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ROCKHOUNDING: Reviews of Emily Kopp, Black Sweater Massacre, Arctic Monkeys & Microtonal live at Trinosophes Detroit by Al Bruting

a new ongoing review column headed up by the elusive Al Bruting

Emily Kopp, Just Getting Started...
by al bruting

photo by: Shauna Hundeby

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Emily Kopp just released her first full-length album, Serendipity Find Me, with producer Justin Beckler and producer/co-writer Anthony Battaglia. The Southeast Florida native and recent college grad is also getting exposure to a wider audience by kicking off a tour.

The album also shows balance.  With a combination of soul and folk, she avoids the tired soapbox that folkies perch on to preach.  More interesting still, she still is able to pull in a mild pop element and maintain musicianship because she’s a decent guitar player.

 Flying Blind is the title track and gives us reason to listen further. Opinions vary, but the true showing on this album is Can’t Catch Me.  It demonstrates her ease with vocal quality and stands on its own as a solid offering. 

We’ll continue to watch and listen.  Her record was released on October 15th and tour dates are being announced which hopefully includes a visit to the Motorcity.

Black Sweater Massacre by the Reigning Monarchs
by al bruting

Sweater season is upon us. The LA based Monarchs feature comedian and guitarist, Greg Benrendt paired with the former Boston group, Letters to Clio's Michael Eisenstein.

The new release, Black Sweater Massacre, blends traditional vintage styles into one cohesive sound. Leading in with a surf tone, they incorporate rockabilly and ska, some Mexicali brass with hints of a sixties Farfisa Italian organ.  There's even a track where the brass takes on the style of an Indian snake charmers flute.  What makes this release interesting is the combining of these very distinct, but very different styles into a song and actually pulling it off.

The Monarchs brand of rockabilly, surf and ska wouldn't sound out of place in a Quentin Tarantino or a David Lynch film. Its occasionally slower and more haunting melodies are quickly and mercilessly run off the road by a intensely paced rhythms, darkened with heavy reverb. The tracks are all instrumental on this release, but for live shows they feature guest vocalists

The groups studio versatility has seen them backing names like Norah Jones, Aimee Mann, alt country singer/songwriter Rhett Miller (of the Old 97's) as well as comedians and actors like Ben Stiller, and Jason Segel.

Black Sweater Massacre brings foreword momentum to a band that's been steadily picking up a fan base through its live performances. This release stands out from the background noise around it and is definitely worth giving a listen.

New Release “AM” from the Arctic Monkeys 

"These Monkeys are far from Simple"
by al bruting

Looking for a good way to spend 41 minutes? Put on the Arctic Monkeys fifth British release "AM" and enjoy time well spent.  It’s a minimalist sound with genius hiding subtly between iambic lyrical rhythm and percussion that play off each other and create a verse quality more reminiscent to meter found in Shakespearian verse. The result is somewhat nonsensical lines becoming hypnotically rhythmic with vocal melody. 

The closer you listen the more you will find, but they are still just a rock band that haven’t lost what has made them good.  Add to this that they deliver the goods playing live, and this rounds out the package of a group that’s much more than just a studio wonder. If you get to a show, expect to hear releases from the first 5 recordings, but known for their proclivity for covers, the live show takes on an interesting texture.

AM is on target to be the bands best sales week since its 2007 release AND the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history.  So far AM has given the act its first top 10 effort since 2007's "Favorite Worst Nightmare" debuted and peaked

Knowing the Rules and Then Breaking Them...
by al bruting

Clem Fortuna Presents a Microtonal Music Revue at TRINOSOPHES October 18, 2013 featuring Jacob Barton and Andrew Heathwaite, plus the music of Clem Fortuna, Frank Pahl, Joel Peterson and Harry Partch

Microtonal music features music written using unusual tunings. Headlining were microtonal composers, Jacob Barton and Andrew Heathwaite. Also featured were works by local composers Clem Fortuna, Frank Pahl, Joel Peterson, and Jennie Knaggs. 

The venue, TRINOSOPHES is near eastern market and has nicely put back into commission longstanding Detroit brick and mortar.  The two sided structure offers a raised stage and large open area with high ceilings, a library complete with "Pourover Coffee" and a cafe that features guest chefs.  

For workshops, exhibitions and performances, TRINOSOPHES is definitely a place to put on your hit list.

Almost all western music (and increasingly a lot of Eastern Music) conforms to a single tuning using only certain notes. While blues and jazz sometimes slide between these notes, these in-between notes are never treated as "real" notes because they are considered "out of tune". A small number of composers and songwriters have broken ranks and discovered that these "out of tune" notes can open up new undisturbed musical environments or soundscapes. However, playing them requires unlearning everything we know about music, and in some cases building whole new instruments or modifying existing instruments. This concert included works played on refretted guitars, glass harmonica, voices, strings, pedal steel guitar, specially tuned piano, and the "udderbot", a new wind instrument made from a glass bottle and a rubber glove.

Jacob Barton grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where his musical hunger led him to learn piano, saxophone, clarinet, bassoon, and musical saw. He studied composition at Rice University, where he received a BMI Student Composer Award for “Xenharmonic Variations on a Theme by Mozart”. His passion for instrument building led serendipitously to the collaborative invention and development of the udderbot, for which he is the chief advocate and only known virtuoso. Jacob has played the udderbot in traditional bands, children’s concerts, experimental music venues, theater productions, New York City subway stations, and humanitarian clowning missions in Ecuador.

Andrew Heathwaite is a performer, composer, teacher and student, whose work by his own characterization centers around compassionate creative skepticism, trivialization of power differences, and transformation of (at first invisible) constraints to provoke the new. "I no longer want to see micro tonality slip under the radar into pop music without anyone noticing, just to be sold back to us by the greedy kings of copyright. That's not good enough.." As a project of Oddmusic Urbana-Champaign, Andrew refretted a steel-string acoustic guitar to 22 tones per octave in 2009 and a mountain dulcimer to a 20-tone Just Intonation scale in simple overtone relationship in 2010. He also plays cümbüş, a fretless Turkish lute.

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