Steve Taylor vividly remembers the day Tom Petty died.
The Lake Orion singer-songwriter and vocalist-guitarist of the Americana roots trio The Steve Taylor Three drove home from a band rehearsal on Oct. 2, 2017 and officially heard Petty had passed away.
“By the time I was driving home, it was like 10:30 at night, it was pretty clear that he was gone. I was rooting around in my car trying to find a Tom Petty CD in there somewhere, and I found the album, Echo,” said Taylor about Petty’s 1999 album. “The first song on that album is called ‘Room at the Top,’ and it just starts with Tom Petty playing guitar and singing, ‘I’ve got a room at the top of the world tonight, and I ain’t comin’ down.’”
That song instantly sparked Taylor to write four pages of nostalgic thoughts about Petty once he arrived home. Those thoughts remained dormant for six months until Taylor turned it into a heartfelt tribute with bandmates Bryan Frink (bass, keys) and Carey Weaver (drums, percussion) called “The Day Tom Petty Died.” It’s one of 12 new stunning tracks featured on The Steve Taylor Three’s third album, Earn Every Scar, out Saturday.
“And the whole thing was I didn’t want to write a sad song about it. I kinda wanted to write a song that told the story of the day he passed away,” said Taylor, who studied bass at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. “It’s supposed to be a tribute to everything that he accomplished.”
The uplifting ode to everyone’s favorite Heartbreaker features clicking drumsticks, driving bass and vibrant piano as Taylor beautifully sings, “I hope you like the view from the room at the top of the world/And I hope you’re dancing with an American girl/I know that Roy and George are sitting by his side/I won’t soon forget the day Tom Petty died.”
Taylor grew up listening to Tom Petty on the radio, but didn’t become a hardcore fan until seeing Peter Bogdanovich’s 2007, “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” about the Gainesville, Fla., native and his longtime band. “I’ve said to so many people, ‘You don’t realize for every 25 Tom Petty songs that you know there are 25 you’ve never heard that are good if not better,’” he said.
ATMIG sets the gold standard for rich multi-genre music in Detroit.
The duo of Tobias Lipski (guitar, vocals) and Julia Hickling (vocals) brilliantly alchemizes pieces of traditional folk, indie rock, shoegaze and rockabilly into a priceless sonic compound.
That compound includes valuable elements of inner reflections, deep motivations and life experiences throughout ATMIG’s vibrant full-length debut, “Wishes,” which dropped in 2019.
“The idea was to put the best songs that fit together, and the lyrics for the song ‘Wishes’ were not written yet, so it gave me an opportunity to narrate,” Lipski said. “‘Wishes’ is about time passing me by, and it has to do with being stuck at a desk nine to five and losing sight.”
With a dozen enlightening, introspective tracks, “Wishes” serves a crucial sonic reminder to take risks, abandon initial life plans and follow one’s intuition toward the right path. It’s also an internal wake-up call to rise from everyday apathy and reignite the true passions that bring a sense of purpose.
“Wishes” begins with an “Intro” laced with deep-tone guitars that descend into the narrator’s highly critical internal dialogue. Lipski’s heartfelt vocals beautifully set the struggle’s scene while crashing cymbals and vibrant guitars erupt with echoing harmonies.
ATMIG, aka After the Money is Gone, eloquently bobs, weaves and steers throughout the 10 “middle” tracks until the reprise of “Intro,” which is fittingly named “Outro,” beautifully links the entire album experience together. In fact, the album is best absorbed and digested on vinyl.
“When you listen to the first side of the album, you have mini-closure, and then you flip it over, and you have another side of the experience,” Lipski said. “‘Wishes’ is really about what’s important to you, and we were going to have this opportunity to actually do that.”
The Brighton indie folk singer-songwriter gently wraps her musical arms around listeners with her third poignant and poetic EP, “Notes,” which drops today.
