New Chapter – Blank Tape Tax Shares Mental Health Struggles on ‘My Book’ Single

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Blank Tape Tax raises mental health awareness on “My Book.” Photo – Colleen Rose

Editor’s Note: According to John Hopkins Medicine, 26 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness. That means for every 100 people you meet, 26 of them are struggling with mental illness. NAMI research also shows roughly 5 percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with serious mental illness, and 1 percent of Americans suffer from psychotic disorders.

Blank Tape Tax openly shares a personal chapter of past struggles.

The Detroit experimental group and rotating collective boldly recounts the internal anguish associated with lingering mental illness battles on “My Book,” which is now available on all streaming platforms.

“It’s a story about living with bipolar 1 disorder and what recovering from a psychotic break and subsequent hospitalization has been like in a recovery process that has lasted four years. Only recently has mental illness become something that is seen as less stigmatized to talk about in certain circles,” said Ben Yost, Blank Tape Tax’s drummer-vocalist.

“However, in most places, there is still a misunderstanding surrounding mental illness, especially with a disorder like bipolar psychosis, which affects 1 percent of all Americans. Although it was not written with this intention, ‘My Book’ has come to start a dialogue about mental illness and remind people that feelings are mentionable and manageable. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.”

Throughout “My Book’s” lo-fi home demo, Blank Tape Tax beautifully reveals that inner strength with Emily Parrish (vocals) and Kavon Williams (piano). Surrounded by somber piano, Parrish poignantly sings, “The words for me are hard to say/I suffer through them every day/And I just want you to hear my pain and to relate/I want to say some old cliché/But oh what the fuck/Here it goes anyway.”

“That being said, I feel conflicted about the lyrics of ‘My Book’ because I felt initially when I wrote them that they were too negative and self-pitying, but after hearing Emily perform it, I’ve come to think that the song is ultimately a positive thing,” Yost said.

“‘My Book’ was written in a few minutes as a stream-of-consciousness poem. I often write this way using free association. I recorded Logan Gaval’s first full-length, Number One, on Flesh and Bone Records, and I was listening to that at the time. I liked the way he sounded like Elliott Smith, and I wanted to write a song in that style (sort of like ‘Needle in the Hay’).”

Yost initially wrote “My Book” as a waltz on his guitar and recorded a demo. The track later blossomed once Parrish added her thoughtful vocals and Williams performed his haunting piano part in Wayne State University’s Old Main Guitar Room.

“I had always planned on re-releasing ‘My Book’ as a single. It took this long primarily because we were still forming a lineup while it was recorded, and then the pandemic hit. When Emily first sang it for us, it was awesome. It reminded me of Janis Ian, but more emotive. Emily really made the song her own while Kavon’s piano was perfect for the song,” Yost said.

Blank Tape Tax also filmed a VHS camcorder-inspired video for “My Book,” which features warm snippets of home movie style footage interspersed with a live performance of Yost, Parrish and Williams. Yost developed the raw, vintage concept for the video after watching two seminal early ‘90s skateboard videos, Blind Skateboards’ “Video Days” and Alien Workshop’s “Memory Screen.”

“The Blind video was a major influence on me as a young kid, and later in life when I saw ‘Memory Screen,’ my imagination had totally been captured by that style of filmmaking. I had also been a fan of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, and the first two Blank Tape Tax videos for ‘Baby’ and ‘Peachy’ had been done in a similar style by visual artist Genevieve Kuzak,” said Yost, who worked with Ethan Long and Nathan Wilkey to edit the “My Book” video.

“I actually ended up being the one behind the camera while filming ‘My Book’ just out of necessity. The footage fits the audio nicely because they were both captured on tape, which gives it a warm home movie quality. All but the editing and mastering were done using analog technology and magnetic tape.”

My Book” serves as Blank Tape Tax’s latest compelling single after releasing the pithy hardcore punk-bebop jazz track, “Hey Donnie” and the jazzy hip-hop B-side, “Positive Force and the Discipline of Non-Violence pt. 2” earlier this year. They also dropped a refreshing modal jazz-based cover of Minor Threat’s “Filler” in October.

