Life Cycle – Strange Heart Breaks Old Patterns on ‘Falling Back Again’ Album

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Strange Heart’s Bobby Jankowski, Josh Clemens and Mike Schneider add soulful instrumentation and Motown-rich sensibilities to “Falling Back Again.” Photo – Dave Lamarand

Strange Heart boldly leans into the future on Falling Back Again.

The metro Detroit rock-soul trio of Josh Clemens (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Schneider (vocals, bass) and Bobby Jankowski (drums) share heartfelt truths of the past and find the way forward on their latest album.

Falling Back Again is when you’re trapped in a cycle, and you’re falling back into the same old patterns,” Clemens said.

“In a relationship, it can be like, ‘We’re fine; we’re doing really good,’ but then it’s like, ‘We’re back to square one,’ and finally it’s like, ‘Are you leaving? No, I’m staying.’”

That cyclical nature of Falling Back Again elicits eight personal tales of love, self-acceptance and heartbreak against a backdrop of soulful instrumentation and Motown-rich sensibilities. Each track accepts one circumstance and prepares for the challenges of the next.

“It’s just this vicious cycle, and it never stops. When you’re Falling Back Again, you’re falling back to the beginning of the cycle, which has a ‘with or without you’ vibe,” Clemens said

“That idea also kinda hits throughout the album, and obviously it’s within the song ‘24 Hours (Without Your Love).’ In a song like ‘Good Company,’ it fits perfectly. It fits a lot of places.”

Continue reading Life Cycle – Strange Heart Breaks Old Patterns on ‘Falling Back Again’ Album

Joint Adventure – The Whiskey Charmers Blaze New Sonic Trails for ‘On the Run’ Album

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The Whiskey Charmers capture an adventurous sonic spirit for “On the Run.” Photo courtesy of The Whiskey Charmers

The Whiskey Charmers thoughtfully choose their own adventure.

The Detroit alt-country duo of Carrie Shepard (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Lawrence Daversa (electric and steel guitars, backing vocals) explore and weather life-changing terrain on their new Odyssean album, On the Run.

“When we were trying to think of an all-encompassing title, we started realizing how much that theme goes through the record, the On the Run theme,” said Shepard about the album out today via Sweet Apple Pie Records.

“We didn’t have a specific theme before going into the record because we actually recorded about 20 songs at once. We picked half that we thought would go well together for this first one, and we have half that we’re hoping to release next year.”

As the first half, On the Run journeys through melodic Laurel Canyon soundscapes, ‘70s-inspired country-rock instrumentation fused with hard-rock, psych-rock, blues and funk elements, and daring tales of growth and reflection. Collectively, the album’s 10 tracks serve as the ideal sonic companion for an open-ended road trip.

“The last two records featured the same guitar and the same amp that I play with live all the time. I just brought different stuff in because I was playing different stuff … and some songs like ‘Billy’ seemed like it needed to be a little more aggressive,” Daversa said.

“I did a whole run-through of that song and sent it to some guitar-player friends of mine and one friend was like, ‘Yeah, I hear what you’re trying to do on that, but that ain’t it.’ At first I was like, ‘Forget you, man,’ and then I started thinking about it. He was right because I changed it to what we do now, and I think it turned out a lot better.”

Continue reading Joint Adventure – The Whiskey Charmers Blaze New Sonic Trails for ‘On the Run’ Album

Active Voice – Mike Ward Encourages Casting Your Ballot on ‘Troubled Times’ EP

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Mike Ward tackles sociopolitical challenges on “Troubled Ti

Mike Ward knows the nation’s times are a-changin,’ especially with today’s midterm elections.

In response, the Americana singer-songwriter encourages people to raise their voice and chase their freedom on his latest sociopolitical EP, Troubled Times.

“From my standpoint, I’m hoping it will help people look in the mirror and ask themselves some of these questions in terms of raising your own voice and paying attention to what’s truth and what’s not truth,” said Ward, who’s based in Detroit. “That’s basically the theme of ‘Wishing Well,’ and it’s the subtle theme of ‘WWTFS.’”

The contemplative opener, “Wishing Well,” advocates protecting individual rights and free speech alongside determined acoustic guitar and solemn organ.

Ward sings, “Stand alone, stand apart / Take a deep look into your heart / Because these are troubled times / These lives of yours and mine / So seek the proof in the face of the untruth / In the face of all the untruth.”

To learn more about Troubled Times and his upcoming plans, we recently chatted with Ward at Folk Alliance Region Midwest in Lisle, Illinois.

