The British prog rock quartet will make their long-awaited Motor City live debut at The Crofoot in Pontiac as part of a 22-date North American tour.
Bruce Soord (guitars, vocals), Steve Kitch (keys), Jon Sykes (bass, backing vocals) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion) have embarked on their first North American tour in support of 2018’s “Dissolution,” a splendid nine-track album via Kscope Records that poetically chronicles the impact of social media on people’s lives and society.
“Over the last four years since ‘Your Wilderness’ came out, the band’s just gotten bigger, and we were playing to more people. The modern band is quite weird because you get so much data to analyze, so you look at your Spotify listeners, where your Facebook people are coming from, and you can see where people are,” said Soord, who formed the band in 1999.
“We knew the USA was the big market for us. Obviously, it’s a very big place, so it’s difficult, but we knew that Germany, the U.K., and the USA were the three big territories that are into The Pineapple Thief. Since we’ve been selling more records, we were able to afford to do it.”
For Audra Kubat, life brings a series of dualities that challenge and change the soul.
Those dualities inspire her to create magical sonic epiphanies that instantly resonate with listeners on “The Sliver & the Salve,” a spectacular 10-track odyssey that drops Friday and looks inward and outward at the self, society and the cosmos.
“I feel like this album for me was recognizing that there were these dualities and sort of contradictions, these internal and external things going on. I wanted then to connect that also with the way we treat each other, treat ourselves and treat the earth,” said Kubat, a Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter.
“Those three ideas, the way we treat ourselves, the way we treat each other and the way we treat the land are what really define us. Our impact is limited, expounded or accentuated by our ability to be fully ourselves, to be gracious to others and to take care of the land.”
Throughout “The Sliver & the Salve,” Kubat brilliantly addresses relatable themes of inner strength, personal freedom and growth, tumultuous relationships, emotional upheavals and environmental stewardship.
Selections from ‘The Sliver & the Salve’
As a follow-up to 2016’s acoustically-minded “Mended Vessel,” Kubat’s latest album via Whistle Pig Records showcases a carefully crafted batch of songs that evoke deep reflections against a backdrop of elegant instrumentation.
Each song highlights the challenges of everyday life experiences and the difficult choices people make to progress. The gorgeous opening track, “Some Comfort,” depicts the courageous mindset of a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and ponders a new life ahead.
“It’s about exploring things in life that are little bit more mysterious,” she said. “It’s about my music, that world and everything that I want my music to inspire and evoke in people. It’s an introduction to me and my music.”
Faidia makes a mesmerizing introduction on “Mystic Mind,” which features soft, ethereal vocals woven with vibrant, atmospheric electric guitars and deep synths – “Take a ride into my mystic mind/You’ll have the time of your life/And if you see my soul looks like it’s fool’s gold/It’s all yours/You can indulge.”
She takes listeners on a “ride into that electric sky” to open and free the mind to new possibilities. The track itself serves as a four-minute escape into a romantic realm that lies somewhere in between “Edward Scisscorhands” and “The Shape of Water.”
Faidia started working with Mikolajczyk earlier this year after meeting him through mutual friend and bassist Cameron Shawcross. The trio also added drummer Garrett Ramsden to the lineup.
“Kyle’s really involved in the music scene. He’s also playing with me, and as of now, we’ve done stuff in the studio,” Faidia said. “We don’t have any live performances scheduled right now because we’re in the process of doing a lot of different things.”
In this case, the Lansing indie rock quartet’s newest album functions as a sonic potion drenching listeners in soothing waves of vibrant folk-influenced dream pop.
“We knew that was the kind of record we wanted to make. Michael Boyes and I had done a lot of acoustic shows together, or rather where he played acoustic and I played electric,” said Tommy McCord, Drinking Mercury’s guitarist and vocalist, about the band’s latest release out today via GTG Records.
