Friday Five: X-Altera, Mr. Vale's Math Class, Kingfisher, 14KT, Iggy Pop
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features drum 'n' bass by X-Altera, funky fusion-pop from Mr. Vale's Math Class, orchestral indie rock by Kingfisher, hip-hop beats by 14KT, and neo-proto punk by Iggy Pop.
Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix (aka Dabrye, JTC, Charles Manier) is back with a new single from his drum 'n' bass persona, X-Altera. "Afterworld" seems like it was stuffed into the Tardis and transported to 2022 from 1994 because it sounds so much like vintage drum 'n' bass: a simple ambient chord progression punctuated by low-end booms and skittering snares.
Mr. Vale's Math Class, We Can Help You Out
Jordan Vale grew up in Ann Arbor but went to Michigan State University, where he majored in math and jazz. He must love all things green because he then took his talents to verdant Portland, Oregon, where he works as a math tutor and leads this six-piece funky fusion group. We Can Help You Out is the debut LP by Mr. Vale's Math Class, and while it's not a straight-up "teaching" album like those great kids' records by They Might Be Giants, the tunes are mostly (or all) about the world of numbers. The group is tight and fun, and while most of the music exists in that funk-jazz-rock world I associate with jam bands, the spikey "Do Your Math" is somewhere between Devo and James Chance's no-wave funk.
Kingfisher, "Do You Think I’m Pretty?"
I'm following up last week's rave about Kingfisher's first three singles with another round of loud applause for "Do You Think I'm Pretty?" This 11-piece group of UMich students explores layered, immersive, orchestral pop, but where the previous singles tightrope walked between art- and indie-rock, this song gives off straight-up Belle & Sebastian vibes. It's relatively straightforward and nicely arranged indie pop, outlined by a simple guitar riff and colored in with strings, horns, and harmonized voices.
14KT, The Skeleton Crew
Ann Arbor hip-hop collective Athletic Mic League released a banger album seven days ago, and this week one of the group's beatmakers, 14KT, released his 10th record. The 18 instrumental tracks on The Skeleton Crew are the results of 14KT's Skeletons: Beat-Making Series on YouTube, which shows him combining simple ingredients—drums, a chopped-up melody, and bass—to create the bones of a song. Make it a collab and add your own raps.
Iggy Pop, "Frenzy"
Iggy Pop said his 2016 album Post Pop Depression might be his last, and it seemed like he had turned his career-long dabble of doing collaborations and duets into his full-time gig. But Grammy-winning producer Andrew Watt has signed Pop to his new Gold Tooth Records, lined up a superstar group of himself on guitar, Duff McKagan (Guns 'n Roses) on bass, and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums, and recorded a new album whose title hasn't been released yet. Ig used all his words to describe the forthcoming album thusly: "I'm the guy with no shirt who rocks. Andrew and Gold Tooth get that, and we made a record together the old-fashioned way. The players are guys I've known since they were kids and the music will beat the shit out of you. Have a great day." The first single, "Frenzy," is a three-minute neo-proto punk ripper.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.