Turn it Down!

Locals Pick Locals Vol. VII

The seventh installment of local folks discussing some of their favorite locally made songs

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The ‘60s and 2000s are represented in this weekly local music mix curated in part by yours truly with guest endorsements from various local musicians. As you read, feel free to listen along on YouTube, or wherever you stream music.

Jennifer Toms (Bassist/vocalist, Scary Women)

Pick: The Hat Madder “Mayflies” — 2012

Because I was introduced to Lansing’s amazing music scene only a decade ago, I chose a more recent song from The Hat Madder’s 2012 album “Orgy Opposite.” The song, “Mayflies”, represents for me the great depth of talent in Lansing. Hearing this song for the first time made me realize just what our musical community is capable of.

The powerful fullness of sound on “Mayflies” comes from its careful and precise layering of voices and instruments. The song is sonically dense but beautifully intricate in its craftsmanship, like each moment is caringly choreographed. It has its own atmosphere that is at once devastating and dreamy. I cannot claim to know the song’s meaning. However, I can describe the emotions it evokes: a poetics of longing and anticipation carried by lush and powerful sound.

“Mayflies” invites many listens because of its complexity and beauty. Now that I’m fortunate enough to play shows alongside The Hat Madder, I find this song and this album endlessly inspiring.

Peter Richards (Artist, musician, Stargrazer)

Pick: The Fuzz “Cold Feet” — 2003

In the fall of 1999, my friend Ben Gaydos and I rented a house on the corner of Northlawn and Abbot in East Lansing. Our next-door neighbor was a gregarious fellow who we called Shirtless Jim. He introduced himself to us as manager of a band called The Fuzz and slipped us their demo CD. It was short fuzzy song blasts with lots of interesting keyboards and layers. It reminded me of bands like Grandaddy or early Flaming Lips, maybe even more strongly of an obscure band called Glue. We would go see The Fuzz several times at The Temple Club or some other now-defunct Lansing venue. Along with bands like Wanderjahr and Kinetic Stereokids (from Flint), The Fuzz brought something different to the table: songs that were still “rock,” but quirky, low-fi and populated with odd loops and bubbling synths. In 2003, the band released its proper debut album “Noise Destroyers.” To this day, it’s a great listen. Check out “Coldfeet,” an infectiously catchy oddball indie pop song.

John Olson aka Inzane Johnny (Musician, Wolf Eyes, “Inzane Michigan” co-host)

Pick: Chris Crown & Her Spartans “I Need Lovin b/w Hug Me” — 1967

Whenever you look in the mirror in these times and hear the soft flush of humanity slowly going down the drain, all you need is this uber-mysterious and clattering monster of a sonic art project to regain all hope in humanity. This pointless, talent-free zone delivers the most horrible racket known to any state. Whoever pressed this hellish sound miasma on seven inches should be crowned with a heaping side of psychological help. This 10-cent plea for sandpapered affection is essentially Michigan’s own Shaggs or Dangerous Weapons. As for its origins, the label says Monroe, Michigan … but c’mon … “and her SPARTANS.” Unreal, yet too real.

Rich Tupica (Turn it Down! writer and “Inzane Michigan” co-host)

Pick: Chevrons “Hey Little Teaser”— 1966

I’ve been writing up Lansing tunes for the last month, so I figured I’d retune my antenna toward West Michigan’s obscurity pile for this week’s edition of “Locals Pick Locals.” In 1965, The Chevrons formed at East Christian High in Grand Rapids and quickly did what most West Michigan-based bands did: headed to Great Lakes Recording Studio in nearby Sparta. There, they cut tracks for the studio’s Fenton Records imprint – the label responsible for fellow locals like The JuJus and The Quest’s. Lead vocalist and keyboardist Bob Goote wrote the B-Side track “Hey Little Teaser” and many of the band’s other originals — including the blissful A-side, “What Everyone Wants.” In early 1966, the song climbed to No. 5 on local radio charts. A year later the group disbanded following their high school graduation. Goote then promptly formed a new band, Counts of Coventry, and recorded “Somewhere (Someone Is Waiting),” another lost local hit on 4 Count Records.

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