Suburban Stories – Matthew Milia Revisits Metro Detroit Memories on ‘Keego Harbor’

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Matthew Milia’s “Keego Harbor” captures a beautiful legacy of life unchanged in the metro Detroit suburbs. Photo – John Hanson

For Matthew Milia, Keego Harbor represents a nostalgic, winding metro Detroit pathway from youth to adulthood and back again.

The Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter and Frontier Ruckus frontman eloquently drifts through deep childhood recollections, gritty suburban landmarks and dichotomous neighborhood adventures on his well-crafted second solo album.

“This has been a lifelong obsession, especially with the suburban world. It’s inspired by the fact that the suburban experience is not monolithic. It’s all these mingling beautiful dualities and contradictions of the human experience that live in this space,” said Milia, who grew up in Keego Harbor.

“I’m juxtaposing Pontiac and Bloomfield Hills because those places are contiguous, and they couldn’t be more different. That’s a hard thing for people that don’t live in this area to understand. My endless personal quest is to give as much vivid description and detail of these contradictions that I’ve experienced.”

Throughout Keego Harbor, Milia intricately constructs snapshots of mundane Michigan experiences – junk mail, rotten mulch and phone chargers – and static places – party stores, drive-thru lanes and nail salons – across 10 introspective tracks to capture a beautiful legacy of life unchanged.

“I think this record is a bit more about generational inheritance. My parents met in Keego Harbor at a place called the Back Seat Saloon that’s no longer there, and the first placed they lived together was in a little loft above a house. The age I am now is when they were doing all that. It’s a bit of time travel while seeing myself as my parents and all the things that entails,” he said.

While much of Keego Harbor remains in the rear-view mirror of the mind’s eye, another portion welcomes the uncertain future with outstretched arms. It’s a matter of looking toward the past to better understand who you’ve become and where you’re headed, whether that’s in a city or a suburb.

“I’m also thinking on another level about my experience in the music industry. It’s such a weird commerce to toil in, and my life since 2006 has been writing these songs and making these records with my friends and putting them out into the world and seeing where they take me,” Milia said.

“I think that a major trope of this record is the recalibration of one’s dreams and expectations. And knowing that immense beauty and surprise can be hiding there. Once you recalibrate what you think you wanted or were working toward, you might just find something even more rewarding.”

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Beacon of Hope – The Legal Matters Bring Power Pop Shine to ‘Chapter Three’

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The Legal Matters’ Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith chronicle the pandemic, politics and personal struggles on “Chapter Three.” Courtesy photo

The Legal Matters brilliantly shine a light during a lingering time of uncertainty.

The mid-Michigan and metro Detroit power pop trio of Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith combines sunny melodies, lush harmonies and spirited instrumentation over a dozen contemplative tracks chronicling the pandemic, politics and personal struggles on Chapter Three.

“Music lovers value music even more now than they did before the pandemic. We hope people enjoy this record, and that it’s another decent thing that’s come out of this crappy time. We want people to put their ears on it and give it a chance, and we think there’s a little bit of something there for everybody,” Reed said.

Now available via Klingensmith’s Futureman Records, Chapter Three serves as The Legal Matters’ third infectious, compelling release since 2014. Each track provides an intimate, thoughtful perspective about moving forward in today’s ambivalent, precarious world.

“This record was mentally one of the most helpful things through all of this because it gave the three of us a chance to work on something that we really enjoy doing. We’re ridiculously pleased with the results,” Reed said.

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In Season – Chain of Lakes Debuts Intimate Live Video of ‘Next Few Winters’ EP on Sunday

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Chain of Lakes’ “Next Few Winters” EP commemorates the all-weather experiences of home, relationships and family. Courtesy photo

Chain of Lakes beautifully recreates the cozy, peaceful feel of winter in the midst of summer.

The Alto indie folk singer-songwriter brings a relaxed, reflective mood to a new live virtual performance of his latest EP, Next Few Winters, premiering 8 p.m. Sunday via The Stratton Setlist’s Facebook page and newly launched YouTube channel.

“We went in there with the idea of recreating the tracks. It’s a cool way to revisit the songs and get together with the boys. There are only three people that can play ‘Next Few Winters,’ ‘Black Ice’ and ‘Where It Starts,’ and it’s us recreating that space sonically while being in the same room together,” said Kyle Rasche, aka Chain of Lakes.