Looking ahead, Yost and his current Blank Tape Tax lineup of Michael King (upright bass), William Marshall Bennett (piano), Mark Royzenblat (guitar), Isaac Burgess (guitar) and Parrish (vocals) will release additional new material soon.

“We have no previews of anything other than lo-fi home demos. We’re trying to do more stuff in high fidelity, and we plan on a single and an EP. We’re also debating doing a full-length since there’s no touring,” Yost said.

Soulful Path – ANA Explores Self-Love, Personal Growth on ‘Fall With Me’ Single

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ANA shares her deepest emotional reflections and vulnerabilities on “Fall With Me.” Photo – Miles Marie

Filled with sensual, soulful grooves and mellow, jazzy soundscapes, ANA beautifully embarks on a newfound path of self-discovery and intimacy.

Along her transformative journey, the Detroit neo-soul singer-songwriter shares her deepest emotional reflections and vulnerabilities while poignantly embracing personal growth and exhilaration on “Fall With Me.”

“This song is a trifecta of things. A lot of it is about exploring intimacy and being open to that. But self-love was a big one, especially during the pandemic because we have spent so much time being isolated from each other. I feel like a lot of the things we desire become a lot more physical and manifest in a way of self-care while deepening the expectations we have for ourselves and the things that we love to do,” said Ana Gomulka, aka ANA.

Now available on all streaming platforms, “Fall With Me” magically transports listeners to a carefree, breezy spring day that provides instant relief and ample time to recharge. Thoughtful, enduring trumpet, delicate drums, mellifluous bass, fluttering synth and vivid electric guitar provide a mesmerizing escape into ANA’s dreamy world.

Gomulka beautifully sings, “Cause when you show up at my place/And ring my bell/I’ve been feelin’ for ya/You know very well/But if this is too much for you, yeah/We can just kick it like we used to.”

“I decided to put this song out first because I’ve been working on a lot of music that’s going to be coming out in 2021. I also wanted to make this a love song to my audience and the people who have supported me throughout the whole time I’ve been making music,” said Gomulka, who also fronts the jazz-fusion group Honey Monsoon.

“I’ve been writing songs since I was 13 years old, and this is the first time I’ve ever officially put out a single myself as a solo artist. I wanted to make this single to invite people to follow me into the joy of what I’ll be sharing. I’ve always been a really sensual, vulnerable person, and I think a lot of authenticity lies there.”

Fall With Me” also serves as ANA’s first new material since releasing Honey Monsoon’s 2019 enchanting album, Opal Soul. She invited an all-star team of collaborators to join her on the track, including Haruki Hakoyama (bass, trumpet), Sasha Kashperko (guitar), Todd Watts (drums) and Barry Chambliss (keys), and meld captivating R&B grooves with jazzy, hip-hop beats.

“This song was actually something that just came to me. I had studio time booked already for different songs, but this song was the newest and the freshest one. I had just laid down the guitar part first for the demo,” said Gomulka, who recorded the track at Fundamental Sound Co.

“I did the instrumental, and then the vocals came while the lyrics came afterward. I just reflected and manifested in feeling what I really wanted people to get out of this song. I’ve also been making a lot of electronic music, but I thought it was important to have actual instrumentation on it. I think that comes with the realness of my music, and it’s a reflection of my musical spirit.”

Continue reading “Soulful Path – ANA Explores Self-Love, Personal Growth on ‘Fall With Me’ Single”

Detroit Songbook – Kate Hinote Trio Celebrates Original Tracks, Local Songwriter Covers on ‘Near’

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David Johnson, Kate Hinote and Matthew Parmenter include an exquisite collection of original and cover tracks on the Detroit-inspired “Near” album. Photo courtesy of Kate Hinote Trio

For their debut release, the Kate Hinote Trio beautifully assembles the ideal Detroit songbook.

The Motor City acoustic three-piece of Kate Hinote (vocals), David Johnson (acoustic guitar) and Matthew Parmenter (violin) carefully handpicked an exquisite collection of melodic, mesmerizing tracks from their own catalog as well as from other local songwriters for Near.

