Monday, December 2, 2013

Reviews: Gap Dream - 'Shine Your Light'

Gap Dream is back (this time with the assistance of Co-Producer Bobby Harlow), this time to spread his electro-synth fantasies into your dream realm. Gap Dream (Gabe Fulvimar, who used to be the bassist in the Black Keys) released one of the most pronounced debut albums in the independent scene last year via. Burger, and it isn't hard to see why it sold out so quickly. Fulvimar's unlikely blend of dream-pop and 80's synth stylings work together perfectly, and along with his misty vocals, create a unique product worthy of examining with an open mind. Not only does Fulvimar write spectacular songs, but he had the good sense to send samples in to the good people at Burger Records, who loved it, and it's easy to find out why. Standout tracks "Chill Spot" (released as a vinyl single), "Shine Your Light", "Fantastic Sam" and "Love Is Not Allowed" use both Harlow and Fulvimar's musical talents to an advantage even though they come from completely different musical backgrounds (Harlow from Detroit rock outfit The GO! and Fulvimar from the previously mentioned electronica).

Rating- 5/5 Stars

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Your Weekly Burger: Natural Child, Segall, and more!

Natural Child- Hard In Heaven
Less than a year after their previous long-playing album For The Love of The Game, Natural Child come back with its continuation, Hard In Heaven. If ‘For The Love’ were a double album, I can imagine this as the second LP. Fast rocker ”Laid, Paid and Strangerecalls back to their earlier work on the esteemed Infinity Cat label, while blues-stomper “Rock Bottom” brings back the sound of “8AM Blues”, the opener on their previous record. While it sounds great, it lacks the ferocity of their previous effort. 4/5

What’s Next For Natural Child? – Two new albums are in the works, one more studio album on Burger, along with a live 12”/7” vinyl combo on Shed House Records.

Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin – Reverse Shark Attack

Knowing that Segall has just released a new LP ( Sleeper, Drag City Records), his 2009 album featuring Mikal Cronin has just been reissued on cassette by Burger. The album definitely recalls Ty’s garage days, and is drastically different from last year’s Twins album. Jams like “I Wear Black” and the title track “Reverse Shark Attack’” give the album an unparalleled edge. 4.5/5

What’s Next For Segall?- After his ‘Sleeper’ album was released last month, Segall is gearing up for a world tour with his new outlet Fuzz, celebrating their self-titled album out in October on In The Red Recordings.
Apple Brains – Get Fruity!
Possibly the worst thing I’ve ever heard, Apple Brains try to teach kids a lesson about fruits and vegetables in pop songs. This does not deserve a Burger catalog number. Sure, if you have some kids it may serve some purpose, but for this writer it’s pure trash. The songs are so catchy that you’ll remember them every day when you wake up- that’s not a good thing. 0.5/5 (Gave the 0.5 because I felt bad that this guy wasted time recording this…)
What’s Next For Crapple Brains? – Who cares?
What Have We Wrought? – Compilation Tape
After my mind was mushed by Apple Brains, I decided to give this tape a play. The tape, after all, is a who’s who of hardcore punk. (Thanks for including unheard Necros, Negative Approach and The Fix tracks, Burger!) The tape has a great flow, and will obviously get many repeated listens. Weighing in at 42 tracks by 42 different bands, all procceds from the comp. go toward Mike Atta (Formerly of the band Middle Class, whom is currently battling cancer). Very good comp., I may have to order two before mine wears out… 5/5

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Detroit Black Music Awards 2013

With Joe Billingslea
Ortheia Barnes with Myself
The stage at the Detroit Black Music Awards
 This past Sunday, I had the honor of being invited to the Detroit Black Music Awards, a 5 year old award show that parallels the Detroit Music Awards, but honoring the best of the Detroit African-American music scene. While at the awards, I was able to meet with Kim Weston ('It Takes Two' - Duet with Marvin Gaye on Motown Records), Ortheia Barnes (Member of Cut Glass and Detroit legend), and Joe Billingslea (One of two surviving members of The Contours). Overall, it was a very amazing experience, partly because I had the ability to meet some of the greatest Motown and local stars, but mostly because I was able to experience the great music that was offered that evening. While the DBMA's are a relatively new event, it had all the charm of an event twice it's age. The show felt right at home at Bert's Warehouse Theater, with wonderful decor and an inviting atmosphere. Among those taking home awards were Nick Speed and Brian Williams, who were well deserving, and who took home awards at the previous awards show. Everyone at the show was warm and inviting, and I look forward to attending next year's event, as I urge you to go.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Too Tuff To Live, Too Young To Die- The King Tuff Interview Part Two by Jarrett Koral

As the returning reader may have noted, last month I interviewed Kyle Thomas, aka King Tuff, about his music, record collecting, and The Beatles. I strongly advise you to read the first part of the interview to better understand what we're talking about. Please read the first installment of the two part interview here.

Jarrett Koral: Right now I’m actually looking at the King Tuff Sub Pop album. How did you get the art for this? The insert and the cover are amazing. Who did that?
Kyle Thomas: (Chuckles) My brother did all that. My Brother’s pretty much a visual artist, so every album I’ve ever made has been mostly me and him making the artwork, well, mostly him. So, that’s cool. Keeping it in the family.

