Sunday, October 2, 2011

Get to know your black metal, a 5 part interview about Norwegian Black Metal

Follow the youtube link to see the other 4 parts of the film (where they go up into the mountains to interview Gaahl, lead singer of the band Gorgoroth)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Popular Music Club - meeting on Thursday Sept 1st, 2011

Meeting called to order by Ellen Daniels.
With a new semester, and a charter through MSU (Dr. K Prouty – Faculty Sponsor) elections for group officers held:
                Ellen Daniels elected President
                David Daniels elected Vice President
                Alex Krausman elected Secretary
                Michael Armendariz elected Treasurer
Meetings will be held every other Thursday evening. Meeting locations will be determined at prior meeting or via discussion postings, group collaboration.

Discussed Goals:
                Bring in Live (Local, Michigan Based, or Larger Scale act)
                                Potential Venue- Scene Metrospace, Landshark (Co-Op Night), Back Yard/ Co-Op/ House
                                “Popular Music Party” to invite new members, local community people to explore PMC
                Publication: Small Pamphlet, Blog, Article.
                                Album/CD Reviews; Short Articles on Trends/ Groups; Calendar; etc.
                                (Less Pompous than “Pitchfork”)
                Movie Night- On Campus, other larger venue
                                Music related or Documentary
                                Classic/ Horror/ Musical with live band accompanying  film, live actors retelling script?
Web Announcement/ Printed Flyers
Possibility: Spinal Tap with pre-show lecture by Dr. Prouty
                Motown Music Event- Hannah Dexter
                                A) Masterclass/ Presentation by Motown Performer with Q&A Session
                                B) Trip to Motown Museum, Attend Live Performance
                                C) Lecture of Motown Music History
 Potential for RHA or ASMSU Support and Funding. Hannah and Michael will work with RHA/ASMSU, Dr. Prouty, and PMC Officers as the development of the “Motown Music Event” Progresses
                Coverage in “Impact Radio” or other Media Form
Potential “Theme” for each meeting. Themes can include genres, styles, topics, or other possible ideas to be determined by group members               

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jucifer and's The Plague Years make's the's brutals at Macs Saturday Aug 20

Although I mentioned the concert during PMC, I thought I'd recap to give the blog post a try. Also I've got a pic of this wall of sound that would encourage even lucifer himself to wear earplugs:

The local sludge/thrash metal band The Plague Years opened with very riffy hand-banging set. I think they describe themselves best when they were quoted saying they were "the bastard child of Black Sabbath and Motorhead". Definitely recommend checking them out next time they play around Lansing if you dig doom metal.

Next came on the headliner Jucifer (pictured above), who nearly packed the house (although it was already pretty full of amps). The husband and wife duo have a pretty large following and put on a fairly entertaining show. However, being a sucker for the relentless running double bass drum of most metal drummers, the lack of rhythm did damper my experience. Occasionally, a shimmer of muddy riffage would begin to break out and then the band would return to a nebulous swirl of demonic screams and earth rumbling feedback which eventually lost its appeal--I left before their set finished. I would still recommend seeing them as they usually play small venues and how many times do you get to really see satan up close? NOTE****make sure to bring ear plugs: I wore custom fitting ones and my ears still rung after the show.. those amps aren't props.. they all work.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead/Surfer Blood @ the Loft

Disclaimer: I was really looking forward to this show when I purchased the $17 ticket.  Yes, the price was a bit steep, but Trail of Dead is an indie rock legend and Surfer Blood, though new to the scene (they just released their freshman album, Astro Coast), received positive reviews from that powerhouse of indie propaganda, Pitchfork.

The Loft is a fairly classy mid-size venue in downtown Lansing.  I can't tell you about the drink prices, but earplugs were fifty cents (a steal compared to most).  The clientele was your typical hipster crowd and only about two thirds of the attendees seemed truly interested in the bands.

The opener was Dallas, TX band True Widow.  Their sound was solid 90s grunge fare; lots of low, growly distortion, a tempo that never strayed far from comfortable and a solid, slow-moving bass line.  Nothing new or exciting, but definitely enjoyable for anyone who's ever seriously sported some baggy, ripped jeans.  They didn't garner a lot of attention from the sparse (at that point) crowd, but the overall vibes were positive.

Next up, Surfer Blood.  Their music, Beach Boys reincarnated into energetic indie rock form, is fun, playful and upbeat.  I expected an exciting set from these guys.  Maybe these expectations were too high, but the band, at least in my opinion, didn't come close to fulfilling them.  Instead, it sounded like they were playing their album.  If I wanted to hear their album, I would listen to their album.  A live show should be more than just the studio sound.  For goodness's sake, shouldn't their feet leave the ground at least once?!  The "stage antics" they did use seemed forced and expected.  My impression was that they knew what a good show was and were trying to emulate that with, as you might guess, forced and somewhat trite results.  However, they were not without their fans!  Two girls stood right up under John Paul Pitts's (the lead singer/guitarist) nose, singing along with every word that came out of his mouth.  Usually I would admire that, but not when it's accompanied by the manic, girly freakouts more commonly witnessed at Beatles concerts.  To sum, I was underwhelmed.

