Moss Jaw will invite Grand Rapids fans into their dark, dreamy post-rock world tomorrow night.
The Kalamazoo quartet will perform a Thursday night set at Grand Rapids’ The Snake Shack, a house-based venue that showcases art and music for local and touring bands.
“We plan to play some of the more popular tunes, such as ‘Like a Bug,’ ‘Dry Remains’ and ‘Twigs and Stems’ as a way to plug our recent release and also balance it out with new sonic growth,” said Kayley Kerastas, Moss Jaw’s vocalist and guitarist.
“The venue we’re playing at is a local Grand Rapids house that will provide an accessible way into the music scene, and thus hopefully spread the word of our music further out from Kalamazoo.”
With the recent release of their stellar full-length debut album, “Embody,” Moss Jaw is well-positioned to grow their burgeoning audience statewide and throughout the Midwest.
Their 11-track “Embody” album takes listeners on a dreamlike sonic journey through life-changing relationships, self-evolutions and deep cognitive perspectives cloaked in natural thematic elements. These personal reflections are musically told through enchanting metaphors about trees, insects and other terrestrial terrain.
As an emerging hip-hop artist, Carter Erickson travels between two different creative dimensions – Detroit and Columbia.
In Detroit, he combines catchy beats, raps and melodies with personal experiences to share with growing crowds at open mic nights and DIY shows.
In Columbia, Erickson becomes the main character, Booker DeWitt, from the “BioShock Infinite” video game and battles racism and elitism in the namesake fictional dystopian society.
Together, those two creative dimensions lay the foundation for Erickson’s latest EP, “Columbia,” an immersive six-track hip-hop, role-playing game-like (RPG) experience that dropped last week on all major streaming platforms.
“These songs are based on real-life experiences that I’ve had, but they also coincide with certain elements of the game,” said Erickson, aka Eric Carter. “When you play the game, you don’t know what the character looks like because it’s first-person. For me, this EP is more about how I felt playing this character.”
Immersed in his musical RPG world, Erickson takes Booker DeWitt to another level on “Vanishing Point,” the first sci-fi, synth-filled single from “Columbia.” He combines Booker DeWitt’s persona with Kowalski, the main character from the 1971 cult car film, “Vanishing Point.”
“They both feature two guys who have nothing to lose and are working toward this goal. All in all, they both don’t get there,” he said. “At the end of ‘Vanishing Point,’ the main character needs to get to California by 3 p.m., and he’s got this beautiful 1970 Dodge Challenger. In ‘BioShock Infinite,’ a guy has been tasked with trying to find a woman’s father. He eventually learns he’s her father, but in a different universe.”
Erickson’s sonic travels continue through “The Handbook” and “Cha$e” and allow listeners to draw deeper parallels between his personal experiences and “BioShock Infinite.”
On “The Handbook,” Erickson introduces a slow, introspective jam about how actions have consequences, whether good or bad. “I thought it was something everyone could relate to cause as humans we all have run ‘what-if’ scenarios through our heads regarding one thing or another, and sometimes the perpetual regret we live with and/or die with no matter the outcome we choose.”
For the “Cha$e,” Erickson opens the EP’s closing drack with deep synth beats reminiscent of early ‘80s Atari music. The track was influenced by an earlier portion of the “BioShock” video game series that intersected with Erickson’s life.
“When I first played it, it was almost like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of moment, which is wherein it intersects with life. You know, one day you’re eating cereal watching Saturday morning cartoons, and the next thing you know, you’re graduating high school and/or college, and then life pretty much happens,” he said.
“When I wrote ‘Cha$e,’ I wanted to define this same approach with the harsh instrumental, but the lyrics sort of glide over it, and this is like a metaphor for life and people. Meaning, life can be tough, but as long as you keep a positive outlook, everything will be OK.”
A new Michigan-based nonprofit will unite activism with artistry Saturday in Detroit.
Title Track, a nonprofit dedicated to clean water, racial equality and youth empowerment, will host a launch party at MusicTown Detroit featuring local artists and speakers, including Seth Bernard; Audra Kubat; Juuni, aka Wayne Ramocan; Vespre; Amber Hasan; Nicole Lindsey and Baldomero Gonzales.
“It gives me great joy to have this Title Track launch party in Detroit where the roots of resistance run deep and the fruits of community resilience are delicious,” said Bernard, a Michigan singer-songwriter and activist who launched Title Track on Earth Day. “This bill is populated with artists, activists, organizers and changemakers, and we’re going to make a joyful noise bringing this new organization into the community.”
Through Title Track, Bernard offers a broad set of programming based on his lifetime of music making, community organizing and advocacy for the environment and social justice.
Saturday’s launch party will echo those causes and creative endeavors while spotlighting emerging indie folk, R&B, soul, pop and world-inspired sounds from the Motor City’s up-and-coming artists.
