Spiritual Awakening – Taylor DeRousse Releases Haunted Past on ‘Winter Ghost’ Single

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Taylor DeRousse experiences an emotional transformation on “Winter Ghost.” Artwork – Taylor DeRousse

Taylor DeRousse slowly expels the lingering spirits of a haunted past.

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.”

Continue reading “Spiritual Awakening – Taylor DeRousse Releases Haunted Past on ‘Winter Ghost’ Single”

Home Plate – Chain of Lakes Shares Tales of Comfort and Vulnerability on ‘Catch’ Album

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Kyle Rasche addresses life lessons on his new Chain of Lakes album, “Catch.” Courtesy photo

Whether it’s summertime visits, thumb-less mittens or minivan jams, Chain of Lakes instantly finds himself at home.

The Alto, Michigan indie-folk singer-songwriter openly recounts personal tales of heartwarming comfort and raw vulnerability on his introspective new album, Catch.

“As an overarching theme of my writing, I’m always going to write autobiographically from where I am a lot,” said Kyle Rasche, aka Chain of Lakes. “That’s not a big stretch, especially since everyone’s only been home for the last two years. I’m sure there’s been an exclamation point behind some of those themes.”

Throughout Catch, Rasche shares a 37-minute, visceral response to life lessons across 11 tender Chain of Lakes tracks. As a son, husband and father, he dedicates an emotive craft to past and present family members who embody honesty and courage.

“You’re taking home with you, and it’s what you hope your kids do. You want nothing more than for them to have the confidence to leave and explore and see it and do everything,” said Rasche, who has three daughters.

“Then, you hope they’ll never do it because you’ll miss them so much. You want to raise them up to be confident, strong women who aren’t afraid of anything.”

Continue reading “Home Plate – Chain of Lakes Shares Tales of Comfort and Vulnerability on ‘Catch’ Album”

At Home – Ann Arbor’s Pajamas Hosts Headlining Show Friday at The Blind Pig

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Pajamas opens for Karina Rykman at The Parliament Room at Otus Supply in Ferndale. Photo – Austin R. Grinnell

Filled with gratitude and anticipation, Pajamas wants to show their hometown some love.

The Ann Arbor rock-funk jam quartet of Graham Low (drums, vocals), Nick Orr (guitars, vocals), Dan Schuler (bass, vocals) and Owen Kellenberger (keys, vocals) eagerly awaits their first headlining show Friday at The Blind Pig in nearly two years.

“Since we do perform in Ann Arbor pretty regularly, this one is going to be a love letter to our friends and fans, something unique and special. We’ve put a lot of work into making this happen. It’s a chance to celebrate our town, our community and where we are now as a band,” Orr said.

“I think people have a lot to look forward to with this show. We’ve hired a professional lighting engineer to accompany the music with an incredible light show. The Blind Pig is an Ann Arbor institution, and we’ve all been attending and playing shows there for years.”

As part of their show, Pajamas will share The Blind Pig stage with Toledo’s Cactus Jack, a quintet of talented friends quickly gaining traction with live Michigan audiences.

“We met Cactus Jack by putting a show together with them at the Tip Top Deluxe in Grand Rapids. It was our first time playing together, but I think we fit together really well musically,” Orr said.

“They’re really talented players with very good original songs. We got along really well and are happy that they were available to play with us again for this upcoming show. This show will be their Blind Pig debut, so it’s extra cool for that reason.”

Another extra “cool” reason to celebrate Pajamas’ Blind Pig return – new material to preview and experience from their forthcoming second studio album as well as some improvised covers.

“I’m really proud of the music that we’ve written for it, and I think it showcases how far we’ve come and where we’re currently at as a band,” said Orr, who previously released Onesie with the band in 2018. “It feels like we are hitting our songwriting stride, and more importantly, finding our own sound and voice. I think with this second full-length album we just know who we are and what we are about musically.”

Continue reading “At Home – Ann Arbor’s Pajamas Hosts Headlining Show Friday at The Blind Pig”

Waiting to Exhale – Danielle Cosby Breathes Sigh of Relief on ‘Growing’

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Danielle Cosby immerses listeners in newfound relief and closure on “Growing.” Artwork – Danielle Cosby

These days, Danielle Cosby breathes a little easier.

