It wouldn’t be Saturday Looks Good To Me if it wasn’t. Saturday Looks Good to Me will perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 25 at the Loving Touch in Ferndale. So, if that Saturday looks good to you, mark your calendars! (Sorry – couldn’t resist.)

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013



Mr B’s Joybox Express Cycling team prepares for 2,000 mile journey with a concert every night, and they’re towing the backline



“I just want to support the things that have served me well throughout my whole life.” // @ispymagazine

in the community. They can partner up with us, come to our event, be part of it and raise funds for themselves. For instance, if your daughter is on the local lacrosse team, they always need to raise funds so they can continue to have a lacrosse team. You take our pledge form, you get a team of friends together, distribute our pledge forms amongst all those folks and get commitments from their friends, per mile, for a group ride with the Joybox Express. All the funds go 100% to those groups. They never go through our books. What we try to do in fundraising is locating groups that are in need, convincing them to partner with us in an event and then allowing them to raise funds. We’re just the catalyst. With a concert at the end of the bike ride? The reason it works is because of the kind of heroic effort involved in the piano bike. That’s what appeals to people, when they see the effort that’s involved. That’s the hook that gets ‘em to cough up some dough. If you don’t mind my asking, how do you guys stay alive out there – if all the money moves to the local fundraising organization? We do all our own independent fundraising. There have been a couple of occasions where the groups we’ve worked with, on their own volition, have said to us, “We’re so grateful for what you do. Can we help you do it?” and they’ll give a percentage back to us, but we never ask for that. Sometimes it’ll be with the help of a venue that will pay us something to perform. A perfect example is our most local group ride that we’ve done three times now goes from Chelsea to Ann Arbor. We’ll play on the lawn of the Chelsea Library. They’ll pay us a modest fee to perform. We’ll do the group ride and everybody’ll do their pledge form things and raise money. When we get to the end of the line, which the last two years has been at the Wolverine State Brewing Co., they’ll pay us something to perform there. So that supports us. We’re always looking for commercial opportunities to support ourselves and what we do. We do the traditional musician thing. We carry around all our swag with us, so we sell CDs, T-shirts. We do pretty well with that as we travel. A lot of people want to support you. They might not be itching to buy a CD, but they want to help

you out. Then, we do fundraisers for ourselves. We’ve done six or seven of those fundraisers over the last three years. Whoever is the host will invite their friends and colleagues. We’ll perform and make a pitch for what we’re doing, and people will make a donation to us. We’re now officially a 501c3 government recognized nonprofit. Your bio mentioned you’ve studied with some American blues piano masters, but how did you get into cycling? I’ve always been into all kind of sports. I like to do just about any kind of sport – even if I’m not any good at it, I like to do it. I always had a bike like any little kid had a bike, and in Flint, I used to have to ride my bike long distances just to go to my baseball practices. I’d have to ride about three or four miles one way across the city, and I just always loved it. So when I got about 16, I got a little more interested in it. I got a fairly nice 10 speed bicycle, and I joined up kind of unofficially with the Flint velo club. They had a couple prominent racers that were part of their team. It was very well organized. I was only peripherally involved with them, but I would ride with them every once in a while – we’d go out on training rides, so I got to challenge myself a little bit more on a bike at that time, and I liked it. Then I kind of fell away from it, and as I got older I had some more friends that got me back into it. And in the background of my mind for 30 years I’ve been thinking about the piano bike. Piano bike... So this has been something that fermented for a long time before it became areality. Are you training right now? I make an effort to keep general health. I swim three days a week and walk three days a week, about five miles at a crack. I cycle a little through the winter, but I’ll start to really intensify in the summer. The thing is, about this kind of bike riding. The two young guys – there’s another young guy, our fiddle player Lance Wagner – they have a kind of base fitness level. The biggest thing they have to do is achieve a little bit more strength. I don’t know how to say this just right. They just have to get their ass in shape. What hurts is the sit-bones way up inside your ass, almost towards your rectum, you’ll feel those bones. If you went out for a four-hour ride today, since you’re not used to

