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The Best Of '94

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One of the great things about writing a column like The View From Nowhere is thatthistimeofyearyougettogoback over the past months and re-listen to all the wonderful local music released during 1994 and come up with a best-of-the-year column. While we all realize there aren't enough hours n the day to catch al I the great local I ive m usic happening on the club scène or high enough credit card limits to buy all the cool stuff locally produced that's coming out on CD and cassette, you also must know there isn't enough space in AGENDA to recap everything you should have checked out. As a result, here are my highlights of the lastyear 1. "Dying In This World of Heil"- Lisa Waterbury (self-produced cassette). This debut tape from local singersongwriter Lisa Waterbury is one long sigh. Recorded at a motel in Whitmore Lake with Waterbury on guitars, drums, keyboards and vocals, this ten-tune collection is perfect. Her voice is slightly off-key, the music mix sounds like the Velvet Underground Live in 1969 album, and her lyrics - well... Waterbury is DAMN unhappy, and at times it's almost like songs for my funeral. She wants to die, she wants to fall in love, she wants to get in her car and drive around. But the mix of the hypnotic psychofolk sounds and the battle between innocence and lust and death is incredible and original and one of the best debuts from a local artist l've heard in years. 2. "Deliverance"- Wig (Island CD). This CD is the musical equivalent of Dante's Inferno. Amillion loud, distorted guitars, a rhythm section that sounds like World War III and vocals that surely must have come from a pact with the devil - Wig's major label debut is the thing that will put Ann Arbor back on the world music map. This is LOUD music. Not just in the audio sense, but in the emotional sense as well. The Stooges and the MC 5 are influences here - you can't be from A2 and play loud, soulful guitar rock without owing that debt to your musical forefathers. But this isn't retreaded Michigan rock. It's a sonic nuclear blast that will kill on its own terms. Kudos to Island Records for having the guts torelease this powerful, rockin' CD (And don't let any dickhead local record critic writing the journalistic equivalent of Holiday Inn lounge music teil you otherwise). Extra credit for the band's use of local Schoolhouse recording studio. 3. "Avalanche bw Glowing In The Dark" - Kiss Me Screaming (Happy Hour7inch single). I suppose if there were a "these guys should be signed to a major label" list of local musicians, Khalid Hanifi and his band Kiss Me Screaming would belong at the numberone slot. Hanifi, who WAS signed to Atlantic Records as frontman for the late Map of the World, still has the singing and songwriting skills to nake the leap again. This 45 is hookfilled anJ fresh rock and pop with a wall of guitars crunch. Hanifi is no doubt the best rock and roll songwriter in the city, and with the best rock and roll guitarist in the city (Brian Delaney) Kiss Me Screaming has everything they need for a major label deal. Until then, this great single and the upcoming CD release on Schoolkids Records will have to do. 4. "Noise Floor"- Morsel (Choke CD). Raw but melodie, symphonicyet garage band. Morsel and the music they've produced is awash in contradictions, like all great art This release, produced by producer-GOD Steve Albini (whose credits include Nirvana), is spaced-out mind music that is best heard with opened ears. It's rock and roll taken to an intense other level. Computer-processed roaming vocals, guitars that sound like acid flashbacks, but with a (for lack of a better word) symphony-like musical structure, Morsel is like agrunge, non-smartass Frank Zappa with their similar sense of music theory complexity. While all this sounds academie on paper - it isn't. It's poetic and wonderful rock and roll that takes risks. 5. "How's My Driving?"- The Deterants (Skidmark CD). Every time I write about this band (from their soon-to-be-legendary local club gigs to their previous cassettes) I run out of words to express their sheer talent in capturing the spirit of rock and roll. The braindamaged listener might think The Deterants were influenced by The Replacements, The Clash, or any other of the close to the garage rockoutfits. On the surface, it might seem that way. But on second listen, the songwriting guitarvocal combo of Jim Chatfield and lan Trumbull are much more. You get clean, power pop guitars, and a strong sense of let's make a three-minute hit record. But you also get a magie too that isn't easy to explain. And unexplainable magie is at the root of all classic rock and roll. 6. "Your Place and Mind" - Some People's Children (self produced CD). This is one funky trio. It's white boy rock and roll party funk that owes alot to funk-god George Clinton. But the band also understands what it takes to pack a midwestem college town dance floortoo. Some People's Children never take any of this seriously (except maybe the art of the guitar solo), but the cross-fertilization of cultural and music genres is both praiseworthy and dance inspiring. 7. "Abba Dabba Dabba-A Bananza of Hits"- Cub Koda (Schoolkids' Records CD). Manchester, Michigan-raised Cub Koda is a twisted genius. Once the guy who sang the goofy (but rockin') teen anthem "Smokin' In The Boy's Room" and now present-day record collector and reviewer, Koda loves EVERYTHING in the realm of music. From the totally serious rendition of The Flintstones theme to the field-slave-chanting style of "Random Drug Testing," we get the silly side of Coda. But with his versions of Detroit's 1950s Fortune Records artist Nolan Strong and the Diablos (on "Mind Over Matter" and "You're The Only Girl, Delores") and other undiscovered gems we get an artist who cares passionately about great soul music too. Koda tosses in some 60s pop and blues stuff too and this Kafkalike mix may be difficult for some to accept. But to my ears, this release makes perfect sense and has been in my CD player on and off for most of 1994. 8. "King Brothers"- King Brothers (self produced cassette). Over the past few years, this pair of teenage brothers has pumped out a string of classic tapes that were recorded in their Brooklyn, Michigan home studio. Each one has featured cool Bill and Kenny King original songs that were rooted in 1 950s country and pop. With each new release, the duo gets better and better. On the new one, the Kings sound like they have absorbed more 1990s influences too - radio pop, funk, et. al. While I miss the innocence of their eariy cassettes, the new release is powerful and catchy too, even if it sounds, daré I say it, more commercial. Good stuff. That's it for this month and 1 994. Now don 't f orget to send your very own classic-tobe.self-produced music, andoranythingelse that might be of import to: AGENDA, The View From Nowhere, 220 S. Main Street, AnnArbor, Ml 48104.


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