“the trio’s [debut album Ed] is a trans-generational hookup between Joe Jackson Band and New Pornographers… they play refreshingly reductive, rousing pop… they’re upstanding, up-tempo, uproarious, and upstaging other new wave/power pop outfits… they transcend trite indie lyrical fare, too”


“Sycamore Smith is one of the finest songwriters Upper Michigan has to offer, and if you haven’t delved into his sizable discography yet, I suggest you do so as soon as possible. ...Smith hasn’t released solo work in the past few years, and yet we clung fiercely to hope and mp3’s as the kazoo-touting troubadour toured with three-piece folk-punk group Redettes for the past few seasons. I’m happy to say the man’s pen is still as sharp as ever, and the brash and noisy raucous the Redettes unravel around his verses propel and support them on each song. Anthem-like opener [from debut album Ed] “Jackie Oasis” is classic Sycamore: strong story-telling lyrics, endlessly charming vocal delivery, and a bit outlandish and perverted in content. The edge that bandmates Jesse Deek and Rudy Foresburg give each song is a tightly coiled assault of garage-punk crash cymbals and punchy bass lines. Three of the songs on Ed are reimagined and reconfigured Sycamore songs (each in their own way a “classic”), taking what was once acoustic driven folk and stirring in a whole lot more kick. Sycamore’s voice has adjusted to the changes appropriately, at times replacing his usual smirking croon with a venomous yell. If he keeps writing songs like “Rang-A-Tang” with lyrics like “Let me be the darkness you get off in,” I’ll keep waiting patiently for more work from these classy musicians.”


“The Redettes reincorporate those early Punk-era influences of [Marc] Smith’s first band [The Muldoons] but it’s a subtle, skillful integration. As the group’s brand new seven-song release Ed shows, The Redettes wouldn’t have been out of place on the Stiff Records roster with its casual resemblance to the “Pub Rock” that shadowed and occasionally intermingled with the Punk movement in ’70s England (think Nick Lowe or early Elvis Costello). Fans of U.K. faves The Libertines will also appreciate the Reds’ literature-inspired lyrics and swagger (though the Reds’ swagger is much more chill and harmonious). The melodic, unfussy straightforwardness also shares some of the impish charm of Jonathan Richman’s influential Modern Lovers and you can hear a tinge of ’70s Power Pop artists like The Only Ones and The Undertones. While there’s a rootsy, twangy aura it is rarely blatant.

Though delivered with a high level of skill, the band has an endearing shagginess that helps give the songs an extra boost of immediacy and energy. Smith’s wit still comes through on certain tracks (see:“I’m up to my earballs in debt”), but it’s the imagery and wordplay that is most impressive, such as this snippet from “The Brothers Ape” : “They forge their daggers with their fists/And sharpen razors on their wrists/Cobras lift their heads and hiss/To cheer the Brothers Ape.” If this music thing doesn’t work out, Smith could just collect his songs’ words together, release them as a book and become a professional poet.”