Whether it’s summertime visits, thumb-less mittens or minivan jams, Chain of Lakes instantly finds himself at home.
The Alto, Michigan indie-folk singer-songwriter openly recounts personal tales of heartwarming comfort and raw vulnerability on his introspective new album, Catch.
“As an overarching theme of my writing, I’m always going to write autobiographically from where I am a lot,” said Kyle Rasche, aka Chain of Lakes. “That’s not a big stretch, especially since everyone’s only been home for the last two years. I’m sure there’s been an exclamation point behind some of those themes.”
Throughout Catch, Rasche shares a 37-minute, visceral response to life lessons across 11 tender Chain of Lakes tracks. As a son, husband and father, he dedicates an emotive craft to past and present family members who embody honesty and courage.
“You’re taking home with you, and it’s what you hope your kids do. You want nothing more than for them to have the confidence to leave and explore and see it and do everything,” said Rasche, who has three daughters.
“Then, you hope they’ll never do it because you’ll miss them so much. You want to raise them up to be confident, strong women who aren’t afraid of anything.”
The Detroit singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer concocts delectable doses of funk and soul on his latest “groovacious” instrumental album, Bad Sugar.
“Actually, a music publishing partner of mine in Germany called Sonoton Music had heard and liked a few of the funkier tracks on the Magic Trip album,” said Behnan, who regularly writes and records music for sync licensing opportunities.
“They asked how I felt about making a full album of pure funk, more like the songs, ‘Magic Trip’ and ‘Inner City Funk,’ and trying to keep it authentic as possible in tone and feel.”
Behnan brings a funky authenticity across 11 addictive Bad Sugar tracks, which feature soulful basslines, silky electric guitars, euphoric beats, intrepid drums and confident horns. Collectively, they provide the essential sonic swagger for a bad-ass hero in a gritty action flick.
Also a sticky successor to 2020’s Magic Trip, Bad Sugar’s tracks slowly emerged in Behnan’s home studio during the early days of the pandemic lockdown.
“I’d spend days just sitting alone with my guitar coming up with riffs and progressions and stuff. Then, I’d start recording a few … usually with a scratch guitar track just so I can really start working and focusing on the drum tones/grooves and bass,” he said.
“It’s currently being pitched for lots of film and TV placements, but that’s something that will take a bit of time before I start actually hearing the songs on shows. Music licensing is a really long, slow process. I always have to push myself to stay creative and move on to the next thing once I finish an album.”
Bobby Pennock strategically revisits past songs for future reflection.
The Detroit folk-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist shares insightful vignettes from an enduring canon of tales on his new power-pop-fueled album, The Vestiges of Art.
“Interestingly, most of the songs on this album are older songs that I’ve performed live over the years, but never recorded. Although a couple are older and have never been performed,” Pennock said.
“When I started selecting songs for the album, rather than thinking about a theme, I thought about which songs I had that are up-tempo and kind of pop-rock. I thought the phrase, ‘The Vestiges of Art,’ is what an album is, so the idea to name the album came pretty quickly and easily.”
Pennock proudly reveals 10 “vestiges” (and one new track, ‘Perhaps We Were’) bursting with melodic instrumentation, thoughtful lyrics and timeless pop-rock sensibilities.
Whether addressing internal struggles or changing relationships, each track places a vivid storyline inside listeners’ heads and delights their ears with infectious soundscapes.
“About 99 percent of the time when I sit down to write a song, I have no idea what I’m going to write about,” he said. “I don’t keep a writer’s notebook.”
Steve Taylor follows a valuable piece of advice from his father.
The Lake Orion Americana singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist carries an optimal load of “supplies” through life’s peaks and valleys with bandmates Bryan Frink (bass, guitar, keys, vocals) and Carey Weaver (drums, percussion, vocals) on The Steve Taylor Three’s insightful new album, Travel Light, out Friday.
“Once a year, my dad and I would go hike the Appalachian Trail in the Appalachian Mountains. He would always talk about how you had to bring everything with you because you’re going to be up in the mountains,” Taylor said.
“You’d have to carry all your water, and you don’t realize how heavy water is until you carry it with you all day. The idea is you only bring what you need. I thought the whole idea of camping and hiking and having to carry everything in your bag is a great metaphor for life.”
Inside The Steve Taylor Three’sTravel Light “bag” resides a comforting assortment of gratitude, wisdom and honesty across 11 transformative tracks. Each one introduces a past, present or future destination along an unpredictable journey filled with heartwarming experiences.
“The older we get, the more reflection there is. I seem to be writing a lot of songs now about the passage of time and what it means. That wasn’t the case when we were younger,” said Taylor, who last released Earn Every Scar with his bandmates in March 2020.
“The simplicity of that phrase, ‘It Doesn’t Take Long,’ I try to take that title or that refrain and just come at it from family, relationships and everything. You realize when you get to close to 50 … I’m going to turn 49 here in a couple weeks and Bryan and Carey have already turned 50. You think, ‘Wow, 50.’ When we were younger, we thought people who were 30 were old.”
Filled with gratitude and anticipation, Pajamas wants to show their hometown some love.
