Friday Five: ZZVAVA, Mike Vial, Notomaton, Fearless Amaretto, pink marlena


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 eclectic indie rock by ZZVAVA, singer-songwriter tunes by Mike Vial, modular synths by Notomaton, leftfield R&B hip-house by Fearless Amaretto, and groove-oriented experimental jazz by pink marlena.


The musicians in Ypsi quartet ZZVAVA trade instruments and lead vocals, making it hard to pigeonhole the group's sound outside of it being "rock 'n' roll." Jordan Collingridge, Anie Parker, Jeff Freer, and Nick Zomparelli's self-titled third album includes songs that sound like Devo (the agitated and quirky "Stump"), Weezer ("Big Big Castles" starts with a riff reminiscent of "Island in the Sun"), Radio Birdman ("Hypnic Jerks" is built on a sweet series of riffs), and something that sounds direct from the 1960s garage-rock scene ("Goodness Sake" could have been on a Crypt Records Back to the Grave compilation).

That dizzying collage of styles is reflected by the trippy album cover, which was created by film and music video director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). The artwork came about because Collingridge's partner works with the visionary French cineaste, according to this article on WDET's website, and he offered.


Mike Vial, "Free to Dream" and "Do You Know Your Fears by Name?"
When writing about "Verona," the previous single by Ann Arbor's Mike Vial, I mentioned that it sounds like a vintage singer-songwriter tune from "early 1970s Los Angeles." His two newest singles carry similar vibes, with the piano-driven "Do You Know Your Fears by Name?" evoking Dennis Wilson's solo work (and Ben Folds) and the guitar-centered "Free to Dream" bringing James Taylor to mind.


Notomaton, Dymaxion World
There once was an experimental rock band from Ann Arbor called Gravitar that featured a member named Eric Cook. Notomaton is the alias of Ann Arbor's Eric Cook, and while I don't know if this is the same guy who was in Gravitar, it wouldn't surprise me based on the abstract modular synth extracts that comprise Dymaxion World. The music exists somewhere between miniature dungeon-synth dramas and computer music blurps and bloops. (These two aren't the same Eric Cook, they should find each other and form a band called The Eric Cooks.)


Fearless Amaretto, Sticky Notes
Ypsi's Fearless Amaretto "is a Bigender Badass" who "fuses their affinity for jazz notes and nightlife music, with their witchy vibes and wordplay." The 10 songs on Sticky Notes play with R&B, house music, and hip-hop, but the production is always appealingly off-kilter. The songs are stripped back to the sonic essentials, which puts the focus on Amaretto's charismatic vocals.


pink marlena, Bimaadizi and primaries
The Ann Arbor trio of Marlena Boedigheimer (tenor sax), Stephen Castiglione (bass), and Chris Pyke (drums) is informed by experimental jazz, but the new live album, Bimaadizi (recorded at Ziggy's in Ypsi), and last year's studio EP, primaries, shows the group reveling in groove and space over pyrotechnics and relentless skronking. The studio EP, in particular, can get downright funky.

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