Elections dominated the news, but this month’s Local Spins segment on “Stateside” was all about groovy new music from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo bands. Read about the artists, listen to their music.
Amid all of the hubbub generated by November’s midterm elections, West Michigan bands have been releasing a prodigious amount of new music — a year-end flurry of fetching singles, EPs and albums.
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For the November edition of Local Spins on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside” with Cynthia Canty, Local Spins publisher and editor John Sinkevics showcased three bands with new music and different rock vibes: Conrad Shock + The Noise and Brother Elsey from Grand Rapids, and Jake Simmons and The Little Ghosts from Kalamazoo.
Listen to the Local Spins segment on “Stateside” here and listen to the full songs by the featured artists below.
PODCAST: West Michigan Mixtape for November 2018 (Local Spins on “Stateside”)
1. Conrad Shock + The Noise, “Outside the Dream” from “Conrad Shock + The Noise” – Conrad Shock + The Noise represent one of those rock bands that once you’ve heard them, you’ll never forget them. Frontman John Conrad Schaak, aka Conrad Shock, exudes a distinctive voice and attitude, not to mention hyper-catchy songs that will get planted in your brain and roll around up there all day. The band was formed at Aquinas College here in Grand Rapids a few years ago and features Conrad on guitar and lead vocals, Michael Pierce on guitar, Bailey Budnik on drums, Koty Schoenberg on bass and Olivia Vargas on keys. They released their debut album “Red Skys & Pyrrhic Minds” in January 2017, and their self-titled sophomore album last month. Their music has gotten more psychedelic over the past couple of years but there’s still this under-current of bluesiness, and they’ll concede that their songs are influenced by everything from Father John Misty to The Velvet Underground. A terrific live act, they play SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids on Dec. 19 (with The Ryne Experience) and Ethanology in Elk Rapids on Dec. 22.
Listen to “Outside the Dream” here:
2. Brother Elsey, “Taker” (Single) – This is quite literally a “band of brothers” and in every way. This folk-rock/American trio features brothers Brady, Jack and Beau Stablein and when they open their mouths and unleash their music, those sibling harmonies and super-tight musicianship jump right out – a product of these guys having played together since they were 10 or 11 years old. They grew up and first established themselves in the Detroit area, but moved to Grand Rapids last year because they saw that the folk-rock, Americana and roots rock scene was burgeoning and gives them as they put it “a place to shine and a time to shine.” They recently released this single, “Taker,” and plan to release more singles and continue to tour the Midwest over the next year. They’re actually playing in Davenport, Iowa, this coming weekend but are setting up more dates over the next several months, so we’ll definitely be hearing a lot more from these guys down the road. I had a blast interviewing these guys who admit they know each other almost too well and are brutally honest with each other as brothers, but they also feel that they’re on the same page creatively speaking, which really shows in their music.
Listen to “Taker” here:
3. Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts, “Shake So Easy” – Kalamazoo singer and guitarist Jake Simmons likes to call his music “big, loud rock ‘n’ roll,” but there’s a lot of rootsiness and even a twinge of country twang here and there, which really gives his music a Midwestern sound that he says is “as blue collar as Springsteen … as it is Hold Steady-esque.” He grew up in Coloma and started playing drums as a kid, but quickly gravitated to guitar. He formed the band Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts in 2010, a group that now features Ben Bojanich, Matt Blasco and David Sparks (with drummer Ian Cooper playing his final show with the band at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Café last weekend). This is their third full-length recording. They just hosted their album-release show in Kalamazoo and are currently heading out on a Midwest tour behind the new album, playing Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, St. Louis, Cleveland and more later this month, but they’re also making stops closer to home on Nov. 17 at Holland Haus in Toledo, Nov. 30 at 741 in Grand Rapids and Dec. 7 at Ghostlight in Hamtramck.
Listen to “Shake So Easy” here:
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