February 28, 2021

Mini Mansions – Guy Walks Into a Bar – Spinefarm

By Kristi Kates | Aug. 31, 2019

Michael Shuman of Queens of the Stone Age, plus longtime pals Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford blend their rock heritage together to form Mini Mansions, a rollicking old-school rock project that careens through its tunes like a teenager on Jolt Cola skateboarding down a hill. The problem is that the mentality of the music doesn’t get much farther than that; this is all pretty shallow stuff, from the cliched “Forgot Your Name” to “Hey Lover” (featuring The Kills’ Alison Mosshart), which at least offers a solid melody. **

Various Artists – Punk Goes Acoustic Vol. 3 – Fearless Records
They say that one way to tell good songwriting is to take a song back to its basics — strip away all the instrumentation and production and play it acoustically. That’s the premise behind this album of punk bands gone (temporarily) folk. You’ll hear songs from Circa Survive (“Act Appalled”), Underoath (“A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White”), Don Broco (“Come Out to LA”) and Set It Off (“Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”) in a whole new way — some more chill overall, some retaining the powerful vocals with an acoustic background, all making an appealing contrast. ** ½

Bananarama – In Stereo – BFD
Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward, and Siobhan Faheyhit their stride in the ‘80s as Bananarama, purveyor of fun and bouncy pop, of which “Cruel Summer” remains the best known. You might think they’rereturning with this new set — but actually, the band (in several different forms) has never really stopped recording. On this collection, now-duo Dallin and Woodward deftly take on other forms of dance music, from the disco-tronica of first single “Stuff Like That” to the underground club grit of “Looking for Someone” and closing ballad “Tonight.” ***

Re-Flex – The Politics of Dancing – CP Records
The band’s best-known track — probably not coincidentally the title of this album — crooned its new-wave way through simplistic lyrics like“the politics of dancing/the politics of ooh feelin’ good/the politics of moving” without a whiff of self-consciousness. And that’s what made ’80s music fun — it literallyjust didn’t care.You’ll find more of that on this extended version, including fan-fave album tracks “Hitline” and “Pointless,” plus several extended versions, remixes, and bonus material. ** ½


A Nine-month Family Vacation

Long before the pandemic, Joe and Christina Sanok had a plan. A dream, really: They wanted to take off with their kids and... Read More >>

7 Batches Made in Heaven

Let’s be honest: Picking the best cookies in northern Michigan is an impossible task. There are so many “right... Read More >>

Respecting the River

Forever, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB) has regarded the water — and the Boardman/Otta... Read More >>

Not a Clue

Surely politicians wouldn't be so clueless that they'd lie about COVID-19 deaths or take a vacation during a statewide eme... Read More >>