Tag Archives: Leppotone

New Lower Leisure Class video: Oxygen

Video: Lower Leisure Class – “Oxygen” (Tiny Desk Contest)

The Lower Leisure Class - Oxygen - Tiny Desk Contest 2019

Stories from the Lower Leisure Class is out now on Leppotone.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My old college band, The Vantrells, is reuniting to open for The Lower Leisure Class. So, you know…I’m obligated to say nice things about them.

When Jake decided to go to Kalamazoo College, I was skeptical. I had never been to Kalamazoo, despite growing up just 45 minutes north on US 131. Being a terrible student in high school, my undergrad fortunes were primarily tied to my better friends and I was angling for a free place to crash at the University of Chicago.

But then we discovered Leppotone Electrical Recordings, a collective of friends who banded (literally) together to create their own scene. The Lower Leisure Class is the latest product of that union and is made up of members from the most influential bands of my youth, including The Sleestacks, The Sinatras, Twister, Triplemint and King Tammy. The result is somehow, incredibly greater than the sum of its parts.

“Oxygen,” recorded for the Tiny Desk Contest is a prime example of why I love this band. Ron Casebeer is a short story writer with a knack for melody. He tells stories about neighbors and neighborhoods and the relationships we make and maintain, trivial and profound. He makes me cry a lot. To see this group shape their music around those stories is where things take off. There’s a joy in being together and playing together. There’s a power in being creative in your basement. It feeds your soul, it keeps you alive. It’s your oxygen.

And Ron’s just one of the songwriters. The combination of these bands and talents creates a unique sound they’ve dubbed “Michicana,” which I love. It’s new, but steeped in nostalgia and references any good midwesterner will recognize.

And so, after nearly 20 years being away, I am back in Michigan and excited to be reuniting with old friends to play some old songs. Who says you can never go home?

Lower Leisure Class: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Lower Leisure Class video: 7 x 7 = 49

Video: The Lower Leisure Class – “7 x 7 = 49”

From Stories from the Lower Leisure Class, due November 9 on Leppotone.

One of the luckiest things to ever happen to me was when Jake decided to go to Kalamazoo College. As his ne’er-do-well pal, I was not really in contention for higher education upon high school graduation and so was pulling for Old Man Brown to choose the University of Chicago and the hi-jinks a big city promises.

But K was the perfect choice. Not only because it provided a safe atmosphere in which we could explore and ultimately reject our hobo interests (in the confines of a mini-Harvard), but because Kalamazoo in the early 90s had an amazing music scene. At the center of it all (for my pals and I), was Leppotone Electrical Recordings, a consortium of local bands who pulled together into a musical co-op to share expenses and promote their scene. I’ve written about my beloved Sinatras at length, and two of them (or three when you count sometimes fourth member, Nathan McLaughlin) make up the latest Leppotone creation, The Lower Leisure Class. And it’s so good.

I’ve mentioned many times that I am a nostalgic fellow and one of the reasons I relate so well to The Sinatras’ music is their hinting at the edges of nostalgia while not being complete sad bastards. Songwriter Ron Casebeer often brings me to tears, even when in the middle of a thrash, and “7 x 7” is classic Casebeer.

“I’ve got a good feeling I ain’t had in such a long time…”

God, I just know I’ll be yelling this out through a choked up throat when they release this album this Friday, November 9, at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe.

I owe so much to Kalamazoo and the bands and people I met there. They not only inspired me to write my own music, but to also get my shit together and finally get through college so I could have a decent job that allows me to continue to make music to this day. If anyone should be singing “I need you, I need you, I need you,” it’s me.

The Lower Leisure Class: web, twitter, fb, bandcamp.

New Lower Leisure Class video: The Great American Witch Hunt

Video: The Lower Leisure Class – “The Great American Witch Hunt”

The Great American Witch Hunt

Single out now on Leppotone.

The Lower Leisure Class is a brand new band from Kalamazoo, Michigan. In fact, they are a supergroup of superstars from the fabled Leppotone roster of recording artists: Ron Casebeer and Karl Knack from the Sinatras, Chris Simons from King Tammy, and Nathan McLaughlin, Mark Peeters, and John Kasdorf from the Sleestacks.

