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Home Arts and Culture  TURN IT DOWN- A survey of Lansing’s musical landscape
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Wednesday, March 25,2009

TURN IT DOWN- A survey of Lansing’s musical landscape

Double shot

by Rich Tupica

On March 28 at Mac’s Bar, Lansing bands Flatfoot and The Darts are booked for a dual album release party. The show starts at 10 p.m. Here’s some background on the bands’ new platters.


Flatfoot “Wild Was Our Mercy” Flatfoot’s new LP, “Wild Was Our Mercy” (Los Diaper Records), opens with “Blue Blood,” a bang of twang that blends steel guitar and storytelling wordplay.

That momentum keeps up throughout the album, with a few curve balls of traditional Irish and rockabilly sounds and hints of indie-folk.

This is the fourth album from Flatfoot since the band formed in an MSU dorm room in 2000. In that time, the group has written a slew of songs influenced by the Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash.


The band’s new album, available on vinyl and CD, was recorded by notorious White Stripes producer Jim Diamond at his popular analog studio, Ghetto Recorders, in Detroit.

Founding member Aaron Bales (guitar/vocals) said the lyrical content sets the album apart from the band’s previous works. “I think it might be the most passionate and romantic album we have done,” Bales said. “Not necessarily ‘love’ romantic, more romanticizing the past and events.”

In the past, songwriting duties relied heavily on Bales. But this time around, Bales wrote only three of the 11 songs, and his band mates, Justin Zeppa (vocals/guitar) and Thomas McCartan (vocals/bass), take center stage.

Bales said having the record pressed on vinyl is a first for the band, and he is proud of the accomplishment, no matter what the circumstances were.


“Sean and Ryan from Los Diaper Records saw a show we did at Mac’s last fall,” Bales recalled. “In the parking lot, they offered to put out our album on vinyl. As it turns, out they were pretty drunk, and the next day they were like, ‘Did we tell Flatfoot that we’d put out a vinyl record? Well, OK.’”


Perhaps this is why the phrase “no more drunken promises” is etched on the run-out groove of the vinyl record?




The Darts “Wake Up, Be Jealous”


The Darts new indie-pop-rock album, “Wake Up, Be Jealous” (Attraction Records), is a tribute to being young, drunk and moving away from home.


While the album opens with “Blood on the Sun,” a sullen, yet frantic five-minute opus, it quickly changes its lyrical course.

“‘Blood on the Sun’ is about genocide in Africa. It’s about people dying,” said lead singer and guitarist Chris Minarik. “That’s the only song on the CD that has any top meaning other than drinking, summer and a lot of girls.”

While a bulk of the new album may have a party vibe, the band went through a recent tragedy. In late December 2008, the band’s guitarist, Wilmer Barber, passed away after a battle with leukemia. The album is dedicated in his memory.


Following that emotional battle, founding member Jocelyn Klug (bassist) abruptly left the band.


Now, after releasing two EPs and two LPs, The Darts name will be retired as Minarik and drummer Chris Higgins form a new band.


Minarik said the CD release show at Mac’s will likely be the band’s last performance.

Aside from personal issues and heartache, the band also mentioned distress concerning the local music scene. “Wake Up and Be Jealous” was named out of frustration stemming from what the band members feel is a non-existent music scene in Lansing.

“It’s like pulling teeth to get a single person from another band to come out and watch us,” Minarik said. “So that’s what the CD means, wake up and be jealous of us, be dicks like that. It’s not all about asshole-ness, but it has a lot to do with it.”


Drummer Darrin Higgins said The Darts sound and personalities are a better fit in the Motor City. “Bands in Detroit are a lot more inviting,” Higgins said. “We’ll play with them, and then they’ll invite us to a party and hang out afterwards and be friends. People here are really clique-y.”

However Minarik said he was not turning his back on music in Lansing.


“I like being in Lansing to a certain degree,” he said. “I like playing at Mac’s Bar. There is a part of me that would like to save or fix the Lansing music scene — and try to make it right.”

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