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

Mark Braun has made his life’s work the piano. He’s performed throughout the world as a soloist, with big bands and, occasionally, with some of the giants of the blues and jazz world. Mr. B’s specialty is boogie woogie – a style that originated from ragtime and stride piano players in the saloons of port cities like New Orleans, St. Louis and New York in the early 20th century. He’s also a long distance swimmer, cyclist and baseball fan. I recently had lunch with Mr. B and his current drummer, Sam Genson, to talk about how a lifelong love for athletics and music has developed into the upcoming Joybox Express tour: a piano-bike odyssey from Lake Itasca, Minnesota down the river to New Orleans. Their project is a catalyst for fundraisers and community giving, directed towards organizations that provide the youth access to arts and athletics. Recently partnering with ArtTrain, Mr. B and the Joybox Express organization is undergoing an effort to raise funds and organize logistics necessary to support a 95 day bicycle journey while towing 350 pounds of band equipment, including a Baldwin upright piano, a double bass and a drum set. As we were chewing our Greek salads, Mr. B outlined how they’re raising funds to support this tour. Mr B. and the Joybox Express will be giving a concert and a presentation on Sunday, May 19 at the Ark, where you can hear the band, including appearances by George Bedard, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, Ellen Rowe, Pete Siers, Sam Slomovits and more. Attendees will get to see the piano-bike up close, meet the whip-smart team behind the Joybox Express and have an opportunity to financially support this charitable organization. The longer we talked, the more I saw that it really is a box of joy. Mr. B has struck on the bliss that’s possible in the middle of the venn diagram where what you do well and what you love overlap with what the world needs and what the world will pay for. How does the fundraising aspect work? In the case of our trips across Michigan, we’ve benefitted about 40 groups so far. Not all of them fit strictly that parameter of kids’ art and athletics. We’ll work with anybody that’s up to good works


i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

FEATURE riding, after about an hour you’d start to complain that your ass hurt a little bit, but you could keep doing it all day. But then tomorrow, you wouldn’t want to get back on a bike. So what Sam and Lance have got to do, aside from getting general strength – they don’t have to have any real bike handling skills – because on the back, they can’t steer. It’s like an exercise bike. They just have to pedal eight hours a day. They got to get their ass in shape, and you can do that in about three or four weeks. So if they don’t get on a bike very regularly for about a month before we go, they’ll be dead in the water. How many miles are you looking to do, on average, each day? On riding days, about 30 a day. Do you have any tales of triumph or woe from previous bike tours? Plenty of triumphs, a little bit of woe. There was the day that we went on one of our longest Days – we had gone 52 miles and it was plus 90 degree weather with very high humidity. We were going to make our goal, and it was going to be altogether almost a 60 mile day. We were on track, only a couple hours out, but our rear wheels started to get real funky on us – not the tires, but the wheels. We noticed it a little too late, and we popped some spokes. Then we had to have the wheels re-built – the actual wheels. We have rare and unusual wheels, so it’s hard to make sure you have the right spokes on hand and the right tools and the know how to rebuild the wheels. By unbelievable coincidence that day we had riding with us the guy that built the piano bike, Mark Nobilette. He was visiting us from Colorado and riding with us on tour. The bike shop had some extra spokes that were just right for our wheels that they had on hand, He accessed them, they re-built the wheels, and we got going the next day. But we had to shut the thing down and park the piano bike out on North Territorial road and take the wheels off. We couldn’t even ask the people where we parked it. We just left it somewhere and locked it up. That was a little funky. We learned something there that day – that we need to anticipate. In that spirit, one of our riders and musicians, young Lance, has been going out to the bike shop pretty regularly to learn the mechanics of our particular bike and how to rebuild a wheel if necessary – certainly how to change tubes and tires effectively on the side of the road – and how to bleed the brakes, how to repair the chains and just go through the whole bike to do roadside repair so we can be more