“I really just wanted to write about all different themes, and that’s what I try to do with all of my EPs. I named the EP ‘Notes’ because sometimes a line or an idea happens in my head, and then I write it down and later craft it into a song,” MacPhee said.
MacPhee beautifully crafted her latest EP’s three introspective, comforting tracks as a follow-up to 2019’s striking “Heartstrings” EP. The breathtaking opener, “Where You Are,” features tender acoustic strums and mournful slide guitar that later erupts into an emotional epiphany filled with a Fleetwood Mac-inspired rhythm section.
She hauntingly sings, “I’ve been walking for miles now/And I’ve been searching up and down/And I’m trying, trying to find you/Chasing shadows everywhere, I hear your voice/I know you’re there, and I’m trying, trying to find you.”
“It’s a nice love song about missing someone, and I was actually experiencing writer’s block in 2019. Last summer, I went to Ireland, Scotland and London, and then as soon as I came back from that, I wrote ‘Where You Are,’” said MacPhee, who’s latest EP cover features a photo of her taken in Edinburgh.
While MacPhee tries to locate a lost love in “Where You Are,” she reassures another to maintain a positive outlook in “I’ll Show You the Way.” This exquisite track weaves thoughtful acoustic strums and quickly melds them with delicate drums, light bass and calming slide guitar as MacPhee sings, “And we’re spinning, turning, and twirling around the idea/And together we say, it’s a brand new day.”
The EP’s gorgeous closing track, “Cold,” includes deep, sorrowful acoustic guitar throughout it as MacPhee sadly sings, “I took a step back and I looked around/And in all the noise I didn’t hear a sound/I wanted to scream, I wanted to shout when I heard those words leave your mouth.”
“So ‘Cold’ obviously had the darker theme out of the other two songs, but the inspiration behind ‘Cold’ was actually written after I watched the Nicholas Sparks film, ‘Safe Haven,’ and then I heard a song in the movie called ‘Say Anything’ by Tristan Prettyman. I would love to have my songs placed in TV and film someday, too,” MacPhee said.
MacPhee recorded “Notes” at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording with Billy Harrington (drums, percussion), Michael Harrington (lead guitar), Timothy Monger (accordion, electric piano) and engineer Geoff Michael (lead guitar, bass). She also worked with Geoff Michael on last year’s “Heartstrings,” which features the two handling the entire EP’s instrumentation.
In fact, MacPhee has soared throughout metro Detroit as an emerging singer-songwriter since the release of her five-track debut EP, “From the Start,” in 2018. The beautiful opener, “Lullaby,” provides a relaxing escape from life’s everyday troubles with mesmerizing guitar, vibrant piano and delicate drum taps as MacPhee quietly sings, “Breathe deep, breathe slow/I am here, won’t let go/Alone you will never be, listen closely.”
“I wrote that song for my mom when she was going through a hard time. I think anybody can relate to it and know that they’re free no matter what they’re going through,” she said.
A year later, MacPhee released “Heartstrings,” which includes the stunning “Blink of an Eye” with bright acoustic guitar and somber vocals, “I wish I could rewind time/Cuz you were gone in the blink of an eye/Now it’s 3 a.m., and I’m still weak/Insomnia has the best of me.”
“I wrote the ‘Blink of an Eye’ song for one of my mom’s best friends when her mom passed away. That seems like one others can relate to a bit,” she said. “I also like the ‘Our Way Back Home’ song, it’s a nice, happy love song, and it kind of picks you up. It would be a tie between those two.”
MacPhee started carving a musical path for herself at age 11 while learning guitar, writing songs and listening to her mother’s Motown and folk albums. She also sought creative inspiration from the late Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries as well as Natalie Merchant.
Her musical path eventually led to a growing roster of live performances at the Michigan Theater, The Ark, 20 Front Street, Black Crystal Cafe and Arts, Beats & Eats. She’s also scheduled to perform March 7 at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Royal Oak, March 14 at Lu & Carl’s Bar & Grill in Brighton and March 19 at Hell Saloon in Pinckney.