Rasche (vocals, guitar) teamed up with Jeffrey Niemeier (violin) and Kyle VanderVeen (ambient guitar) to record the intimate live show at Grand Rapids’ Second Story Sound in June. Mixed and mastered by Greg Baxter and filmed and edited by Drew VanderVeen, the video features Chain of Lakes performing inside a dimly lit, wood-paneled, red-walled studio.

“I was not envisioning sweating in shorts and a tank top while I was practicing for Next Few Winters. We had to dress a little warmer for the video so people might actually believe it was recorded back in the winter,” said Rasche with a laugh.

Continue reading “In Season – Chain of Lakes Debuts Intimate Live Video of ‘Next Few Winters’ EP on Sunday”

Time Machine – Dani Darling Unites Past with ‘The Future’ on Latest Psychedelic EP

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Dani Darling transports listeners to a boundless cosmic frontier filled with vintage-neo soundscapes on “The Future.”

Drenched in psychedelic sensibilities, space-age rhythms and funky prog-jazz fusions, Dani Darling vividly constructs an insightful time machine that revisits past reflections and welcomes future possibilities.

The Ann Arbor chanteuse-guitarist instantly transports listeners to a boundless cosmic frontier filled with vintage-neo soundscapes and never-ending stories on The Future EP, which dropped June 25.

“The kind of energy we need is that kind of New Year’s Eve vibe, like having a fresh start, feeling adventurous and wanting to see what’s out there. When it comes to these current times, I think it’s about being hopeful for the future and the energy that people have when they’re anticipating it and feeling positive about it,” said Danielle Davis, aka Dani Darling.

“That’s why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday; that whole energy is unmatched when everyone is hoping for something greater and looking forward to letting go of what’s in the past.”

Darling initially envisioned The Future during a winter solstice 2020 recording session at Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios. At the time, she recorded the album’s astral, improvisational jam, “The Age,” and embraced the hypnotic, psychedelic sound that emerged.

“After we all finished playing it, we stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘Whoa that was exactly it.’ Then we were like, ‘Let’s do it again,’ and the New Year’s Eve session was the one heard around the whole project. It was a seven-hour lock-in, and most of it came out of that,” said Davis about her third release and follow-up to 2020’s mystical Mage EP.

“I was also thinking about the next phase of Dani Darling coming from a very lo-fi, toned-down sound where I’m pretty limited with my resources to suddenly having this ability to bring my friends and people I really respect in musically. That really changed the game.”

Continue reading “Time Machine – Dani Darling Unites Past with ‘The Future’ on Latest Psychedelic EP”

Pathfinder – Athens Creek Discovers Strength, Inspiration on ‘The Road Home’

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Athens Creek’s Taylor Haring and Nate Jones address growth, divorce, nostalgia and sobriety on their debut EP, “The Road Home.”

For Athens Creek, The Road Home represents a poignant, personal mile-marker in a lifelong journey to overcome adversity and find redemption.

The metro Detroit Americana duo of Taylor Haring (vocals) and Nate Jones (vocals, guitar) proudly reflects on that introspective odyssey nearly a year after releasing their debut EP.

“Our original plan was to write a full album, and we wrote down on paper the ideas we had for it. The ideas that were there mostly came from that paper, which captured what we wanted to write over the next year. Unknowingly, we didn’t realize other things were going to come up,” Jones said.

“Right now, we still have a sense of pride about it. We’re glad we got through it and did it, despite the fact that it took a year and half for us to release it. It was worth it.”

Released last August, The Road Home beautifully documents Athens Creek’s original destinations of professional and spiritual growth, yet refreshingly chronicles the unexpected detours of divorce, nostalgia and sobriety across six tracks. It’s a realistic, relatable portrayal of life’s ups and downs zigzagging from one point of uncertainty to the next, especially in a pandemic.

“When everything first started to happen, we didn’t know how long it was going to last. First, it was only going to be a couple of weeks, and now it’s been nearly a year and a half later. We all had our own struggles and learning curves, but it allowed us to create and share in ways that we didn’t before as far as recording and having live meetings with each other,” Haring said.

Continue reading “Pathfinder – Athens Creek Discovers Strength, Inspiration on ‘The Road Home’”

Pep Talk – Alison Albrecht Silences Self-Doubt, Second-Guesses on ‘I Say’ Single

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Alison Albrecht shares her personal transformation on “I Say.” Album artwork – Andrew Albrecht

Alison Albrecht elegantly transforms past lessons into future growth.

The Ann Arbor pop-soul-folk singer-songwriter deeply reveals her personal metamorphosis on “I Say,” an authentic, fearless anthem about taking charge of one’s life.

