NEW MUSIC in Review

You Know What They Say & Devils Never Cry

    icon Jul 21, 2016
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You Know What They Say! • Jeff Schrems

Jeff Schrems (Cornpone, Jeff Yantz & The Barnhands and founding member of Sprout and the Orange) latest release is called “You Know What They Say!”  It truly deserves its exclamation point. This album is the best of his best music to date. It mixes melodies with memories of family, faith and life’s often complete farce. Rock, punk, western swing, folk and pop meets humor and angst - his thanks and joy of offering an occasional not for the faint of heartfelt prayer.

Jeff Schrems wrote all these songs with help from the bible on at least one of the songs, covers all lead vocals, guitar (including acoustic & melody, MC5, 12 String & a Donkey) upright bass (including fuzz bow, fuzz wah and bow & sub bass), banjo (including echo banjo because a regular banjo simply isn’t loud enough), musical saw (is there any other kind?), drum machine, synthesizer, mountain dulcimer, mellotron, bells, tambourine, whistles, various noises and something called air organ. I suppose I can picture it, I guess.

A stellar group of Michigan musicians accompany Schrems on this album, including the unstoppable Andy Reed (Verve Pipe, American Underdog, and The Legal Matters) who covers many of the harmony vocals, floaty echo guitar, finger drums, claps, and creepy carnival effects.

Patrick Shaw (Sprout and the Orange) is the fast and steady drummer of this streamlined house band and offers pub vocals and claps. Jon Potrykus (Cornpone, Duality, and Laurie Middlebrook) plays fiddle, dobro, guitar, restaurant customer and dog bark vocals.

James Nelson (Blue Sage Ramblers, Madame Devz Gypsy Wagon, and Jeff Yantz & The Barnhands) brings both screaming and sad accordion and waiter vocals. Lindsay Lou Williams (Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys) is the perfect harmony vocal and cameo on “Monster In Me”.

Donny Brown (Verve Pipe, Donny Brown) fittingly offers up his expert drums for the song “Pain”. Aaron Johnson (Sprout and The Orange, Deep Sea Centaur) plays lead guitar on “Bathtub Mary” & “Hope For Me”. Bill Howard (The New Brass Express, One More Shot, Saginaw Elite Big Band and Saginaw Eddy Concert Band) rounds out four of the songs with his absolutely fabulous trumpet. We simply don’t hear enough horns these days. Jeff Yantz (Jeff Yantz & The Barnhands, One Trick Ponies) plays ukulele on “Home” and also recorded in Yantz’ White Trash Studio*.

Bathtub Mary” opens with the signature Andy Reed Beach Boy like precision harmonies as an anthem to Schrems humor of our many provincial lawn ornament shrines to the Mother Mary. The chorus says it all; “Bathtub Mary - In the lawn or in the cemetery / Bathtub Mary - Is that tub half full or half empty / Bathtub Mary - The garden gnomes say it’s idolatry /  Bathtub Mary – Lookin’ down is only gonna make you cry.” Watch:

Everybody’s Moving To Nashville” gives us a look into Schrems own past when he ventured to Nashville back in 2002, “Played lots of gigs, never made any money / Because Detroit was the place to be / We drank the water of old bon aqua / Mrs. Carter was still there to see / Before Robert Richie and Jack White thought they’d move there / East Nashville was home to me” Glad he returned to raise a family and his own musical future here in Michigan.

The most heard of these songs is “Monster In Me” slated to be the theme song from Tonia L. Carrier’s latest film project called “Bailiwick”. There is a professional video of this song to be seen on YouTube filmed by Carrier and her crew at the Perry Schuch Bar & Nightclub. Love the tongue in cheek chorus; “I’m just the lies you fed me baby / I’m just an old dead memory / Look in these bloodshot eyes baby / Can’t you see the monster in me?”   Watch:

The disc is definitely an eclectic mix from “Kack & George” about Schrems family history and learning there are worse nicknames than Kack short for Kathryn. “The Prayer” is a musical version of The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) that is definitely not your standard Christian rock.

Love the punk rock anthem in the song, “Pain” reminiscent of better days. A short and truly sweet instrumental ditty called “Trigger’s Tune” will be on my permanent personal playlist. I take this disc on drives to simply cheer up. You will too. “You Know What They Say!” seems to have had prayer on its side with heaven sent musicians, but the devil's humor is the sugar on top.

All songs were recorded at Schrems’ Manhole Studios* and Andy Reed’s Bay City, Michigan’s crowning jewel, Reed Recording Company.

Find Jeff Schrems here: or or

Devils Never Cry • Judy Banker

Judy Banker’s new sophomore release named “Devils Never Cry” is titled from her son Ben, whom at age four observed while drawing a picture of a devil, his favorite subject at the time; “Devils never cry, even when you sing happy songs.” Amen to youth’s wisdom. The drawing worth a thousand words is nestled safely inside the cover under the cd. Sweet and too real not to warrant a mention.

Banker wrote eleven songs of this disc and comfortably covers Gillian Welch’s new grass classic, “Tear My Stillhouse Down” which seems a true accomplishment. She plays acoustic guitar and all lead vocals. Her steady folk voice has grown stronger and warmer. To my ear she’s a cross of Joan Baez meeting Gillian Welch. Dave Roof (David Roof, Roof Recording Studio, and Cash O’Riley) on upright bass, piano, banjo and background harmony vocals that sound like he’s Banker’s brother. Tony Pace on dobro, lap steel, electric and acoustic slide guitars brings much more than a country sweet tang. Greta Mae Barnard offers the classic mournful violin along with a happy fiddle and background vocals. Stuart Tucker handles percussion well suited to these songs.

To say that Banker is a hopeless romantic may be the highest praise of her creativity on this project. On this album, she only writes of love. Even the title track of “Devils Never Cry” leads us to her lover; “So it goes the night doesn’t care / But what you did isn’t right / You broke my heart til I fell on my knees / And I never saw you cry / I never saw you cry.

Who among us hasn’t felt her “Feet of Clay (Slippin’ Away)” with regrets? “Well, I didn’t care / Went in for the dare / Covered up with a plausible line / Now you’re turning away / And I don’t see a day / I won’t rue that damn alibi / That you don’t believe / And you will not be with / A girl who can’t look you in the eye / Even though I would give the world to live / Without making you cry.”

The song “Coming Around” finds a familiar wee hour wakeup call; “In the dark when I lay thinking / The truth of us gets stripped to the bone / And longing fills my blood and I fly naked as a jaybird / Searching for your arms to guide me home / It’s then I hear your whisper / And I’m following that sound / Pulling me closer / I’m coming ‘round.”

I Don’t Want To Get Over You” places her directly in the better to have love and lost camp with; “We don’t have to watch it go / How it ends we don’t need to know / We can blame it on the stars / And live just fine with a couple scars / Love can be cruel / I’m begging you to be kind / Send me no flowers / Just don’t leave me behind.”

The album is truly fine work no matter what your romantic status happens to be or where your love lies!

Produced by Judy Banker and Dave Roof. Recorded, mixed and engineered by Dave Roof at Rooftop Recording Studios in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Mastered by Glenn Brown at GBP Studios in East Lansing, Michigan.

Find Judy Banker here: or




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