independent if we have mechanical difficulties. In addition, we’ll have a long, long list of all the bike shops that’ll be anywhere near us. Our team will be contacting them when we’re immediately in their area, so they can be kind of on alert if we need them. It sounds like something the bike shops would be equally interested in, as well as organizations bringing instruments to band kids or what have you. We found that to be true. One day, we were in Holland, Mich. We had a bad chain break. The piano bike has an unusual chain, a super long chain. I couldn’t begin to explain it to you – I barely understand it myself, but it is unique. There was a mechanic there that for about four hours straight just activated his brain and came up with a unique solution and fixed our piano bike and never billed us a penny. It’s really true – the bike people, they buy into this. They see the appeal and want to help. That might not be true everywhere we go, but there is that feeling. You mentioned how much you enjoyed riding your bike to baseball practice. Are there other experiences that solidified the importance of the arts and/or athletics to this degree so that now you want to make available those kinds of experiences to the community? There were some moments of my life that I can recall fairly vividly. I had a English teacher in my senior year at Southwestern High School in Flint. He was a kind of unusual guy, older guy, he might have sadly been kind of an abuser – always had a real red nose, I think he might’ve been kind of a drinker or something. He was kind of a beat type dude. He loved literature and he pointed out to me – he kind of treated me a little differently. I never had to go to his class, he’d let me go to the library all the time and just work on something. Cause in Flint, it was just a zoo. If you were at the school, they had all they could do to just make sure the animals didn’t go crazy and kill each other. So he’d let me go down to the library and work on writing stuff and reading stuff, and he gave me something – I think it was Plato – and I’m paraphrasing now, but it said that music and gymnastics are the two perfect disciplines to be combined in a wholly healthy person. That’s a paraphrase. That just made a huge impression on me right then because I already knew that I liked doing both those things, but I didn’t really connect the two in my mind. What we’d like to do is we don’t want to be too high brow or pontificating about this – the best thing we can do is just to demonstrate and not to talk about

it. The fact is there are a lot of musicians, or artists, kids, that will think that every guy on the football team is just a real dummy, and the kids on the football team think that the guys who play violin are effete, and it’s nice to break down those barriers, because some of the most interesting people I’ve met in my life do both. A great example is a local guy that played on the football team here at Michigan – D’ahani Jones. He plays saxophone, he’s a great athlete, he’s an actor – a very interesting and vital guy. It’s cool to help break down some of those barriers – just to put it plainly. I just want to support the things that have served me well throughout my whole life, and those are my two things I’ve enjoyed my whole life, just the way a kid would. I’d just like other people to be able to continue to enjoy them and it’s becoming harder. Budgets are diminished, opportunities are lessened. We’re just trying to, the extent that we can, beat a drum about this and be advocates. We have no special voice or special expertise. We’re just people that know we like those things, and because we’re so visible, we have the opportunity to be advocates. We’re not broadly listened to, but in small groups, with the people we interact with. There we are, demonstrating those two things, and it’s immediately evident, when you see us. So I think it’s worthwhile. //


“It is definitely the toughest and most fun job I’ve ever had.”

SEE THEM // // @ispymagazine @ispymagazine

because my friends were doing it, and they’re nice and they let me. What’s it like being on the road as much as you are? What is a typical day in the life like for you right now? Right now I’m on a plane. We left SXSW, played a show on St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans – and yes, I got beads and yes, I saw boobs – then we drove to Tampa, which is the complete opposite of where our next show is (Portland). So I’m on a flight to Portland because we’re going to play a show with fun. tomorrow, then we fly back to Tampa the next day to play a show there. Every day is different. This is a typical day and not quite a typical day. I’m less cramped in the van, and I can usually put my legs on top of someone to stretch them out, but right now I’m next to a sleeping lady and a sleeping dude. What was it like touring with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? That was one of our first tours, so we were full of energy – and it was one of our favorite bands, so it was awesome. We had an RV at the time, and they had a tour bus. A lot of nights were spent out in the parking lots of the venues drinking and hanging out after our shows. It seems like you guys are consistently releasing new music. What is your writing process like and how are you able to keep making new music and writing new songs while you’re on the road? Joe writes a lot of the music we all try to help out with the lyrics. Our banger jams are more likely written by all of us hanging out together, and Joe writes a lot of the lovely songs. It’s a little more difficult to write while on the road. There was something special about getting a bottle of wine or two and posting up at our old apartment and writing and recording music. It’s not so easy lately because we have a lot of driving and sleeping and radio things and shows to play, but whenever we have any free time, we’re probably working on something. What inspires you when it comes to songwriting and making new music? I think we write about what we absorb from everything and everyone. What do you enjoy most about being part of the band? It is definitely the toughest and most fun job