“When we were finalizing Near a couple of months ago, I told the guys, ‘One thing that’s going to be compelling about this album is the other songwriters’ contributions.’ Those songs are much different than how I would write or what Matthew Parmenter and I would write together,” said Hinote, who’s previously performed with The Blueflowers, Sound of Eleven and Ether Aura.

Throughout Near, the Kate Hinote Trio features 11 timeless, poignant tracks from The Blueflowers, Don Duprie and Alison Lewis, Emily Rose, Rogue Satellites’ Jaye Allen Thomas, Anthony Retka, Matthew Smith, Duende and Parmenter. Together, these eclectic songs share captivating, emotive tales that deeply explore internal struggles and personal relationships while traveling along a newfound path of self-discovery.

“I knew I wanted to have a Detroit songwriters’ album, and every song is so different because of their contributions. It gave the album some variety, and I’m just drawn to songs that have relationship elements. I think that’s the nature of everybody I included,” Hinote said.

Continue reading “Detroit Songbook – Kate Hinote Trio Celebrates Original Tracks, Local Songwriter Covers on ‘Near’”

Light Year – Michigander Rediscovers Purpose on ‘Everything Will Be OK Eventually’ EP

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Michigander’s “Everything Will Be OK Eventually” EP offers hope and optimism for the future. Photo – Kris Herrmann

For Michigander, a new release lights the way after a dark year.

The Detroit indie pop singer-songwriter shares a renewed sense of personal and creative purpose on his third optimistic, six-track EP, Everything Will Be OK Eventually, out today on all streaming platforms.

“I’m hoping these songs will become a soundtrack of a return to normal. I tend to write sad music, but it sounds nice and happy, and that usually kind of tricks people. People resonate with each EP and every song coming out at certain time frames in their lives,” said Jason Singer, aka Michigander.

“It feels weird to know this one will do the same thing, and I know one day I’ll look back on this time, so I try to enjoy it now. I hope it serves as a time stamp and takes people back to where we are right now.”

Released via C3 Records, Michigander’s Everything Will Be OK Eventually instantly transports pandemic-fatigued listeners to a hopeful nearby future filled with highly anticipated face-to-face interactions and group gatherings. Each melodic, expansive track allows people to release pent-up sighs of relief and shed lingering worries as they progress from one song to the next.

That cathartic return to normalcy starts with Singer’s latest exhilarating, spirited single, “Better,” as ascending, vibrant synths, roaring electric guitars, pounding drums and buoyant bass reveal a promising road ahead and a peaceful disruption in time.

Singer reflects, “You’re always scared of getting caught/Always questioning your thoughts/But you can’t hide how you feel/I wanna know how you feel/Feels like time is moving quicker, but I’m getting slower/Guess that’s just a part of getting older/Wish I could look away.”

“I tend to write music with the intention of knowing what’s the opener and what’s the ender, and I fill everything in the middle. ‘Better’ and ‘Together’ are purposely where they’re at on the EP, and it was very intentional to open it massively and close it softly. My favorite albums have great openers and great endings, and it’s something I always want to replicate when I make my music,” he said.

Continue reading “Light Year – Michigander Rediscovers Purpose on ‘Everything Will Be OK Eventually’ EP”

On Course – Madelyn Grant Finds Motown-Inspired ‘Purpose’ on Debut EP

Madelyn Grant’s “Purpose” EP explores the challenges of reaching self-actualization during a personal transformation. Artwork – Sebi White and Quinn Faylor

Madelyn Grant elegantly charts a new creative course.

The Detroit neo-soul singer-songwriter opted for a classic Motown-inspired sound on her debut EP, Purpose, after forging an initial electronic, trip-hop pathway.

“I love the sound of Emancipator and FKJ, but after touring and performing with them, I realized I wanted to capture more of that Amy Winehouse-Sade vibe. At that moment with electronic music, I wanted to go more in an organic direction of being live with everyone in the studio, and I think these songs lend themselves to that,” Grant said.

