George Montrelle elegantly celebrates a life filled with love, beauty and tranquility.
The Ferndale rock-soul singer-songwriter and guitarist shares that personal mindset on his latest electrifying single, “Paradise,” as a romantic, grateful ode to his longtime partner.
“I’ve had that song more since the beginning of my relationship with my partner, and I wanted to validate how much I appreciate his love for me. This was one of the songs I felt strongest about early on, and I’ve been showing it to people for a while now,” said George Wilson, aka George Montrelle.
Montrelle beautifully chronicles his gratifying “Paradise” journey of true love and commitment as propulsive drums, crashing cymbals, fiery electric guitars and galvanic bass surround him.
He reveals, “Here for you till the end/Amaranthine love my friend/The very heart on which you can depend/Here for you for the rest our lives without a stress/Baby, forever, we will love no less.”
“I’ve tried to record this song a handful of times, and I finally just said, ‘I just need to get this done.’ I decided not to overanalyze it, but I also gave it my best,” said Wilson, who recorded and produced the track in his home studio.
“I didn’t have a steady band all the time, so when I wanted to put this song out, I was either gonna hire a drummer and record all the guitars myself, which I did. Or I was gonna track the drums using the sequencer in Ableton, and that’s what’s on the release,” Wilson said.
“I tried to embody what might feel good on stage, and I tried different arrangements. I also developed the verses so it felt progressively fluent throughout the whole song and understood how the drums and guitars needed to work while the vocals sat through everything.”
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.
The Plymouth indie folk-rock singer-songwriter quickly escapes the doldrums of everyday working life on his latest audacious single, “Speaking French,” which dropped today via all streaming platforms.
“This is one of the first songs I’ve ever co-written. I usually write everything alone, but I went over to Jimmy Showers’ house one night for band practice, and I said, ‘I’ve got this little new tune.’ This was in December maybe, and I had the hook already done. The verses were empty, but I had a melody, and we were spitballing random stuff,” said Matt Sauter, aka Adventures with Vultures.
“It was gonna be about a drunk dude who got everything ripped away from him, and then once the girl started chiming in, it became more of a love song about two people down on their luck, but together they can get through it.”
For the cinema-inspired track, Sauter collaborated with Jackamo’s Ali Wiercioch and Tess Wiercioch (harmony vocals), Dalton Thomas (drums), brother Dan Sauter (bass) and Showers (guitar) at Plymouth Rock Recording Company. As a 3.5-minute sonic road trip, “Speaking French” beautifully blends swift acoustic strums, deep electric guitar, pounding kick drum and rattling cymbals.
In turn, Sauter gravelly sings in Springsteen-esque vocals, “We joined the circus, and we both changed our names/Sold that ’57 Chevy, starting jumping trains/And we flew to Paris and started speaking French/Till she found a corner out there to help pay the rent.”
Throughout “Speaking French,” Sauter chronicles the high-flying adventures of working-class fictional couple who follow the open road. Together, they represent a spontaneous road-trip relationship akin to Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette (minus the violence) in 1993’s “True Romance.” The track also references several pop culture gems, including “Billie Jean,” “River Jordan” and Credence Clearwater Revival’s 1971 Top 10 single, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
“I was strumming that riff over at their house, and while we were taking a break, I was picking at it, and Ali kept going, ‘I wanna know have you ever seen the rain?’ We thought it would be cool to tie that into the bridge without stealing it. We made it sound like the girl in her bare feet saying that little part,” Sauter said.
“When I write songs, I don’t really have any structure. I just started humming, and I kept humming ‘River Jordan’ and ‘Billie Jean.’ I was just saying that in the hook, and I’m like, ‘Oh, OK.’”
The Detroit indie alt-folk singer-songwriter quietly resolved inner struggles and outer forces threatening her self-worth on Not So Pretty, a cathartic, five-track debut EP that dropped April 17.
“I went through a lot internally and externally in the beginning of 2019, and then throughout the year, things started moving internally, and I was having battles within myself. Those were more at the end of 2019, which I think you can tell more of the internal thoughts within ‘Burning Room’ and ‘Not So Pretty,’” Evenson said.
“‘Not So Pretty’ basically helped me not to hate myself anymore. For about eight or nine months of 2019, I could not stand myself, and I thought I was the worst person ever, and I needed to write that song. It was a mix of finishing that song and going back to therapy that really helped me to be in a way better place emotionally and mentally.”
Evenson follows her curative journey through reflective lyrics, soothing harmonies, dreamy soundscapes and shimmering instrumentation. Each Not So Pretty track invites us to tranquilly absorb and instantly connect with Evenson’s increasing vulnerabilities about self-esteem, losses and personal relationships.