The Nashville, Tennessee indie pop singer-songwriter slowly exhales painful emotions and experiences from the past on her latest curative single, “Growing.”

“This song is about taking a moment to reflect on and accept the journey that I traveled to get to where I am today. This song also serves as an apology to those I was forced to leave behind, or anyone I may have hurt while I was hurting,” said Cosby, who hails from Grand Rapids.

“I’ve had to forgive myself for a lot of things and let go of resentments that kept me tied to my past. ‘Growing’ is my reminder to not look back, but to press on with the full understanding that I can do hard things. It gives me a sense of empowerment and hope for the future.”

Filled with cathartic piano and hopeful bass, “Growing” beautifully immerses listeners in newfound relief and closure. As the third release in Cosby’s “Songstress” series, it’s the ideal anthem for moving forward and rediscovering your sense of self.

Cosby sings, “Gotta cry every once in a while/Write it down, sing a song, walk a mile/In my worn out shoes, from the years I spent with you.”

“‘Growing’ is actually my oldest ‘baby’ in the series. I started writing this song probably in late 2019/early 2020 before COVID and before I moved. I think it started as a hope of what the future could feel like. Kind of a ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ scenario,” said Cosby, who relocated to Nashville in July 2020.

“It sat with me, always playing in the back of my mind, but never really felt authentic and ‘true’ until I moved. Clarity is a powerful thing. Once my healing journey and my feelings kind of ‘caught up’ to the song, I was able to finish writing it, and it feels like one of my most prized possessions now.”

To realize her “Growing” vision, Cosby collaborated remotely with Los Angeles producer (and Grand Haven native) Kevin DePree and recorded the piano at Nashville’s East Iris Studios. Playing on a beautiful Bosendorfer Grand provided Cosby with additional inspiration for the track.

“It’s been such a positive and fulfilling experience working with (Kevin). I think this is my most vulnerable series of music to date, so working with someone I really trust as both a producer and a person was really important to me,” Cosby said.

“(Recording on the Bosendorfer Grand) was pretty much an out-of-body experience. It really boosted my confidence in my piano skills and felt like a gift I was granting myself. I felt really proud of myself.”

Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale – Danielle Cosby Breathes Sigh of Relief on ‘Growing’”

Perfectly Imperfect – Rin Tarsy Celebrates Life’s Contradictions on ‘Paradox’

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Rin Tarsy embarks on an emotional and spiritual quest of self-discovery on “Paradox.” Photo – Justin Snavely

For Rin Tarsy, life is filled with beautiful contradictions and imperfections.

The Grand Rapids folk singer-songwriter and guitarist embraces authenticity, yet re-examines her purpose on the aptly titled album, Paradox.

“For a while, people would ask, ‘What’s the theme of Paradox?’ And for a while, I didn’t know. Finally, it dawned on me one time when I was listening through all the tracks – it’s about self-trust and self-discovery,” said Tarsy, who grew up in Portland and started singing in church.

“I hope all these songs make sense together, and I really like them, but I wasn’t sure if they did. It’s comforting and scary at the same time. Are these thoughts ever gonna go away? Am I always gonna be questioning everything? Maybe I will.”

Tarsy’s lingering questions slowly spark an emotional and spiritual quest of self-discovery on Paradox that spans several years. Each poetic track celebrates intuition and explores emotion.

“The first songs I wrote for this album – ‘Stay,’ ‘Dear Heart’ and ‘Suitcase’ – were in the summer of 2016 after I got back from Africa. It was the first time I had examined who I was when I took away all of the pursuits that I had and the things I had wanted to go after,” said Tarsy, who visited Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia.

“At the time, I had asked myself, ‘Who am I if those things don’t go exactly the way I want? Or if my idealisms of what they could be don’t match up with the reality of what they actually are?’”

Continue reading “Perfectly Imperfect – Rin Tarsy Celebrates Life’s Contradictions on ‘Paradox’”

Recharge and Reset – The Soods Explore Renewed Mindset on ‘A Ray Rewired Vol. 2’ EP

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“A Ray Rewired Vol. 2” deeply explores The Soods’ internal terrain while focusing on the future. Photo – Jason Roy

Jason Roy instantly breathes a sigh of relief.