I’ve ever had. I can’t believe it’s a job because it’s probably my worst paying one but definitely the most challenging. Like every ounce of my being is challenged every single day. I’m totally exercising my people skills and my arms are getting buff from loading stuff, and even though I cry about it every day, I could probably run a small business from doing merch every night. But really I couldn’t ask for a better deal. I get to hang out with my best friends every single day and play all these songs we wrote and I get to dress up like I’m going out on the town every night and I see the world! And I don’t have to drive the van because I’m a girl! Do you have any good memories from playing in Ann Arbor before? Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to when you come back? We played in Ann Arbor not too long ago, and it was snowing, which is always a treat and a challenge for me because I’m from southern California. I have a good friend who lives not too far away, and she and her husband came down and hung out and showed me pictures of their brand new baby girl. When we are on the road I live in a bubble and I never know what day it is or anything about anything, so it’s nice to see an old friend to bring you back to the ground. What’s on the horizon for the band? Anything in particular you’re looking forward to? We just started this tour, so I’m looking forward to playing in cities we’ve never been to and shows hopefully selling out in places where we’ve played to two people in the past. We’re doing some festivals this summer and opening for some big dudes like fun. and Tegan and Sara and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. After that, I hope I can find a beach and get a tan.

Get ready for some ADULT. Entertainment BY AMANDA TRENT

i SPY Magazine // APRIL 2013 MAY 2013

Most bands function like a family, but Family of the Year takes that feeling a step further. Joseph Keefe, Sebastian Keefe, Christina Schroeter, James Buckey and Alex Walker make up this Los Angeles outfit (although the band’s members originate from all over) and have formed unbreakable bonds amongst themselves that come from cohabitating in a run-down house and relying on each other for inspiration and support, which has led to the kind of camaraderie that allows them to finish each other’s sentences. (And, to top it off, Joe Keefe and Sebastian Keefe are real-life siblings.) To say that the band has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time would be an understatement. They are constantly writing and releasing music and have received a great deal of attention all over the world, including positive reviews from the likes of Spin and Rolling Stone. Even Willy Mason and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler have confessed to being fans. Now they are kicking off what is sure to be their biggest tour yet and will be opening for acts like fun., Macklemore and Tegan and Sara along the way. We had the opportunity to catch up with Schroeter after SXSW who was able to fit in our questions via email while in between “a sleeping lady and a sleeping dude” during a late night flight to the band’s next destination (a Portland show with fun.) – which is a pretty fitting illustration of the paradox of being in an up and coming band: it’s hard work and isn’t as glamorous as it may seem …but it also can be pretty awesome, too. How was playing at SXSW this year? SXSW is always fun, but this year was cool because we weren’t running around like headless chickens going from show to show, hauling gear down alleyways hungover for load in at 10 a.m. We played a few shows, did some interviews and WHERE chilled. I mean, I love a crazy SXSW, but after Movement being on the road so much this year, it was kind of nice to just enjoy the festival. Having said all Hart Plaza that, it still felt crazy. Detroit How did you guys all come together as a band initially? LA is a mushpot ofWHEN musicians and actors and artists mixed with aMay bunch of 26kids who didn’t even know they wanted to be musicians and actors and artists. We kind of just met and hung out and the next thing I knew I wanted to be a musician



Fast ADULT. Facts:

• •

i SPY Magazine // APRIL 2013

Kuperus is a photographer and Miller is a painter. In 2012, Ghostly International re-issued their first album, “Resuscitation,” on vinyl along with a new 7 inch containing two cover songs. Their fifth studio album, “The Way Things Fall,” will be released on Ghostly International in May 2013.

