With raw, dark sensibilities and passionate, mystical lyrics, The Fragile Corpse instantly sends an alt rock rush of blood to the head.
The Ann Arbor goth-grunge collective pierces the flesh, seeps into veins and ingests troubled souls on their new vampiric demo single, “Let Us Prey,” now available on Band Camp.
“I tried to add a little bit of vampire imagery in the song to help create a sense of the existential dread that life can feel like when you’re at a low point. Life keeps going and never stops, and sometimes you feel like you need a break,” said Matthew “Thew” Vayle, The Fragile Corpse’s vocalist-guitarist-drummer.
“Let Us Prey” deeply explores that murky internal abyss as coarse, turbulent electric guitars, gentle cymbal taps, steady drums and spirited bass submerge listeners in a raging emotional underworld.
Vayle calmly reflects, “I refine my taste on crimson wine/The ambrosial waste of god’s divine/If love is a sickness/I must be terminal/An immortal blight on the bloodline.”
“I find having that ability to relate to a piece of art often makes me feel less dreadful. The lyrics in songs like that can get pretty overdramatic at times, but I love that. Being in that state of mind can turn small things into daunting obstacles, and it can literally feel like the world is ending,” said Vayle, who’s inspired by The Smashing Pumpkins (think Adore) and Type O Negative.
“I wrote and recorded the song about three to four years ago and didn’t really touch it since. I was trying to put together a goth band at the time and wrote a few other gothy songs that are unfinished as well.”
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.”
The Rio de Janeiro guitarist-bassist-producer strategically connects discrete audio pieces to create captivating film scores and soundtracks through Artigo Audio.
Together, those emerging instrumentals unfold a hidden classic-meets-alt-rock world filled with enticing people, places and experiences. With limitless possibilities and choose-your-own-adventure storylines, listeners travel to an undiscovered, intergalactic dimension, a drug-infested Edinburgh and a nocturnal-inspired Hollywood.
“I like to dismantle all the pieces that I put together, like a puzzle, and then dismantle them again to make the music neat and clear,” Hendrik said.
For his latest score, the forceful, driving “Russian Dance” jumps to hyperspace as charging, vibrant electric guitars, booming drums, throbbing bass and crashing cymbals provide a Black Sabbath-esque space jam.
Next, listeners instantly shift to Scotland as “Skag Boys” propels into an alt-punk rock frenzy with swift, crunchy electric guitars, pounding drums, banging cymbals and driving bass in an Irvine Welsh-like heroine culture.
After sonically leaving the U.K., a third Hendrik stop includes a late-night stroll down Sunset Boulevard on “Hollywood Moon” as bluesy, fuzzy electric guitars, shimmering cymbals, delicate drums and thoughtful bass echo along the concrete jungle.
“I have an inclination for making soundtracks, especially because Hollywood has this feel of a classic place. If you see the buildings, it looks like you’re in the ‘50s, and the people you see on the street are totally different. It’s like you’re in a time warp,” said Hendrik, who studied audio engineering abroad at Los Angeles’ Musicians Institute in 2016.
“I put myself in the shoes of somebody who’s delusional walking around Hollywood searching for something that may fulfill their delusion. Sometimes I would go to Jameson’s Irish Pub, and if I got loaded, I would leave the whiskey bar and start walking around Hollywood to talk to everybody.”
“Hollywood Moon” also features Hendrik’s mesmerizing instrumental collaboration with Ania, a Los Angeles heavy metal singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso, who beautifully shreds throughout the haunting psych rock track.
“I found her online during social isolation. I was building my website for my production company, and I started reaching out to people saying, ‘Hey, do you want to produce or record something?’” he said.
“I was on Facebook, and I added Ania because I saw she attended the same school I that did in Hollywood. After we had a conversation, I realized she was just like me, a musician who wanted to record. It was amazing because she brought me results within a week.”
Youssef Salloum believes the best things in life aren’t planned.
The Random Ties vocalist-guitarist elegantly weaves a lifetime of chance encounters and unexpected lessons into a new introspective, grungy debut EP, Believe, with bandmate KD Murray (drums).
“Believe is inspired by the roller coaster ride we go through touching on subjects, such a losing a loved one, difficulties in starting a family, struggling with faith and moving on. All the songs were written with a high-energy, feel-good vibe and a dynamic sound topped with an honest message,” Salloum said.
Originally from Beirut, Salloum spent more than two decades making Believe an alt rock-fueled reality after putting music aside for different careers, personal relationships and international moves. The EP thoughtfully represents a renewed self-commitment to creativity, motivation and persistence in a disconnected world of musical uncertainty.
“The song ‘Believe’ says ‘There was a time I lost a dream.’ It’s never too late, and no matter how hard it feels, things get better if you hang in there long enough. At the time, I had made the decision to see how I was going to make a living while having music as a hobby instead of a career. My intention was to be a musician, but at the end of the day, when you look at what’s going on around you, there was no internet, and there was no social media,” said Salloum, who returned to Ann Arbor in November 2018.
Through Random Ties, Salloum poetically chronicles his international musical journey through six heartfelt alt rock anthems. Together, those profound Believe tracks represent a highly relatable narrative about overcoming personal struggles regardless of age, geography or culture.
Week 39 to Why
One of those struggles includes eagerly awaiting the birth of a child after overcoming years of infertility on the Pearl Jam-tinged “Week 39.” Now a father, Salloum poignantly addresses the anxiety-induced anticipation of son Liam’s arrival during his wife’s 39th week of pregnancy.
Piercing, distorted electric guitars, pulsating drums, rhythmic cymbal taps and humming bass entice Liam leave the womb as Salloum throatily beckons, “Son, this song is all for you/All I have is all for you/Son, this song is about you/All I am is all I am for you.”
“Those last few weeks of anxiety were more than all the previous nine months put together. You want him to be safe more than anything else in life and then suddenly Liam was born and in our arms. It was a special time because it wasn’t easy for us to get pregnant, and it was the most powerful moment in our lives,” Salloum said.
For Angelo Coppola, Michigan’s coronavirus quarantine feels more like a creative sabbatical.
The Detroit alt rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist dropped a new banger six-track EP, The Quarantine Sessions, Vol. 1, last week to satisfy growing Motor City cravings for additional releases in world currently without “traditional” live music.
“I’m kind of like a songwriting machine, I just can’t stop, and I have way more songs written than I’m able to put out, or I’m able to play with The Lows. I have this back catalog of 30 to 40 finished songs. All six of these are from the past year or so, but they’ve all been developed over time,” said Coppola, who’s also the frontman for The Lows.
“I thought these were the best of the bunch and didn’t know if The Lows would ever play them, but I just wanted to get something out. I’ve had the time now being home with my dad because he helps produce and mix it, and I can finally get a lot of these songs recorded and out that I didn’t have time for before.”
Throughout The Quarantine Sessions, Coppola seeks tantalizing ‘90s alt rock inspiration from genre-heavy royalty, including Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Oasis. A seamless head-banging fusion of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, charging bass and pounding drums immerse listeners in a grungy underworld.
“All six are a wide variety of genres within the rock genre, and I wanted to spread out the styles on the album. It was kind of random the ones we decided to start, and we have eight more that we started, and that I’m going to put out,” Coppola said.
“We’re going to do The Quarantine Sessions, Vol. 2 for sure in the next couple of weeks. It only took us a week to get all six of these done. It was basically like a song a day working down there, and we’re gonna grind out some more, too.”
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.
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 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.”