JK: And it’s really cool that you weren’t under any guidelines with Sub Pop on it, and that you got to pick whatever you wanted for the art.
KT: Well, I think it’s a different world nowadays, as far as record labels. I don’t know what it’s like on super major labels.
JK: The Flaming Lips really left that behind, but the major labels worked with them. They were on little labels then they jumped over to Warner Brothers, but Warner Brothers still does crazy stuff like blood filled records.
KT: And I’m sure that since they’re already established, they kinda have the upper hand. But, it’s great that artists can be in control of their artwork and the music. I would go crazy if I couldn’t do that stuff; it’s really the whole package for me.
JK: Sub Pop does cool stuff too, they have money behind it, but they’re also established and they have a big hand in the music industry.
KT: For sure. Sub Pop’s done Fleet Foxes, The Shins, they’ve had a lot more commercial success because of that.
JK: And then The GO’s Free Electricity was declined by Sub Pop, and I think that’s one of the only mistakes Sub Pop’s ever made.
KT: From what I hear from Bobby (Harlow, of The GO), it was a completely different world back then and artists weren’t really allowed to manage their own art. I think The GO were in a weird in-between stage. Maybe they didn’t know how to deal with Bobby yet, because Bobby can be a firecracker. Seems like it was just a wild time.
JK: But then The GO made a few amazing self-released albums, and then they did the Fiesta album on Burger, and they definitely marketed it well because they made a ton of different colors for it.
KT: Also, for a long time when The GO were making those albums in that period, there was the White Stripes explosion, and The Vines.
JK: It’s almost like the labels thought anything and everything from Detroit was good because of the White Stripes getting big.
KT: Yeah, and then it either started shifting toward either indie rock and the acoustic stuff, or electronic stuff. For a long time, rock wasn’t really happening. I think if The GO were to be a new band right now, it would probably be insane.
JK: But in the mid 2000’s, everybody was watching The White Stripes and they weren’t really concentrating on a ton of other bands, except for the already established ones.
KT: I think it’s all timing. People will understand The GO someday.
JK: Plus, the people who aren’t listening to King Tuff right now will understand what they’ve been missing.
KT: I mean, that’s what’s cool about music. There’s still classic bands that I’m discovering that I didn’t pay attention to before, and I’m like, how did I miss this?
JK: What are you listening to right now?
KT: Well, you know, right now I’ve been getting into the blues like Skip James and stuff like that, and I’m listening to a ton of AC/DC. I’ve always been kinda into them, but for some reason they’ve came back into my life, and I went like AC/DC insane.
JK: Lots of labels are doing stuff with blues now. There’s a label called Danger Limited Sound, and they have a series called Black Jesus, and each single has a different band covering their favorite blues songs, but nobody knows what they are. They’re just labeled Black Jesus.
KT: That’s amazing! It kind of goes back to when I was growing up and you couldn’t hear something before you bought it. You know what I mean, like, if a record just looked cool you just bought it. It wasn’t until the Internet blew up that you could actually hear something before you bought it.
JK: If I looked into your record collection right now, what would be the coolest record that I would see?
KT: Oh, let me look. I don’t even know the answer to that question. Like I said, I’ve been buying records like crazy, man, and I haven’t even had the chance to listen to them all. I have an Everly Brothers record. I love the Everly Brothers. I got Hound Dog Taylor. You like Hound Dog Taylor?
JK: Yeah!
KT: He’s one of my favorites because he’s so raw. I like the imperfections. I like when music’s imperfect. If I hit a wrong note somewhere, that wrong note’s always my favorite part.
JK: I remember when Ringo’s voice cracked on Yellow Submarine, and I thought that was the best part of the song!
KT: There’s also a voice crack in Drive My Car. Paul’s voice cracks in that song. That’s one of the greatest things about The Beatles, they’re just full of that stuff.
JK: They didn’t even care!
KT: You just listen with headphones and there’s different stuff you can hear everytime.
JK: Especially the later stuff like the White Album, there’s actually a lot of orchestration on it, and it’s really brought out on the vinyl version. Everybody agrees, obviously that their best song is Revolution #9.
KT: Obviously, that song is a masterpiece. Have you ever read the book ‘Magic Circles’?
JK: I don’t think so. What’s it about?
KT: It’s about the Beatles, it’s called ‘Magic Circles: The Beatles In Dream and History' or something like that. If you’re into the Beatles and you’re into reading about them, it’s definitely a cool take on it.
King Tuff's recent single, Screaming Skull
JK: They also came out with that Paul Is Undead movie a few years ago, and they said it’s the last testament of George Harrison, and it sounds nothing like him. You should check it out, it’s hilarious.
KT: Well, it’s just interesting. That band is so rich in every aspect. The music, their personalities, the way they looked, and the arc of the whole story about The Beatles is great.
JK: And now John and George are dead, and Paul and Ringo are just endlessly touring.
KT: I’m playing a show with Paul this Summer.
JK: What?
KT: Well, it’s not just with him. I’m probably the first band out of 400 and he’s the last, but I’m still playing a show with him, okay?
JK: You could capitalize on that. King Tuff with special guest Paul McCartney.
KT: I think I gotta make that poster.
JK: You do get to play a show with Paul, though.
KT: I’m gonna make that poster! (laughs)
JK: I think you need to sneak back and meet Paul McCartney.
KT: Oh my god, I’d lose my mind. I went into Abbey Road once and it was amazing.
JK: Whoa. How was that?
KT: It was amazing. I almost cried.
JK: I need to make it to London sometime. That would be amazing to be around where The Beatles recorded everything.
KT: Did you know that they still have all the original equipment there, like pianos and stuff, and if you record there, you get to use them.
JK: Wow. That’s amazing.
KT: I didn’t get to go into Studio Two which was their main studio because Lady Gaga was in there.
JK: Gross. Who wants to hear a new Lady Gaga album?
KT: I think millions of people do. I know Bobby wants to hear it.
JK: I think Bobby should produce the next Lady Gaga album.
KT: The new Gap Dream album’s kinda like a new Lady Gaga album
JK: It’s that good? Can’t wait to hear it, but now that you say it’s like a Lady Gaga album, I might pass on that one.
KT: Nah, it’s like, I’m gonna call him Ga-be Gaga.
King Tuff's inaugural album, Mindblow
JK: Amazing. That needs to be used. What label did Mindblow come out on?
KT: I didn’t really even put it out when I made it. I might have given a few people a CD-R of it to a few people but it wasn’t really even released at that time. And then, I think I originally recorded it in like 2003, and my friend Ron has a label called Spirit of Orr, and sometime in 2006 he was like ‘I listened to that CD-R you gave me a few years ago, I want to put out a CD-R of it’ like a small release. But, he was the one who really brought that back.
JK: Maybe somewhere down the line Burger will reissue it.
KT: Definitely. I like the idea of that. Burger did a great job with Was Dead.
JK: The King Tuff 32 LP Retrospective boxset on Burger?
KT: We’ll get there someday. I don’t want to jump the gun.
JK: With special guest Lady Gaga. You can get her on a few tracks.
KT: Oh man, I WISH. I feel like me and Gaga would be friends. She’s a good piano player. She can do the piano part.
JK: You need to get into a festival where Lady Gaga is playing, so at least you can make a poster that says King Tuff with special guest Lady Gaga
KT: I’m playing a festival with Rihanna…
JK: Oh yeah, there you go! King Tuff, Rihanna, and Paul McCartney.
KT: Got Paul on the bass, sorry Magic Jake.
Two new members of the King Tuff band,
Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney
JK: You need a rapper on there. They did that thing with hologram Tupac so you can have hologram Biggie Smalls on drums.
KT: On drums!
JK: And Wiz Khalifa. It can be a rock/rap album.
KT: I saw him at a club one time and he was smoking a giant blunt, smiling.
JK: I wouldn’t expect less.
KT: He was great! It was at Lil’ Wayne’s VMA’s after party.
JK: Can’t say I’m a fan.
KT: If you actually listen to Lil’ Wayne’s lyrics, they’re insane. I guess its perspective, though. He gets some bad reviews, but he gets good ones too.
JK: I haven’t seen any bad reviews of the King Tuff album, so you’re already one step above him.
KT: I’m sure there’s some.
JK: I’m on iTunes right now, and there’s one that’s 4 ½ stars and it says ‘More T. Rex, Less Hipster’ What does that even mean?
KT: I don’t know man. Haha. I mean, everyone’s a critic now. I just try and love everything, or be open to love everything, but maybe I’m just a hippie from Vermont.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Now I Feel Like A Wolf - The Journey Through King Tuff's Feral Wilderness - Interview By Jarrett Koral

