Chronological Order – The Blueflowers Process Pivotal Life Moments on ‘Time Didn’t Matter’ EP

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The Blueflowers examine past relationships, present circumstances and future possibilities on “Time Didn’t Matter.” Photo – Lisa Folcarelli Jansen

The Blueflowers thoughtfully follow their own timeline.

The Detroit indie-rock sextet of Kate Hinote (vocals, lyrics), Erin Williams (backing vocals, keys, lyrics), Tony Hamera (guitar, synths), David Johnson (guitar), Bryan Talaski (bass) and Jim Faulkner (drums) chronicles pivotal moments of growth, heartbreak and change on their latest cathartic EP, Time Didn’t Matter.

“I certainly hope that people can relate to it and have that feeling,” Hinote said. “Any time you’re making music, you hope that people can react to it in some way, and I am considering that when I’m writing, but I also gotta get stuff out.”

As an emotional outlet, Time Didn’t Matter carefully opens the floodgates of past relationships, present circumstances and future possibilities. Six passionate tracks flow alongside introspective lyrics, fiery goth-rock instrumentation and ethereal shoegaze sensibilities.

“That’s just what kind of comes out … I’ve always written that way and still try to write in a way that can be interpreted,” Hinote said. “It’s a little vague, so that it can be left open to interpretation, and there are certainly some specific relationships that are addressed on this EP.”

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Sonic Epilogue – Cece June Searches for Closure and Certainty on ‘Over’ Single

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Cece June finds newfound strength and confidence on her latest single, “Over.” Photo – Adelaide Wilson

Cece June deeply searches for a sense of closure.

The Barcelona, Spain indie-pop singer-songwriter and guitarist thoughtfully addresses unanswered questions, lingering uncertainties and changing relationships on her latest contemplative single, “Over.”

“It just happened, and it wasn’t really autobiographical because I wasn’t dating anyone at that point,” said June, who’s currently an art history and political science senior at the University of Michigan.

“It’s interesting, with so many of my songs, they just kind of happen, and the ability to write ‘Over’ without having felt it personally … I genuinely don’t know where that came from.”                                                     

Throughout “Over,” a tranquil symphony of pensive electric guitar, hopeful cello, crashing cymbals and thunderous drums infuses June with newfound strength and confidence.

She sings, “I can’t help but to let you know/That this is more than intended/I never meant to let you go/I said I loved you and I meant it/It isn’t over just cause you say it is/I’d like to tell you where my ending begins.”

“With the guitar pattern, I knew that I wanted a message, and I wanted it to be really restated. The verses are structurally the same, but obviously lyrically different,” June said.

“The choruses are different, and as that desperation nears the end, that’s when the music starts building up, and the cello gets stronger, and the drums come in. The drums are almost cacophonic, and I wanted them to be loud … like something’s breaking, and it’s not in your control to mend it.”

To create “Over’s” emotive sound, June collaborated with a talented cast of U-M musicians and students, including producer Ethan Matt, guitarist Matt Stawinski, drummer Casey Cheatham, cellist Micah Huisman and mixer Samuel Uribe-Botero.

“Ethan pushed me to try new things. In the first session, he was giving me auto-tune vocoders that sounded like T-Pain, and I was like, ‘What is this? This is awesome!’ It was such an awesome experience to see it evolve with the mindset of someone who’s really different,” said June, who recorded the track at Ethan Matt’s home studio in mid-February. 

“It’s really just a close-knit community of people who are always willing to help. It’s so incredible because you can be like, ‘Oh, I need a trombone,’ and you have like 70 people available.” 

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The New Avant-Garde – Nubdug Ensemble and Amanda Chaudhary Share Cerebral Prog-Jazz-Funk Fusion

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Two avant-garde San Francisco musicians boldly push the sonic boundaries of prog, jazz and funk.

Nubdug Ensemble’s Jason Berry and Amanda Chaudhary seamlessly fuse esoteric lyrics with experimental synths and cerebral instrumentation on their latest ingenious albums, Volume 2: Blame and Meow Meow Band, respectively.

“These albums have both really been connecting with a lot of people. They really inspire both of us to keep going … and things have been improving the past couple of months. Hopefully, we’ll be moving in a more positive place,” Berry said.

“With my music, I’m not looking for acclaim or huge financial sales. These things would be wonderful, but I just want to connect with people. If it makes somebody happy … then it’s like, ‘Mission accomplished.’”

Both Nubdug Ensemble and Chaudhary whisk listeners along genre-bending adventures filled with precious metals, mechanical wonders, white wine and public transportation. Each Volume 2: Blame and Meow Meow Band track instantly brings a welcome element of surprise and enthrallment and repeatedly plays inside appreciative minds.

“I wanted to try these individual sounds, and if you listen back to something like The Residents, I thought, ‘How did they make those sounds and what could I do with that?’ It’s very late ‘70s things with different kinds of technology to get that sort of raw thing, and they use different instruments here … or use this process or that process,” said Chaudhary, who also collaborates with Berry in Nubdug Ensemble.