“I’m just going to continue with songwriting and expanding my catalog of songs, and I’m just going to keep performing and hope that I can connect with the listeners,” said MacPhee, who also plans to release lyric and live videos soon.
Back in 1974, Nektar left a promising sonic door open in Detroit.
The British progressive rock band shared a pulsating new track, “Devil’s Door,” during a show at The Michigan Palace.
“That’s where we wrote it. We had a couple of days in the theater. We were able to jam and play, and we did a lot of that. Then, we played it for the first time at the Palace theater,” said Derek “Mo” Moore, Nektar’s bassist, vocalist and co-founder.
Nektar only played “Devil’s Door” a few more times live that year before stashing it away. The soaring track remained hidden in the band’s vault for nearly 45 years before including it on their majestic new album, “The Other Side,” which dropped in January via Esoteric Antenna.
The eight-minute gem features the band’s late original frontman and co-founder Roye Albrighton on guitar and vocals at the track’s intro. Recorded live by then-sound engineer Vinny Schmid via a soundboard in Detroit, “Devil’s Door” beautifully blends Albrighton’s vibrant guitar and enthusiastic “yeah, yeah, yeahs” with Nektar’s stunning new version of the track. Sadly, Schmid passed away six years ago while Albrigton died in 2016.
“We were able to get the two of them on the album. It just felt right, it was so clear when we played that into the headphones, and then the band came in, and Roye stayed with us for a little while with his parts,” Moore said.
“Then, we dropped the original band and brought up the new band. It just felt great. I called Roye’s wife, and I said, ‘I know I don’t have to ask you for permission, but I’d like your blessing. Is it OK for us to use Roye?’ She was thrilled, and I sent her a copy of it right away. She was blown away.”
Metro Detroit audiences will be blown away Tuesday when Nektar reopens “Devil’s Door” live at The Token Lounge in Westland as part of a current 36-date North American tour. The long-awaited track will be featured as part of the band’s three hour-plus set amidst a stunning video and lights show by visual artist and co-founder Mick Brockett.
“We’re changing the sets every night, especially when we did four days in New York, and we did two days in Baltimore. We try to do a lot of the old classics like ‘Remember the Future,’ ‘A Tab in the Ocean,’ and ‘Recycled,’ and we do a variation of that, and then we intersperse them with the new album, ‘The Other Side,’” Moore said.
With a raw, honest sound, The Gutter Daisies vigorously confront society’s deep fascination with a celebrity’s personal tragedy.
The Los Angeles pop-punk trio of Doug Rockwell (vocals, guitar), Miles Franco (bass) and Mike Diggs (drums) explodes with frustration about the public’s and the media’s treatment and exploitation of mental illness and depression on their latest single, “Celebrity Suicide.”
“We all grew up dealing with anxiety and depression. I feel like nowadays it’s even more common because of social media. It can be a great platform, but it’s also an extremely vain one that has created a false reality that’s unfortunately become an extension of actuality. It’s a place where everyone sees other people’s ‘best of section’ and then automatically assumes their own lives will never be as glamorous,” Rockwell said.
“Celebrity Suicide” opens with deep-tone, grungy guitars and quickly transforms into a rage-filled power protest as Rockwell angrily sings, “I wanna be like my idols/All fucked up in the brain/I could see it play out/Won’t play my songs while I’m around/Unless my life goes down the drain.”
“The same goes for the media. Paparazzi look for people’s weakest moments so they can sell that to media outlets so they can then bring in ratings. It’s all about making a fortune and not so much about the misfortune. ‘Celebrity Suicide’ is a song about just that with some sarcasm sprinkled on the wound,” Rockwell said.
“Celebrity Suicide” is the first new track The Gutter Daisies have released since covering The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in 2018. Their energetic banger of a cover nicely pays tribute to the legendary hip-hop and rap-rock trio’s 1994 classic.