King Tuff's Was Dead Burger Records reissue
Last month, I had the unique opportunity to talk to Kyle Thomas (aka King Tuff) about his music, Burger Records, and more. Kyle was previously involved in bands like Witch and Happy Birthday, with the latter’s debut album appearing on Sub Pop Records.  The first King Tuff album, Mindblow, was released in 2006 on Spirit Of Orr records, and the CD version is still available for order In 2008, Thomas released his undisputed masterpiece, Was Dead, on The Colonel Records. Most recently, in 2012, the self titled King Tuff album was released on Sub Pop Records to great acclaim. Was Dead was also resurrected and reissued by California based indie label, Burger Records, on vinyl, cassette, and CD. (That can be bought at

King Tuff's Self Titled Album
Jarrett Koral: How’s it over in LA?
Kyle Thomas: It’s really hot over here.

JK: Isn’t Burger over at their label market right now? I heard Lee talking about it at The GO/Redd Kross show.
KT: Yeah. I think so. Don’t know where that is though.

JK: It’s supposed to be in a big outside tent there, I think. Tons of people went out there.
KT: Yeah! I saw a picture! Lee and Sean are out there and I saw a picture of them sitting at their table selling their stickers and stuff. On the ground there were bottles of water with Burger stickers on  them, cause’ it’s been Lee’s dream to have ‘Burger Water’ for years.

JK: Burger Water?
KT: Yeah…he wants their own water because he’s upset with drinking water. He’s always carrying around a jug of water with him. Whenever you see him, he always has the jug of water.

JK:  Yeah. Burger definitely has the ‘hands on’ aspect of the label on. You can just call them and talk whenever you want. Some labels like Third Man Records aren’t as hands on; you can’t just call up Jack White and talk to him. As much as I like them, they don’t have that much fan interaction.
KT: Yeah, Burger’s a lot more personal. I can’t think of any other labels that are like that.

JK: They reissued Redd Kross’s first album, Born Innocent, on cassette and only made 150 of them. It’s exceptionally cool because Burger doesn’t really care about making money. They could be selling hundreds of those!
KT:  Yeah, it’s just like a wheel they spin. Whatever cool stuff they’re into, they pull it together.

JK:  This morning, I saw an episode of the Gorburger Show and you were on it. Your hand also got whacked repeatedly with a hammer. What happened there?
KT: Yes! It was a prop hand! It’s voiced by a comedian named T.J. Miller and it’s part of the Funny Or Die website. They’ve been doing a lot of cool people. It was at 7 in the morning, and we were all sort of out of it. It was really strange talking to a giant monster early in the morning.
King Tuff on The Gorburger Show

JK:  About your last album, the self-titled King Tuff album, it was recorded at an abandoned school in Detroit.
KT: The guy who engineered it, Adam Cox, played synth in Conspiracy Of Owls, had a studio there. I guess some guy bought the school and wanted to rent it out to musicians. But at that time, Adam was the only guy in there, and it definitely had an eerie feeling. But it was cool, and it was a really interesting place to record. The guy who owns it looks like a wild old man! I just remembered the first thing he said when we walked in there he goes ‘Two things… don’t go upstairs, and if you kill someone, there’s an incinerator in the basement”.

JK: Haha, what?
KT: Yeah, and we were actually really scared.

JK: Did you guys go upstairs?
KT: Oh yeah, of course! Me and Bobby kept going up there and getting freaked out then ran down the hallway screaming.

JK: Why? What was up there?
KT: Well, we walked into this one room and Bobby felt like he was sinking into the floor…

JK: What was going on up there? Any dead bodies?
KT: Nope, there were just empty classrooms but some of them had really weird burn marks on the walls.

JK: Weird.
KT: Yeah, but there was that one room and we had a really eerie feeling in it and Bobby felt like he was sinking into the floor. Then we just ran screaming.

JK: I’m beginning to think the owner is a murderer.
KT: Definitely.

JK: Who’s in the band right now?
KT: Right now, it’s Magic Jake on Bass, Gary Goddard on the drums.

JK: Is Craig from the Terrible Twos in the band still?
KT:  Actually, we cut it down to a three piece. It was really heard because everybody lived in different places and it was hard to get everyone together.

JK: How did you meet up with Bobby Harlow (Producer of King Tuff S/T Album)? Was that from Burger?
KT: Yeah, I had the Conspiracy of Owls record back when I lived in Vermont, but I didn’t really know anything about that band. I didn’t know who they were, and I didn’t know anything about The GO!, and when I left Vermont, I made my way to California, and on the way, I stopped at South by Southwest.  I saw the big Burger show there, and that’s where I met Bobby. I was like ‘Hey, you’re the Conspiracy of Owls guy, we should do something together sometime’. I didn’t know he produced that record, I didn’t know he produced any records; I just liked the Owls record. He was kinda like ‘Okay?’, but then a few weeks later he called me out of the blue and told me I should let him produce my next album.