The Ann Arbor rock-funk jam quartet of Graham Low (drums, vocals), Nick Orr (guitars, vocals), Dan Schuler (bass, vocals) and Owen Kellenberger (keys, vocals) eagerly awaits their first headlining show Friday at The Blind Pig in nearly two years.
“Since we do perform in Ann Arbor pretty regularly, this one is going to be a love letter to our friends and fans, something unique and special. We’ve put a lot of work into making this happen. It’s a chance to celebrate our town, our community and where we are now as a band,” Orr said.
“I think people have a lot to look forward to with this show. We’ve hired a professional lighting engineer to accompany the music with an incredible light show. The Blind Pig is an Ann Arbor institution, and we’ve all been attending and playing shows there for years.”
As part of their show, Pajamas will share The Blind Pig stage with Toledo’s Cactus Jack, a quintet of talented friends quickly gaining traction with live Michigan audiences.
“We met Cactus Jack by putting a show together with them at the Tip Top Deluxe in Grand Rapids. It was our first time playing together, but I think we fit together really well musically,” Orr said.
“They’re really talented players with very good original songs. We got along really well and are happy that they were available to play with us again for this upcoming show. This show will be their Blind Pig debut, so it’s extra cool for that reason.”
Another extra “cool” reason to celebrate Pajamas’ Blind Pig return – new material to preview and experience from their forthcoming second studio album as well as some improvised covers.
“I’m really proud of the music that we’ve written for it, and I think it showcases how far we’ve come and where we’re currently at as a band,” said Orr, who previously released Onesie with the band in 2018. “It feels like we are hitting our songwriting stride, and more importantly, finding our own sound and voice. I think with this second full-length album we just know who we are and what we are about musically.”
Joss Jaffe closely explores the emotions and experiences of the human spirit.
The Los Angeles chillwave singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist embarks on an invigorating spiritual odyssey filled with resilience and restoration on his latest metamorphic album, Sun Mountain Sea, via Be Why Music.
“From a spiritual perspective, even when you’re in love with someone and it doesn’t work out, you’re still sort of connected to that person. That’s what some of these songs are talking about … trying to see that from the highest perspective, even though you may never see them again. That’s kind of what it’s like to be alive,” Jaffe said.
“When someone dies, you’re just left with the memory of that and how do you process that? These songs aren’t really that heavy, there are a couple that deal with heavier and stronger issues, but they’re pretty light in general. The hopefulness is a good quality. It’s the kind of thing you can play during a road trip and just chill.”
With a relaxed foot on the gas and one hand on the wheel, Jaffe’sSun Mountain Sea instantly transports listeners to a carefree, windows-rolled-down headspace. Breathtaking waves of mystical electronic soundscapes, effervescent indie-pop sensibilities and lustrous instrumentation propel listeners across international scenic highways from Santa Barbara to Ibiza.
“It’s very honest, like the way a singer-songwriter would sing it. There’s an acoustic element, but it’s laid on top of these electronic beats. It’s been compared to The Postal Service and stuff like that,” said Jaffe, who also took inspiration from Foster The People, MGMT and Tycho.
“In my mind’s eye, I fantasized it would be like Ibiza-style, like Avicii or something. But that’s not me; I’m not really a big, electro-heavy guy. It has more of a chill-out kind of a vibe.”
The Bay City Americana singer-songwriter and bassist thoughtfully unveils those hidden milestones on his new hit-worthy anthology, Greatest Misses, out today.
“I had planned on having two releases. One was gonna be a new EP, but then I was gonna do what I initially called a Greatest Hits album, and it was almost self-deprecating,” said de Heus.
“I wanted to take some of the songs we had already done and put them on one album, so that people who wanted those could get them. I don’t reprint any of the old albums, they’re just gone … because that way if I ever do get famous, they’ll be worth a fortune.”
With Greatest Misses, de Heus assembles a priceless 15-track collection of multi-genre gems, including old favorites from prior releases and three new songs. Filled with melodic hooks, memorable lyrics and clever instrumentation, the album glides through country, power pop, jazz, blues and indie rock terrain.
“Traditionally, in pop music, and in the early days of rock and roll, you might put the same song on more than one album. That was part of it. Though I did want to throw those three new ones up front, I tried to still sequence it like an album, so it was a decent listen,” de Heus said.
“In way, this is almost like a second version of Silk Purses. Andy Reed called that my Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or White Album in the fact that every song is a different genre. Making the songs individually is one thing, but mixing and mastering them so they can sit next to each other on an album is another.”
Two years ago, Kristopher Charles “KC” Malone experienced a transformative dream.
The Washington, D.C. producer entered a spooky carnival pavilion filled with existential challenges and lessons. After waking up, he shared the lucid dream with longtime friend and collaborator David Brescia-Weiler.
“It was a crazy, trippy dream. I was in this carnival, and people didn’t recognize me. I wanted to express what it was like, so I called David, and said ‘Hey man, would you want to make an album?’” Malone said. “I had never done anything like that and neither had David. It was a broad ambition that came from COVID and being inside … this was super lockdown time.”