“We were looking for a song to cover that everyone would know no matter who they were, but we didn’t want it to be something you’d hear a run-of-the-mill cover band playing at a local bar,” Rockwell said. “We also wanted it to represent us as a band. ‘Sabotage’ is pretty punk rock, and as soon as it was suggested, we knew we could make it our own without disrupting what the original song had already accomplished.”
The Los Angeles art pop collective brilliantly emits abundant ‘60s-infused rays of doo-wop, jazz, skiffle, R&B, classical and baroque rock throughout their sparkling 12-track, full-length debut, “Whatever It Is,” which drops Friday.
“It’s about acceptance and equanimity, and it’s about making peace with yourself,” said Samuel Joseph, Hello Forever’s lead vocalist. “It wasn’t a choice or decision. I find that when I try too critically to control the music, it doesn’t work out. The things that came through on the songs came on their own.”
Along with bandmates Gabe Stout, Andy Jimenez, Joey Briggs, Molly Pease, Anand Darsie and Jaron Crespi, Joseph spent 200 days in bedrooms and borrowed studios throughout Santa Monica and Castaic, Calif., to create and record elaborate arrangements for a sunny collection of concise pop songs.
“Some songs I wrote in five minutes and recorded the entirety in a single session. Other songs took a little longer than that,” he said. “I was doing everything I could to serve the creative process. It was awesome having the time and places where I could write and record these songs.”
Hello Forever’s scintillating “Whatever It Is” adventure starts with “Some Faith,” a two-minute head trip filled with high-tone energetic guitars, lush mash-ups of Beatles and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies and sticky pop melodies – “I saw you in the light for the first time/Heaven cried ‘open’ and rained down on me/It was love, it was love/Why’d it terrify me?”
“‘Some Faith’ is about trusting your feelings or at least learning to trust your feelings when you care about somebody,” said Joseph about the band’s first single and video.
Read the Sun revolves around an ever-changing musical landscape drenched in brilliant rays of experimental indie rock.
The Detroit indie rock quartet of Alexa Gabriel (vocals, guitar), Jon Meyer (guitar), Sean Hussett (bass) and Joseph Jankowski (drums, percussion) beautifully fuses cinematic elements of classic, prog and alt rock to produce a soaring sonic experience on their latest five-track EP, “Living Thru,” which dropped in August.
“Living Thru” opens with a gorgeous instrumental, “Living,” to elegantly blend high-tone guitars and vibrating synths with light cymbal taps for a brief infectious sonic rotation. It seamlessly segues into an intense emotional track, “Brown Shoes,” as a metaphor for the struggle about starting a transition as a transgender woman.
Slow rhythmic drums, vibrant guitars and deep bass echo the struggle depicted throughout “Brown Shoes” – “I could walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes/And find nothing wrong with these other soles/I could take mine away/And leave nothing more.”
“One of the things we wanted to deliver in this EP is our continuous change of sound that we are beginning to solidify. We have started to amplify each of our strengths in the writing process and weed out the desire to imitate. We are currently on a good path towards fully realizing a more consistent sound,” said Read the Sun, whose members are influenced by Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Snarky Puppy.
Together, the band recorded “Living Thru” in Gabriel’s bedroom where she runs a portable studio for recording and mixing. They also recorded their striking 2018 debut, “Music for Birds,” over nine months at a family-owned barn up north over a three-day stay. Coincidentally, bird sounds crept into every recording on their first full-length release.
Before they discovered “Music for Birds,” Read the Sun started as a jam session among four Plymouth-Canton high school friends. That jam session solidified into an official project by 2017 as the band members honed themselves as musicians and songwriters and cultivated an evolutionary sonic path.
Along their growing sonic path, Read The Sun continues to solder different sounds on “Living Thru,” including “The SacroMambo,” a dancy six-minute track that shimmies and sways with a symphony of electric guitars, drums, bass, saxophone and percussion.