The raw, pulsating title track features angry, brief bursts of electric guitar riffs fused with steady drums and soft bass. As a soaring soprano, Evenson revealingly sings, “I’m not so pretty/I’m not so clean/If only you could read what’s written in between me/And holding flowers, won’t make me look pure/And writing all these songs about it isn’t a cure.”
“I wrote it before a class I was supposed to have a song for, and I didn’t wanna play a cover, and I didn’t wanna play any of my other songs, and I sat down and started writing. I sang it in a class, and I just got so angry while I was singing it, and after it, I felt great. The rest of the day I was smiling and felt like everything was lifted off my shoulders,” said Evenson, who also submitted an acoustic video of the track for this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest.
The Detroit hard rock quintet draws inspiration from Kurt Cobain’s gritty guitars, Dave Grohl’s pounding drums and Layne Staley’s signature vocals on their new 3.5-minute fist-pumping ode to ‘90s grunge.
Together, they breathe new Motor City life into the original underground Seattle sound inspired by Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
“I wrote that song a long time ago when I went to Ferris State University for a year. I had moved up there by myself, and I didn’t know anybody,” said Angelo Coppola, frontman for The Lows. “I got inspired to write that song based off the media, social media and people in general, and it felt like there was a loss of love in the world.”
“Love Xtinction” is The Lows’ first new single since releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2017 and the first recording to feature the entire band lineup, including Nick Behnan (guitar, vocals), Brandon McNall (guitar), Johnny “Wolf” Abel (bass) and Duane Hewins (drums).
“For ‘Love Extinction,’ we picked it up and transformed each part of it into being even better, while the original EP was pretty much me just playing every instrument,” Coppola said. “We’re also going to release another single, ‘Love Will Find a Way,’ later this month or in early August. It’s the opposite viewpoint to ‘Love Xtinction.’”
Both singles will be featured on a new two-song EP called “The Love Sessions,” which will be sold at the band’s upcoming shows. In addition to their new singles, The Lows have played an impressive roster of live shows with several iconic ‘90s bands, such as Stone Temple Pilots and Candlebox.
They’ll also play several shows this month, including the Uncle Sam Jam with Sugar Ray in Woodhaven on July 13, the Pig & Whiskey festival in Ferndale with Verve Pipe on July 19 and Tommystock in Lake Orion on July 26.
“We’re going to be playing a lot of shows with Sponge because we’re part of the same management team,” Coppola said. “We’re also getting on the bill for a couple of out of town shows in Ohio and Pennsylvania in August.”
Before playing with iconic ‘90s artists, Coppola formed The Lows, a wordplay on his first name, while attending the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) as a music business student in 2017.
Initially a solo project, he wrote and recorded the band’s first track, “Purple,” an homage to Prince, for the DIME Sessions (Vol. 3) compilation album. With the success of “Purple,” Coppola teamed up with Chuck Alkazian to produce and record The Lows’ debut EP at Canton’s Pearl Sound Studios.
While growing up in Macomb, Coppola developed an ear for rock music thanks to his father, who’s also a musician. He started playing drums at age three and won a contest at age seven while playing KISS songs on the former “America’s Most Talented Kid” TV show.
By high school, Coppola developed an obsession with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins, taught himself guitar and learned how to write songs. He also played drums in a band called Shockwave and studied music business at Ferris State University before transferring to DIME and forming The Lows.
Two years later, Coppola and The Lows have played several metro Detroit music festivals and performed at Saint Andrew’s Hall and The Fillmore. Next up, they’re going to record more singles and possibly revisit their debut EP.
“I have 30 completed songs, and I have a home studio where I demo them out there first,” Coppola said. “We going to go single by single for the moment until we compile enough. We may even remix the first EP and put it together with a bunch of new singles that we have.”
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.”
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.”
With thumping bass lines, catchy drumbeats and bright synths, Grass Bat is swooping up a new era of ‘80s-fueled indie pop through his latest single, “Mistake.”
Released in November, the glistening four-minute track explodes with refreshing synth pop sensibilities reminiscent of The Human League mixed with the experimental psychedelic electro rock of MGMT and Animal Collective.
“For some time now, even in my previous band, the reviews I had gotten were ‘You sound very ‘80s,’ and I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of ‘80s music,” said Noel Herbert, aka Grass Bat. “It was something was that never really piqued my interest at the time, and I kept on getting this review. I was like, ‘If this is what I’m going to sound like, then I might as well go all out.’”
While writing and recording “Mistake,” Herbert quickly absorbed ‘80s pop rock and adapted the song’s melodies, structure and synths to recreate the era’s sound with a modern flair. It also features Adventures with Vultures’ Matt Sauter on guitar and Kayo Musiq on bass.
