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"the View From Nowhere"

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Wiwa elcometoAnnArbor. Nowgohome. A k fl Just kidding. Honest. For some BMI of you, this is your first ssue of AGENDA and this column. The View From Nowhere covers the local music scène. There is stuff going on in this town that is world-class when it comes to rock and roll. Maybe that's why you're here, maybe not. Checking out this paper each month will make life easierforyou. t'll take a while for you to really catch on, but you will - don't worry. So, what stuff is cool? Get out the calendar and start circling. Numberone is Frank Allison and the Odd Sox. Frank has been scouted by every major record label and it's only a matter of time bef ore he's famous. Praised by everyone from The New York Times on down, Allison packs the clubs, filis the dance floors, and generally is a real rock and roll genius. Check out Morsel, another band that should be on a big time record company soon. Their latest indie label CD was produced by grunge god Steve Albini, and if your musical taste leans towards angst, and melodrama, and cool, thundering, symphonic guitar stuff, Morsel is for you. Then there's Laughing Hyenas, who are semi-world famous and who are carrying on in the tradition of Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5 (and who play rare local all ages shows). Kiss Me Screaming is kick-ass melodie pop, with leader Khalid Hanifi (who was the front man of Map of the World, signed to Atlantic Records af ew years back). And the Navarones, garage band soul for the 1990s, with record collectorvocal powerhouse Dan Mullholland. There's so much stuff! I haven't even touched on the Deterants, the Lollipop Guild (see below), or any of the score of great rootsbased bands on the Schoolkids' Records label, like Steve Nardella, George Bedard, and...You'll just have to piek up AGENDA every month. After I heard "Dying In This World of Heil," the new ten-tune tape from singersongwriter Usa Waterbury, I had the urge to drink a fifth of scotch and jump off a bridge (this is a compliment). This home-recorded demo is packed with Waterbury original songs that are so filled with sadness it's hard not to be overwhelmedbythesheerintensity. Death, the end of the world, pain, depression, and hanging around until something goes wrong is the core of her musical universo. The low key guitars sound like moans ala the Velvet Underground, and Waterbury does sound a bit like femme fatale Nico. This tape is so stark and pain-f lied, you can almost hearthe ghosts drifting around the recording studio. I do wonderif this recording was just dumb luck or the work of a newly discovered genius... time will teil. But for now, Lisa Waterbury's debut appears to be the latter. If you needed evidence that local pop band Lollipop Guild is on the highway to fame and fortune, the new release "White Knuckle Days" is it While previous recordings have been cool, this six-song cassette shows the group has made the leap from writing really good songs to amazingly wonderful songs. Two tracks, "The Only" and "Disappointed" are soaring, light edged, disjointed rock and roll gems, either of which should be getting bigtime radio airplay. The production is full and catchy, singer Kristin von Bemthal has so much strength and confidence as a vocalist, and the band is powerful and tight as heil. While so many things are going on here musically that the Lollipopsters can't be captured with a few words, for your slower friends who aren't hip musically, you could toss out bands like 10,000 Maniacs if you need a point of reference. But that isn't it either. Buy the tape. For those of you heading to the 1 994 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, don't miss the between main sets "Kid's Stage," which will feature loads of underage local up-andcoming artists. One of the coolest acts set to appear will be the King Brothers with 1 7year-old Billy and 13-year-old Kenny King. Over the past couple of years, the duo from Brooklyn (Mich.) has home-recorded a series of truly classic cassette tapes. Rooted in innocent, 1950s rock and roll influences f rom the Everly Brothers to Buddy Holly, the brothers have mostly been oblivioustocurrent trends in corporate, multi-intemational controlled 'music' product. Instead, the Kings keep turning out neat stuff with plenty of heart and soul. The new tape (just called "King Brothers") does show some 1990s recording influences slipping in (it's more produced, more polished when it comes to production techniques, and there's more overdubbed keyboards). While the chord structures are becoming more com - plicated, the music is still fresh and simple, catchy pop. And outdoors at Gallup Park will be a perfect spot to catch the King Brothers live. While winning a Jonathan Richman impersonation contest is not something I would brag about (or sign up to be a judge f or) singer songwriter Tim Mantyia will carry this weight around for the rest of his life, having won a contest earlier this year sponsored by radio station 89X. Fortunately his new tape, "Candlejump," should take care of that career mistake in no time flat. It sounds NOTHING like the goofy pop artist. Mantyla, who also organizes The Gatherng, the twice monthly artist-sort-of get-together, is a much better talent. On this collection there is lots of humor, it's true. But on "Teil It To Suzy," he sounds like 1 960s flowerpower hero Donovan, on "Cradle" he's more of a traditional British folkster, and on "Goin' To New York" it's Robert Johnson meets Psycho. Mantyla is not afraid of taking chances, that's forsure. Slightly twisted lyrically, but rooted in the basics of folk and talking blues, Tim Mantyla is entertaining as heil. (For info on The Gathering cali 665-7620.) How I spent my summer vacation in 100 words or less: Caught two wonderful sets at Top of the Park in June - the above praised Lollipop Guild and local blues giants Big Dave & the Ultrasonics. Art Fair- yikes! Exceptforthe WEMU-FM stage (quite refreshing as always and braad - cast live to boot) the Fair was lacking in enough local musicians (but lots of Columbian and Peruvian folk music from bands based in New York- must have been hundreds of them). Mr. B and his street piano were dynamite as usual. The WCBN-FM Summer Bash: I only saw the Saturday show. While some cool stuff happened (Ten High's set was powerful and a riot), the let's-be-hip-and-book-stuff-toshow-how-damn-hip-we-are lineup of bands may have accounted for the next to zero turnout (I counted as many musicians as audience members). Sad. Another month is over. Feel free to send comments, questions, tapes, cds, and things of that sort to: AGENDA, The View From Nowhere, 220 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, Ml 481 04.


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