Continue reading Active Voice – Mike Ward Encourages Casting Your Ballot on ‘Troubled Times’ EP

Countryside Tales – The Wild Honey Collective Explores Life’s Peaks and Valleys on ‘Volume 2’ Album

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The Wild Honey Collective features storied lyrics, timeless acoustic instrumentation and rootsy sensibilities on “Volume 2.” Photo – Michael Boyes

The Wild Honey Collective deeply explores countryside tales of the past and present on Volume 2.

The Lansing-Grand Rapids, Michigan Americana-folk quintet of Tommy McCord (vocals, acoustic guitar), Danielle Gyger (vocals, fiddle, acoustic guitar), Timmy Rodriguez (vocals, electric and upright bass), Dan O’Brien (vocals, electric and upright bass) and Adam Aymor (pedal steel) ventures through life’s peaks and valleys on their latest anecdotal album.

“One of the big differences between [2021’s] Volume 1 and Volume 2 is that on Volume 2 all of the original written songs were brand new when we did them,” said McCord, who also produced and released the album via GTG Records.

“That’s very much reflected in the material because that’s what was going on in our lives; some of us were getting married, and Timmy and Dan both had kids in 2020. It wasn’t on purpose, but that very much is true.”

Alongside Volume 2’s storied lyrics and bucolic setting, The Wild Honey Collective beautifully weaves timeless acoustic instrumentation with rootsy sensibilities. It’s a refreshing listen while spending time with family and friends at a lakeside cabin or trekking through hilly, sprawling landscapes.

“By Volume 2, we were a gigging band when we made the album, and I think that really shows,” McCord said. “It feels more like a band than a studio project. We’re just kind of driving forward with that now.”

The band also drives Volume 2 forward with invigorating renditions of traditional folk songs and unreleased tracks by other songwriters, including Mark Vella’s “Ode to Thor,” “Dark Hollow,” Buck Owens’ “There Goes My Love,” “Rocky Mountain Belle,” “Katie Cruel” and the Irish instrumental “Red Haired Boy.”

“When you play in punk bands, the idea of recording cover songs is very taboo unless if you’re making fun of it or something. But in the world of traditional and folk music, that’s kind of part of it … interpreting other people’s songs and the Great American Songbook,” said McCord, who also plays in Drinking Mercury and The Plurals.

“That’s something I’ve learned more as I’ve played is this idea of respecting and learning from other songwriters … it’s really important. It’s less about my ego and more about what are good songs.”

Continue reading Countryside Tales – The Wild Honey Collective Explores Life’s Peaks and Valleys on ‘Volume 2’ Album

Brotherly Love – The Rupple Brothers Host Third Handmade Music Festival Oct. 7-8 in Chesaning

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For The Rupple Brothers, a local music festival provides the optimal balance of creativity and community at the grassroots level.

The Chesaning, Michigan psych-folk sibling duo of Cole Rupple and Evan Rupple weave those elements together at their homegrown Handmade Music Festival, which runs Oct. 7-8 at Showboat Park.

“Some of our very first festivals in 2016 and 2017 were Farm Fest, Pond Jam and Dunesville. These festivals have a beautiful grassroots message,” said Cole Rupple, who started Handmade in 2018.

“They have taught us that if you book it, they will come. If you have a little stage, some electricity and some of the favorite bands that we all love, then that’s all you need to make things happen.”

For their third festival, The Rupple Brothers will recapture that magic with a stacked music lineup of bluegrass, psych-folk, Americana, soul and jam artists.

Sixteen artists will perform on two stages with funk-rock band Distant Stars headlining Friday night and prog-funk-jazz quartet Chirp headlining Saturday night.

Other featured artists include Fay Burns, Cosmic Knot, Monte Pride, Nicholas James, Ma Baker, Act Casual, Stormy Chromer and The Rupple Brothers.

“We love Chirp, we love Monte Pride … there are a few friends we can’t get by without, and so we actually only have about 10 slots,” said Cole Rupple.

“We like to do singer-songwriters during the day, and then we work up to the full-band stuff at night … those are our two vibes. We just hope that everyone can see and appreciate all the beautiful Michigan talent that we have.”

In addition to talent, festivalgoers will enjoy food trucks along with craft and music vendors at Showboat Park’s scenic riverside.

“It’s an absolutely gorgeous location right along the Shiawassee River with maple trees all throughout. There’s a beautiful village campground nestled back in the trees,” said Cole Rupple, who co-runs the festival with older brother Evan Rupple, mother Shelly Rupple-English and sister Savannah Rupple.

“Truly, my favorite part is bringing all these amazing bands and all my incredible friends together and all that they do to my little hometown. We want to show [everyone] the beauty that we get to see on the road every weekend.”

Outside of the festival, The Rupple Brothers perform live regularly throughout Michigan and share tracks from their growing catalog. In 2018, the duo released their emotive, 10-track debut album, The Rupple Brothers and Company.