“We had focused on embracing that sort of finger style-like folky guitar playing and bringing that in with more textural and psychedelic stuff. From there, it was a matter of filling in the arrangements, but we all knew we wanted to have the vocals be really prominent and arranged on the album.”
Soaring vocal harmonies intertwined with slow, thumping drumbeats, driving basslines and gentle acoustic and electric guitars abound on the band’s striking follow-up to 2011’s alt-folk debut, “Orcades.”
Recording Drinking Mercury, Split Album with The Soods
To create the album’s laid-back feel, McCord invited longtime friends and bandmates Boyes (guitar, vocals), Timmy Rodriguez (bass, keys, vocals) and Kevin Adams (drums) to his family’s 60-year-old rustic cabin in Bitely last July to record new material.
“It’s like the cliché of getting back to nature to write your masterpiece. My grandpa and some other guys built this cabin in the early ‘50s, so I’ve been going there my whole life. I had thought in a daydream it would be cool to record an album up here,” said McCord, who co-formed Drinking Mercury nearly 20 years ago with Adams while growing up in Ionia.
“It’s not like it’s a big acoustically awesome space. It’s just a pretty simple cabin, but it’s in a beautiful area, and the atmosphere is really relaxed, and your cell phone doesn’t work there, and there’s no internet.”
A new homegrown record label will cultivate fresh sounds in the Motor City.
Known as Old Main Records, the Wayne State University (WSU) student-run label and organization will help local, regional and national artists record, release and perform original music.
“The idea of actually doing a record label at Wayne State as a student organization had been around for a while since I was a freshman taking the classes. People would say, ‘Oh, it would be great if it happened,’ but nobody actually really did it,” said Brendan Derey, Old Main Records president and a music business senior.
“Another friend and I actually did start it together. Over the summer, we got a small group of people in the room talking about our ideas, and then it snowballed from there.”
Today, Old Main Records has 20 student members, including three other leads besides Derey – Patrick Norton, creative director; Christopher Simpson, social media and marketing director; and David Jackowicz, recording and distribution director.
Named after and housed in the iconic 19th century WSU academic building at Cass and Warren avenues, Old Main Records also partners with two WSU Department of Music lecturers Jeremy Peters and Michael Shellabarger.
“One of the things we’re trying to do with the label is create a hub. One of the benefits of being a Wayne State student organization is that there are a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds, whether that’s art, film, business, music tech or music business,” Derey said. “There are just a ton of people around who are willing to do this kind of grassroots organization.”
With a team in place, Old Main Records is currently setting up the independent label’s infrastructure, accepting and reviewing artist submissions, applying for grants and creating internal processes. It also will provide students with opportunities in event promotion, marketing, recording and distribution and launch a crowdfunding campaign soon.
“They want to turn this into a class or an outlet for music business majors to use. It helps everybody out because part of the goal of the record label is to give resources out to artists,” said Norton, a music technology senior and director of do-it-yourself (DIY) Detroit music-art space Nice Place. “We’re really looking to help build the local community and give promotional and marketing support to artists.”
To demonstrate that support, Norton’s band Dirt Room, a Detroit experimental indie rock quintet, is serving as a pilot artist for Old Main Records. Along with Norton, Dirt Room bandmates Samuel Sprague, Simon Sprague, Cam Frank and Matt Hagger are helping students work through the process of signing an artist to the label.
As Old Main Records finalizes its first round of artists to sign, it will host a multimedia launch event in partnership with Nice Place and feature live music and visual art Jan. 17 at St. Andrew’s Church in Detroit. Dirt Room, The Stools, Mac Saturn and Craig Garwood will perform at the label’s event.
“We’re taking twice as much time to do every small step now with the label, so in the future, these will be easy processes, and everybody will know what to do going forward,” Derey said. “We’re hoping for January and February to start recording projects with those groups, and then have our first releases as well coming down this year.”
Finally, Old Main Records will partner with WSU to preserve and digitize an extensive catalog of audio archives that date back to the ‘30s. It will be a multi-year project to convert audio recordings on cassette, vinyl and wire to digital formats for future preservation.