JK: After that he probably looked you up and found Was Dead and Mind Blow
KT: Yeah. It felt like a sort of cosmic connection. I left Vermont knowing I needed to make a new record, and I had all these demos, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with hit. I knew I needed to work with a producer or someone, but I didn’t know who, but then it all came together well.

JK: Bobby’s really hands on with the vinyl too. I remember he put out about 10 different versions of the Conspiracy of Owls record with different covers because they kept selling out!
KT: Yeah, and that’s really cool. I grew up listening to vinyl. CD’s don’t have that magic quality. I recently got back into collecting records again. I was a huge record collector back when I was a teenager, and I worked at a record store. I collected so many that I just slowed down for a while. Then, when I came out to LA, and I had the chance to start a new record collection because I didn’t have any of my stuff with me, and I fell in love with them again. I got an early British pressing of Rubber Soul, which is one of my favorite Beatles records, and it has this crazy quality to it…just the paper it’s printed on, the vinyl itself; it feels like a strange black magic. It’s very strange. It’s a different feeling, and vinyl is definitely one of man’s greatest inventions.

JK: Right after the telephone and the Internet is vinyl.
KT: Yeah, and the hot shower

JK: Hot shower, coffee maker…
KT: The bagel and cream cheese

JK: And then vinyl
KT: Nope…French Crullers

JK: T shirts with pictures of vinyl, cream cheese bagels, paper, pens, guitars, guitar strings, records, and then vinyl
KT: I want my next record to look like a bagel with cream cheese, and it’ll come with a built in shower

JK: For an extra $500 King Tuff will come to your house and shower with you..
KT: Hey, I actually like that idea. You’re on to something.

JK: Don’t you have a bunch of albums of unreleased material from the Mindblow days? What do those sound like?
KT: Before I made Mindblow, there were two King Tuff albums. The first one was called The Dangerous Romantic, and I made that one when I was really into Modern Lovers, and really poppy and dangly stuff. Then, the second one was called Now I Feel Like A Wolf. It has a bit of a Cure vibe sometimes, but that’s still when I was late teens when I was still trying to figure out how to write songs and all that but when I hear it now, it’s kind of embarrassing to me, but I think there’s some good songs on those records. But my friends that I gave those records to, when I first made them, swear by them. They’re like ‘That’s your best stuff’, but I have no perspective on it. I’m sure somebody’ll bootleg it after I’m dead.

JK: Were those recorded at your house or in a studio?
KT: Actually, my parents have a bomb shelter in their basement, and that’s where I did all my first recordings. It’s not really a working bomb shelter; it’s more like a hole in the wall in the basement. The original people who owned the house built it as a bomb shelter, but they forgot to put a bombproof door on it.

JK: Is that where Mindblow was recorded, too?
KT: Yeah, that was recorded down there too. I recorded Was Dead down there by myself too.

JK: So, the new album is the first album with a full band, right?
KT: The new album is my first ‘real’ studio record.

JK: Who approached who about the new Was Dead reissue on Burger?
KT: Well, they’ve been doing the cassette of it for years now, and the other label that originally put out the vinyl kind of screwed it over. I know he’s hoarding the records and is probably gonna sell them on eBay when I get famous…haha

JK: So, now it’s in good hands with Burger.
KT: I’m really happy just to put it out there. I’m super happy that Burger has it now and I felt like they should be the ones to reissue it because they really created a lot of my fan base by getting the tape out. The Colonel got it out there and people liked it, which was good, but Burger were really the people who cared about and really liked the record. They were the champions of that record.

JK: How was the Third Man show you did? Did that go well?
KT:  Yeah! That was really early in the day. It was a brunch thing, and I’m a creature of the night so it’s kinda hard for me to conjure my energy that early in the day, but it was really cool.

JK: What’s going on with Happy Birthday? Are you just working on King Tuff stuff now, or is Happy Birthday coming back at some time?
KT: King Tuff has been my main focus recently and it’ll probably remain that way, but I still love working with other people and making recordings. Those are two of my best friends. They’re both musical geniuses, and they both have their own solo material. You should check out Chris Weisman. He’s a maniac, and he’s a great writer. They didn’t really want to go on tour, but I still think it would be cool to do another recording with them.

JK: I know you’re doing the Pickathon festival this year, and you’re playing in the woods. Are you going to do some collaboration with them there? Maybe Ty Segall?
KT: Yeah! That’s what that thing is for. It’s crazy because Ty lives down the street from me. He’s getting a studio together there, so I’ll probably just go over there and jam!

JK: Sounds like a cool festival!
KT: Come on! You should go! It’s in Portland in early August, we can get Spin magazine to fly you out there!

JK: Is there a live album of the Third Man show coming?
KT: Yeah, they’re just working on the mix, so it should be coming really soon. I can’t wait for that to come out. I want to be in the studio recording stuff, but I can’t when I’m on the road. It’s really hard.

JK: But I did hear the new Bobby Harlow mixed King Tuff track called 'She's On Fire' on the Garage Swim compilation, and that was awesome.. (YOU CAN HEAR THAT HERE:
KT: And that was with Gap Dream too. Gabe kind of put his touch on that. It’s mostly synth and drum machine. Gabe’s one of my best friends, and his new record is insane.

JK: Is that the self-titled Gap Dream record?
KT: Nope. It’s not out yet, but it’s called Shine Your Light, and Bobby co-produced it with Gabe. I think it’ll be out in September.

JK: Are you working on a follow up to the King Tuff album on Sub Pop?
KT: I’m working on writing whenever I can, usually between tours. It takes me a while to get into the writing zone, but I’ve gotten a few songs down, but I really need to focus on writing this summer.

JK: Will the next album be done at Burger Studios?
KT: I can’t wait for that. Bobby’s moving out here to LA, and when that actually happens, it’ll be the coolest thing ever. Since Bobby’s running the board, it’s all going to sound wonderful.