Despite being in lockdown, Malone and Brescia-Weiler turned that life-changing dream into a vivid, musical reality. The duo formed a new creative collaboration called KDC Guild and embarked on an ambitious journey to develop and executive produce Cise Pavilion, a hip-hop, audio-narrative concept album filled with a global cast of 60-plus artists, musicians, audio engineers, actors and comedians.
“We weren’t necessarily trying to start a company; we just wanted to work on a project together. We were like, ‘We need to do this,’ because everybody was jumping on board and getting excited,” said Brescia-Weiler, who’s also based in D.C.
“We couldn’t have predicted people from Vegas, Berlin and LA would have suddenly said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go. Send me the contract, and I’ll do it.’ We grew with the process as well.”
KDC Guild’sCise Pavilionvision quickly grew into a classic hero’s journey brimming with 11 valuable lessons (or tracks) along the way. The insightful album thoughtfully explores the concept of “cise,” a D.C.-based term for “hype,” through protagonist Malone’s personal experiences and interactions with others in a carnival-themed world.
Compelling “cise” metaphors for jealousy, greed, peer pressure, hyperbole and vanity sprout from the digital sphere and overflow into everyday life. With Cise Pavilion, KDC Guild advocates abandoning these toxic behaviors and creating a harmonious environment that promotes acceptance and authenticity.
“Part of the point of Cise Pavilionas a project and something we all grapple with is … that temptation (of ‘cise’) is always there. As much as I’d like to say I don’t need other people’s validations, I might get excited when I get a lot of Instagram likes versus more than I normally do,” said Brescia-Weiler.
“I think that’s an internal struggle that we all have, and it’s been a fun exploration, not just for KC and me, but we get to have an ongoing discussion with each person that’s part of the project. It’s given us a lot of time to think about it … because we’re in a social media age where do you have to puff out your chest and hype yourself up a little bit or try to get on the latest TikTok trend to be seen.”
As a gifted storyteller, Dan Hazlett eloquently crafts life-changing tales.
The Waterford folk-jazz singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shares insightful stories steeped in transition and growth on his latest anecdotal album, Turning Stone.
“Every person in every song is a character, even if you’re the person, because you’re not that person anymore. Even if you were when you wrote it, you’re someone else now. Every song, in its own way, is a tiny piece of musical theater. That’s now my approach. This is a world … this is a little novel or a little painting all unto itself,” Hazlett said.
“At some point, you just have to let the characters speak for themselves, and they will say surprising things. And that is really fun, and you end up with material you would never have written if you focused on ‘What would I say?’ It’s more interesting to learn ‘What would this person say?’”
With Turning Stone, Hazlett examines life through the lens of an inquisitive mathematician, a courageous child, a lost soul, a lonely housewife and other people facing life-changing circumstances. The album’s tracks convey the thoughts, feelings and actions of intriguing characters who tackle their own challenges within a jazzy, acoustic-pop landscape.
“This project turned out to be the one that’s fully produced, like a band and sort of poppy and just a different kind of record. The songs ended up being in there because musically they kind of wanted to be together. It was more like, ‘How do these songs sound together?’” he said.
The Detroit indie-rock quartet of Tobias Lipski (vocals, guitar), Drew Borowsky (bass), Dan Clark (guitar) and David Jackowicz (drums) demonstrates their musical prowess with a fresh lineup and a new tenacious EP, Avec Muscles, which drops Saturday.
“A lot of that comes from the current crew. Dave can do the things on drums, Dan can do the things on guitar, and Drew can do the things on bass that I like to hear in the music that I listen to and that I sure as heck can’t do myself. We get each other’s vibe, so it can actually happen,” Lipski said.
Throughout Avec Muscles, ATMIG, or After The Money Is Gone, seamlessly builds a robust sonic system from several digestible, multi-genre “proteins,” including shoegaze, indie-folk, ambient, post-punk, dream-pop and indie-rock. Each “protein” evolves into a mighty, cohesive listen.
“For Avec Muscles, I think we still have variety, but overall, it’s a heavier album. It’s not just hard rock, it’s not just shoegaze, and it’s not just folk. It’s just us trying to put forth what the band and I do best,” said Lipski, who formed the band in 2006.
A follow-up to 2019’s Wishes album, Avec Muscles also pays tribute to Majesty Crush, a highly regarded Detroit dream-pop/shoegaze quartet that formed in 1990. The band featured the late David Stroughter (vocals), Hobey Echlin (bass), Michael Segal (guitar) and Odell Nails (drums) as part of a regal lineup that released their final EP, Sans Muscles, before splitting in 1995.
“It’s supposed to be the reverse of the Majesty Crush EP, Sans Muscles, because ‘Muscles’ was Hobey’s nickname. That was the last EP they did knowing Hobey was leaving the band,” said Lipski, whose new EP, Avec Muscles, means “With Muscle.” (“Avec” is French for “With.”)
“The whole concept is that I’m a huge Majesty Crush fan, and maybe Hobey will play with us. And if he’s going to play with us, then why don’t we name the song and EP after him? Who knows? Maybe he’ll come out to the show and play some Majesty Crush songs with us.”