Another January round-up of fresh releases by artists from across the Great Lakes State also includes our takes on new offerings from Flint’s Heat Above and Detroit’s Superego.
Nothing like a snowy winter’s day to investigate new music by Michigan artists.
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Our late January round-up of fresh releases literally crisscrosses the state, with recordings by bands and solo acts from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo.
Check out samples of this music below and revisit our reviews of other Michigan albums online here.
“How Can I Say This?”
What Stands Out: Ann Arbor music veteran Annie Capps has delivered yet another folk- and Americana-inspired, self-produced solo project with “How Can I Say This?” The album dives deep into the different sub-genres of folk with themes of vulnerability, self-discovery, forgiveness and even shame. The album, in its entirety, also features a strong roster of women accompanying Capps on her tunes. In total, over 40 artists from across the country and Canada helped with instrumentation and vocals. Some of the more notable names include Katie Larson and Sav Buist of The Accidentals, Heather Pierson, Telisha Williams of Wild Ponies, and Sure Demel and Deb Vader of Sons of the Never Wrong.
Digging Deeper: The music follows Capps’ musical lineage and folk traditions with elements of Americana and bluegrass. Songs such as the title track and “The Punch” follow folk themes with simple melody lines and harmonies reminiscent of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Perfect For: A snowy day spent inside curled up with a good book or for the lover of Michigan-folk and strong female representation and instrumentation. – Sean Miller
Upcoming Show: 8 p.m. Feb. 14 at The Ark with Jenny & Robin Bienemann from Chicago and Ruth & Max Bloomquist from Ludington
Listen: “How Can I Say This?”
“When the Night Calls”
What Stands Out: The latest EP from Rosewood 2055, a trio made of members Rebel Kuzco, Marq Beyond and Sensei Cam, leaves a trail of breadcrumbs with the singles “Gotta Feeling,” “Lucky (Bonus)” and “Dawgz.” Listeners are treated to three additional songs: “Million Dollar Trap House,” “IDK” and “Refreshing” to ring in the new year. This record speaks to life’s current struggles, the grind that comes with it, and celebrating triumphs in spite of adversity while reflecting on the journey up to this point.
Digging Deeper: For the uninitiated, Rosewood 255 is more than just a collective of like-minded talent: It’s a window into aspects of Detroit’s hip-hop history. Sensei Cam is related to RJ from RJ’s Latest Arrival and is the nephew of Young RJ from Slum Village. They’ve worked on Slum Village’s Evolution and Yes! releases, have shared the stage with DJ Premier, Phife Dawg, Rhapsody, Redman and Pete Rock (to name a few), and have toured multiple countries throughout the years. This record continues to cement their legacy in Michigan’s hip-hop scene while also remaining prominent in the wider hip-hop community. A mix of classic and modern production, beat crafting and flows give listeners a solid experience from start to finish.
Perfect For: Hip-hop fans who love to trace a lineage while bumping solid tunes on their daily grind. – Dutcher Snedeker
Upcoming Show: Feb. 24 for the WYCE Jammie Awards at The Intersection in Grand Rapids
Listen: “Gotta Feeling”
What Stands Out: The first album from Kalamazoo band Moon Orchids –– which includes Jacob Simons on vocals and various instruments, Bailey Miller on guitars (and, on occasion, vocals) and Morgan Keltie on trumpet –– boasts a remarkable amount of versatility within its four tracks, from the eerie, downtrodden opener “Lovers” to the chill but more hopeful “Into the Violet.” And although most indie-rock bands don’t include a trumpet player, maybe they should: The trumpet, while never overpowering, contributes heavily to the mood of each song.
Digging Deeper: “Chasm,” my favorite track on the album by a longshot, is an emotional rollercoaster that spans almost nine minutes. The song starts with intriguing, slightly melancholy strings. About a minute in, the listener is hit by powerful waves of electric guitar and drums that evince the raw violence of emotions. “Chasm” consistently oscillates between these two moods, with mournful lyrics about “an empty plea” and seeing “the writing on the wall.” And although the power builds as the song continues, “Chasm” ends just as it started: with intricate, pensive strings.
