The early November round-up of Michigan releases not only covers a wide swath of genres, but artists from Grand Rapids to the Detroit area to Petoskey. Listen to tracks from all the recordings.
November already has brought every imaginable weather change to Michigan from blustery, cold rain to unseasonably warm balminess.
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Local Spins’ early November round-up of releases by Michigan artists boasts the same sort of variation, not only in genres but in the geographic locations of the various acts touting fresh music.
Check out the reviews and listen to the music from a half-dozen releases below. And browse reviews of many more Michigan releases here.
Nathan Walton & The Remedy
What Stands Out: Nathan Walton continues to make a name for himself in the Michigan music scene, building off a 2020 appearance on “American Idol” with his debut record, “Nathan Walton & The Remedy” while regularly performing around Michigan and hosting fellow songwriters at Greyline Brewing Company. Fresh off of a summer of stellar performances, Walton returns with The Remedy on “Daybreak,” the first of two releases dropping before the end of this year. Songs on this record range from powerhouse rock ’n’ roll to soulful ballads and includes features from all around The Remedy. It is a record that emphasizes the power of the collective while Walton leads confidently at the helm, and the result is some of the strongest soulful rock music in the region.
Digging Deeper: Nathan Walton has proven himself to be committed to the craft and navigating the music scene with passion, talent and a strong urge to help others with his platform. This first of two 2022 releases highlights his powerful voice supported by a great community of West Michigan talent. “Daybreak” also serves as a way to introduce audiences to the range of influences that keep The Remedy forged in healing, uplifting music while taking stylistic excursions in fun, well-executed and unexpected ways. Keep an eye out for “Night Drive” later this year to complete the double album-release.
Perfect For: Cranking the stereo in the car and piercing the cold winter with a soulful burst of rock energy. – Dutcher Snedeker
Upcoming Shows: Wednesday (Nov. 9) at Montcalm Community College; Friday (Nov. 11) at Garage Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids; Nov. 18 at The Livery in Benton Harbor; Dec. 1 at Midtown (formerly Listening Room) in Grand Rapids for the “Night Drive” record-release
Listen/Watch: “Get Myself Back on My Feet”
What Stands Out: Aspen Jacobsen, the fiery 18-year-old songwriter who was featured in a Local Spins “Artist to Watch” article this year, has released “Arsonist Daughter,’ an album packed with blazing instrumentals and scorching vocals that lyrically center around “relationships, religion, mental health and social constructs with insightfulness well beyond her years,” according to her website. The high-quality production and musicianship on this record cannot be understated, with such a presence felt from every note and a careful treatment of each song’s mood in the arranging and engineering, no doubt thanks to the combined production efforts from Jacobsen and Dominic Davis (bassist for Jack White). It is a record that ebbs and flows from darker, moodier melodies to lively bluegrass, with Jacobsen’s talents standing front and center.
Digging Deeper: The fact that Aspen Jacobsen has already put 8 years into her performing craft at such a young age would be cause for celebration alone, but to have such well-written, dynamic, and interesting music at this same age belays an exciting prospect for a long-lasting career in music. As she states, “I don’t like to preach my own beliefs, but rather ignite thought and reflection about things that are important to me. I hope my music can help spark dialogs that lead to change and making the world a better place.” Arsonist Daughter sets fire to any expectations when one hears of a teenage songwriter steeped in the world of Old Time and Americana, demonstrating that aforementioned talent “well beyond her years” in spades.
Perfect For: Blazing a new path forward and striding confidently into the flames with a song in your heart. – Dutcher Snedeker
Upcoming Show: Nov. 12 at Sunset @ The Village in Los Angeles
“Mind Your Ceilings”
What Stands Out: Ethereal is a new project from artists Jules Camp and Arden Toler, one that has been incubating since 2018 and one that recently released the debut album, “Mind Your Ceilings.” As they describe it, Ethereal centers around “a contrast between Camp’s lyrics of anxiety and anger, with upbeat tones by Toler to follow, and help drown out some of our daily inner thoughts.” Listeners are treated to ambient synths, electronic beats and vocals that casually flow or catch a vibe on more upbeat tunes.