“I’ve got this combination of songs, and they sound like Motown, Al Green, Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. They don’t sound like sound like trip-hop, FKJ or Emancipator. The people who helped arrange these songs with me were U-M jazz school alumni, and they added some jazz influences in there.”

Grant beautifully jazzes up her nostalgic, soulful project across five introspective, fervent tracks. Out today via all streaming platforms, Purpose delves beneath the surface and explores the challenges of reaching self-actualization during a personal transformation.

“After listening back to these songs and realizing this intense process I went through creating this EP, I had this image of a butterfly that kept coming into my mind. When moths and butterflies go through this transformation and reach their final stage, they have to go through this intense cycle. It’s not always pretty, but in the end you’re left with something that’s worth waiting and being patient for,” she said.

Continue reading “On Course – Madelyn Grant Finds Motown-Inspired ‘Purpose’ on Debut EP”

Fantastic Voyage – Nick Behnan Embarks on Instrumental ‘Magic Trip’ Album Odyssey

Nick Behnan glides from one genre-filled world to the next on his latest instrumental album, “Magic Trip.”

Backed by timeless grooves, majestic electric guitars and funky beats, Nick Behnan effortlessly embarks on an enchanting instrumental journey.

The Detroit singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist beautifully glides from one hypnotic genre-filled world to the next on his latest 10-track, funkified R&B-rock odyssey, Magic Trip.  

Initially written and recorded for sync licensing opportunities, each fluid, spellbinding track showcases Behnan’s versatility, prolificacy and creativity as an evolving songwriter and producer.

“I’ve never released an instrumental album before that shows my love for all genres. My main focus was to pick songs that were groovy, funky and somewhat up-tempo, but I try to write and produce the same way that I listen to music as a fan,” Behnan said.

“I never just listen to one kind of music all night. It will roll from Gregory Isaacs to The Congos to The Bee Gees to Prince to Wilco to Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar to Beck and many others all in one night. The trick was picking the songs because I have so many; I could easily put out five albums right now.”

While Magic Trip eloquently blends Behnan’s eclectic, refreshing influences, it instantly soars into a laid-back, welcoming sonic adventure on the jam-tastic, improvisational title track. Shimmery, wah-wah electric guitars, majestic bass, whirring synths and soft drums recreate the sound and feel of a sunny, breezy spring day in the mind’s eye.

“Several of the songs were made mostly with TV and film licensing in mind while others were started a few years ago. Some songs like, “Magic Trip” and “Inner City Funk” are brand new. Overall, I hope people feel good when they listen to it and enjoy grooving and rocking out to the music,” he said.

Continue reading “Fantastic Voyage – Nick Behnan Embarks on Instrumental ‘Magic Trip’ Album Odyssey”

High Level – Jackamo Adds Solid Layer to New ‘Foundations’ Video

A new contemplative video beautifully takes Jackamo’sFoundations” to the next level.

Released today, the video adds an emotive, solid layer to the Hamtramck indie folk sibling duo’s wistful debut single, which dropped Feb. 19. It features sisters Alison Wiercioch and Tessa Wiercioch firmly planted in the middle of a sparsely furnished living room while people and objects move around them.

“We’re going to give our roommate Molly a shout-out. We were sitting together back in October, and we said, ‘Gosh, we really want to do a video for this song, but we have no idea what we should do.’ We were shooting off ideas, and Molly said, ‘How cool would it be if you two were in a room and things were moving around you, but you remained at a standstill,” said Alison Wiercioch.

With an initial video blueprint in mind, Jackamo contacted high school friend and director Zach Noonan to bring the “Foundations” concept to life. The Wiercioch sisters developed the video’s storyline and creative approach with Noonan over multiple Zoom calls until he emerged with a script.

“Zach drove around listening to the song, and that’s how he found his creative juices. The song really resonated with him, and when we got his script idea, we were enamored. Zach was the one who had the idea of having different sets,” said Tessa Wiercioch.

Throughout the “Foundations” video, Jackamo and Noonan seamlessly showcase three visual scenes to bring the track’s raw vulnerability to life. The initial living room scene features the Wiercioch sisters singing next to each other as a large stone fireplace provides additional emotional support.