“I thought, ‘What if I work with this drummer and this synthesizer player and see what happens?’ It turned out to be great, and that’s the genesis of some of the things like ‘North Berkeley BART’ and ‘White Wine.’ Once I started working with Calvin Weston in 2020, it was like this perfect vehicle for recording some of this music.”

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Supper’s Ready – Grooblen Hosts Creepy Dinner Party in New ‘Neuroplasticity’ Video

Grooblen eerily throws impromptu, nightmarish dinner parties.

The San Francisco cabaret psych-punk trio of Ellie Stokes (vocals, guitar, piano, synth), Jack Stancik (bass) and William Stokes (drums) celebrates creepy plastic cuisine, nervous guests and ghoulish mannequin hosts in their new immersive 360 video for “Neuroplasticity.”

“It’s all kind of weird CGI people, and you turn around and someone has a plate of eyeballs,” said Ellie Stokes about the interactive video. “The detail in it is amazing, and one guy sitting down has motor legs, and he keeps moving. You’re forced to look at people and figure out what’s going on in their heads.”

One step inside the “Neuroplasticity” characters’ collective headspace reveals the innovative mindset of Honeymoon Supply Co. Grooblen collaborated with the Los Angeles-based visual artist to direct and create the stunning video.

“I told her to include some stuff, but for the most part, it was just her and how she perceived the song,” said Ellie Stokes. “She was like, ‘Well, what about a dinner party?’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that would be so cool, and what if you included some creepy dish that could be misinterpreted?’”

Throughout the David Lynch-esque video, a pair of guests anxiously determines whether to sample eyeball appetizers, bloody cocktails and emerald gelatin molds. Their spooky hosts quietly observe as floors move below and flames erupt overhead.

“She was looking for creative projects, and it took her about a week to put it together,” said Ellie Stokes. “I love that kind of stuff, and I’m excited to put it out there.”

The video also perfectly reflects the spooky, haunting imagery depicted in Grooblen’s “Neuroplasticity” single, which spotlights the human brain and body’s resilience to heal and adapt from past traumas.

“‘Neuroplasticity’ is about how everything can change in a second and how our brains and bodies are so interlinked,” said Ellie Stokes, who was diagnosed with a rare optic nerve condition in 2020, but has since recovered.

“I wrote it from the perspective of the nerve in my brain telling me what was going on. It’s digging deep into this new part of myself that I hadn’t really thought about before.”

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Change Agent – Fernando Silverio Solis Chronicles Personal Growth on ‘When the Good Starts to Fade’ EP

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Fernando Silverio Solis processes past relationships on “When the Good Starts to Fade.”

Fernando Silverio Solis instinctively understands the rate of change.

The Flint indie-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist aptly evolves and shifts with changing relationships on his latest introspective EP, When the Good Starts to Fade.

“With this group of songs, there are definitely some huge life changes taking place. You’re arriving at a different point whether it’s literally or figuratively and are unsure where to go from there,” Solis said.

“There’s a big theme around friendships … you have to acknowledge that sometimes you outgrow people or maybe they outgrow you.”

Those keen observations thoughtfully address past connections and anticipate future ones across three astute tracks. For Solis, When the Good Starts to Fade acknowledges the nuances and notions that slowly arise as one chapter ends and another begins.

“A lot of times I compartmentalize these ideas, thoughts and processes into a time when I can finally let it out,” he said. “After the songs are written, it’s almost therapy in a way … you don’t always know that you feel or think a certain way about something until you are given that space to say it freely.”

Continue reading “Change Agent – Fernando Silverio Solis Chronicles Personal Growth on ‘When the Good Starts to Fade’ EP”

Remote Start – Otto’s ‘Still Picture You’ Debut EP Born from Virtual Songwriting Sessions

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Otto’s Nate Dornfried, Chesney Walters, Jonny Walker and Austin Howard create an ’80s-inspired pop sound on “Still Picture You.” (Not pictured: Ryan Freitas) Photo – Brooke Tiller

For Otto, a series of virtual songwriting sessions provided unexpected creativity and camaraderie.

The Detroit indie-pop quintet of Chesney Walters (vocals), Jonny Walker (guitar), Nate Dornfried (keys), Ryan Freitas (bass) and Austin Howard (drums) instantly gelled while penning new tracks over Zoom for their infectious debut EP, Still Picture You.

“In 2019, I was ready to call it quits with music, and then two weeks later, I just changed my mind. Austin and I decided to start doing our own project, and we started writing with no end-game in mind. And I knew Nate from where we grew up, and I ran into him and asked if he wanted to be a part of it,” said Walker, who previously played with Howard in another project.

“The three of us wrote together for a year and a half and auditioned 10 different singers, but couldn’t find anyone we were happy with. I was ready to call it quits (again) because we just couldn’t find anyone, and then Chesney just came out of nowhere. Austin and I also have known Ryan for a while. He ended up playing bass with us for one show, and now he’s here.”

With the right lineup intact, Otto started compiling a new batch of earnest tracks in 2020. Walters met regularly with Walker to write and refine the ‘80s-inspired, synth-pop songs that would become Still Picture You.

“I was living with my family at the time in the suburbs, and I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere except to Jonny’s house to write music,” Walters said. “We would just write and write for months while there was nothing else to do.”

