With Christmas just ahead, we review six new Michigan releases you might want to add to your shopping list, including fresh collections from Silver Creek Revival and The Dangling Participles.
It’s the season of merriment, peace, giving and good will.
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West Michigan's music scene
It’s also that time of year when folks look back at the year that was — especially when it comes to the world of music.
In Local Spins’ case, it’s time to roll out our take on another batch of local and regional releases, and these cover not only a wide range of styles, but traverse the state — from Grand Rapids to Detroit to Lansing to northern Michigan. Check out the recordings, sample some of the music and consider adding these titles to the Christmas shopping list for the music lovers on your list.
And if you missed previous reviews of Michigan albums, check them out here.
Nathan Walton & The Remedy
What Stands Out: Nathan Walton is back with The Remedy to deliver on his promise of two albums for 2022 with the recent release of “Night Drive.” Readers may remember the teasing of this release in a review of the band’s previous album, “Daybreak,” which dropped in November 2022. From the first track, your ears are treated to yet another side of The Remedy’s stylistic influences on their powerhouse rock sound. Beefy rock riffs, a soundtrack to a midnight desert drive, infectious psychedelic guitar hooks, and a stellar display of musicianship among energetic tracks are all present and guaranteed to fuel your own engine speeding down life’s interstate.
Digging Deeper: One album by itself is worth celebrating, so to put out two in one year that complement one another while organizing sessions for such a large band deserves high praise. Everyone on the record plays to their strengths without ever stepping on each other’s toes sonically. “Night Drive” reinforces why the Nathan Walton train continues to speed down the tracks towards exciting new stops with this collection of new songs that emphasizes Walton’s powerful voice bolstered by a caring collective of passionate musicians.
Perfect For: Those long car rides when you need a shot of adrenaline nested in a soulful spirit. – Dutcher Snedeker
Upcoming Show: Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve) with Desmond Jones at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids
Listen: “Hey Man, God’s a Prankster”
“If You’re Worried, You Should Be”
What Stands Out: “If You’re Worried, You Should Be” showcases the skilled Grand Rapids-born emcee Bronze Nazareth rising to new heights, and not just because this record has been advertised in Times Square. Midwest hip-hop fans will enjoy tracing his GR roots into the historic Detroit hip hop scene, where he currently resides. The production immediately grabs you with nostalgic, soulful and infectious beats that set the backdrop for the expert blend of storytelling and lyrical prowess spearheaded by skillful rapping. This record is filled with triumphs over ongoing struggles, both internal and external, while making space for guest emcees to bare their souls on featured verses.
Digging Deeper: All it takes is spinning the first track to see why Bronze Nazareth is poised to make an impact on the legacy of Detroit hip hop. Every part of his new record demonstrates the fruits of the hustle, an artist standing tall while offering others the chance to enjoy the view with some choice collaborations from artists like Kevlaar 7, Phillie, Hus KingPin, Apollo Brown, Recognize Ali, Killah Priest, Nia Solai, Illah Dyz, Ty Farris, Kurupt, Kurt Solid and Hollywood Dots The Oncelor. Hip hop as a genre always opens up a world of rabbit holes to explore, and with “If You’re Worried, You Should Be,” fans can expect hours of additional artistry to enjoy. Listeners should only “be worried” about missing an opportunity to check out this artist on the road.
Perfect For: Anyone who empathizes with a hard life, working hard to overcome it and celebrating your victories along the way. – Dutcher Snedeker
Listen: “Moroccan Hash”
The Dangling Participles
“One More Drop”
What Stands Out: Lansing residents will recognize The Dancing Participles for their “jazzy indie-folk” sound that dips into the realm of Americana as much as it does Latin music, jazz and blues. According to their bio, the group was “founded by three Michigan State University English language instructors” (hence the band name’s grammatical flair) with a “love of harmonizing, songwriting, and arranging to create a lively on-stage experience.” With the release of their third album, “One More Drop,” clever prose mixes with succinct, stylized arrangements to make for a fun listening experience that delights in storytelling with a quirky charm that is entirely their own.
Digging Deeper: “One More Drop” must be named for that feeling of wanting to soak up the last bit of a tasty beverage that elevated your mood and refreshed your spirit, because listening to this record feels like a burst of dopamine. Add to the fact that a community rallied behind their Kickstarter campaign and you can feel even better knowing The Dangling Participles will continue to have a wonderful career going forward with that kind of support. This album feels like stumbling into an unexpected find at a Michigan festival, where you’re transported to different curated rooms all chaperoned by these kind spirits making wonderful tunes.
