Friday Five: Evan Haywood, XV, Lunch, Timothy Monger, "Ypsilanti Folk Singers" comp
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features cosmic folk by Evan Haywood, art rock by XV, no wave by Lunch, folk-pop by Timothy Monger, and a compilation of mid-2000s Ypsilanti DIY artists.
Evan Haywood, Elderberry Wine
Evan Haywood's favorite producer is Lee "Scratch" Perry, who recorded some of Bob Marley and The Wailers' earliest tracks and helped spearhead the 1970s dub movement. Haywood was also a founding member of the Ann Arbor hip-hop trio Tree City, and at his Black Ram Treehouse recording studio in A2, he records a lot of Michigan rappers, some of whom will release music on the in-house record label, Black Ram Sound. This genre-hopping artist even spent time in South India studying Karnatic music.
But on his solo records, Haywood sounds more like 1970s-era John Lennon playing rustic folk music than a Jamaican dancehall DJ toasting over a raga. The man contains multitudes.
Elderberry Wine is Haywood's latest exploration of cosmic folk, though it leans to the latter more than the former compared to 2016's Ramshackles and 2018's Perfumed Gardens. Close-miked acoustic guitar features on most of the 10 tracks, bringing a forward presence to Haywood's strums and picked strings even though reverb is liberally applied throughout much of the production. Other tracks have more of a studied lo-fi vibe, such as the a capella "Strands of Love," which sounds sung into Haywood's phone, and the piano-centric "Foreign Film."
I saw on social media that Haywood recently left this full-time job to spend more time producing artists in his studio and building up his record label. Elderberry Wine is an excellent jumpstart on his new life as a full-time creative.
XV, On the Creekbeds on the Thrones
The Ypsi-Detroit trio of Claire Cirocco, Emily Roll, and Shelley Salant is back with 11 more songs as XV, an art-rock band that simultaneously has a sound all its own while also making music nerds dive deep for comparisons. (Hey, it me.)
The surreal jam "Fresh Lettuce" evokes both Bo Diddley (the beat) and Suicide (the reverb-soaked vocal whoops); "Pen" revels in the two-notes-and-feedback approach of early Jesus and Mary Chain; "Funkyconomy" brings to mind the late 1970s New York City no-wave era where punk and funk mingled on the Lower East Side; and "Tasmanian Angels" sounds like it could be a Dolly Mixture cover, hitting that sweet spot between post-punk pop and 1980s British indie rock.
On the Creekbeds on the Thrones has tighter playing than XV's previous recordings, but in no way are the performances polished, and the songs are still idiosyncratic in the best possible ways. Despite all the handy-dandy band references in this write-up, XV has its own special thing going on. Just listen.
Lunch, live at WCBN on Tiny Cage
Ann Arbor's Lunch is a relatively new no-wave duo. The band released a demo in December and has started playing out more, including doing this nearly 30-minute live set at WCBN. While the music is still wild and dissonant, the video allows you to see that the musicians are skilled even if their songs sound unstudied.
Timothy Monger, "Cranberry Bog"
Timothy Monger might have dropped the State Park moniker somewhere deep in the Great Lakes (but not in the Myth Society), but he hasn't discarded his knack for beautiful, '60s-inspired pop. "Cranberry Bog" is the first single off his forthcoming self-titled album, which drops on June 2, the same night he celebrates the release with a concert at The Ark. (Does anyone remember the Paisley Underground band The Three O'Clock? Monger's high voice reminds me of that band's leader singer and songwriter, Michael Querico.)
Various artists, Ypsilanti Folk Singers
This 2006 comp came out on Fred Thomas' defunct Ypsilanti Records label, but the We're Twins label has resurrected the record as part of its Bandcamp project, which is making obscure recordings from the early to late 2000s Washtenaw County DIY music scene available online. The 15 tracks here mostly fall on the lo-fi folk side, and comp is full of names you might recognize if you've been following the underground scene for the past two decades: Jib Kidder, Kelly Jean Caldwell, Chris Bathgate, Emily Jane Powers, Jason Voss, Warn Defever (His Name Is Alive), and more.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.