But Trail of Dead saved the day!  These guys are rock 'n roll pros and it showed.  They've been around for sixteen years, though their first (and best reviewed) full-length album, Source Tags and Codes was released in 2002.  This record has been one of my top plays since I first heard it junior year of high school, though mone of their music since then has really done it for me.  However, that album alone was reason enough to attend this show.  Plus, I heard they gave a completely insane live experience.  Well, it may not have been insane, but it was definitely chaotic!  The two guitarists and drummer took turns playing each other's instruments, the lead guitarist strummed so hard I thought his pick would break and spit and profanities flew everywhere.  Surprisingly, they chose to play three songs from Codes ("Homage," "How Near How Far" and "Another Morning Stoner"), a decision loudly welcomed by the most inebriated members of the crowd.  Even in a live setting, it was obvious how much better, more concise, energetic and tightly-wound, these three songs are compared to their newer material.  However, they were selling the whole package and I absolutely bought it.
Though no set is without its flaws, the only one I found in ToD's was the young, hopped-up-on-something teenage metalhead in the front.  Fellow concert-goers gave him a wide berth, the roadie shot him more than one dirty look and the lead singer shot some very confused looks over his head at the crowd.  Most of the time I would accept kids like this as part of the experience; you get all kinds.  However, no one wants to be around a flailing kid too zoned out to be aware of his surroundings.

So.  Trail of Dead rocked, but the show was not worth $17.


Coming soon: a recap of the May 11 tUnE-yArDs show and a new popular music podcast!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Tapes "Inzane Family" AM900 Fest

     Official club business called Dave, Ellen, and me to the Destroy Compound in Detroit last weekend to check out AM900 Fest.  "Noise" was the word, and we conquered the scene with open ears and minds (discreetly embellished with neon-colored earplugs.)  Check out the list of bands at  We sauntered in about half-way through the all day festival and got a taste of what the locals in Detroit are up to.  We missed Wolf Eyes (regretfully), but were rocked out by the rest of the noise makers.
     Our Reverend Secretary wanted a perspective on the experience from someone without very much exposure to "noise."  Although we all bring the "Popular" to the PMC, I am not totally fresh on what's considered noise these days.  Am I the only one that can't keep up on all the new labels for music genres?  Screemo, Acid, Protopunk, Mathcore....  Call yourself what you will, just make sure to bring it.  And these guys and gals did, for sure.  Mostly everything was plugged in, warped, or mixed (with the exception of the girlies on the clarinet and drums), if not simply amped up for sheer volume.  Many altered (or just straight-up busted) instruments and progressive vocal styles added a specific character to each band.  That spooky improv-jazzy band (what's their name?) impressed me the most.  But I really liked the one-girl show on the bass, too (maybe more for the aesthetic of it all.)
    Most impressive, however, was the Destroy Compound itself.  The AM900 had just as much to do with the environment as it did the noise--a total experience.  Partially metal shop, residence, and trash-art garden, Destroy Compound is a functional work of art bringing together the progressive and surviving population of Detroit.  Most of the materials to renovate and stylize the space were taken from the scrapyard across the street and manipulated by the owner and few residents.  The environment complemented (if not, at times, supported) the noise artists.  The night ended with a battle of homemade noise-robots--the Alien and the Robosaurus--and pyrotechnics.  Rad.  "Go there sometime," says the President.

Monday, April 4, 2011


As representatives of the Popular Music Club, Ellen and I bring positive reports from our music experience in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 2. We attended a concert (or “show”, if you will) at a youth center called the Neutral Zone as a husband and wife date.  (Our fellow club members were tied up with various commitments including a nearly 4 hour opera production [great job, by the way].)

Opening the evening’s events was a collaborative of musicians from around the country in a sort of progressive, experimental, overall nice-to-listen-to band, Capillary Action. Ellen was particularly delighted by the band’s ability to “break down genres,” and they certainly did that. At times they channeled Gentle Giant, Architecture in Helsinki and Converge (a strange combination I know, but it really worked) with a sort of jazz seasoning binding all these elements together.

After their set, we had a chance to talk with the guys. They seem a lot like us, musicians doing whatever they can to “make it,” often making huge financial sacrifices to do something they love. It’s both encouraging and discouraging the same time.

Check their music here:
I particularly like “Methheads and Mormons,” a song about Salt Lake City, definitely the strangest city in the United States.