Perfect For: Anybody looking for a song to lift their spirits and giggle at some gleeful prose. – Dutcher Snedeker
Upcoming Shows: Jan. 21 at Roma’s Back Door in Owosso; Jan. 28 at Ironbark Brewing Co. in Jackson
Listen: “Swimming in Lake Superior”
Silver Creek Revival
“Silver Creek Revival”
What Stands Out: Silver Creek Revival’s self-titled debut is pure twangy, indie-folk magic. The album starts on a high note with the intriguing, slightly unsettling “Mr. Apprehensive,” then transitions immediately to “Stars,” a sweet love song: “The moon can hang wherever she wants, but the stars I give to you.” There’s not a bad song on the record, but a few highlights include the upbeat “Sweet Mary” and the slower-paced, more melancholy “Pay the Man.” Through it all, Silver Creek Revival employs satisfying harmonies and showcases a variety of instruments, including saxophone, banjo, drums and flute. And singer Ashley Christopher’s vocals are a clear highlight: her voice is crisp, enchanting and animated –– perfect for storytelling.
Digging Deeper: “Silver Creek Revival” is a lyrical treat, too, and there’s no better example of storytelling than the song “17 Inches.” “I was swimming in debt, had to borrow two cents just to write down this damn song,” Christopher begins. So, she begins searching online for ways to make money. A businessman promises her a handsome reward to shave off her “majestic” curls –– but although she fulfills her end of the bargain, he never follows through. “I fear that I’ve been grifted,” she sings. “That man went and lifted every hair off the top of my head.” Luckily, in the end, all is well: she ends up being paid by another man. On top of that, she finds herself taking great pleasure in her new hairstyle (or lack thereof): “My head is so soft, I can’t keep my hands off, and I can wash my scalp with a rag.”
Perfect For: Fans of Eddie from Ohio and Nickel Creek. – Katie Rosendale
Upcoming Show: Dec. 30 at Lake Ann Brewing Co in Lake Ann
Listen: “17 Inches”
“eXXorcising our demons”
What Stands Out: When it comes to career-spanning compilations of regional music, The Concussions’ latest surf-rock arsenal makes the perfect choice to top your Christmas shopping list. For two decades, the Grand Rapids band – Dick Chiclet, Bill Vits, Matt Mason and Claude Nine – has regaled audiences with its twangy gems, goofy stage presence and masked musical marauding while releasing five studio albums, with most of the tracks regarded at Tommy Schichtel’s all-analog goon lagoon. This groovy 24-track compilation boasts highlights from that catalog, ranging from 2004’s rocking “Guano” to 2014’s spacey, drum-propelled “Wolfie” to 2016’s reverby “Whack Job.” Better yet, there are two brand new, previously unreleased tracks to bookend the collection, “Put Your Head on My Shoulders” and “Ribbed for Your Pleasure.”
Digging Deeper: With the recent tragic death of drummer Bill Vits after a long battle with cancer, the release of this comprehensive surf-rock archive on Double Crown Records serves as a tribute to the much-beloved percussionist. In many ways, it’s also an important entry in the mission to preserve and advance this important American genre with roots in the 1950s. The album even boasts some special guests, including keyboardists Mark Kahny and Steve Talaga and horn players Danny Barber and Ryan Limbeck.
Perfect For: Watching old black-and-white movies, drinking beer and playing ping-pong with your buddies, cranking the volume to 11 after a Detroit Lions victory. – John Sinkevics
Listen: “Ribbed for Your Pleasure”
What Stands Out: This bluesy folk-rock group was founded in a barn near Shepherd, Mich. –– and it shows in their music. Crazy Chestur’s sophomore album, “5×5,” pulls you in from the very beginning with “Easy on Me,” an energetic, New Orleans-styled tune that demands to be played at, well, a barn dance. “Easy on Me” may be the record’s most fun track, but the rest of the album is certainly no letdown: With vibrant fiddle, piano, guitar and drums, it’s a delightful experience from start to finish thanks to Charlie Walsmsley (piano), Andy Rogers (violin), Tom T. Ball (bass), Jim Gilmore (guitar) and Rob Clendening (drums). Occasionally, I found myself reminded of the likes of Jason Isbell and Son Volt.
Digging Deeper: “5×5” consists of three originals and two covers. The first cover is “Sending Me Angels,” a slower, more reflective track originally by Delbert McClinton; the second –– and my personal favorite –– is “Who Will the Next Fool Be.” This track, recorded first by country star Charlie Rich, is a musically rich condemnation of a cruel woman: “After you get rid of me, who will the next fool be?”
Perfect For: Fans of country, rock and everything in between –– or, anyone who just wants to have a good time. – Katie Rosendale
Listen: “Easy on Me”
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