Friday Five: Piotr Michalowski & Damon Smith, Candor, TJ Zindle, Optimystic, Mr. Demented/GrimeOne/MC Kadence


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

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

This week features free jazz by Piotr Michalowski and Damon Smith, emo-ish power-pop by Candor, grungy pop by TJ Zindle, drum 'n' bass by Optimystic, and hip-hop by Mr. Demented and GrimeOne featuring MC Kadence.


Piotr Michalowski and Damon Smith, How to Ripen in Ice
St. Louis, Missouri bassist Damon Smith touched down in Ypsi for an improv concert at Ziggy's on June 6, 2023, with Ann Arbor multi-instrumentalist Piotr Michalowski (clarinets, saxophones, flutes). That show is what comprises this new release on Smith's Balance Point Acoustic label. No surprise that a free-jazz record features lots of squanking, clacking, and extended techniques, but there's also a lot of sensitive interplay between the players. All the song titles are taken from English-translated lines from Tent Posts, an experimental philosophical treatise by Franco-Belgian writer Henri Michaux. 


Candor, "Ghost Between Us" b/w "Cheap Hotel Refugees" and "Buddy Holly"
Is there a mini second-wave emo revival happening in Ypsilanti? Well, only if you count two bands new to me as a trend. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the strong debut single by Geranium Red, and now comes the latest single by Candor, who have been creating cathartic rippers since at least 2019. There's a some power-pop in the instrumental backing featured on Candor's "Ghost Between Us" and "Cheap Hotel Refugees," even as the vocals fit squarely in the sing-song-y, hyper-enunciated style of emo. The Ypsi quartet also recently released a cover of Weezer's "Buddy Holly" in honor of the 30th anniversary of that band's "blue album."


TJ Zindle, Fragments EP
When Ann Arbor's TJ Zindle isn't playing guitar and singing with his sister, Erin, in folk-inflected Ragbirds, he's creating grungy guitar pop under his own name. This three-song EP is the follow-up to his 2022 album, Now Let Go.


Optimystic, Oer EP
I wish I had more clever things to say about the nonstop quality output from Ypsi's AGN7 label, but its consistent highlighting of excellent modern drum 'n' bass producers speaks for itself. Optimystic is a British music-maker who has been exploring high-energy jungle-funk for at least a decade. The Oer EP is currently only for sale at Beatport but it will arrive at Bandcamp on June 7.


Mr. Demented and GrimeOne featuring MC Kadence, "Every Kiss"
Detroit producer and rapper Mr. Demented drafted veteran Ann Arbor artist MC Kadence for a song on his new album, An Ode to Brutalism. The duo also performed together at Ziggy's recently, so perhaps a full-length collab is in the works.

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