“The tracks were kind of just cobbled together, but our overarching theme would definitely be the first song, ‘Sadtown,’ and that’s our brother-love song,” said Cole Rupple, who formed the duo with Evan Rupple in 2015.

“My best friend passed away when I was a senior in high school, and that song has been consoling me. That’s our whole kinda vibe, that’s our whole kinda message … ‘Sadtown’ is the most evocative of that vibe.”

The Rupple Brothers will carry that vibe forward on their next album, which is currently underway. The duo wants to collaborate with a Michigan-based producer to shape the album’s overall sound.

“We had a pretty prolific period at the start of The Rupple Brothers, so we are backlogged to the gills. We honestly have about two or three albums’ worth of material. I would like this second album to be a double concept album, and I would like for it to be called Rivers,” said Cole Rupple, who’s inspired by The Avett Brothers, The Beatles and Elliott Smith.

“I would like to do a ‘River of Life’ side and a ‘River of Death’ side with lighter songs on the first side and the heavier, more intense songs on the second side. Everything is written, and everything is arranged … we just gotta get in there and lay it down.”

Show details:

Handmade Music Festival

4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8

Showboat Park, 805 S. Front Street in Chesaning, Michigan

Tickets: $30-$60

The Great Escape – Kruel Summer Trades Stress for Bliss on ‘Another Night’ Single

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Kruel Summer searches for happiness on “Another Night.” Artwork courtesy of Kruel Summer

Kruel Summer hatches an instant, emotional escape plan on “Another Night.”

The San Jose, California indie rock-reggae quartet of Clev Stiles (lead vocals, electric guitar), Ben Dimmit (lead guitar, backing vocals), Shane Billings (drums) and Chris Reed (bass, keys, backing vocals) fervently abandons prolonged stress for instant bliss on their latest all-weather single.

“I was dealing with a major life impact when I was working on ‘Another Night.’ I felt stressed, anxious and uneasy not knowing what came next,” Stiles said. “I wanted the song to have the reverse effect … a sort of mood booster or escape to forget about [what] I was dealing with.”

Rolling waves of electric guitar, bass, keys and drums refresh Stiles as he sings, “We talk about / Running around all day / Swore to your father / Now I’m standing in the light / You know I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“[It’s] an attempt to overturn any negative feelings of worry and stress to bring energy and happiness … an uplifting, feel-good summer song,” Stiles said.

“It’s sort of hard to not instantly get in a good mood after listening to it. The actual story is about me spending time with my girl in the city on the beach just escaping the stress and letting that love and company soak away the anxiety.”

Kruel Summer also escapes worries on the forthright breakup anthem, “Just Too Broken,” which dropped in May.

Soothing electric guitar and tranquil bass release the emotional floodgates as Stiles sings, “And if I didn’t know better I would love you / Be stitched up together like you want to / But that’s a little surreal to deal / I’m better off living off what I feel.”

“I feel like everyone in one time or another has felt ‘Just Too Broken.’ You’re just tired, exhausted and drained in trying to keep a relationship, connection or anything going … that feeling like you’re putting more effort into it than a significant other,” Stiles said.

“But it doesn’t necessarily need to be about a person or a relationship. It could be about anything you’re struggling with – a job, a habit or a personal roadblock. It’s that sense of giving up and trying to keep something going when it’s simply not working.”

Continue reading “The Great Escape – Kruel Summer Trades Stress for Bliss on ‘Another Night’ Single”

My Brave Face – Ken Newman Uncovers Societal Fears on ‘What Am I Afraid Of?’ Album

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Ken Newman’s “What Am I Afraid Of?” album features purposeful lyrics, vigorous instrumentation and massive rock soundscapes. Photo – Jayms Ramirez

Ken Newman boldly tackles society’s deepest and darkest fears on What Am I Afraid Of?

The San Francisco indie-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist deftly uncovers and deciphers a multitude of emotional traumas, violent conflicts, racial injustices and political tensions on his insightful debut album.

“It was gonna be called ‘Dreaming of Guns’ based on that one song. At some point, somebody else recommended another title, and I tried that for a little while, but that didn’t quite resonate,” Newman said.

“And then Scott (Mickelson) and I were talking about it, and I said, ‘What if I just called it What Am I Afraid Of? ’ Then, the two of us went, ‘Oh my God, of course, that’s what everything’s about.’”

For Newman, “everything” serves as an umbrella of personal and societal challenges ranging from everyday anxieties to teen suicide to homelessness to gun violence. The album’s 11 gripping tracks provide a poignant wake-up call for the nation to strongly unite, take action and instill change.

“The thing about this album is essentially the same paradigm that’s kind of dictated my entire life,” he said. “I don’t exactly know what’s happening until I look in the rear-view mirror and go, ‘That happened.’”