Detroit-based electronic musicians, artists and former CCS visual arts students, wife/husband duo, Adam Miller and Nicola Kuperus of ADULT. tell us what it’s like to be back playing at DEMF 13 years after their last DEMF performance and more. Adam and Nicola, you are a husband and wife duo, correct? What’s it like working together creatively? I think we are more like a wife and husband duo …actually, we might say we are more like one entity – and we suppose that single entity must be ADULT. They say opposites attracted, but we disagree.  It is no more of a struggle for us to work together than say for the left side of the brain to work with the right side of the brain. The only struggle is the fact that neither one of us turn off and stop “working,” so we are always talking about future work/ideas – but that beats sitting around talking about the weather.  Where did you meet? We met at THE CEMENT SPACE.  It is no longer in service. Tell us how ADULT. came into being. In 1997 we were invited to Germany to play four shows. We were running our own record label, Ersatz Audio, for two years by this time. We released a 12 inch on a German label after the short German tour under the name PLASMA Co. We changed our name to ADULT. for the second 12 inch on Ersatz Audio, and that name stuck. We are still here 16 years later. What made you decide to start making electronic music in particular? What vision did you have in mind for your music? What inspired it? Electronic music allows us to be a duo, as we do not work well with others and we are terribly private in our studio. When we started ADULT., there were a lot of rules/barriers/limits in music at that time, and we wanted to fuck with the status quo. Having lyrics in electronic dance music was very unheard of at the time and analog synths and electronic duos were very unpopular (especially in U.S. music venues). We fought against the “boys


club,” and we fought against the expectations of what a “band” should look like (and sound like). Some of these things have improved, but many still have a long way to go. Describe your creative/writing process. For the new album “The Way Things Fall,” we wrote very much in a frenzy – like someone that was denied food for days and then they were let into the kitchen. Actually denial seems to be a big part of how we write. Anyway, the majority of the album was written in around 90 days with only about five days off. This intensity in focus was important to us, and we think an intensity comes through in the music. This was also at the end of autumn/beginning of winter, and we think that impacted the process too …no more going outside, isolation, etc. What is one of the tracks that you are most proud of and why? Off of the new album, it would probably be “Tonight, We Fall.” This was one of the earliest songs we wrote for the album – before we knew we were writing a new album (at first we were just going to write a four song 12 inch, but, once we started writing, a dam broke and an album flooded out). Anyway, as artists I think we are always playing with opposites and dualities and trying to get the balance right. We feel this song satisfies this fairly well. The song is equally hopeless and inspiring, subversive and yet vulnerable. It sounds rather traditional on the surface, but structure and content are of the contrary.   What is your favorite gig you’ve played so far and why? That’s tough… One of our favorites was probably a show we played in Bogotá, Colombia in 2008. We were picked up at the airport in a bullet-proof car, security concerns were very present in the city and, when we went out on stage, there were 12 security guards lining the front of the stage (oh, and we were playing in a building on the grounds of an old abandoned miniature golf course, complete with decaying clown trash cans outside!). It took us 20 minutes

