The Waterford blues-rock quintet’s debut album reveals personal thoughts about loss, growth and ambition, especially from lead vocalist-guitarist Frank Grimaldi and organist Peter Zajicek.
“I wrote ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ when I was 17 after my first bad breakup. It’s just a heartbroken kid who thinks he’s never gonna fall in love again. ‘Long Road Ahead’ was me trying to write a song that sounded like a Jimi Hendrix song,” Grimaldi said.
“What comes out from me lyrically are things that I don’t have the courage to say directly to people, or they’re something I just wanna get off my chest. They’re also mantras, even if they’re negative. I feel like Pete [Zajicek] writes out of frustration as well.”
Those shared experiences from Grimaldi and Zajicek truly produce “something good” for Slowfoot listeners.
With bandmates Mike Conley (guitar), Kris Grieg (bass) and Tony DiDio (drums), they present a profound release filled with soulful vocals, introspective lyrics, vintage Hammond organ solos and bluesy instrumentation.
“If you asked all five members of the group, you would get five different favorite bands. There’s a lot of different stuff melting into our sound, and you know who wrote what song,” said Grimaldi, who’s influenced by Humble Pie, Led Zeppelin and Derek Trucks.
“It’s only me and Pete who have been writing the songs, but you can feel my writing tendencies versus Pete’s. He has a lot of words in his songs … and my songs are more Hemingway in their approach.”
The Alto, Michigan indie-folk singer-songwriter candidly shares honest stories about self-acceptance, familial love and the passage of time on his latest album, Songs That Didn’t Make the Record.
“I’ve consciously been trying to not worry about how a song is gonna come off. The second I stopped trying to be cool, audiences started responding,” said Kyle Rasche, aka Chain of Lakes.
“When I play my ‘Worm’ song from the [upcoming] kids’ record because that’s the last one I finished, people wanna see who you are—good, bad, ugly. You’re just more interesting that way when you’re yourself.”
The album’s 10 tender tracks showcase Rasche’s increasing growth and strength over different points in time. Whether it’s his last day on earth or his ideal day at the beach, his wise lyrics, sentimental stories, and earnest instrumentation reflect his evolutionary mindset.
“I do write a lot, so these were all from that same season of writing. I think it makes sense there’s a theme throughout because I have been writing a lot about my family. I have been writing a lot about discontent on not being able to fully dive into art,” Rasche said.
“I use a lot of imagery … sunsets on a chapter, day or period. I didn’t consciously make these songs to be a batch that comes out like this by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it makes sense if they sound like that because they were all made in the same time period of a writer that was writing a lot.”
A prolific songwriter, Rasche’s Songs That Didn’t Make the Record serves as his second full-length Chain of Lakes release in over six months. In May, he dropped Catch, an introspective album that recounts personal tales of heartwarming comfort and raw vulnerability.
“Thematically, Catch was more cohesive as it was than if we had just thrown a random ‘Sunset’ song on there or a very sweet love song that wouldn’t really fit,” Rasche said. “Catch is about coming of age and nostalgia and finding reconciliation with parts of yourself.”
Amidst that reconciliation, Rasche compiled a timeless gem of an album with producer Josh Kaufman for Songs That Didn’t Make the Record. However, don’t let the album’s title fool you—there’s nothing ephemeral about any of its tracks.
“I put this record out because I love these songs too much to not have them on a record. I’m very, very proud of them, and now I have a little bit of regret on that name. If it sounds like these are reject songs … that last record was made to be that record, and this means those weren’t for it. I think this one is a little lighter,” he said.
“Calling this Songs That Didn’t Make the Record took so much pressure off of having it be a cohesive album because everybody just gives me liberties of it being the next songs.”
“It really does come from my past albums and dealing with all the controversy and disagreement in the world. What has gotten me through these last few years has been love and the relationships with my wife, my family and my friends. In a way, while it seems like a departure, it’s really part of the same story,” Alter said.
“How many times have you spent your whole day watching whatever news channel you watch? I did a lot of that, and what got me away from that and allowed me to deal with things emotionally and intellectually was turning back to the people I could count on in my life.”
ThroughoutLove and All That Comes With It, Alter revisits past and present relationships alongside reflective lyrics and atmospheric folk-jazz-rock instrumentation. Each track encourages listeners to take an emotional and spiritual look at the love in their lives.
“Some of the songs on the album were written a while ago, but a lot of them were rewritten where I repurposed lyrics and things like that. There were songs I wasn’t happy with, but I liked certain concepts in them,” Alter said.
“The first song really written for this album was ‘Love and All That Comes With It.’ It has the line, ‘With love you can deal with it,’ and it’s a continuation of my previous statements.”
To expand on those statements, we recently chatted with Alter about writing and recording tracks for his recent release.
The Lansing indie-folk quartet follow spirited wisdom from the late congressman and musician about taking risks and making changes in life.
Lewis and Bowie’s encouragement about “getting in good trouble” and “going a little further into the water” inspired the band’s hopeful opener, “Where It Gets Exciting,” from their new album One More Drop.
“I wrote this song in 2020 during one of the Black Lives Matter movements,” said Austin Kaufmann, the band’s co-lead vocalist, guitarist, mandolinist and harmonicist.
“I was talking through this with my children, attending some of these rallies with them and processing that. You talk big to your kids and realize, ‘I really need to live up to this stuff, and I need to put myself out there.’”
The track also resonates with Tamiko Rothhorn, the band’s co-lead vocalist, cornetist and ukulelist.
“I lived in Germany for a while, and I did work with Peace Brigades International and trained with the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed,” she said. “There’s a word called ‘civil courage’ that’s about speaking out and taking action against injustice or oppression, whether that is on a bus, at a school or in a community.”
Along with Dangling Participles bandmates Tim Patterson (vocals, bass, piano) and Dan Moreno (vocals, percussion), Kaufmann and Rothhorn convey that “Where It Gets Exciting” determination through eager acoustic guitar, cornet, saxophone, bass and percussion.
Kaufmann sings, “And I’m right where I need to be / To up my game, fight complacency / In the deep end, there’s no hiding / This is where it gets exciting.”
“That song is a reminder that I need to do more than just treading water,” he said. “I need to intentionally jump into that deep end because if I don’t, then I’m not living my life the way I want to live it.”