During their writing sessions, Walters and Walker collaborated remotely with other Otto members until the pandemic subsided. It would be another six months before the entire band would meet in person.

“I hadn’t met them for months once we started, and we would all rotate at Jonny’s house and be there at different times,” Walters said. “But the first time we were all together in the same place was when we went to Nashville in March 2021 to record.”

Continue reading “Remote Start – Otto’s ‘Still Picture You’ Debut EP Born from Virtual Songwriting Sessions”

Pithy Tales – Blank Tape Tax Chronicles Self-Empowerment on ‘Plastic Vapid Sexual Cool’ Album

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Blank Tape Tax’s Hayley McNichol and Ben Yost overcome adversity on “Plastic Vapid Sexual Cool.” Courtesy photo

Ben Yost thoughtfully constructs personal vignettes of self-empowerment.

The Detroit punk-rock vocalist-guitarist-drummer vividly recounts past struggles to overcome adversity on Blank Tape Tax’s new pithy, punchy album, Plastic Vapid Sexual Cool, via Kickpop Records.

“There’s a quote from Ezra Pound where he says, ‘The image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy.’ The mission of my writing is to use imagery,” said Yost, who’s inspired by the late 20th century American poet’s development of imagism, a movement that stressed the precision and economy of language.

Alongside Blank Tape Tax bassist Hayley McNichol, Yost employs astute, concise lyrics and raw, brisk instrumentation to address internal challenges with mental health, relationships and loss. While only 21 minutes long, Plastic Vapid Sexual Cool provides a detailed analysis beneath the surface.

“‘Hospital’ is about me having a mental breakdown, but it’s also about a number of other things,” Yost said. “I have my interpretation as the author, but you, the listener, may have another interpretation based on the words, and your interpretation is just as valid an interpretation as mine is.”

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Recovery Time – Linen Ray’s ‘On the Mend’ Album Brings Comfort and Closure

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Linen Ray’s “On the Mend” reveals a majestic, internal transformation fueled by love, hope and gratitude. Photo – Mike Frieseman/Package design – Stephanie Eatherly

Linen Ray slowly breathes a long-awaited sigh of relief.

The Nashville, Tennessee married folk-rock duo of Rebekah Craft (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Gabriel Craft (drums, backing vocals) releases deeply buried tensions and inner struggles on their latest cathartic album, On the Mend.

“We’re in a full-circle moment now … there’s been some closure and healing in different areas. We’ve never written anything more meaningful to us that’s so close to our hearts,” said Rebekah Craft, who relocated to Music City from Ypsilanti with her husband and children in 2018.

“When we were moving to Nashville, there were so many unknowns, but we knew we had to do it. And, now looking back, we can see that this move has been really good for our family. We got to step away from some of those situations to really look at it and see the whole picture now.”

Inside that new On the Mend picture, Linen Ray finds comfort and rejuvenation after weathering personal stress and pandemic challenges. Each therapeutic track reveals a majestic, internal transformation fueled by hope, love and gratitude.

“We can see more clearly now because we’re all human, and we all make our choices,” said Rebekah Craft. “Now … we have way more grace, compassion and understanding than we had before when we were living through those moments in Michigan.”

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The Quest – Adam Padden Searches for Life’s Definitive Answers on ‘Dreamer’ Single

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Adam Padden gets introspective on his latest EP, “Oh No! It’s the Rapture.” Photo – Liz Wittman

Adam Padden boldly searches for change and truth in an uncertain world.

The Detroit post-punk rocker and multi-instrumentalist demands life’s clear-cut answers while trying to distinguish fantasy from reality on his latest turbo-charged single, “Dreamer.”

Punchy drums, hectic cymbals, intrepid bass, spirited keys and fiery electric guitars release an inner fury as Padden sings, “You better stop and ask why/The secrets always disguised/Another flimsy attempt/Was it just something you dreamt?”

In reality, Padden relishes the release of “Dreamer” alongside his insightful new EP, Oh No! It’s the Rapture, which dropped June 3.

The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Padden about the EP, his June 10 show in Detroit, his roles in Tart and Handgrenades, his background and upcoming plans.

Oh No! It’s the Rapture

TSS: Your new EP, Oh No! It’s the Rapture, explores internal and spiritual challenges with taking risks, making changes and searching for truth in life. How did this EP help you embark on a quest of self-discovery? 

AP: In short, no, I did not purposely write these songs with that theme in mind. I think that turning 30 during a global pandemic made me a little introspective, to say the least. The lyrics to most of these songs came out super-fast. I honestly think I’m still deciphering what some of these songs are about.

TSS: How did a 10-day quarantine help produce the 7 tracks that would become Oh No! It’s the Rapture? What was it like to focus solely on writing and recording your own material during that time?

AP: I guess I was lucky enough to have the songwriting gates burst open when I had all the time in the world to write songs. It doesn’t always happen that way! It was a fantastic learning experience to write and record a collection of songs in such a short window of time.

Continue reading “The Quest – Adam Padden Searches for Life’s Definitive Answers on ‘Dreamer’ Single”