Coming Home – Young Ritual Performs Headlining Set Saturday at Sanctuary Detroit

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Young Ritual will perform his first live show in nearly 18 months at Sanctuary Detroit on Saturday. Photo – Kris Herrmann

For Young Ritual, Saturday’s live show at Sanctuary Detroit feels like a long-awaited homecoming.

The Flint indie folk rock singer-songwriter will perform his first headlining set in nearly 18 months at the Hamtramck venue.

“I can’t even express how good it feels to be playing shows again. I really hadn’t considered how vital that type of experience was in my life until it went away. I really had to push it away for a while when we didn’t know a timetable for the return of live music,” said Dylan Grantham, aka Young Ritual.

“Once the show was announced, all of those feelings came flooding back. I just want to make this night a loud and beautiful entry back into the music scene out here for Young Ritual.”

Hosted in partnership with Audiotree Presents, the show will allow Young Ritual to debut several new tracks since releasing his introspective, two-track A/B EP in March. He’ll be joined by Fenton indie pop singer-songwriter Au Gres, aka Josh Kemp, and Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter Emma Guzman.

“They are all pretty driving rock songs because that’s where my intent in writing has been, and the one I’m most excited about is called ‘Julianna.’ The song is kind of Springsteen and The Killers, but absolutely Young Ritual top to bottom,” said Grantham, who will include Au Gres as part of his live band.

“Josh from Au Gres is one of my closest friends, and I adore his band. He writes the sleekest indie pop imaginable and is just a pleasure to have around. I haven’t met Emma yet, but I’m a huge fan of what she’s been doing, so I’m really excited to have her on board.”

Continue reading “Coming Home – Young Ritual Performs Headlining Set Saturday at Sanctuary Detroit”

Stand Tall – Fernando Silverio Solis Tackles Lingering Racial Injustices on ‘Keep Your Head High’

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Fernando Silverio Solis speaks volumes about the Black Lives Matter movement’s fight against an oppressive state on “Keep Your Head High.”

Fernando Silverio Solis eloquently raises his voice, holds his head high and advocates for solidarity amidst a sea of recurring racial, social and political struggles.

The Flint indie folk singer-songwriter and guitarist speaks volumes about the lingering injustices against people of color and the Black Lives Matter movement’s ongoing fight against an oppressive state on his latest gripping single, “Keep Your Head High.”

“I was just reflecting an expression of what I felt or thought during so many of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and watching the news of people being murdered by police and then watching the police violence unfold. It was also in reaction to the past four years and what the previous administration brought out of people,” Solis said.

Throughout “Keep Your Head High,” Solis thoughtfully shares those reflections as contemplative acoustic guitar, somber pedal steel and placid cello echo his raw, honest sentiments. He quietly sings,” When did we justify to look each other in the eyes/And decide we are strangers/When all is said and done/And we’re sent to kingdom come/Will we see we weren’t so different.”

“I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries with making it about myself or attempting to speak on behalf of anyone. I really did my best to try to present it from a perspective of ‘I’m here, I’m watching, I do have my own reactions, and these are my thoughts regarding my own reactions as to what I’m seeing happen,’” Solis said.

Solis teamed up with several talented collaborators to bring a wistful Americana flavor to “Keep Your Head High” while recording it at Chesaning’s Oneder Studios with Nick Diener. Australian pedal steel player Jy-Perry Banks lends his virtuoso guitar skills while cellist Ian Legge brings a delicate string sensibility to the track.

“After I did the Wake Up Slow EP, there was a window of time before everything got really crazy. I was able to record more music with Nick, and I have another seven songs that haven’t been released yet. At that time, I came across (Banks) on Instagram, and I saw that he was open for sessions,” Solis said.

“I said, ‘Nick, I’ll record these songs with guitar and vocals, and then let’s flesh out the rest.’ That’s when we got to talking and said, ‘Let’s get this real country feel to it.’ Those songs were finished, and then they sat. We had to mix and master them, and as that was happening, the world shut down.”

Continue reading “Stand Tall – Fernando Silverio Solis Tackles Lingering Racial Injustices on ‘Keep Your Head High’”

Stars and Stripes Demystified – Audra Kubat Tackles Nation’s Divisive Legacy on ‘Gray Glory Parade’

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Audra Kubat and Jessica Care Moore challenge the nation’s antiquated, divisive legacy on “Gray Glory Parade.”

