Friday Five: Nadim Azzam, Jacob Sigman, Doogatron, Shannon Lee, Kuwento Mizik


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 singer-songwriter hip-hop by Nadim Azzam, R&B hip-hop via Jacob Sigman, bedroom techno from Doogatron, classic country courtesy of Shannon Lee, and a classical-plus-world-music blend by Kuwento Mizik.

Friday Five: Iggy Pop, Sara Tea, Giraffe, John Beltran, DJ Emby


Cover art for the music featured in this Friday Five.

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

This week features rock 'n' roll by Iggy Pop, indie-tronica by Sara Tea, fusiony jazz by Giraffe, progressive techno by John Beltran, and a dance mix by DJ Emby.

Friday Five: KUZbeats, cv313, Alex Anest's Electric Four, AGN7 Audio releases, Sebastian Wing and Gami


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

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

This week features soundtrack electronica by KUZbeats, dub techno from cv313, jazz from Alex Anest, and drum 'n' bass from the AGN7 Audio label and Sebastian Wing and Gami.

Everybody's Kranky: In a recorded talk, Bruce Adams discussed his recent book on the rise of Chicago's thriving 1990s independent music scene and the influential record label he cofounded


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 discussed You're With Stupid at the Ann Arbor District Library's Downtown branch at 6:30 pm on Thursday, November 17. I was the guy interviewing him, and we talked about the kranky's groundbreaking music and the 1990s Chicago independent music scene.

A video of our chat is below, and for those unfamiliar with the label, Adams picked five tracks and added commentary to introduce new listeners to the kranky sound:

Friday Five: Kawsaki, Josie Ala, Studio Lounge, Alvin Hill, Unattended Death


Cover art for the music featured in this Friday Five.

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

This week features vaporwave future-funk by Kawsaki, trumpet jazz by Josie Ala, wacky pop by Studio Lounge, intellectual electronica by Alvin Hill, and unremitting grind by Unattended Death.

Who's Running the World? The Miller brothers' prolific musical output spans genres, decades, and all of 2022



Back to Reality: Laurence Miller, Bill Frank, and Benjamin Miller were Nønfiction—one of many bands featuring the musical Miller brothers, which also includes Roger. Photo via Laurence Miller.

When running down the famous musician alumni of what is now known as Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School, the list is pretty much always the same: Bob Seger, three members of The Stooges (Iggy Pop plus Ron and Scott Asheton), and Bill Kirchen of solo and Commander Cody fame.

But the most prolific musical grads with the most varied and creative musical styles who matriculated at the place formerly known as Ann Arbor High School are undoubtedly the Miller brothers, Roger and twins Laurence and Benjamin. The three of them formed the psychedelic rock band Sproton Layer while in high school, making an album in 1970 that went unreleased until 1992: the well-praised With Magnetic Fields Disrupted

The brothers are the sons of Robert Miller, a University of Michigan ichthyologist, and Frances Hubbs, who together studied fish in desert springs as well as their fossil ancestors.

Roger left Ann Arbor to pursue composition studies at CalArts and then moved back across the country to Boston where he cofounded the influential art-punk band Mission of Burma in 1979. He also continued his experimental work exploring improv and prepared instruments and performed soundtracks to silent films in the Alloy Orchestra. He lives in Vermont now and continues to pursue creative endeavors, from art to music.

Laurence and Benjamin have moved around, too, with the latter living in Chicago and then New York City between 1993-2014. But they have since circled back to the region where they grew up and continue to conjure an endless series of creative projects tackling every genre, from serial compositions to children's songs.

As with Roger, the twins' musical output continues to this day, with Benjamin usually exploring the further edges of sound on new recordings and Laurence digging through his endless supply of tapes from throughout his career, cleaning them up, and releasing them on Bandcamp. The twins (and sometimes Roger) also still perform together in various new or revived projects.

In the summer of 2022, I realized all three Miller brothers had albums coming out—some new, some reissues, some unheard—and also discovered a few recordings by them from earlier in the year that I missed.