Next, it quickly transitions to the gallery scene as Jackamo kneels together singing on the floor while extras move pieces of their mother’s artwork in and out of the room. The camera continues to circle around the duo into the “nothing scene” as they strongly embrace one another while the extras struggle to pry them apart.

“Zach brought his friend Liam Adams in as the videographer. The entire video is one shot, and they made that light themselves. We told Zach we wanted it to look like the golden hour, and he said, ‘I can definitely make that happen.’ They had their lights fixed up, and that’s the light that’s showing in the camera,” said Alison Wiercioch.

Along with Noonan, Adams and a cast of extras, the Wiercioch sisters filmed the “Foundations” video inside their Howell childhood home. One of the video’s most eye-catching objects includes a white two-story birdhouse that’s shifted throughout the living room. In a sense, the birdhouse captures the structural spirit of the larger home and encapsulates the essence of the track.

“That was Zach’s idea, and he clung on to the fact that we want our song to be taken however the listener takes it. The birdhouse was another object that we could move, but the table it sits on is still there. Somebody moves the table at one point, and that spoke to me. The house is already gone, but the table or the foundation is still there,” said Tessa Wiercioch.

Jackamo keeps their “Foundations” intact as they lie together on the home’s hardwood floor at the video’s close. It’s a subtle reminder the Wiercioch sisters are ready to build additional levels throughout their evolving musical framework.

“We hope it doesn’t make anybody think too much of what they’re supposed to feel in the song. We’ve had a couple of people who have said and thought different things about the video. It’s fun and exciting for us to hear people’s new perspectives,” said Tessa Wiercioch.

Heavy-Duty Blues – Paper Bags Enters New Terrain on ‘Shifting Metaphor’ EP

Geoff Hornby trades his acoustic guitar for an electric one on “Shifting Metaphor.”

One fateful day, Geoff Hornby made a seismic shift in sound.

The Paper Bags singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist traded his acoustic guitar for an electric one and ventured into Delta-inspired blues.

“The current sound – bluesy garage rock – was something that had been brewing inside me for a long time, since the days of playing with The Johnny Timbers during and right out of high school. I wanted to make kind of a blues-infused Nirvana record. And I had grown tired of the acoustic troubadour act – it was time to get heavy,” said Hornby, who lives in Southgate.

Hornby intricately fuses heavy-duty blues with raw, underground garage rock sensibilities on his latest five-track EP, Shifting Metaphor, with drummer Jason O’Dea. The gritty Paper Bags project quickly seeps into the thematic crevices of acceptance, anticipation and appreciation across timeless, authentic tracks inspired by Hornby’s favorite authors.

“As far as those themes, I didn’t intentionally write about any of them. I try not to write with so much intention anymore. It’s all going to get interpreted differently in the end anyway. When I write a set of lyrics, I start with a basic line or idea and just see where it takes me. I feel like most of the time they write themselves and take on a life of their own,” he said.

“Three of the tracks on the album were inspired by novels I’d read in the last few years – “6,000 Stars” was inspired by Graphic: The Valley by Peter Hoffmeister, “Thank You” by Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, and “Butterflies” by Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov. And “Always The Same” is tinged with some concepts found in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.”

Continue reading “Heavy-Duty Blues – Paper Bags Enters New Terrain on ‘Shifting Metaphor’ EP”

Groundbreaking Ceremony – Jackamo Constructs Resilient Emotional Framework on ‘Foundations’

Jackamo brings listeners a sense of comfort and closure on their debut single, “Foundations.”

Jackamo eloquently builds from the ground up.

The Hamtramck indie folk sibling duo of Alison Wiercioch and Tessa Wiercioch seamlessly constructs a resilient emotional framework comprised of growth, wisdom and reflection on their poignant debut single, “Foundations.”

“We both hope this song helps people to find closure. No matter what, if you keep trying, and you keep working at something, you don’t have to give up just because of the foundation being cracked,” said Tessa Wiercioch, who formed Jackamo with Alison in 2019.