In her latest video, Ania shreds her way through the streets and stages of Los Angeles.
The heavy metal singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso released a gritty new video today for “Doors Close,” a 4.5-minute banger filled with fast alternate picking and arpeggios against a raw bassline and driving drumbeat.
“We wanted to show a modern rock band playing, and we went around LA and filmed in public places and highlighted the rock-grunge scene,” said Ania, a University of Southern California (USC) guitar student. “We also filmed some of it at USC in our songwriting theater where we have a tiny stage and wanted to showcase that we can play instruments, have fun and rock out.”
Ania eloquently demonstrates her electric guitar chops alongside USC classmate and drummer Megan Adcock on stage while simultaneously wandering the nighttime streets and sitting in front of a rainbow-colored graffiti wall. Bassist Carson Rhode also plays on the track, but isn’t featured in the video.
While the “Doors Close” video artistically captures dingy LA nightlife, the single politically tackles the complications of Catholicism in Ania’s native Poland.
“I just wanted to write a song that changed the key signature, and it’s funny because the song is about Adam and Eve and how the whole Catholic thing is very weird,” Ania said. “We grow up, and we’re like, ‘Wow, religion is just kind of fake,’ and everyone has a different perspective.”
Ania developed her own perspective about religion and music after moving from Koszalin, Poland to Chicago with her mother at age 15. While growing up near the Baltic Sea, she watched Polish MTV and longed to play electric guitar.
“I didn’t play instruments until I moved to the States because where I come from in Poland we never had music schools,” Ania said. “It would be impossible to play electric guitar or be in a rock band. There was one music school, and all the kids that went there had been trained since they were four years old.”
One late August night Mark Jewett stumbled upon an enigmatic vision while heading home from a show in Port Huron.
That vision illuminated the night sky while its reflection danced on the water and beckoned Jewett to stop and observe.
“As I drove south out of Port Huron on Military Street, which runs close and parallel to the St. Clair River, I looked out my side window, and I could see the Canadian shoreline, south of Sarnia,” Jewett said. “I saw a spectacle that lit up like something from a sci-fi movie. All I could think was, ‘What was that?’ I was stunned.”
Jewett turned his car around, drove up to the river’s shoreline and saw the “industrial monstrosity” known as “Chemical Valley,” which is home to more than 60 refineries and chemical plants in Sarnia, Ontario.
“The vibe I got standing alone on a dark river bank in very peaceful quiet was very calming,” said Jewett, a Plymouth-based Americana singer-songwriter. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, in spite of this hideous pollution-spewing industrial megaplex in very close proximity to a population of people, everything will be all right.’”
Jewett captured that peaceful, nocturnal moment in his latest single, “Saint Clair’s Promise,” a twangy, torchy ode to beauty, mystery, faith and hope that’s available via Bandcamp. Billy Harrington (drums, percussion), Michael Harrington (pedal steel, electric guitar), Ken Pesick (bass) and Dale Grisa (piano) accompany Hewett on the track.
The track features a driving bassline and a mellow slide guitar beautifully intertwined with Jewett’s Johnny Cash-inspired vocals while Amy Petty provides soothing harmonies – “It might have been the water/It might have been the light/It might have been a silent voice calling out to me that night.”
“Saint Clair’s Promise” is one of two new tracks that will be featured on Jewett’s untitled third album, which will drop in spring 2020 and serve as the follow-up to 2016’s “Tending the Fire.” Produced by Billy Harrington, Jewett’s new album will sonically immerse listeners in personal tales about different moods, feelings and experiences.
“When Billy heard my demos, he said he could imagine taking these tunes down a sonic road similar to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ ‘Raising Sand,’” Jewett said. “Ironically, I see my sound growing by getting simpler. With exceptions, I feel like music that I write for a conscious purpose needs room to breathe.”