The San Francisco indie-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist deftly uncovers and deciphers a multitude of emotional traumas, violent conflicts, racial injustices and political tensions on his insightful debut album.
“It was gonna be called ‘Dreaming of Guns’ based on that one song. At some point, somebody else recommended another title, and I tried that for a little while, but that didn’t quite resonate,” Newman said.
“And then Scott (Mickelson) and I were talking about it, and I said, ‘What if I just called it What Am I Afraid Of? ’ Then, the two of us went, ‘Oh my God, of course, that’s what everything’s about.’”
For Newman, “everything” serves as an umbrella of personal and societal challenges ranging from everyday anxieties to teen suicide to homelessness to gun violence. The album’s 11 gripping tracks provide a poignant wake-up call for the nation to strongly unite, take action and instill change.
“The thing about this album is essentially the same paradigm that’s kind of dictated my entire life,” he said. “I don’t exactly know what’s happening until I look in the rear-view mirror and go, ‘That happened.’”
Allye Gaietto candidly shares an internal monologue with her younger self.
The Detroit indie folk-pop singer-songwriter and pianist reconciles past expectations, relationships and interactions on her perceptive new album, Hoping for More, which drops Aug. 26.
“It’s so much discovering of who you are, what your beliefs are and where you stand on all sorts of different things. I think, for a lot of us, our identity is about who’s around us and how we interact with people and how they see us,” said Gaietto about previous life experiences in her early 20s.
“I think for this record there are a lot of things … like I had my first serious relationship and then got dumped for the first time, and that’s one of the songs on the album. That was huge for me.”
With Hoping for More, Gaietto provides a huge release of deeply buried emotions that still feel tender and raw. Whether encountering relief, heartache or courage, she beautifully documents those experiences through contemplative lyrics, haunting melodies and lush instrumentation.
“It’s this funny contrast of me trying to reconcile like, ‘What do you think about me? What do I think about you? How do we feel about each other?’ with friendships, romantic relationships and parent relationships,” said Gaietto, who also released the single, “I Guess I Don’t,” earlier this year.
“After the album was finished, the new stuff I’ve been writing … sometimes I have to put myself back in that early 20s, new relationship mindset because it’s a goldmine for feelings and content.”
The metro Detroit jazz vocalist and jazz pianist relish the importance of self-love on their latest cathartic single, “My Lonely Heart.”
“I think we all have experienced poor timing with relationships or life in general. I definitely drew inspiration from the feeling of being in between healing and having to say no to take care of myself,” said Van Goor, who co-wrote the track with Bennett.
“Will had given me the working title, ‘My Lonely Heart,’ and I knew I could either take it literally and write about being sad or try to put an alternate meaning. The second option was more enticing, and because I like a challenge, I came up with a positive spin on being lonely.”
Throughout “My Lonely Heart,” Van Goor strongly upholds the positive side of being single while Bennett responds with wistful piano.
She sings, “But for now it’s spared from needing repairs, my lonely heart/Do not try to sway, my mind has been made up/How can I give love from my own empty cup?/Love feels like a trick, I can’t take the risk/I’ll keep my lonely heart.”
“I hope it helps people not feel alone in the struggle of wanting to jump into something exciting, but knowing that it’s best to wait until you’re ready,” Van Goor said.
Van Goor and Bennett sought inspiration for the track after learning the 1937 Billie Holiday-Teddy Wilson classic, “Foolin’ Myself,” during the pandemic lockdown. With creativity flowing, they penned “My Lonely Heart” and took it to producer-engineer Josef Deas at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording.
“Will showed me a tune he wrote inspired by that style, and it became ‘My Lonely Heart,’” she said. “Josef totally got what we were going for and even added some effects that gave it a full, warm vintage feel.”
To accompany “My Lonely Heart’s” release, Van Goor and Bennett shared a new live performance video filmed at Big Sky Recording. Director Becca Messner captured the duo bringing an intimate club-style feel to the track.
“Becca had made a video I was in for the Miss Paula Quintet last winter for the tune, ‘Baby’s First Christmas,’” Van Goor said. “I loved how that turned out, and she got the idea perfect.”
In fact, Van Goor and Bennett will share another perfect performance of “My Lonely Heart” and other material at two upcoming live shows in Ann Arbor: Aug. 25 downtown and Aug. 26 at the Blue LLama for Bennett’s birthday.
“August 25 will be very fun playing outside downtown Ann Arbor, which was organized my Matthew Altruda. I think the audiences in Ann Arbor appreciate a variety of music, and that helps our efforts,” Van Goor said.
“(August 26) will be very special because Will is going to be bandleading. I’m looking forward to it, and I don’t get to be a ‘sidewoman’ very much. We will be joined by University of Michigan grad Reuben Stump on bass and Ann Arbor guitarist Jake Reichbart.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
Ish Chowdhury couldn’t get a hypnotic guitar riff out of his head.
The Indigo Curve vocalist repeatedly heard the punchy, terse chord progression of Arctic Monkeys’ 2007 track, “Teddy Picker,” and felt a rush of inspiration.