“Part of it being modern is the structure of the song, there’s an intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge and a double chorus at the end,” said Herbert, who grew up playing piano and guitar and was inspired by Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, Joan Baez and Celtic folk music. “Part of the reason I did that was for sync licensing, it makes it easier if the song is ever going to get played in a commercial or on a TV show.”
For Herbert, the song’s lyrics take on a personal meaning about a past failed relationship and allow him to process the whole situation. They’re written through self-awareness and his internal experience of the outside world.
“I wasn’t sure what the song was about when I first wrote it. It wasn’t until probably a month ago that I was listening to it, and it finally clicked in my head where it came from,” he said. “It can be interpreted in so many different ways. It’s so important that each person interprets it in their own way, and that they can have their own feelings toward it.”
The Detroit-based hard rock band will join more than 120 artists, including Ace Frehley, The Dead Kennedys, Belinda Carlisle and Sponge, during the free festival, which includes seven stages of music and a muscle car showcase today through Sunday in downtown Detroit.
The Lows will take the stage in Detroit’s Hart Plaza at 3:15 p.m. Saturday for their hour-long, 15-song set. Fans can expect original Lows’ tunes and covers from Detroit music legends, including Alice Cooper and The Stooges, as well as ‘90s grunge classics.
For Angelo Coppola and his Lows bandmates, the festival is an incredible chance to help revive the rock music scene in the Motor City.
“Basically, I think there’s not enough of the straight-up rock sound going on anymore,” said Coppola, frontman for The Lows. “There are some great bands like Greta Van Fleet and some others from Detroit doing it. I think the world needs more of it, and I think tons of people personally want something to change with mainstream music. We’re just trying to hopefully be part of it carrying the torch and bringing it back around.”
Coppola learned his band would join the all-star rock music festival lineup after he submitted “Road Trippin’,” a track from The Lows’ 2017 self-titled debut EP for a 12-song Motor City Muscle compilation album.
“The criteria for that was the song had to be about cars, and it had to mention Detroit in the song,” he said. “I went back into the studio where I recorded the EP, and I just changed one line of the first verse with producer Chuck (Alkazian) to include a reference to Detroit in there, then I submitted it, and they picked it for the album.”
With her rich, soulful voice, Jena Irene Asciutto sings of a life lived well beyond her 22 years.
The Ann Arbor, Mich., singer-songwriter shares tales of personal growth and self-reflection in her debut album, “Cold Fame.”
Released in June 2017 on Detroit’s Original 1265 Recordings, “Cold Fame” solidifies Asciutto as a powerhouse vocalist and composer who mixes elements of pop, rock and alternative against a cinematic backdrop.
“I wanted it to be a little bit of a story, like a complete chapter of my life,” she said. “A lot of those songs were written in the same period of time so I wanted to take the listener on a little bit of a journey when they listen to it from start to finish.”
Deconstructing ‘Cold Fame’
Hearing “Cold Fame” from start to finish allows fans to delve into Asciutto’s artistic metamorphosis from American Idol runner-up to burgeoning songstress.
“I just want to make people feel something when they listen to my music,” she said. “Some of (the lyrics) are super close-knit because you know exactly what I’m talking about, and some of it’s a little bit more generalized.”
“Cold Fame’s” 14 raw, emotional tracks propel listeners on a sonic journey through self-exploration in “Song of Myself” to the dark side of life in “Black Magic” to peppy “no f*cks given” in “White Girl Wasted.”
The Motor City indie pop-rock singer-songwriter, aka Maggie Cocco, digs deep and gets personal on her new nine-song double EP, “Love & Life,” which drops June 1.
On “Love & Life,” Cocco’s inspirational lyrics and soulful, powerhouse voice are reminiscent of Carole King, Patti Smith, Kelly Clarkson and Emmylou Harris rolled into one. Her richly-layered songs unravel relatable situations for fans who have experienced the trials and tribulations of life and love.
Cocco is releasing her first single, “I See You,” today from her upcoming double EP. “I See You” brings an acoustic foot-stompin’, finger-snappin’ tale of an unexpected love facing personal triumph despite life’s ongoing challenges.
“‘Love’s four heartfelt songs explore infatuation, confidence, insecurity, frustration, anger and loss as it pertains to romantic love. I was inspired to draw personally from my own love life and pulled a ‘Taylor Swift’ of sorts,” said Maggie Cocco, who formed Science for Sociopaths in 2016. With ‘Life,’ I dealt with the deep stuff bordering on existential. Everything from self-love and being our best selves to life’s toughest questions and big decisions. It’s real, and so sometimes it’s dark, but it’s always hopeful.”