Friday Five: Mazinga, Cedar Bend, Regenerate! Orchestra, Human Skull, kaito ian


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 punk 'n' roll by Mazinga and Human Skull, large-ensemble indie rock by Cedar Band, droning modern classical by Regenerate! Orchestra, and electronica by kaito ian.


Mazinga, "Rock N' Roll Jihad" b/w "All Rise"
The veteran Ann Arbor rock 'n' rollers who comprise Mazinga are working on a new album—the band's first full-length record since 1999—but in the meantime the long-running quartet put out a ripping two-song single, which just so happens to coincide with two big shows at The Blind Pig: as headliners on Saturday, May 25, and as part of the huge MC5 tribute there on Saturday, June 8. Both of these tunes will blowtorch your earholes via massive riffs, NASCAR speed, and supreme grooviness, which is a technical musical term only taught at the finest academic academies. Recommended if you like Radio Birdman, The Celebate Rifles, The Saints, and having your face melted.


Cedar Bend, "Clyde's Song" and "Green Copper"
Cedar Bend's debut studio single, "Roots," came out in December, and the first group I thought of was another Ann Arbor ensemble made up of supremely talented UMich music students: Kingfisher. Both groups are large in size, diverse in instrumentation, and supremely skilled in arranging while working in what might loosely be called an indie-rock setting. "Clyde's Song" is the band's latest single, and it highlights Cedar Bend's ability to take what could be insular, inward-looking songs and make them extroverted and universal through dynamic arrangements. "Green Copper" is an older Cedar Bend song that the group recently submitted to NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. Recommended if you like Beirut, The Decemberists, and Sufjan Stevens.


Regenerate! Orchestra, Stick Season
Ann Arbor's J. Clay Gonzalez took his Regenerate! Orchestra idea with him to a winter residency at the Monson Arts in Monson, Maine, and composed the five pieces that comprise Stick Season. Gonzalez then recorded the project at the University of Maryland in March 2024 with about 40 other musicians. It should come as no surprise that Stick Season evokes the dead of winter—the bleak beauty, the icy silence, the cold tension—via droning strings and percussive swells. Gorgeous stuff.


Human Skull, The Cost
I've been writing about Human Skull for as long as I've worked on Pulp, and the first time I heard the Ann Arbor trio live was when I was documenting performances at the 2017 Water Hill Music Fest. The recommended-if-you-like names I conjured for that write-up included The Replacements, Husker Du, and Radio Birdman, and seven years later, those fuzzy indie-punk-rock influences still hold true for the band's latest five-song EP. I'd also throw in Dinosaur Jr. with the way the band drops in dissonance while smashing through solos or instrumental passages. I forwarded The Cost to an old friend and asked him how he would describe the band as a first-time listener: "There's an Evan Dando/Lemonheads thing going on there. But with something like a Ramones-y rhythm section in some songs. And then there's some alt-country thing happening in his vocals when he digs in but I can't place the band it sounds like." Does that sound good to you? Sure sounds good to me. 


kaito ian, Concepts
Ann Arbor's kaito ian has crafted another deft mash-up of drum 'n' bass ("sideways"), Aphex Twin-like melancholy electronica ("inertia," "everfar"), floor-filling techno ("alter"), downtempo head-nodders ("moving on"), and a tune ("hit it quick") that I can imagine jit dancers bugging out to as the crowd goes wild. Concepts is just a huge flex of talent.

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