JK: Did you hear the new Go album, Fiesta?
KT: There’s a ton of great songs on there. I really love Inside A Hole. All of Johnny’s songs are great on it. I can’t stop playing Fiesta.

JK: How was South By Southwest?
KT: I was hanging out with Gabe and all the guys from The GO!, we rode the mechanical bull, and Roky Erikson played the Burger show. It was amazing, and it was really cool. Roky Erikson playing
Burger is really insane. He’s one of the greatest singers ever.

JK: How did you get into music? Because I know that Vermont is pretty much the epicenter of anything and everything musical. I think The Beatles are from Vermont, too.
KT: Is this sarcasm?

JK: Of course not! I mean, yeah.
KT: My dad is a huge music fan, and ever since I was a little kid, he’s had a huge record collection. He’s really into psychedelic rock, and my parents are really cool. That’s really the simple answer, but I remember staring at the Blue Cheer record cover when I was a little kid and I was mesmerized. And then my Dad bought a Stratocaster when I was in second of third grade and I was messing around with it. I played drums when I was in elementary school, and I was just really drawn into music. I made up songs, and I can’t really remember not writing songs or making music. I just like being creative, that’s what really energizes me. When you write or make something and feel good about it, that’s the best feeling in the world. 

 Come back next week for PART TWO of the King Tuff interview! Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Third Man Records Singles Roundup

In the past month or so, Third Man Records released a bunch of singles, some of them part of the continuing Blue Series- where bands passing though Nashville are invited to record a single at Third Man headquarters, to be produced by guitar virtuoso and label owner, Jack White. Two of the new singles are also a part of the continuing Third Man Records Live Series, where bands are invited to perform before an audience in the back room in the Third Man building, called the Blue Room, which is also where the single covers are shot.


Gibby Haynes
“Paul’s Not Home” b/w “You Don’t Have To Be Smart” and “Horse Named George”
Gibby HaynesThis Blue Series single featured Butthole Surfers frontman, Gibby Haynes, drummer Ben Swank (Soledad Brothers/Henry & June), and Jack White (I have a feeling you may know this guy). This single is really hard to describe, I think you’d be better off listening to it yourself, but I’ll try explaining this oddly cool single… The A side is a cover by Adrenalin O.D., a New Jersey punk band, called “Paul’s Not Home”. I can’t say the tune particularly grabs me, however, it’s a repetitive jam that has about 6 total words in it, not that that’s bad, but it gets predictable and rather boring about 1:00 in. The only thing saving it is Jack White’s squealing guitar solo, one of which is placed in each of the tracks. “Horse Named George” is a traditional blues song, and is definitely the song that is most reminiscent of the Butthole Surfers, and that’s a beautiful thing. The single was also sold at South by Southwest in a limited edition, it was pressed on actual X-Rays. I rest my case.
Rating- 3.5 out of 5 stars

Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu
“I Wonder” b/w “When My Man Comes Home”
Howard-Amanfu           Featured here is Brittany Howard, soulful front woman of the Alabama Shakes, and Ruby Amanfu, a touring member in Jack’s all-female band. Side A featured a reggae-licious version of Rodriguez’s “I Wonder”. The bass in this one is especially delicious- provided by a member of Jack’s all-male band, Dominic Davis.  The B side features an awesome cover of “When My Man Comes Home”, a tune originally written by Miss Memphis Minnie, with Howard on acoustic guitar. There’s a special message scratched into the runout of the vinyl grooves alluding to the 2012 award winning film, Searching For Sugar Man, the acclaimed documentary about Rodriguez. It says, “You’re welcome for keeping you alive”.
Rating- 4.5 out of 5 stars

ShovelsandropeShovels & Rope
“Johnny 99” b/w “Bad As Me”
My new favorite alt-country band, Shovels & Rope, are featured on Third Man’s latest Blue Series single. The band unleashed their second full length LP, ‘O’ Be Joyful’, last July, and I heavily recommend it, as well as anything the band has released. It’s country with a twist, in better terms; it feels like the White Stripes of the new-country genre. The A side features the duos take on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska cut, “Johnny 99″. It starts off with a jumpy offbeat keyboard and snare beat, and slowly takes off to an acapella gospel tune. On the flip, recent Tom Waits tune “Bad As Me” is covered, and pays proper respect to Mr. Waits. You’ve gotta admit, it takes a lot to cover Tom Waits successfully.
Rating- 5 out of 5 stars

HellBeachHell Beach
“Ocean Floor” b/w “End”
Jack White performed in March 2012 at the Third Man Records 3rd anniversary party as an introduction to his new solo career (It was his first solo show), and Hell Beach were his openers. Clearly, he picked a band that wouldn’t overshadow his own performance, not that it could happen…remember, it is a Jack White solo show. Make your own opinion about it, but I think it’s the worst thing Third Man Records has ever released. It’s full of drone and it’s awful. I don’t recommend picking this one up, but remember, not everything Jack White is involved in can be perfect.
Rating- 2.5 out of 5 stars

TempleThe People’s Temple
“Never More” b/w “Miles Away”
Lansing, MI psych group stopped in at Third Man to open for Rock n’ roll wizard King Tuff, and recorded two of their songs for a live series single.  The A side, “Never More”, is a jam that was on their 2012 HoZac records release More For The Masses (I really recommend you pick that one up, it jams!), and the B side was off their 2011 album, Sons Of Stone. The recording is superb, and it’s pure in face-melting rock and roll.
Rating- 4.87 out of 5 stars