“I was just listening and thinking, ‘Damn, what a simple thing that is … it hits so fucking hard,’” said Chowdhury, who fronts the Detroit indie-rock quintet.
“I wanna write something like that, so I called our guitarist, Adam Liles, and showed him the riff I came up with. He replied, ‘That’s cool. Now figure it out in bar chords. That’s a good way to kill 45 minutes.’”
Those crucial 45 minutes produced a crunchy electric guitar riff, which Chowdhury also shared with bandmates Niko Kannapell (bass), Mike Liles (organ, keys) and Markus Kennedy (drums).
“I told Markus to go full-out, early Arctic Monkeys mode on it,” said Chowdhury about the band’s first new release since 2021’s “Lucidiscene.” “And Markus fucking did it. That dude is just the best drummer, man. Dude is an artist to the max.”
In tandem, Chowdhury sings, “Jekyll & Hyde in the back of the bag/The fact of the matter is a matter of fact/I don’t wanna fall in love/But I wanna write love songs.”
“I’m always in the middle of writing a song as Dr. Jekyll until the Hyde in me takes over … It’s funny because this song has absolutely nothing to do with love, but all the lyrics ended up leading to that,” he said.
“Mike named the song, and that’s how it really came together in the end. He just randomly said, ‘But I wanna write love songs,’ and that’s what we rolled with.”
“I think that was the most important part … the song is just meant to feel like driving 120 miles per hour against a marmalade sunset, head-first into a herd of goats crossing the road,” Chowdhury said. “I love goats. No goats were harmed in the making of this song.”
Goats aside, The Indigo Curve also dropped a frantic new video for their latest single. Directed by Andrew Brumfield of Love Streams Films, the kaleidoscopic video accelerates through retro pop-culture images, vintage TV screen shots and recent band studio footage.
“Andrew’s work lined up so well with the track, it was ridiculous. I couldn’t imagine any other music vid for that song,” Chowdhury said.
“Homie styled so hard on that thing. He was in the studio with us. ‘Brummy’ asked if we had any preferences or requests. I just remember saying, ‘Involve as little of us and more zombies,’ and I think he nailed that.”
With a new single and video out now, The Indigo Curve plans to drop additional releases, including singles or an EP, later this year.
“A full-length album is obviously what we want, but we’ll never do that until we know every single song belongs on there,” Chowdhury said. “But our new shit, man, that stuff is miles ahead of anything we’ve just released. You find yourself a little more each day, and we’re chillin’ in that sphere these days.”
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.”
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 Mendpicture, 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.”
The Royal Oak indie-rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist calmly exhales former selves and bygone relationships in her latest heart-melting single, “Winter Ghost.”
“The writing of this song was a cool experience for me. Last winter, I tried writing a song a day for a while to challenge myself,” DeRousse said. “This song came from that. It was snowing outside, and I got the first line in my head … ‘It snowed today.’”
Throughout “Winter Ghost,” DeRousse thaws frozen memories and warms icy self-doubt as ethereal synths, pensive electric guitar and sanguine acoustic guitar prompt a spiritual awakening.
She sings, “I saw the sun today/It’s mid-July, and now I’m feeling the weight of you wash away/White was the world in my heartbreak/And pale as snow was my skin while the ghost of you remained/Saw the color come back into my face.”
“And then I thought, ‘Why would someone not like the snow?’” DeRousse said. “Then, as it all came together, I was like, ‘This is definitely an experience that I’ve had in my life, but the details are different,’ and yet the theme is still the same.”
DeRousse seamlessly carries “Winter Ghost’s” transformational theme forward while Traverse City producer John Piatek conjures an otherworldly soundscape.
“When I go up and record, and by the time I make it home, John has sent me something. I remember he had sent me the rough track of it … and I listened to it, and I was just floored,” she said.
“The vocals that he adds on that track are my favorite part of the whole song. It felt like, ‘Wow, this is how it was supposed to always be,’ but I could have never gotten it there myself.”
As a full-time college student and musician, Jack Powers needs some breathing room.
The Montclair, New Jersey indie rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist briefly escapes a heavy course load and mounting creative demands on his supercharged latest single, “Music School Burnout.”
“I’m going to school for music, and I can’t even do the music things that I want to do. That’s directly the thing that inspired it,” said Powers, a music education junior at Montclair State University.
“It was also having the time to actually finish something … it takes a long time to write a song, and I do all the recording, producing and mixing. To do all that, and then to make the music video, and then release it … seeing any project to fruition is so hard to do when you’re also taking 19 credits.”
As a concise, energetic release, “Music School Burnout” clobbers lingering tensions and anxieties with a whirlwind of smashing cymbals, weary electric guitar, thumping bass and fitful drums.
Powers sings, “I haven’t wrote a song in a minute/Harmony in thirds been my limit/Can’t tell what’s been off/But something’s probably wrong/I hate it already/I hate it already.”
“I want to continue releasing music and keeping doing this because it’s what I really want to do. It’s been really frustrating to not be able to do it because of music theory in school,” he said.
“And now, I finally have a band that plays my music now, which is super fun. We’ve been playing shows, and we’re going to start touring. Once I’m out (of school), I’m going to put all my energy into this and see what happens.”