Audra Kubat boldly brings the gray undertones of the red, white and blue to the surface.

The Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter brilliantly unravels the antiquated, divisive Confederate legacy, traditions and mindset that still permeate our racial, social and political fabric on her latest single, “Gray Glory Parade.”

“Originally, the song was called ‘The Next American Revolution,’ and it was so bold in a way. I was exploring other titles, and then it hit me this line, ‘Gray Glory Parade,’ and it had this really strong ring to it,” Kubat said.

“‘Gray glory’ is sort of the southern pride around the uniforms of the Civil War. The first lines of the song, ‘Sculpted and praised/A gray glory parade/Hollow men disgracing pedestals,’ show this pride and glory around a misunderstood history, like sort of a parading around. I thought it was a stronger title than the other one.”

Throughout “Gray Glory Parade,” Kubat thoughtfully unstitches each worn, destructive gray thread as luminous acoustic strums, reflective synth and tranquil bass provide newfound strength and hope. She reveals, “Our silence now is damaging/Time for a reckoning/A great awakening/The next American revolution.”

“The revolution is that we have to deal with a falling apart first. I’m ready for the fall-apart part to happen in a bigger way, and the scary thing is so many comforts and things that we’re used to will have to change to make the real change that is needed,” said Kubat, who started writing the track during a July 4, 2020 trip to Washington, D.C.

“There’s so much to address, and it’s going to be so painful for everyone. That’s why it’s taking so long, and it takes so much self-steadiness to be able to stand up and say, ‘My lifestyle is not only destroying other people’s lives, but the environment and social structure beyond that is so flawed, that it really must be taken out thread by thread.’”

Kubat continues removing each thread as she reflects, “Yet I’m quiet and listless/Do no more than bear witness/But it’s not enough as warm blood runs from broken bodies.”

“Prior to that trip, I had been trying to write a song in response to the things that were going on, and everything I wrote just seemed so flimsy. I couldn’t find the right words, and I also felt like it was a big undertaking to try to share what I was feeling and without it sounding uninformed and as an observer,” said Kubat, who also included lyrics from the national anthem throughout her track.

“I really didn’t know how to do that at the time, and it wasn’t coming. When my partner and I went to D.C., we were walking among the protests that were going on and sharing space with folks there. Going to the monuments and being a part of everything else that was going on along with the tourists and seeing the capital was an interesting juxtaposition.”

That juxtaposition inspired Kubat to think about the American flag unraveling and how that served as a timely metaphor for the nation’s growing racial, social and political tensions. She quickly wrote “Gray Glory Parade’s” first three verses, but struggled to find the last line.

“It took me a couple of weeks to come up with the line, ‘The silence is victory beckoning.’ If we don’t have to shout anymore about it, that’s us being victorious,” Kubat said.

Continue reading “Stars and Stripes Demystified – Audra Kubat Tackles Nation’s Divisive Legacy on ‘Gray Glory Parade’”

Suburban Stories – Matthew Milia Revisits Metro Detroit Memories on ‘Keego Harbor’

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Matthew Milia’s “Keego Harbor” captures a beautiful legacy of life unchanged in the metro Detroit suburbs. Photo – John Hanson

For Matthew Milia, Keego Harbor represents a nostalgic, winding metro Detroit pathway from youth to adulthood and back again.

The Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter and Frontier Ruckus frontman eloquently drifts through deep childhood recollections, gritty suburban landmarks and dichotomous neighborhood adventures on his well-crafted second solo album.

“This has been a lifelong obsession, especially with the suburban world. It’s inspired by the fact that the suburban experience is not monolithic. It’s all these mingling beautiful dualities and contradictions of the human experience that live in this space,” said Milia, who grew up in Keego Harbor.

“I’m juxtaposing Pontiac and Bloomfield Hills because those places are contiguous, and they couldn’t be more different. That’s a hard thing for people that don’t live in this area to understand. My endless personal quest is to give as much vivid description and detail of these contradictions that I’ve experienced.”

Throughout Keego Harbor, Milia intricately constructs snapshots of mundane Michigan experiences – junk mail, rotten mulch and phone chargers – and static places – party stores, drive-thru lanes and nail salons – across 10 introspective tracks to capture a beautiful legacy of life unchanged.