Jarrett Koral

-Originally Posted on the Metro Times Blogs on March 30th 2013

Shows- The GO! At PJ's Lager House

What’s to expect when you go see The Go? They haven’t played in Detroit for over two years, and they just stopped at SXSW to perform a set solely of Fiesta! material, their new album that came out earlier this year,  produced by lead-singer and genius Bobby Harlow. What kind of band goes on stage and only plays their new material, which a heavy chance that less than half of the audience has heard it? Bob Dylan said the same thing a while ago- keep the shows fresh, and don’t rely on greatest hits material. Alice Cooper and Paul McCartney have been making a living off of it. They’ve barely played new tunes, the latest from their 90’s revival records. What’s great with The Go is that they have the ability to pull it off, and they can do it good. This is the first time I’ve heard of a Sold Out Lager House show, and it was packed to the rafters. The room was packed, like sardines, while watching the first opener for Redd Kross, the Wolfman Band (The brainchild of Italy Records owner David Buick and UFO Factory/Infinity People main-man Dion Fischer), performing cover songs, redone to include ‘wolf’ phrases. Among the best were ‘T.V. Wolf’, and ‘She’s A Wolf’ The Go hit the stage at around 10, opening with the first track off of Fiesta!,  ‘Voices Rant On’. It was amazing to see The Go’s new lineup- Bobby Harlow, John Krautner, Justin Walker, Steve Nawara, and Ben Luckett, performing for the first time in Detroit. Lee from Burger Records was also set up with T-Shirts, LP’s, and Cassettes (of which I bought Redd Kross’s two Burger releases, including their new album ‘Researching The Blues’).  This is exactly the kind of show where you have to ask why The Go aren’t selling out The Fillmore, and it’s obvious that they are the most under-appreciated jem in the Detroit music scene. Redd Kross were up next and were great, but, The Go were the stars of the night, and it seemed like The Go were done too soon. Long live The Go, mastermind Bobby Harlow, and the beautiful place that is PJ’s Lager House.
Order The GO’s new album, FIESTA! from Burger Records:

-Originally Posted on the Metro Times Blogs on April 13th 2013

Shows- Christmas Jubilee at the Masonic Temple

For those who attended Patti Smith’s show at the DIA earlier this year should be eager to catch Smith for the second time this year at the Christmas Jubilee. It’s not just a Patti Smith show though: Vin Dombrowski, Jennifer Westwood and the Waycross Georgia Farmboys, Ty Stone, The Thornbills, and The Curmudgeons (Fabulous Rhythm and Blues Revue).
This certainly won’t be one to miss either, a portion of profits will be given to Gleanors Food Bank of Michigan, and non perishable food items will be collected to help the needy.

The press release reads:
Music fans with diverse tastes will be enjoying a unique holiday celebration December 16th at the Masonic Temple when local artists will be joined by some big names in music to help support Gleaners Food Bank of Southeast Michigan.
The show will feature a dozen locally and internationally acclaimed artists, and include a short set by Patti Smith.  Smith, known by some as the Godmother of punk,  has inspired masses through her poetry, music, and art. The first exhibition of her photography in the United States, Camera Solo, came to the DIA last June and her performance there in conjunction with the exhibit quickly sold out.  Her appearance at Christmas Jubilee will undoubtedly be a highlight of the holiday season for many.
Accompanying Patti and performing as a special guest will be Luis Resto, who is know most widely for his work with Eminem.  In 2003 he won both a Grammy and Oscar for “Lose Yourself” which he co-wrote.  Resto, a Detroit based musician and songwriter, has worked with renown artists in most every genre including country music legends The Highway Men (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash) and chart topping Nicki Minaj.
Other artists include platinum selling recording artist Vin Dombrowski of Sponge fame, award winning blues singer Chef Chris, and downriver’s favorite son Ty Stone to name a few.  Locals Jennifer Westwood and The Waycross Georgia Farmboys have assembled an all-star house band for the show, and will back several of the artists.
Great music and a great cause is at the heart of the show explains Dombroski. “What makes this event great is that everyone involved has ties to Detroit,” he says . “It showcases what we are made of talent-wise, and the generosity of these people, coming together with their time and resources to do something good during a busy time of year”.

Tickets start at only $25 (A steal, seeing this is 10+ bands performing!) and they can be purchased at or at the Masonic Temple Box Office.
Surprises are in store.
For More information, please visit

 -Originally Published on the Metro Times Blogs on December 4th 2012

Shows- Bootsey X Celebration at Mario's

550973_10152269327724298_1646715515_nDespite being a hectic day with Record Store Day, I hope you have the time to stop into Mario’s 1477 Grille tomorrow, April 20th, for the Bootsey X celebration. Bootsey has been fighting medical issues for a few years, and your donation of $7 at the door goes directly to Bootsey to help cover his hospital stay! Bands performing include The Ruiners, Circus Boy, The Seatbelts, and Mike Murphy and his Arm Band.  Please come out to support Bootsey and hear some great music! His new album also comes out on 5/26, and CD samplers will be sold at the show with proceeds going to Bootsey also. Doesn’t it feel good to do good?
Set Times:
7:30-8:00 -The StompRockets
8:15-8:45 -Mike Murphy and his Arm Band
9:00-9:30 -The Seatbelts
9:45-10:15 -Cinecyde
11:15-11:45 -The Ruiners
12:00- ?? -Open Jam

See you there!

-Originally Published on the Metro Times Blogs on April 19th 2013

Review From The Grave- Inside Outlaws LIVE LP

From the rustic look of the cover, it looked to me like it would be another wannabe Indie comp but after a closer look, I see the awesome list of bands on the cover: Doop and the Inside Outlaws, After Dark Amusement Park, Katie Grace, and a ton more. This is Motor City at its finest friends, and man does it feel good. I’m tired of ‘Indie’ rock, and finally, here’s some relief. Don’t get me wrong though, for a live record, this has a ton of spunk. The record has its roots in country, but has a more evolved sound. When I was in Nashville this past summer, these are the kind of jams I would hear passing down Broadway inside the whisky joints. The coolest thing though is how eclectic the cast of characters is here. There’s Katie Grace, whose sound is rhythmic and Americonic (Is that a word?), and Screamray who sounds more like a hard rock outfit. It doesn’t sound like it would go together, but the sequencing of the record makes it right. Oddly, I’m not that big of a country fan, and my favorite on the nine song compilation is Patrick Davy’s contribution, “Something Going On” I can’t describe it on paper at all, and the vocals and acoustic guitar add to its craftsmanship. More so something that has to be heard in person. Ty Stone also sings on the final song with the ‘Inside Outlaws All Stars’, whom are truly the best of the best Detroit musicians. It’s vinyl only too, which makes it even more cool and tangible. Really, go get it. There’s been a ton of records released this year, and this is definitely one of my favorites.

