Royal Trux at El Club

 

Let’s fake our way through Bad Blood for John.”

Neil Michael Hager­ty was try­ing des­per­ate­ly to get through a gor­geous, dis­as­trous set at El Club’s first birth­day par­ty with a Roy­al Trux clas­sic, ded­i­cat­ing it to Neg­a­tive Approach’s John Bran­non, the first son of Detroit hard­core. Hagerty’s band­mate Jen­nifer Her­re­ma had spent most of the show seat­ed or lay­ing down onstage, join­ing in on vocals spo­rad­i­cal­ly.

It was every­thing I’d imag­ine it would be and more. Thrilled to see them back togeth­er again and back out on the road.

Grails — Deep Snow II

I met Grails in Fish­town, before or after a show upstairs at the old Cir­cle of Hope on Frank­ford, I don’t quite remem­ber. The show itself was phe­nom­e­nal. They were out in sup­port of  2007’s Black Tar Prophe­cies Vol 1–3, a col­lec­tion I real­ly enjoyed and a sound NPR Music’s Lars Gotrich describes as “doomy Amer­i­cana.”

He’s not wrong. After I heard, Earth’s great 2005 album Hex: Or Print­ing in the Infer­nal Method, I was intox­i­cat­ed by this sound. For the unini­ti­at­ed, imag­ine an instru­men­tal sound­track to True Detec­tive Sea­son 1. For me, it was a coun­ter­point to what had start­ed to frus­trate me about freak folk pop­u­lar at the time.

The guys them­selves were real­ly great. I planned to inter­view them, but Fish­town Tav­ern was way too loud, so we end­ed up talk­ing about music and shout­ing at each oth­er like the reg­u­lars. I’d lat­er catch them when they came through on sub­se­quent tours and was sur­prised to see Emil Amos’ hold­ing down the drums for the mighty Om.

Chal­ice Hym­nal, their first record since 2011, is out in a few weeks. Check­ing out the new tunes on Tem­po­rary Residence’s Sound­cloud, it’s a depar­ture from that doomy Amer­i­cana sound. The title track has ele­ments of dub that were com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed.

Deep Snow II” is more of the fore­bod­ing pas­toral I fell in love with when I first heard the band. It’s less witchy and more space rock than the stuff they were doing 10 years ago, but it’s famil­iar in its tone and mood.

If there’s some­thing I espe­cial­ly love about 2017 musi­cal­ly, it’s that so many of the bands I loved as a music crit­ic are get­ting back togeth­er and mak­ing fan­tas­tic music. Grails are no excep­tion.

The New Pornographers — High Ticket Attractions

The New Pornog­ra­phers are an inter­na­tion­al trea­sure. Every­thing I wrote in this post I want to take back. Their only crime was giv­ing us so much joy. You have no idea how elat­ed I was to find their new song, “High Tick­et Attrac­tions,” from their forth­com­ing record, White­out Con­di­tions, post­ed to YouTube.

High Tick­et Attrac­tions” picks up where Brill Bruis­ers left off: uptem­po, vocal inter­play between Carl New­man and Neko Case, loaded with buzzy fun. It’s exact­ly what you’re look­ing for from them and they deliv­er.

The New Pornog­ra­phers are head­ed out on tour in sup­port. Shame they’re not com­ing to Detroit this time around, but if they’re com­ing to your town, don’t miss them. I regret every time I did. I’m hard pressed to think of a band that’s bet­ter at ban­ter.

 

Gorillaz — Hallelujah Money

When I think about the artists I grew up lis­ten­ing to there are few I admire as much as Damon Albarn. Sure, much of that is owed to my year in Den­mark, where I wit­nessed up close Blur’s bat­tle with Oasis, but when I look back on that time, I still think The Great Escape held up much bet­ter than What’s the Sto­ry, Morn­ing Glo­ry?

(Before I get too far down that path, can we talk about how Goril­laz’ debut came out 16 years ago? This is like real­iz­ing the Jicks have been togeth­er longer than Pave­ment were.)

Hal­lelu­jah Mon­ey” is their first record in six years. Can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Steve Gunn — Eyes on the Lines

It may be my 19125 show­ing, but Steve Gunn’s Eyes on the Lines seemed crim­i­nal­ly under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed last year. It was a per­fect sum­mer record that split the dif­fer­ence between the Grate­ful Dead and those late Son­ic Youth records inspired by the Grate­ful Dead, with a dash of the fun of those ear­ly solo Malk­mus records (“Full Moon Tide”).