“I think this record is a bit more about generational inheritance. My parents met in Keego Harbor at a place called the Back Seat Saloon that’s no longer there, and the first placed they lived together was in a little loft above a house. The age I am now is when they were doing all that. It’s a bit of time travel while seeing myself as my parents and all the things that entails,” he said.

While much of Keego Harbor remains in the rear-view mirror of the mind’s eye, another portion welcomes the uncertain future with outstretched arms. It’s a matter of looking toward the past to better understand who you’ve become and where you’re headed, whether that’s in a city or a suburb.

“I’m also thinking on another level about my experience in the music industry. It’s such a weird commerce to toil in, and my life since 2006 has been writing these songs and making these records with my friends and putting them out into the world and seeing where they take me,” Milia said.

“I think that a major trope of this record is the recalibration of one’s dreams and expectations. And knowing that immense beauty and surprise can be hiding there. Once you recalibrate what you think you wanted or were working toward, you might just find something even more rewarding.”

Continue reading “Suburban Stories – Matthew Milia Revisits Metro Detroit Memories on ‘Keego Harbor’”

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”

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.

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’”

Ebb and Flow – Chris DuPont Surges through Personal Upheaval on ‘Floodplains’

Chris DuPont intricately weaves a series of reflective, tender vignettes into a cathartic, cohesive whole on his exploratory new album. Artwork – Emilee Petersmark

Chris DuPont doesn’t envision Floodplains as a stand-alone musical chapter.

The Ypsilanti indie folk singer-songwriter intricately weaves a series of reflective, tender vignettes into a cathartic, cohesive whole on his exploratory new album. Filled with ethereal soundscapes, hypnotic guitars and mesmerizing vocals, Floodplains surges through the vast peaks and valleys of the soul to unify past and present experiences into a hopeful future.

“As a project that’s loaded with very difficult emotional content, I just had to sit by myself and grind. It was a very frustrating, solitary experience, and I had to really develop my work ethic and show up. It’s really tough to show up literally in your bedroom when you have a whole list of things that you have to get knocked out,” DuPont said.

“I learned the value of solitude and just sitting with your feelings and allowing them to move through you without making a knee-jerk reaction about what they mean. That’s been a big growth point for me. Working on this record really forced me to sit with difficult feelings and hear them tossed back in my ears over and over again. But as valuable as solitude is, I also learned the importance of asking for help.”

For Floodplains, DuPont sought help from a talented team of collaborators, including Frances Luke Accord’s Nick Gunty (piano vocals), Billy Harrington (drums, orchestral percussion), Johannes Stauffer (piano), Luke Jackson (bass), Christina Furtado (cello), Lea Kirstein (violin, viola), Rin Tarsy (vocals) and Olivia Dear (vocals).

Together, they created and navigated the majestic Floodplains throughout apartments, houses and recording studios in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. The album slowly ebbed and flowed over two years alongside a period of personal upheaval and change for DuPont.

“Working with producer Nick Gunty was a fabulous experience. It was a big deal working with a producer, letting them in on your process and giving them creative push and pull as you’re letting go. That was a very important part of the process,” DuPont said.

“And toward the end wrapping it all up and getting the mastering done, I pulled in my dear friend Chris Norman, who’s an electronica producer out of Texas. I was running out of time and needed someone to master the record, and I knew he would love to do it.”

As an exquisite finished product, Floodplains rises and swells with intense emotion across 12 thoughtful, vivid tracks that steer listeners along a highly personal, poignant odyssey. It’s the ideal sonic outlet for releasing deeply buried troubles while seeking solace and starting anew in an uncertain world.

Continue reading “Ebb and Flow – Chris DuPont Surges through Personal Upheaval on ‘Floodplains’”

Beyond the Horizon – Darity Shares Hopeful Message of Gratitude on ‘Everything’

Darity’s “Everything” serves as a hopeful anthem for 2021. Artwork – Olivia Sergi

For Darity, a new year faintly shines in the distance.

Specks of wintry sunlight peer through thick January clouds and serve as a hopeful reminder of better times ahead. Those far-flung rays symbolically represent the gratitude Darity expresses in her latest uplifting single, “Everything,” which dropped Tuesday via all streaming platforms.