of refusing to play to get the security off the stage (and they were pissed!). There were over 700 people there (which was surreal already because we didn’t think we had any fans there), and the energy after we got rid of the security was amazing – the fans really knew we weren’t playing some elitism game with them. It was great! What is your live show like, and what should audience members expect from your upcoming performance at Movement? It will be an energetic live show, combining classic and new material. It will be non-stop live ADULT. entertainment. What’s a hobby or interest that you have that might come as a surprise to your fans? Water sports. What’s next on the horizon for ADULT. ? What are you most excited about for the future? We are currently working on new music videos for the album. These videos are made by us and help expand the vision of ADULT. We both went to CCS for visual arts. This year we have an amazing balance of music and art, including our new album, more live shows, many new music videos and two new art exhibitions in the fall at the Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh and the Center Galleries here in Detroit. We also just want to point out how surreal it will be to be back at the DEMF / MOVEMENT after 13 years. We played the very first year in 2000. It was a bit unorganized, but the energy was great. We remember the soundcheck especially …because we actually didn’t get one, so we had the audience do it with us. We would bring in the kick drum and ask them if it was loud enough and then the snares, high hats, the bassline, etc. one at a time. Looking forward to this year’s experience! ADULT. will perform on Sunday, May 26 at Movement Electronic Music Festival in Hart Plaza in Detroit. For more information, visit adultperiod. com. //




ARTIST: Rilo Kiley ALBUM: rkives 3/5 TOWERS BY Aimee Mandle // @ispymagazine

When Kid Cudi embarked on his third LP, it was a surprise that he was not finishing his “Man on the Moon” trilogy. Then he parted ways with Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D. Music and go-to producers. This detour has led to his latest release, “Indicud,” in which he is the sole producer and writer on the album. Cudi tweeted, “It will be my version of ‘The Chronic 2001’ – some songs I’ll produce, others I’ll feat &/or play songwriter.” …which is a very bold statement. “Indicud” is a strong contribution, though it falls short of “The Chronic 2001.” Tracks like “Just What I Am,” “King Wizard” and “Immortal” are the typical symphony of beats and murky hallucinogen landscapes that he paints with ease, but weaker arrangements like “Solo Dolo, Pt. II” stretch him a bit thin. What Cudi does nail flawlessly is his choice of collaborators. He samples MGMT, incorporates Father John Misty, threads in alt-girl band Haim and unexpectedly pitches Michael Bolton into an intriguing concoction of moody, psychedelic hip-hop lullabies. By crafting new tracks with the intention of featuring unusual contributors to the genre, he creates depth and helps fans begin to cultivate an appreciation for surprising elements. Like any musical pilgrimage, the album is something to be savored and respected for what it is – a unique arrangement that could stand in as a musical woebegone “Neverending Story” acid trip in typical Cudi fashion. We’ll probably be waiting a while before we see the final album that will complete the “Man on the Moon” trilogy. Until then, “Indicud” is an intriguing piece that begins to flesh out Cudi’s versatility as an artist.

ARTIST: Iron & Wine ALBUM: Ghost on Ghost 3/5 TOWERS BY PAUL KITTI

Sam Beam was once a lone bearded fellow toting a half-whispered cover of a Postal Service song. The beard remains, but only the echoes of his bedroom-quiet style have survived as Beam’s sound – and audience – has grown. “Ghost on Ghost” picks up right where “Kiss Each Other Clean” left off, which is somewhere in the shadow of his 2007 masterpiece, “The Shepherd’s Dog.” That album was a wild wagon ride through hazy country with Beam playing thoughtful observer through churches and cottages and cemeteries, pointing out the dark details in sunny scenes. It also found Beam surrounded with new instruments, each used to precise effect in transforming his campfire songs into full-bodied folk epics. “Ghost on Ghost,” while good in its own right, feels far less intentional. Opener “Caught in the Briars” is almost a tease, with a signature Iron & Wine melody drowning in a mass of horns, strings, back-up vocals and other production touches that grow to feel more like smears. Several other songs evoke the feeling that you’re digging past added noise to uncover what could have been a great song. There’s a lot to love here, though – it is an Iron & Wine album. But when the final song comes in the form of an easy country ballad, it’s a reminder that there was even more to love when there was less.