Continue reading My Brave Face – Ken Newman Uncovers Societal Fears on ‘What Am I Afraid Of?’ Album

Ripple Effect – Eric Ripper Finds Growth and Love on New ‘Wavelength’ Album

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Eric Ripper features exploratory lyrics, radiant acoustic guitars and ambient soundscapes on his new album. Artwork – Dean Ripper

Filled with emotion and adventure, Eric Ripper rides the wave of new possibilities.

The Ferndale, Michigan acoustic pop-rock singer-songwriter boldly journeys through the peaks and valleys of growth, love and aspiration on his latest revelatory album, Wavelength.

“I traveled out to Utah to start this project, worked on it while I was out there and continued it after coming back. I’ve seen many beautiful things and spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts,” Ripper said.

“Those thoughts come together when you finally sit down with a guitar in hand. I’ve learned that I need time to write and need to explore myself if I am to continue writing and producing music.”

With self-discovery top of mind, Ripper soars alongside Wavelength’s exploratory lyrics, radiant acoustic guitars and ambient soundscapes. The album’s nine contemplative tracks instantly invite listeners to accompany Ripper on his introspective, cathartic odyssey.

“Traveling is a big part of my inspiration as well as having good and bad life experiences. All elements toward this album have been therapeutic: writing, producing, recording and releasing – all of it,” he said.

“I feel as if I’m sharing a big side of me with others on this release, and I just hope people can hear the work and dedication put into it. Everyone is growing as a person … they all have their own direction. I’m riding this wavelength, and I hope others can hear their purpose and find themselves.”

Continue reading “Ripple Effect – Eric Ripper Finds Growth and Love on New ‘Wavelength’ Album”

Sonic Youth – Allye Gaietto Reconciles Past Expectations on New ‘Hoping for More’ Album

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Allye Gaietto revisits her past self on “Hoping for More.” Photo – Rolando Ybarra

Allye Gaietto candidly shares an internal monologue with her younger self.

The Detroit indie folk-pop singer-songwriter and pianist reconciles past expectations, relationships and interactions on her perceptive new album, Hoping for More, which drops Aug. 26.

“It’s so much discovering of who you are, what your beliefs are and where you stand on all sorts of different things. I think, for a lot of us, our identity is about who’s around us and how we interact with people and how they see us,” said Gaietto about previous life experiences in her early 20s.

“I think for this record there are a lot of things … like I had my first serious relationship and then got dumped for the first time, and that’s one of the songs on the album. That was huge for me.”

With Hoping for More, Gaietto provides a huge release of deeply buried emotions that still feel tender and raw. Whether encountering relief, heartache or courage, she beautifully documents those experiences through contemplative lyrics, haunting melodies and lush instrumentation.

“It’s this funny contrast of me trying to reconcile like, ‘What do you think about me? What do I think about you? How do we feel about each other?’ with friendships, romantic relationships and parent relationships,” said Gaietto, who also released the single, “I Guess I Don’t,” earlier this year.

“After the album was finished, the new stuff I’ve been writing … sometimes I have to put myself back in that early 20s, new relationship mindset because it’s a goldmine for feelings and content.”

Continue reading “Sonic Youth – Allye Gaietto Reconciles Past Expectations on New ‘Hoping for More’ Album”

Travel Light – Linden Thoburn Emits Hopeful Tales on New ‘When the Sun Comes Shining Through’ Album

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Linden Thoburn creates a spring-like feel on “When the Sun Comes Shining Through.” Photo courtesy of Linden Thoburn

Linden Thoburn beautifully shines a light on the road less traveled.

The Brighton, Michigan country-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist shares hopeful tales of navigating life’s seasonal changes on her adventurous new album, When the Sun Comes Shining Through.

“There’s a lot of movement, and there’s a lot of leaving one state and going into another state. I write from listening to life and listening to myself, and that’s just what was there,” Thoburn said.

“It’s somebody who’s able to look back and be here, yet still be able to bring some perspective, hopefulness and realism, too. The journey continues, and if you’re really going to live this life and be here, you have to be awake to the journey.”

On When the Sun Comes Shining Through, Thoburn deeply embraces a pictorial journey filled with lonesome AM radio, cherry red vans, summer berries, Mississippi tributaries, bright wings and Avalon forests. Each radiant track leaves a lasting imprint on the heart and soul of bygone eras and unread chapters.

“A lot of 2022 has been getting this album ready to launch … and I keep thinking COVID is over, and the sun comes shining through, and then COVID keeps coming back,” she said with a laugh. “This album is like leaving COVID, and it’s like going from winter and heading into spring.”

Continue reading Travel Light – Linden Thoburn Emits Hopeful Tales on New ‘When the Sun Comes Shining Through’ Album