One of those releases is by a nervy, new wave-era trio called Nønfiction that Laurence and Benjamin helmed from late 1981 to spring 1985—and the group was reforming for a one-off show at the 2022 FuzzFest in August at The Blind Pig, though it would feature Ben's son on drums rather than original member Bill Frank.

I emailed the twins to find out more about that band (and some of their other recent releases) with the intention to do a Nønfiction profile before the concert, but Laurence was diagnosed with COVID a week before the gig, and the trio had to cancel its FuzzFest appearance. (Benjamin has since gotten COVID, too, and is still feeling the effects.)

Rather than abandon the quotes Laurence and Benjamin sent me for the now-stalled feature, I decided to incorporate them into a post that highlights the Miller brothers' numerous 2022 releases—including a new album from Roger—that Pulp had yet to cover this year. (Links to the articles featuring all of the Miller music we've already covered are at the bottom of this piece.)

The Miller brothers' circuitous musical journey deserves an in-depth interview and probably requires a map to follow accurately—perhaps a future Pulp project?—so consider this article a brief introduction to their long creative histories by way of the new and old music they released in 2022.

Friday Five: Kenji Lee, Moorhaus, Ekanti, Othercast, Arthur Durkee


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 jazz from Kenji Lee's Fortune Teller Trio, indie-folk by Moorhaus, dance jams via Ekanti, dark-ambient by Othercast, and reinterpreted seasonal classics courtesy of Arthur Durkee.


Fine Tuning: Martin Bandyke says goodbye to his morning radio show and hello to having even more time for music


Martin Bandyke's morning show on 107.1-FM in Ann Arbor is wrapping up but he'll still be on the station every Sunday with his Fine Tuning program.

Martin Bandyke's morning show on annarbor's 107one is wrapping up but he'll still be on the station every Sunday with his Fine Tuning program. Photo by Christopher Porter.

It always seems like Martin Bandyke is smiling on the radio.

A grin doesn't make a sound, but the way Bandyke enunciates his words and presents them to his audience every morning on 107.1-FM gives listeners the impression he's speaking through a smile.

A recent visit to the WQKL studios near Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor confirmed as much:

He actually is smiling as he speaks.

Whether reading traffic updates or music news, Bandyke projects the sort of positivity people appreciate when they're trapped in their cars during a morning commute or settling in for another day of the 9 to 5.

The DJ's convivial charms have radiated through the radio for 40 years—starting in 1983 on WDET 101.9-FM in Detroit—but on December 22, Bandyke is stepping away from his morning-drive show and entering semi-retirement at age 68. He'll still host his long-running Fine Tuning program every Sunday afternoon on the station, still choosing every song that's played on the show, just as he did during his public radio days.

Bandyke's first stint on the air was in 1983 co-hosting WDET's Monday night show Dimension. He had been trying to get his foot in the door of Detroit radio ever since graduating from the University of Michigan in 1976 with a bachelor of arts degree in radio, television, and film. His on-air opportunity came when he was a music buyer for his hometown Dearborn Music record store. Bandyke, a drummer, and Ralph Valdez, his longtime friend and frequent bandmate, were invited to co-host Dimension, which they did together through 1990. While Valdez continued to host Dimension, which moved to Sunday nights, that year Bandyke was hired full-time as the assistant music director, and in 1991 he took over Judy Adams' on-air shift from 10 am to 1 pm. He later moved to afternoons and in 1995 added music director to his duties at the station.

This is the part of the tale where Bandyke's voice and expansive music tastes entered my life.

Pull up a chair and let grandpa tell you a story.

Friday Five: Balance, Hannah Baiardi, Lunch, HUES, Grandmaster Rodimus


Art for the releases featured in this week's Friday Five.

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

This week features jazz by Balance, soul-pop by Hannah Baiardi, no wave by Lunch, and hip-hop by HUES and Grandmaster Rodimus.


Friday Five: i-sef u-sef, Dresden Codex, Future Holograms, HORSE BOMB, labgrown podcast & compilations


Album art for the music featured in this Friday Five.

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

This week features bassoon-fueled avant-soul by i-sef u-sef, space rock by Dresden Codex, chillwave-tronica by Future Holograms, noise jams by HORSE BOMB, and emo-rap highlights from the labgrown prodcast and its compilations.