Together, Jackamo instantly seals delicate “Foundations” cracks as sorrowful acoustic strums, thumping drums, pensive strings, tearful electric guitar, thoughtful bass and heavenly First Aid Kit-esque harmonies solidify the soul.

Alison Wiercioch reveals, “I’ve been trying lately/Caught up on the other side/And I’ve been crying lately/Trying to do what they think is right/And I’ve been crying, I’ve been crying/But it’s the fire that makes the ore/And I’ve been dying, I’ve been dying/But I’m tired and I’m sore.”

“I hope all of our songs bring comfort and that people feel something through our music. It’s a huge thing that we always keep in mind when we’re writing and putting music out,” said Alison Wiercioch, who’s the elder sibling by three years.

The Wiercioch sisters invited a team of metro Detroit musical architects to design and shape “Foundations” at Royal Oak’s Rustbelt Studios in 2019. Sammy Boller (guitar), Jimmy Showers (guitar), Steve Lehane (bass) and Steve Stetson (drums) created an emotive, folky infrastructure while Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd (string arrangements), Sarah Cleveland (cello), John Madison (viola) and Joe Deller (violin) added cinematic soundscapes.

“When we had material to record, we thought about who we wanted to work with, and Steve Lehane immediately popped into our heads. We went out to coffee with Steve, and he was this ray of light. Steve was beaming with creativity, and he wanted to see us play our songs. He wanted to bring his friend Sammy along and said they both wanted to work with us,” said Alison Wiercioch.

With Lehane and Boller at the production helm, Jackamo recorded five initial tracks at Rustbelt Studios to lay the groundwork for the duo’s timeless, all-weather sound. They continued to write additional material and perform live throughout the Motor City until COVID-19 shuttered music venues last March.

“Something Ali and I have both realized about these songs is that they haven’t aged a bit. We’re hoping that comes across to others as well. It’s been two years, but we still love them the same. We want to make sure that our music is timeless because we like artists from every decade, and we hope our music won’t have an expiration date,” said Tessa Wiercioch.

Continue reading “Groundbreaking Ceremony – Jackamo Constructs Resilient Emotional Framework on ‘Foundations’”

The Darkness and The Light – Mike Ward Balances Past, Future on Contemplative New Album

Mike Ward uncovers the delicate midpoint between two opposing forces in time and emotion on “The Darkness and The Light.” Photo – Mark Stevens of Blue H2O

Mike Ward eloquently strikes a balance between the past and the future.

The Detroit Americana singer-songwriter thoughtfully uncovers the delicate midpoint between two opposing forces in time and emotion on his reflective third album, The Darkness and The Light.

“I think it has a lot to do with my age; I got started in this late. I think it comes from a lot of experience and examination of that. I come from a really big family; we’ve had some losses and struggles over the last 10 years. These songs were all written well before the pandemic, but they tee up the emotions that people have,” Ward said.

“Since my dad passed and my mom died almost 10 years before that, I’ve been on that path of examining life as it is, life as it was and life after I go. I archived about 10,000 slides and photographs from my dad’s collection because he was an amateur photographer, and you can’t do that without diving into the faces, the eyes, the smiles and the tears. All those stories ruminate around, and I think for me as a writer I’ve realized that’s the way things have to happen for me.”

Ward’s initial ruminations unfold into 10 insightful tales about wisdom, gratitude, reality and altruism throughout The Darkness and The Light. As a majestic successor to 2018’s We Wonder, each Darkness and Light track sashays from shadows of struggle to flashes of hope as listeners travel from one experience to the next.

“I’m not trying to sugarcoat anything, and I’m not trying to be Pollyanna. Even when I sing ‘Our Turn to Shine,’ it’s done in a way that suggests taking it upon yourself. When one of us shines, we can all shine, and bringing a little light to the world is a good thing even as messed up as it is. That’s what I hope people will get from it. I’ve been told by a number of people who’ve listened to it that it’s calming and gives them a sense of relaxation,” Ward said.

Continue reading “The Darkness and The Light – Mike Ward Balances Past, Future on Contemplative New Album”