Ypsilanti is a unique town. That’s more a statement of fact than opinion. There are one of a kind restaurants, bars and there’s even a water tower shaped like a giant, well, you know. If you’re looking for music as unique as Eastern Michigan University’s hometown, don’t miss Black Jake and the Carnies’ newest album “Sundry Mayhems.”This refreshingly original local band combines a classic country/bluegrass sound with a touch of blues. Imagine an Americanized Flogging Molly – traditional music with a modern twang. Their latest offering plays on their roots both lyrically and musically.
The opening and title track gives the first time listener an idea of the treat they’re in for with this album. It’s quirky and clashing but in a good way before coming together as almost an overture for the rest of the album. It sounds like summer in the way that homemade sweet tea tastes like it. It brings up the idea of fairs and family get-togethers in the back yard where you eat watermelon and watch the little kids chase each other with sparklers.
There are several must-hear songs on the album. The second track, “All The Difference” is where their punk-rocker twist really shines through. If it weren’t for the clash of some notes, it would be a very upbeat song. It still is, but there are hints of something deeper and darker which just adds layers to an already great listen.
If you call Ypsilanti home, another must-listen is “Old E. Cross.” If you buy the album, it comes with a sing-along book and this is the song to pull it out for. This bouncy number is all about the historic district of Depot Town. It’s almost a ballad to the great times that can be had by college students and locals alike by the train tracks. The lyrics paint a perfect picture of the area, which makes it a great number for anybody, not just those familiar with the place. It is both personal and broad, perfect for people living in the modern recession where we see boarded up store fronts more often then we’d like but still know how to make the best of it.
Finally, track seven, titled “Cornbread Molly” almost seems like the best way to describe the album.
The old school Americana blends beautifully with modern feeling in this number. It has a chorus and a beat that will get lodged in your head for days — but at least it’s a good song for your brain to play on repeat.
When it comes to the local music scene, it seems the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area has a lot to offer, but few are as unique as the town itself like Black Jake and the Carnies. To purchase their album “Sundry Mayhems,” sample a few songs or to find out when and where their next show is, visit