The ‘Inside Outlaws LIVE’ LP release show will take place on Saturday December 29th at the Park Bar, and there is an $8 cover charge. Bands include Doop & the Inside Outlaws, Matt Dmits, and After Dark Amusement Park. The show will be recorded for a future Motorcity Special release.

-Originally Published on the Metro Times Blogs on December 24th 2012

Review From The Grave- Amy Gore and The GO!

(Based on the title, no. Amy Gore is not playing with The GO! I have to admit it would be pretty…interesting).

Amy Gore and her Valentines
In Love
 Label: Space Lion
By now, if you’re a Detroiter, you should’ve heard the first single off of Amy Gore and her Valentines debut album In Love.
(If you haven’t go search it on your beloved interwebs) The first whiff of the Valentine’s dream-pop came out in mid 2011, and was called ‘Drivin’ Around’ If you loved that, you’re sure to be In Love with this whole album. (See what I did there? In Love? Man, I’m good…) To fill some gaps in her solo band, Gore recruited Jackson Smith (Elton John and Leon Russell, Patti Smith group), Joe Leone (Grayling), and Leann Banks (Von Bondies) for a one off show that eventually turned into a real band. There’s also a ton of guests on the album, Luis Resto and Dennis Coffey to name a few, that make this record cooler than it already is. Believe me, all of the tracks here are solid jams. Go pick it up.
Get it here on split color vinyl and/or MP3-
The GO!
Unreleased 1996-2007
Label- Burger Records
This set is pure gold. Set aside the fact that it’s packaged with special care, this insanely huge collection packs in 99 full length tracks on 5 cassette tapes. Who makes cassettes anymore? Burger Records does and they’ve been doing a great job at it.. They’ve has been putting out great music out on cassette for almost three years and with over 200 cassette releases to boot, it doesn’t look like they’restopping anytime soon. All of the tunes on here are jams (Jack White has an never before heard song on the set called Turn Your Little Light Bulb on. I think that’s worth the $25 price tag alone). There’s live tracks, demos, and completely unreleased jams on here, so if you’re a fan of the GO! or just a fanaof Detroit music, pick it up at the Burger Records online store. Also comes packaged with a Go photobook and a mini-zine made by an old member, Marco Delicato. Burger also just put out the new go album, Fiesta on three different colors of vinyl. Yes, three. It’s a collectors nightmare.

Buy the unreleased cassette box set here-
Buy The GO!’s new album Fiesta here-

-Originally Published on the Metro Times Blogs on December 21st 2012

Shows- Detroit Cobras at PJ's Lager House

This show was actually over a month and a half ago, but better late than never I suppose! The Lager House traded over their event room for a tent in the parking lot September 27th and 28th. It may sound strange, but it worked out perfectly, and it was definitely a night to remember.  Opening up the night were Nashville based rockers, Natural Child. They zoomed through a quick set of covers, and a TON of jams from their new albums For The Love Of The Game, and Hard In Heaven. (Both came out this year, and both really rule).  I didn’t catch much of TYVEK’s set, because I was inside eating cheese fries and talking music with Natty Child, but there were a couple of songs they played that I remembered from their Live At Third Man Records album, which was pure genius. About 15 minutes after they wrapped up, a tall slender man hopped on stage. I didn’t know who he was prior to this show, but now I realize I should’ve been listening to him for a long time. Mr. Davis ran through a great set of tunes that all had a story behind them. Of particular interest was W.C.T.P., which evolved from a tender ballad to a Shout like sing-along. Plus, his guitar player looks a lot like Tim Curry, just an observation. I hadn’t seen the Detroit Cobras’ before, but I was always a big fan.  Rachel Nagy has one of the most powerful voices in Detroit, and Mary Cobra’s guitar licks are tasty.  They went through, hit after hit. Some highlights were Hey Sailor, Cha Cha Twist, and Cry On. Thanks to PJ and the Lager House for getting this together, I look forward to next year’s. 

-Originally Published on the Metro Times Blogs on November 25th 2012.

Review From The Grave- Jack White's New Single 'Freedom At 21'

Earlier this year, Jack White released 1000 helium balloons from the Third Man Records headquarters in Nashville,TN. The balloons were accompanied with a flexi disc of the third single released off of his debut album Blunderbuss. So far, only six of the records have been found. Several of them have been found in pastures and other weird places. After a while of looking at that webpage, I had a thought. ‘Why does Jack come up with all these awesome ideas?’ This thought, along with the gap in my collection has haunted me until today at noon.
I looked on, and the big nugget of news was that White will be wide-releasing “Freedom At 21″ on an unlimited 45 RPM single. Along with that, all of the covers from the singles released on Blunderbuss fit together to form a nice panoramic picture. (It’s cool, believe me!) The flip-side contains the previously unreleased JW track “Inaccessible Mystery.”
Pre-Order ‘Freedom At 21′ here:
And check the status of those helium balloons here:

-Originally published on the Metro Times Blogs on May 21st 2012.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review From The Grave- Indie Singles Roundup

Jeffery Drag Records-
This label is really cool, and listening to just one of their records proves it. I had no expectations when I asked for copies of these, but that changed very quickly. Not only does the label release almost exclusively to 7” and cassette, their bands are well known too (Turbo Fruits, Natural Child, Pujol) and the stuff that JDR records releases is never short of brilliant.
The cool record swag I received:
Turbo Fruits/Bad Cop split single ‘Tennessee Love’ b/w ‘Wet Lips’-
Turbo Fruits/Bad Cop
Turbo Fruits/ Bad Cop
Turbo Fruits/Bad Cop
The Turbo Fruits tune sounds like it fits on their newest LP Butter, and has wicked solos and is slightly reminiscent of Jeff The Brotherhood’s summer jam ‘Sixpack’ The song is just about good, wholesome fun; Loving Tennessee, going to the lake, and drinking beers (Until they disappear, as singer Jonas Stein puts it….) The flip side is a Cramps style jam by another Nashville based band, Bad Cop. It’s a wild punk tune, and that’s all I really can say. I mean, you have to hear this thing to really appreciate it. It’s that good.
Listen to both tracks here:
And buy it here:

Natural Child
Natural Child
Natural Child ‘Mother Nature’s Daughter’ b/w ‘Bodyswitchers Part II’
Maybe it’s a coincidence that this tune is called ‘Mother Nature’s Daughter (Mother Nature’s Son anybody?) because this sounds just like a White Album outtake, with delicate equally measured guitar, bass, and drum tracks that pour into each other like syrup on a pancake. This is totally unlike Natural Child, Track one weighing in at a hefty five minutes. Track two is bare bones psych-rock with chilling vocals and hypnotizing guitar and bass synchronization.
Listen to both tracks here:
And buy it here:

Grimtale Records-
White Buffalo Woman
White Buffalo Woman
I’ve heard about this label for a while, but with only one release on the market, I wasn’t drawn in quickly. Now after making the biggest mistake of my life, I’ve found out how much impact on the vinyl collector industry this company has made.
White Buffalo Woman ‘My Days’ b/w ‘This Town’
This gem is nothing short of spectacular. Starting off like a wild blues-rock jam, the A side to this rad single ‘My Days’ has singer Evan Rutledge howling and shouting over the wicked slide guitar. But don’t get me wrong though, the shouting is a great thing. Both tunes show that with a little digging around in the bins, you can find something truly great.
Go listen to both tracks here:
-Originally published on the Metro Times Blogs on September 17th, 2012


Shows- Frütstock 2012

Carl Lundgren posterLegendary 60's band The Früt are whipping out their instruments once again for one more yearly reunion show. The obscure rock legends opened for countless bands at the Grande Ballroom (You remember that, right?) and also set the stage for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968. Back in the day, the rockers covered old rock hits like ‘Ruby Baby’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’ in their own wild style, and released hit originals such as ‘Keep On Truckin’ Two classic LP’s were also released on Westbound Records to great acclaim by Lester Bangs….. You get the idea, these guys rock and you have to see them live to be able to take it all in. This year, The Früt will play at the Rec Bowl outside venue in Mount Clements Friday and Saturday, both at 7 P.M. so you have no excuses for missing this once in year-time experience. Detroit legend Little Leon will be opening for the previous opening band, and I will be there jamming on a few tunes too. Legendary Detroit poster artists Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren will be present with their artwork along with rock photographer Leni Sinclair. Going with The Früt’s motto; “Hell no, we ain’t forgettin!’ this won’t be one to miss out on. ~Jarrett Koral

'The Früt' performs at the Mt.Clements Rec Bowl this Friday and Saturday night beginning at 7 P.M. See you there.

-Originally posted on the Metro Times Blogs on August 9th, 2012.

*Author's Note- I will be playing with the Frut again in May for the opening of the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead at MoCad in Downtown Detroit. More info to come soon. -JK 4/16/13

Interview- Ben Blackwell of The Dirtbombs and Third Man Records

The cover of Blackwell's 2010 solo album
Over the past month, I’ve been able to talk to Ben Blackwell, the so-called ‘Pinball Wizard’ at Third Man Records, the record label started in 2009 by Jack White III. Mr. White is a former member of The White Stripes, and member of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs. Third Man holds true to the vinyl format, releasing 45’s and 33 1/3’s regularly. The label also has a subscription only Vault membership, where you can get exclusive content and records that are not available anywhere else. During the past 12 years, Blackwell has been a drummer for The Dirtbombs, and has established his own record label Cass Records. Blackwell released his first solo album, “I Remember When All This Was Trees” in 2010.

Jarrett Koral: Has there been any rivalry between Cass and Third Man? Even an occasional friendly one?
Ben Blackwell: No, there's not a rivalry between Cass and Third Man. It's kind of hard to have a rivalry between two things you are a part of.

JK: I know you’ve been asked in every single interview, but how did Cass Records start out?
BB:I noticed a lot of music that I liked wasn't being released right around the same time my mom refinanced her house. It all worked out pretty well from there.

JK: Have you gotten used to the Dirtbombs shows after all these years? Does the energy ever fade out?
BB: After 12 years, yes, I feel like I've finally gotten used to it. But those first ten years...those were arduous.

JK: At the moment, do you have a favorite new band?
BB: I really like D. Watusi from Nashville.

JK: Thinking about any new solo work after your last album?
BB: I tested myself with a cover of Beck's "Pay No Mind" that is currently just languishing on my laptop.

JK: Why has Cass never released Record Store Day exclusive items? Is it a big enough label to have a major release?
BB: At Cass Records, every day is Record Store Day.

JK: Will there ever be a TMR staff jam session with Jack White, Ben Swank (of the Soledad Brothers) and yourself?
BB: Still waiting for this one. Someday.

JK: How do you feel about Detroit's music scene?
BB: I love it. I miss it.

JK: What is the favorite record in your collection?
BB: It's always changing, but I'm always pretty fond of my hand-painted "Lafayette Blues" single

JK: What can we expect next from Cass Records?
BB: In the making for over 8 years, I will finally be able to release the Vegetarian Cannibals recordings.

JK: One of the Cass releases is by a band called Tin Knocker, which was never available for sale. Can you tell us anything about this mysterious record?
BB: An awesome band. My uncle and a family friend who did some solid jams in the garage. One of my favorite things I’ve ever released.

JK: Aside from your favorite new group, what band has/had the best ever stage presence?
BB: That's a really good question, and a difficult one to answer. Instinct dictates the MC5 and/or the Stooges, but a to dig beneath the surface bands like the Cramps, Viva L'American Death Ray Music and the Clone Defects were all pretty amazing in their own way.

JK: Could you name your top 5 favorite albums of all time right here right now?
CW Stoneking "Jungle Blues"
Richard Ristagno and Soular self-titled
April in the Orange "The Glittering Fish Were Stars"
Dan Sartain "Too Tough To Live"
The Hentchmen "Ultra Hentch"

JK: On every Third Man release, there is a message in the dead wax of the vinyl. Sometimes they make no sense, but sometimes they’re complete genius…
BB: It's the best way to communicate a secret, there's a meaning behind all of them.
-Jarrett Koral

-Originally posted on the Metro Times Blogs on July 8th, 2012