Perfect For: Taking a moody, contemplative walk on a cloudy day. – Katie Rosendale
What Stands Out: Blasting out of Flint, this trio brings fresh gravel and fuzz to the Michigan rock scene. Rife with spirited percussion, synergetic electric guitar and punchy vocals, this alternative four-song EP is simultaneously dark and sprightly.
Digging Deeper: While COVID-19 brought about a whirlwind of change for the worse in a multitude of ways, for some, the time brought about a push toward their aspirations. Members Jack Davis, Michael Davis and Brady Lott did just that with the formation of the band in 2021 and the release of their debut single, “Cool, Fun, And Nice.” Following up, the band took wing and flew from stage to stage garnering respect from musicians and critics in various venues on Michigan’s east side including The Token Lounge and Otus Supply. It wouldn’t be long before they showcased their peppy, grungy sound in this earnest collection that reeks of youthful, dynamic energy; a 2022 release by Fever Dream Recordings.
Perfect For: Fans of The White Stripes, The Messenger Birds, Greta Van Fleet. – Jennifer Bartlett
Upcoming Shows: Friday (Jan. 27) at Rubble’s Bar in Mount Pleasant; Feb.25 at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor; March 9 at Mulligan’s Pub in Grand Rapids; March 11 at Local 432 in Flint
Listen: “Dynamite Hurricane”
What Stands Out: Moody serenades bring about a melodramatic display of emotion in this unique 2023 experimental rock release. Led by Randy Hughey and joined by instrumentalists Darin Christian, Rolly Smith and Mike Roche, this Grand Rapids-based project presents a modern, quirky twist in a beguiling take on an industrial sound for an otherworldly 11-song odyssey.
Digging Deeper: In suspenseful fashion, the first track immediately grabs the listener by the throat with haunting piano, bold, unapologetic vocals and a provocative refrain. Moving into the second tune, the music continues to demand the ear’s attention with heavy, spatial percussion, sinister melodies and a plethora of fascinating synth layers. Jazzy saxophone and fluttery flute join the eerie party on “A Bag Named Bob,” offering deeper mystery to this exploratory venture. Complete with extraterrestrial modulations, apocalyptic robotic messages and ominous voicings, it’s easy to imagine Hughey diving deep into personal darkness to pull from in the writing. An entrenching feeling of anxiety is palpable in every single track.
Perfect For: A broody soundtrack for a metaphysical, out-of-body experience.
Listen: “Gross Overrreaction”
“Talk to me Slowly”
What Stands Out: This Detroit-area trio unleashes all-out alt-rock –– shoegaze, even –– in “Talk to me Slowly,” a 10-song record. “Falsies” is a fun, upbeat tune with driving guitar and drums, strong vocals and a cutting message: “I know all the things you did last Tuesday / and I know all the things you did last night,” it begins. Not even beauty can save the song’s subject now: “You’re relying on them [your falsies] too much, I have to say.” Meanwhile, “Think for Yourself” is another, more dynamic highlight. Mark Buckley of AnalogueTrash compared the song to R.E.M.; as I listened, I couldn’t help but feel that the beginning of the song would be right at home on “Murmur,” perhaps right next to “Talk About the Passion.”
Digging Deeper: Superego features Gavin on bass, Collin on drums and Christian on guitar, vocals and keyboard. Although the trio has played together for years, “Talk to me Slowly” is their first full-length album –– and it was no simple task. The record, which the band described as “the most ambitious project [they]’ve put together so far,” was recorded in a basement and personally mixed by Gavin, Collin and Christian. In all, the project took about three years.
Perfect For: Fans of the Melvins and the Talking Heads, whom Superego cites as influences. – Katie Rosendale
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC