Friday Five: Mighty Clouds, Winged Wheel, Dr. Pete Larson, Great Arm, XiNNiW


Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This edition features a trio of Fred Thomas-associated bands including indie-pop by Mighty Clouds, hypnotic jams by Winged Wheel, and even more hypnotic jams by Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band as well as indie-rock by Great Arm and electronica by XiNNiW.


Mighty Clouds, You Can Tell Everyone Under the Sun (Selected Songs, 2004-2013)
Mighty Clouds, "Anagram" / "Just Friends"

Antiquated Future Records' first Selected Songs compilation was 20 tunes by Ypsilanti's Fred Thomas recorded over 18 years. The label has done several more S.S. comps since then, but it was only a matter of time before Antiquated returned to Thomas' massive back catalog for another collection.

Where Thomas' Another Song About Riding the Bus (Selected Songs 2002​-​2020) drew from a few of his many indie-rock bands including Saturday Looks Good to Me, City Center, Failed Flowers, and Idle Ray, the 22 songs on You Can Tell Everyone Under the Sun (Selected Songs, 2004-2013) focuses entirely on his work with singer Betty Marie Barnes. The 22 songs here are culled from various Saturday Looks Good to Me releases and live recordings as well as the music the duo made under the Mighty Clouds moniker. 

Barnes and Thomas channel 1960s girl-group pop, 1980s and 1990s twee indie, and even a little bit of vintage R&B rock 'n' roll whenever a saxophone appears. If you're new to Saturday Looks Good to Me and Mighty Clouds, it's best to start with the studio albums and work your way back. The live recordings on You Can Tell Everyone Under the Sun will appeal to fans, but there are wild swings of audio fidelity that might put off newbies from enjoying some of these thoroughly captivating songs.

Barnes lives in Sweden now, but she was back in Michigan last July and teamed up with Thomas to record two new songs, "Anagram" and "Just Friends," for a 7-inch record released at the same time as the comp. 


Winged Wheel, Big Hotel
The first Winged Wheel album, No Island, was pieced together remotely, but for the new Big Hotel, the band got together in Kingston, New York, for three days of endless jams that were edited down to tight grooves. Fred Thomas, Cory Plump, Whitney Johnson, and Matthew J. Rolin were joined by Lonnie Slack and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley for the sessions, and the entire vibe of Big Hotel feels like someone just called out a key signature or started playing a riff and off the band went. The nine songs here nod heavily to 1970s German motorik and experimental music (Neu!, Faust, Can), but it's also undeniably indebted to more modern strains of psychedelia and indie-punk. If I was still in a band, I'd have it sound like Winged Wheel: single-minded, spontaneous, and superb.


Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, Michigan Traditional Music
Ope, another record with Fred Thomas on it. And ope, the Friday Five is featuring another release by Dr. Pete Larson on his Dagoretti Records label. Like Winged Wheel, I'm pretty sure Dr. Pete and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band just show up and start blasting away at something hypnotic, gritty, and wild. This iteration of the ever-changing band features drummer Tom Hohmann along with Thomas on guitar and synth and Larson on synth and nyatiti, the eight-string lyre/lute instrument associated with the Luo people in Western Kenya. The exquisitely named Michigan Traditional Music album releases June 15, but you can check out two of the jams right now.


Great Arm, "Get In"
Though they both call Ypsilanti home, as far as I know, Fred Thomas has nothing to do with Great Arm, so much to my chagrin, we can't call this column the Friday Fred. Led by vocalist-guitarist Marisela Casillas along with Sydney Timbrook (lead guitar), Brad Premo (bass), and Eric Bates (drums), this ensemble has put out several cracking singles, including the new "Get In." The song has a lot of gang-shouted vocals like the kind you hear in a straightedge youth-crew tune, not so much in a garagey indie-rock number, which is just one of the cool things about this impassioned slice of nervy music.


XiNNiW, "bird hills" b/w "detective bass"
When David Minnix isn't making shoegazey folktronica with Mirror Monster, he's likely tinkering with modular synths and electronic devices of his own hacking to create music like these two songs that would make Aphex Twin envious.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.