The Soods frontman and multi-instrumentalist quickly sheds a weathered emotional exoskeleton for a recharged future mindset on the collective’s latest contemplative indie rock EP, A Ray Rewired Vol. 2, via GTG Records.

“These songs feel like you’re shedding some skin, and you’re hatching out of an egg in a way. The world is a lot different now than it was two years ago, and it will be in a year, five years or 10 years from now,” said Roy, who’s based in Grand Rapids. “If you’re not shedding your skin every once in a while, then you probably need to do some self-reflection.”

As a cerebral outgrowth of A Ray Rewired Vol. 1, the second volume deeply explores sensitive internal terrain throughout pier houses, Haight-Ashbury and nearby neighborhoods and action-packed reveries. It also features an impressive roster of returning Soods collaborators, including Chris Coble, Matt Ten Clay, Steven Meltzer and others.

“There were a few things that kind of changed course a little bit along the way, and that was something a younger me wouldn’t have always been as open to,” Roy said. “The longer I get to make music, the more rewarding it is to come up with a really good idea and then have someone strengthen that with an equal or better idea.”

Continue reading “Recharge and Reset – The Soods Explore Renewed Mindset on ‘A Ray Rewired Vol. 2’ EP”

Due West – Desmond Jones Explores Vibrant Americana Landscape on ‘Why Not?’

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Desmond Jones opts for a cohesive Americana sound on “Why Not?” Photo – Purchase Productions

Desmond Jones boldly explores the sunny, vast terrain of the undiscovered countryside.

The Grand Rapids jam quintet of John Nowak (drums, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Taylor Watson (bass) and George Falk (sax, vocals) proudly ventures through blazing deserts, rolling hilltops and sprawling mountains on their latest Americana-infused album, Why Not?

“We’re lucky it fell together in a cohesive way because some of the songs were written almost 10 years ago. Others were written two years ago or right before we started recording the album,” Nowak said.

“We tried to collect them in a way that made thematic sense, even though we didn’t write them all together with the intention of releasing a concept album.”

As a refreshing, countrified conceptual immersion and stylistic detour from their funky, glam-jam sound, Desmond Jones’ Why Not? glides through 15 insightful, majestic tracks filled with nomadic adventures, lovelorn moments and bucolic musings.

The addition of warm, folky instrumentation – pedal steel guitars, fiddles, banjos, Dobros and mandolins – and rich four-part harmonies allow the band’s newfangled Americana sound to travel beyond the Midwestern landscape.

“A lot the songs we’ve been performing for over eight years now, and the Americana sound and songwriting style have always been a part of our live show and our catalog. We just never had the opportunity to record a lot of it or package it in that way,” said Nowak about the band’s third album.

“Once we started writing more songs that were a verse-chorus structure and a singer-songwriter style, they started to add up. We realized we had enough material to put it all together in one album, so that it wouldn’t feel as disjointed if we had put some of this stuff together with our funky or more progressive songs.”

Continue reading “Due West – Desmond Jones Explores Vibrant Americana Landscape on ‘Why Not?’”

Instant Connection – The Soods Fuse Hopeful Tales on ‘A Ray Rewired Vol. 1’ EP

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The Soods’ “A Ray Rewired Vol. 1” EP serves as the quintessential companion for a short summer sonic getaway. Artwork – Tansy Harris

As a Grand Rapids musical connector, Jason Roy seamlessly wires together hopeful vignettes for the unknown days ahead.

The Soods frontman and multi-instrumentalist solders brief mesmerizing, impactful tales of renewal and release on the collective’s latest electrifying indie rock EP, A Ray Rewired Vol. 1, via GTG Records.

“I think the overall feel of these songs has an upbeat rhythm of life to it. At the root of it, there’s an emotion of love, and music is meant to uplift,” said Roy, who co-produced the project and named it after a lyric in The Soods’ single, “Symbiotic Mono Band.”

“Even with the saddest stuff there should be some connective tissue of ‘Hey, it’s not always gonna be this bad, or shit’s gonna get better.’”

Along with a talented cast of Soods collaborators, Roy elaborately threads seven thoughtful tracks into an emotive, cohesive 15-minute listen. A Ray Rewired Vol. 1 serves as the quintessential companion for a short summer sonic getaway during a hectic, stressful day.

“I approach it like an art project in a sense. Let me start it, and I’m gonna use my palette to paint as good of a picture as I can to set you up to put on the finishing touches,” Roy said.