“It encapsulates exactly how this last year has gone for me. It’s just been a huge transformation in realizing if you can let go of the ‘supposed tos’ and the ‘shoulds’ and just live more boldly with conviction and confidence life opens up so much more,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht carries her courageous mindset forward as beating electronic drums, delicate cymbals, mellow bass, contemplative piano and tranquil synths provide internal strength. She soulfully sings, “Silence the voices/Chin up/Look into the mirror/Lock eyes with the face/And finally the fog begins to clear/Biting my nails down/But alone/Nowhere to hide/I breathe the same air/With a fresh new pair of eyes.”

“I’ve been diving into passion projects rather than thinking, ‘I should do this’ or ‘I should do that.’ I’m finally having the confidence of living in every moment and being present. This time, I say I’m not going to listen to those outside voices like I had been for a long time,” said Albrecht, who’s inspired by Sara Bareilles.

Albrecht teamed up with younger brother Andrew Albrecht to co-write and produce “I Say” in their home studio. Andrew provided the thoughtful piano instrumental while Albrecht penned the personal lyrics during a brief, torrential downpour.

“Two seconds later, the clouds suddenly parted and the sun beautifully shined. I was like, ‘That is such a metaphor for the song, and I need this right now.’ I tried to harness that sort of energy, and we wrote the song real quickly. It’s definitely one of my favorites,” she said.

The Albrechts sent the finished track to Jim Kissling at Ferndale’s Tempermill Studio for mastering. Once the single was released in March, the siblings started developing a concept for the upcoming “I Say” video, which will drop later this summer.

“We’re so lucky to live in an era where we can do things ourselves. I’m all about authenticity and trying to know exactly who I am and who we are. I think capturing video and audio in spaces where we feel comfortable gives the audience great insight into who we are,” Albrecht said.

Continue reading “Pep Talk – Alison Albrecht Silences Self-Doubt, Second-Guesses on ‘I Say’ Single”

Bite Down – The Fragile Corpse Absorbs Lost Souls on ‘Let Us Prey’

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The Fragile Corpse’s “Let Us Prey” single addresses the existential dread people face in life. Artwork – Matthew “Thew” Vayle

With raw, dark sensibilities and passionate, mystical lyrics, The Fragile Corpse instantly sends an alt rock rush of blood to the head.

The Ann Arbor goth-grunge collective pierces the flesh, seeps into veins and ingests troubled souls on their new vampiric demo single, “Let Us Prey,” now available on Band Camp.

“I tried to add a little bit of vampire imagery in the song to help create a sense of the existential dread that life can feel like when you’re at a low point. Life keeps going and never stops, and sometimes you feel like you need a break,” said Matthew “Thew” Vayle, The Fragile Corpse’s vocalist-guitarist-drummer.

Let Us Prey” deeply explores that murky internal abyss as coarse, turbulent electric guitars, gentle cymbal taps, steady drums and spirited bass submerge listeners in a raging emotional underworld.

Vayle calmly reflects, “I refine my taste on crimson wine/The ambrosial waste of god’s divine/If love is a sickness/I must be terminal/An immortal blight on the bloodline.”

“I find having that ability to relate to a piece of art often makes me feel less dreadful. The lyrics in songs like that can get pretty overdramatic at times, but I love that. Being in that state of mind can turn small things into daunting obstacles, and it can literally feel like the world is ending,” said Vayle, who’s inspired by The Smashing Pumpkins (think Adore) and Type O Negative.

“I wrote and recorded the song about three to four years ago and didn’t really touch it since. I was trying to put together a goth band at the time and wrote a few other gothy songs that are unfinished as well.”

Continue reading “Bite Down – The Fragile Corpse Absorbs Lost Souls on ‘Let Us Prey’”

Begin Again – Kenyatta Rashon Starts New Chapter with ‘The Art of Keeping It Real’

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Kenyatta Rashon reflects on her transition as an emerging artist and expectant mother on “The Art of Keeping It Real.” Photo – Chris Hollis

Kenyatta Rashon delightfully turns the page to a new life chapter.

The Ypsilanti R&B vocalist and Amplify fellow welcomes a new era of artistic growth, emotional strength and inner enlightenment on her latest album, The Art of Keeping It Real, out now via all streaming platforms.

“I didn’t come up with the title until afterward. The word that stuck out to me was ‘honesty.’ A lot of it has to do with emotional passages whether it’s friendships, relationships or fun; it’s everything that’s deep in your spirit,” Rashon said.