When I was maybe 13, getting into bands like MXPX (don’t judge me), I was chatting with a buddy of mine at a bookstore, browsing through CDs. “Have you heard of this band?” he asked me pointing to a CD, “They sound like [TV static sound created with the mouth] the whole time.” At the time I really thought Extol sounded just like that--noise. Why would anyone like this and seek it out for personal enjoyment? A few years later, I was a huge fan of metal and hardcore. Several years later, my musical tastes have expanded as has my definition of “music.” After several listens metal sounds less like noise and more like music, even melodic at times. Enter Wolf Eyes.

Wolf Eyes makes hardcore and metal sound like child’s play. After hearing these guys Metallica is almost relaxing, and your mother wished you still listened to this.

My first encounter with Wolf Eyes was some time in the fall of last year. Ellen and I were seeing Lightning Bolt in Kalamazoo and Wolf Eyes was opening for them. I had never heard of them or had any idea what they were all about. When they started playing I was confused, but interested. What were these guys doing? They created a ruckus of mish-mash noise through slapping and general mistreatment of a guitar (certainly never plucking a string or note), overblown soprano saxophone and variety of homemade and altered electronic devices. A handful of people were rocking out, head banging to a non-existent pulse, and another handful were tripping balls, probably on some sort of psychotropic substance. Everyone else was irritated.

I was well prepared for the show in Ann Arbor and certainly not disappointed. A dialogue between vocalist Nate Young and the sound engineer sums up the experience pretty well:

Young: Can I get more drum machine in these monitors? More…More...More…That’ll do.

Engineer: Yeah, it’s maxed out.

Young: Cool.

Hearing loss was most certainly unavoidable, even with max-power ear protection.

The performance resonated with me much more than I expected it would. The droning mass of sound beat against the pitch-bending sax and created a weird, primitive space to dwell in. There were moments when I felt like I was going to go berserk and lose my mind. Most of the time I really, really liked it. The most enjoyable part of the music was the use of extremely loud, low frequency bursts created by a drum machine. Each beat was felt just as much as it was heard, vibrating the entire body, like one of those cheap massage chairs in a shopping mall. The feeling made me want to rush to the restroom and have massive diarrhea or vomit. Either way, I enjoyed it. I felt like a baby inside its mother’s womb, being massaged by the vibrations of her voice. In a way it was therapeutic, a simultaneous full-body massage of sound.

Check out this clip. Get a feeling for their music. Why should you listen? Because it’s cool. If you don’t think it’s cool you should listen to it anyway, because it’s there.

I love this clip mainly for one reason: If you put these guys in suits and a performance hall, this could be avant-garde classical music worthy of scholarly, academic attention (hint hint). As it is, it’s just “noise.”

And Lightning Bolt was Lightning Bolt—sheer volume, high-energy, melt-your-face-off rock n roll (?). Ellen and I have been lucky enough to survive two Lightning Bolt shows with out facial damage.

As soon as the band started playing, the venue lit up. It was near impossible to stand stationary for more than 30 seconds as the mass of jumbling bodies enveloped innocent bystanders. It became one of those shows where, when you get out of the shit, you don’t know if your shirt is soaked with your sweat or the sweat of the ten people around you.

Lightning Bolt remains one of my favorite bands, and the chemistry between the two players is unbeatable. Drummer Brian Chippendale is hyperactive and can’t sit still for more than five seconds, while bassist Brian Gibson puts on a sad, puppy-dog, “I’m really tired, but am mildly amused by this situation” face.

Check this video and see what you all missed:

If you would like to experience Wolf Eyes and several other similar music outfits for yourself, American Tapes is hosting a 900th release celebration on Saturday April 23, from 2-10 PM in Detroit. Admission is FREE! If you are daring (or stupid) enough to go, I’ll probably make the hike sometime in the afternoon. Here’s the info:


Friday, April 1, 2011

Man Man and Zines

Hi everyone,

My good friend from back home emailed me this link this morning.  Check it out!

Man Man is a band from Philadelphia that incorporates extended techniques and harmonic language into their music.  The video is definitely worth watching.
Also!  They are playing at The Crofoot in Pontiac, MI on May 25.  If you're around, go!


One way the Popular Music Club would like to contribute to East Lansing musical life is through a zine.  (For those of you who don't know what a zine is, go to  Anything and everything can go into this publication as long as it either pertains to music or is written by someone in the club.
Here are some suggestions!

*  A CD review
*  Some super recipe
*  A neat DIY trick you learned
*  Write-up of a local show, band, or art show
*  Interview with a musician
*  Personal rant or manifesto about music or music culture
*  Song lyrics (preferably your own)
*  Academic-style essay about the arts

Give us your genius!