Friday Five: Rohn - Lederman, Dre Carlan, zagc, Modern Lady Fitness, MEMCO mixes by Natalya & Space Age Bachelorette Pad

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five album, single, and video art

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

This week features electronic industrial pop of Rohn - Lederman, pop-punk from Dre Carlan, hard techno via zagc, a new video by indie rockers Modern Lady Fitness, and MEMCO mixes from Natalya and Space Age Bachelorette Pad.

 

Friday Five: Knitted Myths, Deja Senti, Heavy Color, Unmanned Ship, WCBN Local Music Show sets

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the recordings featured in this week's Friday Five.

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

This week features prog-pop by Knitted Myths, electronic excursions via Deja Senti, jazz-influenced experimental songs by Heavy Color, sludge rock from Unmanned Ship, and a slew of live sets from WCBN's Local Music Show.

Friday Five: Same Eyes, prod. P, Color TV, autodoom., Otherseas

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album art for Same Eyes, prod. P, Color TV, autodoom., Otherseas

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

This week features synth-pop by Same Eyes, beat sketches by prod. P, bedroom indie-folk by Color TV, lo-fi hip-hop shoegaze by autodoom., and an emotional MEMCO Exposure mix by Otherseas.

Everybody's Kranky: Bruce Adams' new book chronicles the rise of Chicago's thriving 1990s independent music scene and the influential record label he cofounded

MUSIC WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Bruce Adams and his book You're With Stupid

For a guy who cofounded a record label named kranky—small k, thanks—that used marketing slogans such as "Honk if you hate people, too," Bruce Adams is one of the nicest people in the music industry.

Adams' new book, You're With Stupid: kranky, Chicago, and the Reinvention of Indie Music, recalls not only the rise of his experimental label but also the inventive, genre-hopping sounds that were coming out of the city in the 1990s. It was also a time when major labels swooped into town to sign the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, and Liz Phair after Nirvana showed corporations that the independent music scene could sometimes provide commercial hits.

A former Ann Arbor resident, Schoolkids Records employee, and WCBN-FM DJ, Adams moved to Chicago in 1987 to work for various music-distribution companies. He also worked at the influential Touch & Go Records as a publicist, handling bands such as Ann Arbor's Laughing Hyenas as well as Slint, Die Kreuzen, The Jesus Lizard, and many other bands that took the energy of punk rock and twisted it into new forms of dynamic and frequently very heavy music. 

But in 1993, Adams and his colleague Joel Leoschke looked at the stacks of indie-rock CDs and 7-inches flooding into the Cargo Distribution warehouse where they worked and decided they wanted to do something completely different with their record label. The duo took their inspiration from 1970s progressive-music labels such as Editions EG, which counted Brian Eno's transformational ambient albums in its catalog, and ECM Records, which focused on jazz (and classical) that came from a more European approach to improvisation; more open to exploring space and unique timbres rather than blues-informed swing. They also looked toward German kosmische musik of 1970s groups such as Neu! and Cluster as well as then-contemporary psychedelic bands such as Spacemen 3, which played drone-based rock 'n' roll.

Adams and Leoschke wanted kranky to represent music that was artful, hazy, and deep—and they found the perfect first band for their new label: Labradford.

Prazision was the debut album by the Richmond-based duo (later trio) Labradford, which used guitars drenched in reverb, 1970s analog keyboards that weren't popular then, and sung-spoken vocals that blended into the vast smudge of ambient sounds. 

The label went on to release albums by godspeed you! black emperor, Stars of the Lid, and kranky's most popular act, Low, the slowcore band fronted by the husband and wife duo of Alan Sparhawk and the recently deceased Mimi Parker. The label still continues to this day, releasing forward-looking music by Grouper and Jessica Bailiff as well as albums by Dearborn's Windy & Carl and Ann Arbor's Justin Walter.

Adams and Leoschke used what they learned from working for indie labels and distribution centers in order to not make the same mistakes they saw happening over and over: treat the bands with respect, pay them, and only release music you love. In the words of American poet Joe Perry, kranky "let the music do the talking."

A lot of music memoirs are filled with gossipy details, but since Adams really and truly is a nice guy, You're With Stupid avoids any deep, dark revelations or pointed barbs. It's more a survey of the vast amount of creative musical endeavors that defined Chicago in the 1990s rather than salacious tales of excess.

Adams will discuss You're With Stupid at the Ann Arbor District Library's Downtown branch at 6:30 pm on Thursday, November 17. I'll be the guy interviewing him—Adams doesn't say in the book why he sold his portion of the label to Leoschke in 2005, so I'm going to ask him that—and we'll talk about the kranky's groundbreaking music and the 1990s Chicago independent music scene.

For those unfamiliar with the label, Adams picked five tracks and added commentary to introduce new listeners to the kranky sound:

Friday Five: Kingfisher, Riot Course, Kai West, Hues, Anhedonia

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Art for the albums and singles featured in this week's Friday Five.

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

This week features large-ensemble indie rock by Kingfisher, polished punk via Riot Course, guitar ambiance from Kai West, hip-hop by Hues, and genre-agnostic electronica by Anhedonia.

All for the Music: Remembering longtime WEMU and WCBN DJ Michael G. Nastos

MUSIC HISTORY

A black and white photo of Michael G. Nastos MCing an event.

Michael G. Nastos was a longtime DJ, journalist, emcee, and announcer in the Washtenaw County area. Photo via Nastos' Facebook page.

Michael G. Nastos, a longtime music journalist and radio DJ in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, died over the weekend. He was 70 years old.

Nastos had been struggling with health problems and was using a wheelchair for the past year or so in public appearances—of which there were many.

Because even with the issues he was facing, nothing could keep Nastos away from engaging with the driving love of his life: music. 

Friday Five: X-Altera, Mr. Vale's Math Class, Kingfisher, 14KT, Iggy Pop

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Art for the albums and singles featured in this week's Friday Five.

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

This week features drum 'n' bass by X-Altera, funky fusion-pop from Mr. Vale's Math Class, orchestral indie rock by Kingfisher, hip-hop beats by 14KT, and neo-proto punk by Iggy Pop.

Friday Five: Athletic Mic League, Kingfisher, Normal Park, Michael Abbey, Chirp

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album and single covers for the music featured in this Friday Five column.

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

This week features hip-hop from Athletic Mic League, chamber rock by Kingfisher, emo-punk via Normal Park, art-pop by Michael Abbey, and an Ypsi jam from Chirp.

 

Friday Five: Old Trout, Balint Karosi, Sinbad, Same Eyes, MEMCO mixes by MIMIMIMI & Sunjam

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album and single covers for Friday Five artists.

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

This week features fishing-themed hip-hop from Old Trout, Balint Karosi playing the new organ in Ann Arbor's St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, gothy indie-pop by Sinbad, a new video by synth-poppers Same Eyes, and MEMCO mixes by MIMIMIMI and Sunjam.
 

Friday Five: Night Office, Shells, Dr. Pete Larson, Benoît Pioulard, Kai West

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

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 an ambient-autumn theme with Night Office, Shells, Dr. Pete Larson, Benoît Pioulard, and Kai West soundtracking fireside chats and haunted nights. Immerse yourself.