“When I got the chance to work with the fellowship, Rod (Wallace) and I spoke, and he was like, ‘Well, what would you like to do?’ And I was like, ‘I want to put it all out,’ but I explained to him that it’s very hard for me because I get writer’s block. He said, ‘I want you to write everything down,’ so I began to write everything down.”

That journaling process allowed Rashon to deeply reflect on her transition as an emerging artist and expectant mother. She spent five months crafting the seven authentic, insightful stories that would become The Art of Keeping It Real. (The project also features her 2020 single, “Ymmfb.”)

“I found out I was pregnant, and I went through all the emotions you can imagine from being pregnant. By the time it all came together, I’m like, ‘This is a story; this is something interesting that someone can relate to on many levels,’” said Rashon, who’s inspired by Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige.

“I wanted to go with these songs and focus on transparency and honesty, so I decided to go with The Art of Keeping It Real. Everything I’m summing up is art, and the art I’m projecting is keeping it real.”

Continue reading “Begin Again – Kenyatta Rashon Starts New Chapter with ‘The Art of Keeping It Real’”

Brand Name – Sam Watson Honors Neisha Neshae in Celebratory Video

Sam Watson eloquently pays tribute to Neisha Neshae in a laudatory new video.

The Ann Arbor R&B artist-engineer-producer honors the emerging Detroit R&B trap songstress in a four-minute, MTV Cribs-style video for her namesake track. Neshae co-stars in the video with Watson and Ypsilanti hip-hop artist Young’n Destined.

“Having Neisha in the video was dope; I appreciate her coming through. In fact, I speak for everyone who was there at the video shoot. We all appreciated and loved her for being there. I’m not sure how she found out exactly,” said Watson, who’s racked up over 25,000 views on the video.

“We were promoting the upcoming shoot so I assumed someone tagged her and kept sharing the post. Her presence brought more life and more energy to the video. Everyone was bringing their best to the table, but Neisha brought some more light to this bright environment.”

Filmed by Xerox Visuals, the “Neisha Neshae” video features Watson, Young’n Destined and a bunch of friends celebrating together at a lively house party. Watson and Young’n Destined each serenade Neshae as the party’s guest of honor at an Airbnb in St. Clair Shores.

“MTV Cribs was always a great show so I figured why not bring that back to life in the video. Recruiting everyone was pretty easy. Everyone who had heard the song did tell me that they wanted to be part of the video if it ever came up,” Watson said.

“We contacted all of our friends and told them to come and bring their friends, too. Everything fell into place. We’re all about good vibes so everyone knew what to bring to the table; besides everyone was good people.”

Continue reading “Brand Name – Sam Watson Honors Neisha Neshae in Celebratory Video”

Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’

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London Beck confronts dark emotional terrain on “The Black Satin Sessions.” Photo – E. (Liz) Keller

London Beck beautifully reveals the earnestness and empowerment of being vulnerable.

The Ann Arbor R&B vocalist-instrumentalist-producer and Amplify fellow openly shares a personal, emotive journey of defeating inner demons and embracing newfound strength on their latest album, The Black Satin Sessions.

“This project really showed me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s OK to use the resources that are available to you if you feel like you’re giving it your all and nothing’s really working. Even though there’s this outspoken, loud and formidable essence of London, I want people to understand there’s a softer, more thoughtful side of me,” Beck said.

“In that vulnerability, it’s OK to move toward a path of healing, and it’s OK to heal with people who have your best interests at heart. I can still encourage people and open doors for them while making space for me to have my needs met.”

Beck openly chronicles confronting dark emotional terrain while uncovering an enlightened path of self-redemption across 13 passionate, metamorphic tracks on The Black Satin Sessions. Each multi-genre track shifts, shimmies and soars over introspective lyrics, exquisite instrumentation and fiery vocals.

With Beck at the helm, listeners seamlessly absorb enchanting sonic snippets of R&B, electro pop, dance, Motown, rock, classical and folk rolled into a refreshing auditory experience.

“I had initially intended to put out two smaller EPs, one that was rock, acoustic-focused and one that had the electro vibes that people typically know me for. As we were working through this project and with the Amplify fellows, I was really thinking about my journey, and it all came together in the most beautiful, unexpected way,” said Beck, who’s also a classically trained violist.

“I decided to write and make music that’s on my heart and my mind. Once I had finished all of the music, and I listened to it, I was like ‘Wow, this really tells my story.’”

Continue reading “Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’”