Top Flight – The Messenger Birds to Navigate Saturday Opening Set at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival

The Messenger Birds’ Parker Bengry (left) and Chris Williams will kick off Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival Saturday with an opening set.

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.

The Messenger Birds love the name “Kevin.”

The Detroit alt rock duo heavily reference “Kevin” in their Facebook and Instagram posts, ranging from “Kevin is a place on earth” (imagine hearing it to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’) to “Kevin hard at work making a record” to “Lights, Camera, Kevin.”

But who the heck is Kevin, anyway? “Kevin is all of us, Kevin is everywhere,” said Parker Bengry, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.

Chris Williams, drummer and vocalist for The Messenger Birds, esoterically added, “We refer to each other as Kevin, we see ourselves as Kevin, and everybody who listens to our music is Kevin.”

While The Stratton Setlist hasn’t cracked the case about “Kevin” yet, we do know “Kevin” will be invading the Mo Pop Festival Saturday to see his favorite band, The Messenger Birds, play a coveted 1:30 p.m. opening slot on the River Stage.

The Messenger Birds will join 27 other emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival this weekend at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park. Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the boutique and niche festival, which returns for its seventh year.

Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with opening performances from Michigan-based artists to expose attendees to some of the area’s rising local acts. The Messenger Birds and Siena Liggins will perform Saturday while The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will take the stage on Sunday.

It’s been nearly three years in the making for The Messenger Birds to perform at Mo Pop. Back in 2016, festival organizers asked the band to join the lineup after another act dropped out.

Continue reading “Top Flight – The Messenger Birds to Navigate Saturday Opening Set at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival”

Adventures with Vultures Explores Alt Rock Sound on New ‘Back to Normal’ Single

Adventures with Vultures has released their latest single, “Back to Normal,” which features a new alt rock sound.

Adventures with Vultures is bringing a new normalcy to acoustic indie folk rock.

The Plymouth singer-songwriter, aka Matt Sauter, combines his down-to-earth indie folk rock roots with lush new alt-rock growth on his latest single, “Back to Normal,” which drops today.

Akin to Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons, Sauter’s catchy 4.5-minute single features his signature raspy vocals backed by brightly-toned guitars and pulsating drum beats. “Back to Normal’s” clever lyrics include an infectious play on words ranging from “cooking dishes” to “growing lawns” to “breaking fences” to “painting songs.”

“It’s a concept song, first it was kind of like a joke, I was writing it and trying to sing everything backwards,” said Sauter, who wrote the track while attending the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). “The chord progressions are churchy and powerful, and once we got a full band with it, it became this super, big and powerful song, and we’ve been playing it live for a year now, and it’s one of our fan favorites.”

That live fan favorite also features the talents of Dan Sauter (bass), Jon Staten (drums) and Jimmy Showers (guitar), who now serve as official band members for Adventures with Vultures. He also worked with Jake Rye of Social Recording Company in Adrian to produce and mix the track.

“We go in there with Jake, we plug in, and we play our shit loud,” said Sauter, who originally started as a hip-hop artist and honed his drumming skills while growing up in Plymouth. “We’re going for an early 2000s indie alt rock sound with these new songs.”

Adventures with Vultures’ Matt Sauter

Originally, Adventures with Vultures started as an emerging indie folk solo act for Sauter, who released his brilliant, introspective four-song debut EP, “Junction,” in 2017 through Original 1265 Recordings, an independent label owned by CND America, DIME’s parent company.

Sauter expanded the project into a full band after playing a growing roster of live dates in Michigan and going on his first national headlining tour last year. He’s also transitioned from being part of Original 1265 Recordings to becoming an independent, do-it-yourself (DIY) artist.

As a DIY artist, Sauter recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to help support releasing new music as well as an upcoming tour. To date, he’s raised nearly $2,000, thanks to his burgeoning fan base, and sponsoring additional casino bus and golf outing fundraisers.

“Being a DIY artist is more community-based, and it feels more organic,” he said. “With the support of our fans, we’re going to release a new single every three months for the next year.”

As a next step, the band will release a new video soon for “Back to Normal” and return to the studio in April to record their next single.

Adventures with Vultures also will perform a series of upcoming live shows, including April 13 at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor with LVRS and Jackamo, April 26 at New Way Bar as part of Ferndale Spring Fever and May 24 at Mac’s Bar in Lansing with Joshua Powell.

“We’re going to keep course, we’re going to do our thing, but we want to be part of SXSW’s Michigan House next year,” Sauter said. “We’re going to keep the name growing, and people keep telling us to come back down to Nashville and Milwaukee. Every year, more and more keeps happening, and as long as we stay on our path, we’ll be pretty fucking happy.”

Knock, Knock – The Sneeks Drop New ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ EP Today

The Sneeks have released their fun-filled “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” EP today.

For The Sneeks, opportunity knocks with a new five-song EP.

The East Lansing alt rock quartet has delivered their latest release, “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” today via streaming services as a fun, breezy follow-up to their eight-track 2017 debut album, “Sneek Attack.”

Through “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” Niko Matsamakis (vocals, guitar), Kevin Neumann (vocals, bass), Alex Olivero (vocals, guitar) and Houston Smith (drums) create a laid-back summer sound filled with shimmery Mac DeMarco-inspired guitars and wrapped in personal tales of fleeting relationships.

It’s the musical alter ego to “Sneek Attack,” which follows a “rad rock and troll” sound born out of the band’s Michigan State University (MSU) party days and garage punk rock shows with Twin Peaks at The Loft in Lansing.

“The different approach for ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely the songwriting and recording style,” Matsamakis said. “We recorded it in my house upstairs in four different rooms at the same time, and we tracked it all together. Houston was in one bedroom, I was in another, Kevin was in the other bedroom and Alex was in the bathroom.”

Neumann and Olivero also contributed tracks to the “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” while Matsamakis wrote the material for “Sneek Attack” – his personal journey through post-breakup single life.

“We used some different effects on our guitars that we don’t normally use, and some of those ‘Sneek Attack’ sounds are harder in general, but ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely a softer sound,” Matsamakis said. “I wrote a few of the songs, showed them to Kevin, and Kevin put his touch on them, and then vice versa. I would say Kevin’s songs are definitely the softer ones.”

Continue reading “Knock, Knock – The Sneeks Drop New ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ EP Today”