High Five: New music from Dr. James Kibbie, Seattle Stomp, Dre Dav, Idle Ray & Ki5
Five new music releases from Washtenaw County artists.
By day, Kyler Wilkins works for Ann Arbor software company Menlo Innovations. By night, he's Ki5, creating lovely music influenced by hip-hop, electronica, and a capella. Wilkins builds songs from samples of his voice, and while it's loop-based music, it sounds anything but stuck in a loop. As heard on his new Looking for the Sun EP, Wilkins is an expert arranger of vocal harmonies, and his compositions bloom organically into gorgeous sonic flower grooves. Curious to see how Wilkins puts it all together live? Ki5 is the first artist to perform on the first night of Mittenfest (Dec. 27-29 at Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti).
As a member of Ann Arbor's Towner, Alex Molica makes fuzzy indie-punk that feels Midwestern to the core. The group's self-titled four-song EP from July is ramshackle and catchy with a heart-on-the-sleeve vocal delivery. But "Great Unknown," the first single from Molica's solo project, Seattle Stomp, is a stripped-down, quirky, acoustic-guitar-based song that is built on a repeating, descending chord progression for all four minutes it lasts. Molica has an album-release show for Seattle Stomp's Maudlin Madness on January 3 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti, but before that you can see Towner at The Blind Pig on December 20 as part of "Decemberween" with Detroit's The Lucid Furs, Ypsilanti's Bubak, and Ypsi-Arbor's You Look Poor! (I'm not yelling; the exclamation point is part of the band's name.)
Dr. James Kibbie is chair of the Organ Department and University Organist at the University of Michigan as well as an authority of Johann Sebastian Bach's organ music. That's a whole lotta organs. You can download Kibbie's complete Bach organ works, played on seven historic baroque organs in Germany, for free -- that's 274 compositions. But Kibbie's most recent release is part of a series he's been doing since 2002: The Annual Holiday Recordings are his free "audio holiday cards" featuring works by Ernst Pepping, Hugo Distler, Charles-Marie Widor, and -- of course -- Bach, among 13 others. This year's audio card is Joe Utterback's "Song of the Magi," and like all the other recordings in this series, Kibbie performed the piece on his residence organ. All the recordings mentioned here are embedded on Kibbie's website, so you'll have to go there to grab his all majestic music.
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan, it's a no-brainer to hire Ypsi rapper Dre Dav to create jingles for the industry. He's already created numerous smoke-celebration soundtracks -- in fact, it seems like every song this prolific artist creates is an enthusiastic big-up for cannabis, and Dav's latest joint -- pun super-duper intended -- is no exception. "Smoke Like Me," featuring Rocky5 and J Classic, is the first single from Dav's forthcoming Paradise Sky album, which will be set free on December 27 at Launch Social, 3130 Packard Rd. in Ann Arbor, the location of the now-shuttered Launch Board Shop.
Idle Ray is the new project of Fred Thomas (who always has a new project or production brewing) and it has a unique twist: When Thomas performs live as Idle Ray, which he'll do December 20 at Lo-Fi in Ann Arbor, he's backed by a reel-to-reel tape featuring a complete backing soundtrack that he created himself -- from drums to vocal harmonies. Thomas' first Idle Ray release is a cover of Palace Song's "Agnes, Queen of Sorrow," which is as mournful as the title suggests.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.