i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

It’s hard to believe that Rilo Kiley has more or less dissolved their merry band of indie-rock. And, if we’re counting, it’s been six years since we’ve seen a new album. Like any group, there is always the chance that they could re-emerge later on and pop out a transcendent album that blows minds and entices a new generation. It wouldn’t be the first time that it has happened, but the odds are iffy if you ask us. As a last hurrah, Rilo Kiley released “rkives” for their legion of devoted fans. The cohesive album features a mix of B-sides and rarities that prominently showcase Jenny Lewis’ hauntingly seductive voice and hallmark forlorn lyrics. It also serves as a reminder of how influential they have been for those coming of age in the current music scene (“Best Coast” anyone?). Altogether, “rkives” comes across like a ghost of previous albums. Where “Take Offs and Landings” and “The Execution of All Things” packed a punch, “rkives” holds its own in maintaining the band’s true form but lacks some of their energetic edge. “Let Me Back In” is sweet farewell opus. “I’ll Get You There” stomps and softly rages alongside throaty vocals, while “Dejalo” features Too $hort and is oddly placed among Rilo Kiley’s more restrained tracks. As hard as it is to say goodbye to a favorite band, “rkives” at least provides some closure to a solid run. Instead of feeling like there was so much more to give, we have a neatly wrapped package of tracks to take comfort in if, in fact, they are calling it quits for good.





i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013

ARTIST: Yeah Yeah Yeahs ALBUM: Mosquito 3/5 TOWERS BY Jasmine Zweifler

The first time I heard the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the experience was transformative. Karen O’s voice was the psychotic sneer of a spoiled child, and her accomplice Nick Zinner always matched her caterwauling to just the right instrumental bobs and weaves. Their breakthrough album, “Fever to Tell,” was a game changer in American music, and 2009’s “It’s Blitz” had everyone heaving a sigh of relief that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs still had it. That was then. This is now, kids. It is with a heavy heart that I report that “Mosquito,” like its namesake …kind of sucks. There is a unique sadness that descends when the first track on a beloved band’s new album is the high point. There’s a glimmer of hope, and the rest of the album becomes a slow, confusing journey. Such is the case with “Sacrilege” – and even that track doesn’t quite deliver the whole package. The unadorned production was integral to the brash bravado of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs early work. So when a gospel choir makes their appearance partway through “Sacrilege,” it is an unwelcome and frankly perplexing left turn. “Buried Alive” stumbles in the same way with an odd rap interlude. In the intervening years since “It’s Blitz,” Karen O has bleached her signature black bob and tied the knot – two concessions to the status quo that may be indicative of the abundance of the same on “Mosquito.”


ARTIST: The Flaming Lips ALBUM: The Terror 3/5 TOWERS BY JEFF MILO

At first, I was sure my ears were being blunted with gooey genius and a record whose marvels couldn’t yet be communicated beyond just: “Whoa…This sounds batshit-brilliant.” But the fervent, quavering synthesizers and hauntingly caustic clatters with chant-singing in a tiptoeing falsetto between curtains of feedback starts to wear on you after the third spin. No matter how many different synthesizers collude in evoking dive-bombing UFOs or how much disorienting delay or cloudy reverb you slather onto the track, it’s still a record that feels claustrophobic. It is an ambient-noise record of doom-ish digital-dirges screaming back to us from the future where the world’s already ended. It’s not an inherently enjoyable record, but I respect it for sufficiently challenging our perception of this band as they enter their fourth decade. The Flaming Lips are icons of experimental lysergic-laced punk-pop and dayglo-gargled psyche-rock, but they stagnated a bit and were starting to become too known for one thing or vibe. If this record puts off fans, it’s because it lacks that special groovy-effervescence inherent to their previous popular quasi-ballads that were even a bit morbid at times, but made you feel good in unexplainable ways. But solemn synthesizers babbling together like monster monks in a buzzy Gregorian Chant, supplementing darker lyrics frankly skirting hard and haunting truths about the fear in our hearts – man, that just makes older, ostensibly “quintessential” Lips jams like “Do You Realize?” sound like embarrassingly-overly-hopeful, cutesyringing nursery rhymes.