Casebeer tells me they just finished mixing their album, which will be released digitally and on vinyl this summer, but “The Great American Witch Hunt” will not be on it. This is a one-off single. The album features great songs and “tons of vocal harmonies.” I can’t wait to hear it.

I’ve known these guys for more than half my life. Many of the highlights of my college years were soundtracked by their earlier bands. I spent a lot of sweaty nights at Club Soda with Xes on the back of my hands, having my mind blown by how good they are. I haven’t had the chance to see the Lower Leisure Class live yet, but I have no doubt that they’re still capable of blowing minds.

Together we’ll remember
just who we used to be.
History has made up her mind

The Lower Leisure Class: web, twitter, fb, bandcamp.

Continue reading New Lower Leisure Class video: The Great American Witch Hunt

Fortune and Maltese: Live in Kalamazoo, 1995!

Video: Fortune & Maltese & The Phabulous Pallbearers Live at the State Theatre

Fortune & Maltese & The Phabulous Pallbearers Live at the State Theatre

Hot damn, I loved this band! And here is some fantastic newly discovered live footage of them at the peak of their powers. Thirty minutes of amped-up garage rock remastered in “Trash-o-Phonic stereo sound.” Live in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 5, 1995.

I can’t remember if I was at this show, but I might’ve been. I used to go see them whenever I could. Freddy Fortune and Michael Maltese with Nat Cromlech, J.C. Graves, and the greatest drummer of all time: Dusty Sexton.

Check out the video and if you’re not familiar with Fortune & Maltese, you owe it to yourself to dig into them. Unfortunately, none of their stuff is available for streaming yet. So go find their records! They’re out there. Actually, the studio recordings of most of this set are collected on Get Hip’s Fortune & Maltese and the Phabulous Pallbearers compilation.

Fortune and Maltese: fb, amazon, wiki.

Continue reading Fortune and Maltese: Live in Kalamazoo, 1995!

The Sinatras – She Said I’m Neil Young

Video: The Sinatras – She Said I’m Neil Young

The Sinatras perform “She Said She Said” and “I’m Neil Young” at Access Vision Studios. April of 1992, Battle Creek, Michigan.

This was the era when the Sinatras first blew my mind. You can see from this video exactly why Twin/Tone expressed an interest in them; they would’ve fit in perfectly there. They were so great, and they deserve far more recognition than they’ve ever received. If you’re not familiar with these guys you can read our big, long feature from 2006: The Sinatras: Kinda Like Love. And you should definitely check out their album, Life in Flames, finally released in 2009 after being tinkered with for more than a decade.

The Sinatras: iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, MOG, MySpace, Facebook.

Continue reading The Sinatras – She Said I’m Neil Young

The Sinatras Complete Their Album

Back in February 2001, the month Glorious Noise was launched, I wrote about a Sinatras show in Kalamazoo:

There was a moment during an instrumental freak out at the end of their cover of “She Said, She Said” when I felt like I was in the presence of God, the very definition of my concept of “glorious noise.” […] They apparently have an album’s worth of material already recorded and almost ready to go. I’ve been hearing that for a few years now, and I’m not very confident that I’ll ever hold it in my hands, but I’m really hoping everybody will get their shit together and do what it takes to get this thing out soon.

Several years later, when we published Derek Phillips’ hagiography of the band, they joked about how their album is taking “20 years to get it done.” Well, after just celebrating their 24th anniversary as a group, the best band in Southwest Michigan finally got it done.

The album, Life in Flames, will be available on CD at the show at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo this Saturday, October 10. Glorious Noise will be there and will be happy to buy beers for any GLONO readers who seek us out.

Album details via Ron Casebeer after the jump…

Continue reading The Sinatras Complete Their Album

Port Wine Lads – Live in Kalamazoo, 1991

I went to college with most of the Port Wine Lads. In fact, I sold them my barely used bass guitar after I gave up on it. Twenty seconds into this, you see the 19-year-old me pointing and declaring, “Yeah, that’s my bass.” Later, I dance like a hippy.

But enough about me. The Port Wine Lads had some good songs (and a few silly ones).

Video: Port Wine Lads – “Tragedy” (Live at Kalamazoo College’s Quadstock, 1991)

Two more songs (plus even more great early 90s college fashion and dancing!) after the jump…

Continue reading Port Wine Lads – Live in Kalamazoo, 1991