“Detroit is one of the greatest cities in the world. Home of Aretha, Dilla and Grace Lee Boggs. Epicenter of urban farmers, culture creators and movement builders,” Bernard said. “A soul that can’t be commodified, gentrified, disassociated or appropriated. Detroit is the city of tomorrow.”
The Ypsilanti roots rock and bluegrass trio will sing countrified tales of the Swamp Thing, Godzilla and Ogo Pogo during their “Spirits & Chasers” album release show Saturday at Ziggy’s with the Jim Roll Band and Child Sleep.
They’re also hoping for a little monster mashing on the dance floor.
“We’re going to play the new album in order and pull out some older stuff, but we also plan to have some line dancing throughout the night,” said Joe Bertoletti, bassist and vocalist for Fangs and Twang. “We need to see some grooving and moving out there.”
Fangs and Twang fans will have a ghoulishly good time as Billy LaLonde (drums, vocals), Andy Benes (guitar, vocals) and Bertoletti bring their new musical behemoth to life.
Last Saturday, the band dropped their third and latest release, “Spirits & Chasers,” a seamless seven-track country odyssey packed with famous monsters, personal adventures and ghosts of times past.
It’s a beastly brilliant follow-up to 2017’s “High Fives All Around,” which drew monster-heavy inspiration from books, movies, comics and regional urban legends.
“‘Spirits & Chasers’ feels like a step forward, but very much building on the previous record. It was less about having to write all monster songs and more about writing Fangs and Twang songs,” Bertoletti said. “We’ve been playing together for almost five years, and we have three-hour sets now, so everything feels more natural and tighter.”
The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet abandons daily trivial nonsense to live a more purposeful existence.
“When I wrote that song, that feeling was weighing heavy on me. There is so much that goes on every day in our lives, some of it important, and some of it only seems important,” said Isaac Berkowitz, Desmond Jones guitarist, drummer and vocalist.
“There’s a lot of trivial nonsense that we let get in the way of living happy and meaningful lives. When that nonsense piles up on us, it can be hard to see through it to what really matters. Some people like to look at the stars and feel small as a way to get perspective, and in the same sense, I think remembering the idea that we are all animals, or that we are all ‘still creatures’ on this planet just trying to survive, can give us that same perspective and peace of mind.”
Together, Berkowitz and his Desmond Jones bandmates – Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals), John Loria (guitar, vocals) and John Nowak (drums, guitar, vocals) – beautifully capture this personal philosophy in lighthearted, funkified way.
On “Still Creatures,” a fun, groovy wah-wah guitar riff opens the four-minute track and mimics the sound of a chicken while jazzy alto and baritone sax solos and rhythmic bass and drums bring a smooth, melodic feel.
“Even though it’s a new release, it’s something we’ve been working on for over a year in our live shows, and we’ve had it recorded for a while,” said Nowak, who formed Desmond Jones with his bandmates in 2012 at Michigan State University. “When we first started playing that song and Isaac showed it to us, we actually were just calling it, ‘Chicken Fingies,’ for a long time. At some point, Isaac said, ‘Actually, it’s called Still Creatures.’”
Five singer-songwriters will bring their Nashville sound to Detroit Friday night.
Wil Nance, Danika Holmes, Jeb Hart, Rob Taube and Mark Barnowski will share their Americana, country, folk and pop sounds through the Nashtown Songwriters Round at the Farmington Civic Theater as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series.
As the final show in the concert series’ winter season, “Nashtown” will allow the singer-songwriters to mix elements of Music City with Motown through their live performances and musical storytelling.
“It’s going to be a great show at the Nashtown Songwriters Round,” Wil Nance said. “I hope people will be moved, laugh and cry some, have a good time and hear some great stories behind the songs.”
“I always try to do songs from all the records, at least one or two from every record. I’ll be playing a lot of stuff from ‘Edgeland,’” said Richey during a phone interview from Banff, Alberta. “It’s such a blast to sing with people who are great singers, so we have a lot of great harmony things going. Clare plays keyboards and percussion as well, Jordie plays electric guitar, and I play acoustic.”
On her latest album, “Edgeland,” Richey moves through the topography of life as a woman committed to following her music. She chronicles missed train rides, cautionary tales of dangerous love, potential new pathways and other self-discoveries on the 12-track Americana-infused project.
From the Buck Owens/Don Rich opening notes of “Red Line” to the Laurel Canyon lushness of “The Get Together” to the Dusty Springfield-inspired “Can’t Let You Go” to the somber “Black Trees,” Richey’s husky crystalline alto sweeps listeners up in a whirl along her heartfelt auditory journey.
“Once every few years, you pick a dozen songs or so for a new album,” said Richey, who’s also lived in Los Angeles and London. “I think those songs reflect where I was at the time while making the record, but I have a home now, so things have changed.”