ARTIST: Phoenix ALBUM: Bankrupt


Phoenix is back almost four years since their smash 2009 album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” and the result is sure to please fans of this endearing French foursome. In many ways, “Bankrupt” is more of the same things we loved about Phoenix’s previous release – just with an added twist here and there to keep things fresh – punctuated with almost epic and/or danceably catchy tracks that remain true to the sound the band has developed thus far. Although there are no game changing moves here and it’s not likely that this album will make a lasting impact on the world of music as we know it, it’s a welcome addition just the same. “Bankrupt” maintains the fast pitched flurry of upbeat sounds we’ve grown accustomed to in the band’s music paired with lyrics that walk a fine line between nonsensical and profoundly insightful. And while several tracks seem to be a commentary of sorts on the gilded life, it seems that Phoenix isn’t looking to give up their time in the spotlight any time soon. //


For most, a rite of passage into artistic “adulthood” is saying you’ve been able to experience the free-flow tome “On the Road” from beat generation pioneer Jack Kerouac. This dynamic poet and iconoclast author helped fuse the modern day world of literature and the spoken word, open-minded thinking that was finding a voice in the culture of the mid-twentieth century. The idea of rejecting standards set by a country torn from the Great Depression and two World Wars was unheard of, but to couple that with the experimentation of sex and drugs was almost unthinkable in the 40s and 50s of America. Beat literature helped celebrate that in written terms that could publicize the underground movement that was sweeping the U.S. while calling out the artistic results of those deciding to take that course like William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and its main man Jack did, with aplomb. Kerouac took all of that self-defined hedonism of postwar youth society and delivered it in that unflinching book. Walter Salles as a director, who dazzled with films like “Motorcycle Diaries,” decided to take the charge of bringing this to film. The result is a beautiful one: with a travelogue of shots of motorway travel from the vantage point of the passenger window. Whether it is Mexico, New York, San Francisco, Louisiana, Nebraska, there’s always a view. With that view is a smart set of land markers in the current set of acting

pedigree. Whether its Viggo Mortensen in the fatherly drug-addled role of Burroughs as OldBull Lee, Kirsten Dunst giving striking longing and sadness as Carolyn Cassady in the role of Camille or Tom Sturridge as the wide-eyed and bitterly understanding Carlo who nods to Allen Ginsberg, each helps punch a certain part of the wild ride “On The Road” tries to capture in a couple hours. It is not an easy trip to go on. There is so much that could have or did get captured from the original pages to expect that having it all play out in the final product would have been too much to even try to contemplate in the offering. What results is a travelogue of strong moments in bad decisions, scenic surroundings and powerful bonds that carry you through the film. If it was all sensory, then much of this film would be a winner, but without truly taking the time to read its jazz-tinged, free-for-all source code, it’s hard to understand why this all came to the screen. But carrying that knowledge with you into the film enables you to give a quality nod to what is seen and satiate that morning after feeling while looking back and appreciating the effort.

Don’t hope to be hypnotized by this trippy mindbender. The script is amusing at best – always holding interest but too weak to warrant full surrender. I think Danny Boyle was just having fun with this one. After amazing back-to-back turns with “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours” – which solidified him as one of the most exciting directors around – he deserved to indulge in this jittery little heist thriller. His slick, energetic direction acts like gloss over a story that is much weaker than you’d like to give it credit for (there’s a reason he was chosen to direct the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics). Here’s the rundown: Simon (James McAvoy) is constantly on the edge of a breakdown once he steals an expensive painting, takes a shotgun handle to the head and forgets where he hid it. His heist buddies are equally irritated, resorting

to a hypnotherapist once they realize torture isn’t going to help him remember. That’s when Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) enters the picture – a peaceful mind-manipulator who goes from tapping into Simon’s brain to overloading the psyches of the whole gang. That’s where things get dizzying, but the intense performances and sharp direction are plenty enough to keep your eyes locked.



i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013 // @ispymagazine

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i SPY Magazine // MAY 2013








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iSPY Magazine // May 2013  

Features include interviews with ADULT., Abigail Stauffer, Mr. B's Joybox Express and a look inside Movement 2013.