Turn It Down

Locals Pick Locals Vol.10

The tenth installment of Lansing-made nuggets and local gems exhumed by fellow Michigan folks

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This week “Locals Pick Locals” Vol. 10 picks apart two obscenely rare ’60s singles and then serves up two locally sourced ’90s underground classics. Listen along wherever you stream music.

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

Pick: The Lansing 3 “Last One To Know” — 1969

A supreme rarity: The Lansing 3 “Last One To Know” b/w “Changing Hearts” 7-inch on Lansing Records. Make no mistake — ain’t no question where this sucker’s from. This incredible wasted Capital folk recording is slightly country with slight garage moves. The whole thing has a 3 a.m. on a Wednesday vibe. It’s a deep dive into light Heartache-ville with warts and all. Has an almost ESP Records feel, like if the Holy Modal Rounders were raised in the MSU cattle caves. The world can’t have enough of these records and your hometown should wave these freak flags in the free wind they deserve. Phenomenal damage. Where is this band today? That’s another mystery to solve.

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

Pick: The Sayms “In the Wind” — 196?

Here’s yet another mystifying Michigan rarity circa the 1960s. The muffled, otherworldly sounds of “In the Wind” are confined to this one obscure acetate by The Sayms, from parts unknown. The flipside was “I Walk Alone,” and some scrawl on the sleeve indicates (at some point) this scuffed-up disc was sent as a promo to WXOX 1250-AM, a Saginaw-area radio station. Are they from Lansing? Saginaw? Flint? Who knows! This track, which was newly streamed on YouTube, is a perfect example of why collecting old, private press records is a fun venture to undertake if you love music. While almost everything can be solved with a quick Google search, there are very few things that remain an utter mystery — and this is one of them.

Mark Deming (Music critic, musician)

Pick: The Chinese Millionaires: “White Collar Criminals” EP — 1995

After the breakup of El Smasho in 1994, lead singer/guy with hammer Tom Deja was looking for a new band to spread the fast and loud gospel of punk rock. His next project, The Chinese Millionaires, burst out of the gate in 1995, the year they released the four-song “White Collar Criminals” EP. The Millionaires didn’t have quite the same nuance or heavy undertow as El Smasho, but they delivered a similarly outstanding level of rock action with their high concept/no-frills approach. This 7-inch — two originals, two covers — summed up their lean, mean, furious aesthetic with revved-up accuracy. Deja’s passionate bark had built up some muscle from his early El Smasho work, the slash and burn of Jay Bennett’s guitar work explodes like a string of firecrackers, bassist Eric Anderson and drummer Mark the Millionaire are powerful enough to keep up with the charge, and in 8 minutes, this number starts out blazing and never stops. If it’s not the best record they made in their five-year run, it’s close enough to serve as a suitable calling card for their snarky genius. Besides, you will never, EVER hear a better Perry Como cover than “Glenora” (P.S.: Guitarist Jay Bennett, now residing in the Southwest, currently plays in a great punk rock combo called Scorpion vs. Tarantula, whose most recent album “When the Girls are Gone” came out in January and it’s amazing).

Peter Richards (Artist, musician, Stargrazer)

Pick: Apollo 9 “Tonight” — 1992

As a naive young Michigan State University (MSU) sophomore, I applied to live at the Atlantis Co-op in an effort to explore the wider world. Co-ops — the final frontier. After an in-person interview, they liked me enough to invite me to a party they were having that Saturday. If I remember correctly, the musical line-up was Apollo 9, Calliope and Satellite Proteus. Young, silly me pre-partied in my dorm in Snyder Hall and then sallied forth across Bogue Street with my friend Lee Bass. We had a blast. It was my first indie show to speak of — a bit of a blur if I’m being truthful. I remember Apollo 9 were very well dressed. They struck me as a sort of Americana version of The Cure crossed with The Pogues. This is of course grossly inaccurate — just my own innate human tendency to compare previous experience as a way to process new experiences. How could they rock so hard with a violin? This was a band that appeared very composed but didn’t hold back. How have they lingered in my memory since 1993? Part of the answer is on their brilliant album “Nothing Matters” (Trixie Records, 1992). It stomps, it soars and it’s riddled with gloriously immediate songwriting delivered with real passion. I have a little inside information: Apollo 9 front man Soren Davis has a second album that was never released. I’ve heard it. It’s amazing. Soren, if you’re reading, how can I help you get your music into more peoples’ ears and hearts?

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