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The Nolan Factor - Tuesday April 21st 2009

Jeff Nolan - one of MCB's longtime contributors will be dropping a few posts from time to time about music / art / state of the economy / women / food / car repair / laundry tips

"The Nolan Factor"

April 16 2009
Karaoke Night @ The Inn Place

A fat old man named Red greeted my girl and I at the bar
as we cringed through a drunken, slurred Bjork song (
The vodka tonics from the bar were a tad on the weak side, but it matched the talent if you're picking up what I'm putting down. The bartender's nightly rendition of Janis Joplin's “Piece of My Heart” was possibly the pinnacle of the evening, met with screams and hollers from her intoxicated patrons. After 1 the mood became overly sentimental with a chain of whiny, slow country songs, so we moved on to bigger
and better things: my bedroom...

April 17 2009
Dinner with Rick & Sue Vian

To celebrate his recent successful opening at my place of employment, the Robert Kidd Gallery ( in Birmingham, Rick Vian ( and his wife Sue invited myself and a few guests to a dinner at their house located just outside of downtown Royal Oak. The food was wonderful, a diverse mix of flavors from all over Europe.
The best part was a banana and pineapple cake
which I still have a piece of in my refrigerator.

Their house exterior is painted an strange rusty purple color which is neither warm nor cool. It was inspired, like his paintings, by the Michigan UP. The yard was decorated with smooth basalt stones plucked from lake superior, wind chimes that were rigged to be silent, and elegant metal sculptures that would probably be lethal if you fell on them.
The interior of the house was beautifully decorated with pieces from several Cass Corridor artists, obtained over the years through art trades with friends and colleagues. The bedroom was the most outlandishly decorated room in the house. The walls and blinds were completely covered with green paint strokes and resembled a canopy of tree leaves, tapering around the ceiling to reveal a pale blue sky.
Rick said he did it while his wife Sue was away for a week.

I left Rick and Sue's house around 11 and planned to catch the end of the Art Battle and maybe ask how badly my boys in the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre did at the Detroit Music Awards. Ha.
On the way home I listened to a sarcastic voicemail
from Johnny Retro of JCM,
“Hey dude, we're hanging out in front because we're fucking winners,
we'll be down at the Fillmore for a minute...”
The message was left before the start of the event, eluding to the fact that JCM was hopelessly up for Outstanding Electronic Dance Band against Deastro, Love Meets Lust, and Matthew Dear.
During a brief rendezvous at my house to meet up with two girls, I received a phone call.
No shit- the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre won.

The rest of the night was mostly a bust, zig-zagging from bar to bar in Hamtramck and then arriving at the Russell just in time to see the aftermath of the wreckage that was the Art Battle.
I asked who won the DAB09
“Some kids from Grand Rapids, I don't know them”
was the best answer I could get.

April 18 2009
Comet Burger, Gusoline Alley, & Woody's

After hearing about the phenomenally unlikely selection of the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre for a DMA, I made plans to hang out with them and get the low down on just what the hell happened.
We met at Comet Burger in Royal Oak for some soggy burgers and devilish waffle fries before hitting some bars. What followed was a hazy recollection of meeting with the Amboy Dukes (possibly) in a maze of corridors and rooms that is the Fillmore backstage. A dim room lined with sofas, a grey haired man sunk into a corner with a grey haired lady giving him a semi-nude lap dance.
Vomiting on the floor next to the table,
then stumbling to the bathroom and sleeping
in a stall before closing out a $100 bar tab.
Finally, their accidental theft of a backpack
filled with unidentified pills and paper work.
“You don't have any time to sort out the duds” was the rational behind sampling a handful...
After leaving the hit-or-miss Gusoline alley (too many guys in cargo shorts, not enough seating)
a text message was received from the other half of JCM who was
spending his night in a strip club with his 15 pound DMA,
trying to convince strippers he was someone important: an award winning musician.
I don't think it went well after he sent another incoherent message
about trying to convince a stripper to swallow a length of rope.

Woody's was an abomination of tiny women in jerseys, dude-bro's (://, and overly dressed dancers who started moving to the beat on the walk in.
A few laughs, a few High Life's and we were out of there.

Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Goodnight Oslo

If Lou Reed and those two brothers in Oasis who fight onstage had a 40 year old child who became the vocalist for the Smiths, his band would be Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3.
Sarcastic, rainy day pop music with a British invasion flare. Other tracks have a similarity to the Kinks and MGMT, but with the same pop sensibility as the Beatles.
Goodnight Oslo is overflowing with pop hooks, tried and true verse-chorus-verse formulaic tracks that hit the mark. Competent songwriting is matched by the sparkly clean production. It harks back to the production value of the Elephant Six Collective of the nineties with their penchant for horns, sterilized acoustic guitars, and pop arrangements.

Spiral Beach

Spiral Beach is a young band of hooligans hailing from Toronto. Primarily fronted by a female vocalist (named Maddy Wilde!) on keys/synth supported by four unshowered boys who sing in unison. They have an overall sound similar to Joydrop or Garbage from the 1990's with the dance beats of the Black Kids. They show a surprising sophistication in terms of their tones and arrangements with floating vocal melodies that intertwine over reverberating guitars.
The overall production value of the album is fantastically professional and finished, the album artwork is clearly produced by an art studio and the cleanliness of the sound could only be the work of a seasoned vet. These kids clearly have it going on.
Their website shows an impressive “Showography” (I had never heard of this term either) of tours which demonstrate that they have somehow criss-crossed the planet while making the time to write and record a very polished and mature album.

John Doe and the Sadies
Country Club

This is a country/blue grass album from LA. LA holds the Guiness World Record for shortest abbreviated word (originally titled El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula by Felipe de Neve, which translates to The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola). With that out of the way, Country Club is anything you could hope for in a country album: imagine trains, your momma bailing you out of jail, your dog running away, coffee & cigarettes, rainy days, getting drunk on whiskey and arrested after hitting a parked car, and the current war against Saddam or the Muslims or whoever we're supposed to hate (
I am not a country music aficionado, but according to the band's myspace, Country Club consists of “classic country covers” as well as original material. A song titled Detroit City hit a sentimental note with me, it is a mopey ballad about going home to Detroit.
The album is laced with country hooks, fiddles, and steel guitar, as any good country album should be. It is a country album that goes back to the golden mid century, an authentic and uncommercial country sound that is refreshing after spending 3 years working in a metal shop where 99.5 FM was the standard.

"The Nolan Factor IS DETROIT"
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