Digging Deeper: Ethereal provides a succinct introduction to its sound on this record coming in at just under 34 minutes. “Mind Your Ceilings” is moody music with a solid bedrock of electronic soundscapes for the vocals and lyricism to contrast.
Perfect For: Staring out of the window of a moving bus as the world swirls around you, letting your thoughts drift and your emotions time to process. – Dutcher Snedeker
What Stands Out: Chances are, this could be the most unique album you’ll hear today: There are only two songs, and each one is precisely 20 minutes long. Grand Rapids’ Dreas originally released “Stimulus Response,” a genre-bending fusion of electronic music, hip hop and more, as a cassette tape with Potions Music NYC. So, the two songs available for streaming represent the twin sides of the cassette. According to the artist, each “song” is more like its own EP.
Digging Deeper: “Michigan Transmissions,” the first half of the album, is described as “flowing freely through the Michigan landscape.” Indeed, it begins with the tranquil sounds of nature, complete with wind chimes. Percussion is quickly introduced, but it’s complementary, not overpowering. Of course, “Michigan Transmissions” is, in actuality, a collection of songs, and its most fun offering occurs around the 7:50 mark. There, Dreas introduces a dreamy hip-hop style that wouldn’t be out of place in Anderson .Paak’s discography. “Michigan Transmissions” also includes a thought-provoking assertion of (limited) human agency, from which the album’s title is derived: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space,” says a robotic female voice. “In that space is power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Perfect For: Those who yearn for a vibrant musical journey. – Katie Rosendale
Listen: “Michigan Transmissions”
“Stories We Told Along the Way”
What Stands Out: Northern Michigan artist Eliza Thorp returns with “Stories We Told Along The Way,” her sophomore release following her 2019 debut, “Queen Of The Sea.” This record was successfully funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and features a collection of stories written over the past few years detailing her constantly changing life and emphasizing her desire to provide healing to those listening. Guest artist Charlie Millard can be heard on organ and accordion, and joining her on the record once again is cellist Jordan Hamilton and upright bassist Max Lockwood. These stellar musicians all elevate the moods and messages felt throughout the record as Thorpe creates an intimate, cozy listening experience to bare her soul.
Digging Deeper: “Stories We Told Along The Way” shines a bright spotlight on Eliza Thorp, her collaborators, the tales she weaves into heartful songs and the community she reflects and amplifies in her artistic pursuit. Every arrangement has memorable moments that are so simply and powerfully expressed through this tight-knit ensemble of artists. This record is the perfect complement to fall and a wonderful addition to any songwriter’s collection.
Perfect For: Anyone looking out of a rainy window this fall contemplating your own life’s journey and seeking the comfort artistic storytelling. – Dutcher Snedeker
Upcoming Show: Nov. 17 at Walloon Lake Winery (album-release show)
Listen: “Mountain Song”
“Mercury Salad, Vol. 3”
What Stands Out: Ypsilanti-based Mercury Salad blends folk, funk and rock to create a unique — and wonderful — sound. Each of the album’s five songs has its own mood and style. Some, such as “Best Guess,” are relaxed, folksy songs about hoping for love, while funk influences are evident in the groovy “Hot Sauce 2.0.” Through it all, the band employs simple harmonies and strong rhythmic elements: typically guitar, bass and drums, although cello and horns have their moment to shine, too. Lead singer Brooke Ratliff’s vocals are always stellar, but they’re most impressive when Ratliff showcases the power of her lower register, like in the fiery “Walk Around” — a standout track.
Digging Deeper: “Hot Sauce 2.0” grabs you from the beginning, with a simple but delightful guitar hook. Then, the song’s full funky flavor kicks in, pulling you into a four-and-a-half-minute (or less, if you listen to the abridged radio edit) dance party, complete with a chorus of “yeahs.”. For such a fun track, the lyrics are scathing: “We can’t pretend your intentions are good / and everything’s shiny, just don’t look under the hood,” Ratliff sings.
Perfect For: Anyone looking to groove with an eclectic but consistently delightful collection of songs. – Katie Rosendale
Upcoming Show: Dec. 2 at Blom Meadworks in Ann Arbor (for Ann Arbor Midnight Madness)
Listen: “Hot Sauce 2.0”
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