“I wrote this song for myself initially. I just think it’s so easy to think about all the things we don’t have. This song started like a long journal entry. I went on a tour with a band pre-Bitterroot and had a lot of conversations of the leader of that band about the struggles of being an artist and a band leader. I noticed that a lot of it was centered around being on the edge of losing hope and feeling like we didn’t have what we needed to be an artist,” said Darity, aka Linsley Hartenstein.

Throughout “Everything,” Darity, a Cincinnati indie rock singer-songwriter, poignantly captures the fight for hope as twirling synths, pulsating bass, vivid electric guitar, delicate drums and soft cymbal taps slowly surround and envelope listeners. She calmly sings,” Run after it/Desire breathes by design/You’re my dream not a fault line/And disappointment’s bound to dig a cliff/But I will walk with you through all of it/You were made for this edge.”

“Recording vocals for this song was painful because this is such a hard truth to swallow. All of the things, all of the outside support that maybe we think we need, or that we do need, we are all put on this planet to do something specific. If that is your worldview, then you as a person have everything you need. That’s a power and a posture that’s so hard when the whole world is telling you that you lack something,” said Hartenstein, who initially wrote the track in 2017.

After laying the initial foundation for “Everything,” Darity teamed up with Coastal Club frontman and producer Alex Hirlinger and drummers Simon Alexander and Dan Crowe to record the track. Together, they infused the hopeful, whimsical sonic quality to evolve it.

“Alex is one of the best arrangers I’ve ever met, so he did all of the production around it. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I gave him what the band and I had been playing live, and he rewrote everything aside from the drums. He is responsible for the world around that song, and I’m really grateful,” she said.

Darity also dropped a stunning lyric video for “Everything,” which features her strolling along a deserted roadside near the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana. It simply captures the personal time Darity needed to process her feelings and develop a mindset filled with gratitude.

“Josh and I made this lyric video here in Montana. When the pandemic hit, I was on tour on the west coast, so I figured I’d put that Easter egg in there and make a little video,” said Hartenstein, who developed the video with her partner Josh Kemp of Au Gres. (Check out Au Gres’ dreamy, pro-soulmate single, “Nervous.”)

Continue reading “Beyond the Horizon – Darity Shares Hopeful Message of Gratitude on ‘Everything’”

Gold Mine – The Soods Uncover Rich Collaborations, Treasured Tracks on ‘Ornaments of Affection’

The Soods’ latest album, “Ornaments of Affection,” features collaborations with Grand Rapids artists, songwriters and musicians. Album artwork – Dominic Ryan Photography

Jason Roy thoroughly mines for Michigan music gold.

The Soods frontman uncovers rich collaborations and treasured tracks with a growing collective of scintillating local artists, songwriters and musicians on his latest indie folk-psych rock musical gem, Ornaments of Affection.

“I pared it down from a list of 36 songs; those were the ones to get vocals on, and from there I followed through with 22 of those. Some of those are the newer singles that I’ve been putting out. It was a fun thing like, ‘Well, I haven’t put any music out in a while,’” said Roy, who released the album in October via GTG Records.

“For ‘Morning Harold!’ and ‘Nomadic Marine Biologist,’ I’ve had those two instrumentals for eight months. I just hadn’t gotten vocals on them yet, and then when it came time to make that list of 36, I was like, ‘Ooh, I like that title,’ and I remember liking this track. It was like, ‘Two check marks, you’re in,’ and then figuring out from there who fits best.”

Throughout Ornaments of Affection, Roy beautifully melds 13 priceless Soods folky, trippy tracks with a talented array of Grand Rapids collaborators, including Steven Meltzer, Matt Ten Clay, Shane Tripp, Patrick Wieland, Drinking Mercury’s Timmy Rodriguez and others.

“These guys have their own ways with words, and weirdly somehow it all does sound like a band if I keep the thematic elements constant. Like having Matt Ten Clay sing the backing vocals on a track strengthens the foundation of that illusion of like, ‘These guys got together in the studio for a week and pounded these songs out.’ If you only saw all our emails and Google drives, it’s very different,” said Roy with a laugh.

“It’s a great compliment when people are like, ‘Oh yeah, I like that band.’ That’s what I want; I don’t necessarily need it to be a Jason Roy brainchild thing. I enjoy collaborating with these guys.”

Continue reading “Gold Mine – The Soods Uncover Rich Collaborations, Treasured Tracks on ‘Ornaments of Affection’”