“Sometimes, I’ll get a vocal back, or I’ll be recording one with Steven (Meltzer), and be like, ‘Oh OK, we need to change direction.’ Not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s more of a ‘Ooh, I never thought to approach it that way.’”

Continue reading “Instant Connection – The Soods Fuse Hopeful Tales on ‘A Ray Rewired Vol. 1’ EP”

In Season – Chain of Lakes Debuts Intimate Live Video of ‘Next Few Winters’ EP on Sunday

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Chain of Lakes’ “Next Few Winters” EP commemorates the all-weather experiences of home, relationships and family. Courtesy photo

Chain of Lakes beautifully recreates the cozy, peaceful feel of winter in the midst of summer.

The Alto indie folk singer-songwriter brings a relaxed, reflective mood to a new live virtual performance of his latest EP, Next Few Winters, premiering 8 p.m. Sunday via The Stratton Setlist’s Facebook page and newly launched YouTube channel.

“We went in there with the idea of recreating the tracks. It’s a cool way to revisit the songs and get together with the boys. There are only three people that can play ‘Next Few Winters,’ ‘Black Ice’ and ‘Where It Starts,’ and it’s us recreating that space sonically while being in the same room together,” said Kyle Rasche, aka Chain of Lakes.

Rasche (vocals, guitar) teamed up with Jeffrey Niemeier (violin) and Kyle VanderVeen (ambient guitar) to record the intimate live show at Grand Rapids’ Second Story Sound in June. Mixed and mastered by Greg Baxter and filmed and edited by Drew VanderVeen, the video features Chain of Lakes performing inside a dimly lit, wood-paneled, red-walled studio.

“I was not envisioning sweating in shorts and a tank top while I was practicing for Next Few Winters. We had to dress a little warmer for the video so people might actually believe it was recorded back in the winter,” said Rasche with a laugh.

Continue reading “In Season – Chain of Lakes Debuts Intimate Live Video of ‘Next Few Winters’ EP on Sunday”

Lunar Magic – Desmond Jones Casts Appalachian Country Twang on ‘Pink Moon’

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Desmond Jones takes a refreshing vintage country detour on “Pink Moon.” Artwork – Daniel Benayun

Desmond Jones elegantly casts twangy lunar magic throughout West Virginia’s sprawling Appalachian Mountains.

The Grand Rapids rock-funk-jazz quintet of John Nowak (drums, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Taylor Watson (bass) and George Falk (sax, vocals) takes a refreshing vintage country detour on their latest jamboree-filled, celestial single, “Pink Moon.”

“The song is actually named after a music festival that used to be held in West Virginia called ‘The Pink Moon Music Festival.’ The festival was named after the lunar phenomenon we call The Pink Moon, which is a unique yearly full moon that occurred last week,” Bota said.

“I guess you could say it’s a love song I wrote to the moon. It’s meant to be sung while I’m hanging out in the Appalachian Mountains on the outskirts of a small West Virginia mountain town dancing to some wonderful live music under the moon and the stars.”

As a timeless, torchy ode to our favorite pastel-tinged satellite, “Pink Moon” awakens the youthful, nocturnal spirit as swift drums, rich pedal steel, propulsive bass, soulful sax, jubilant mandolin and vigorous violin gallop into a bright summer night.

Bota nostalgically sings, “Once a year, my dear, I’ll spend a night with you/Lookin’ at sunlight through your view/Whistlin’ a tune until the sun’s had enough of you/As you drift into the sky.”

“I wrote the song very late at night five years ago after the second Pink Moon Music Festival that we played and attended. I touched it up over a week or two of playing and singing it solo on my acoustic guitar. We recorded the drums, bass, two guitars and saxophone live at our manager Kevin McKay’s studio in the fall of 2019 three years later,” Bota said.

“The vocals, pedal steel and instrument solos were recorded at everyone’s own homes during the winter of 2020-2021. We have one guest on this track who happens to be one of our favorite Michigan musicians, Don Julin. We had the pleasure to play with Don during two of our sets at the Cowpie Music Festival in 2019, and he agreed to lend his musical talents on this album.”

Continue reading “Lunar Magic – Desmond Jones Casts Appalachian Country Twang on ‘Pink Moon’”