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.”
The Detroit indie-rock quartet of Tobias Lipski (vocals, guitar), Drew Borowsky (bass), Dan Clark (guitar) and David Jackowicz (drums) demonstrates their musical prowess with a fresh lineup and a new tenacious EP, Avec Muscles, which drops Saturday.
“A lot of that comes from the current crew. Dave can do the things on drums, Dan can do the things on guitar, and Drew can do the things on bass that I like to hear in the music that I listen to and that I sure as heck can’t do myself. We get each other’s vibe, so it can actually happen,” Lipski said.
Throughout Avec Muscles, ATMIG, or After The Money Is Gone, seamlessly builds a robust sonic system from several digestible, multi-genre “proteins,” including shoegaze, indie-folk, ambient, post-punk, dream-pop and indie-rock. Each “protein” evolves into a mighty, cohesive listen.
“For Avec Muscles, I think we still have variety, but overall, it’s a heavier album. It’s not just hard rock, it’s not just shoegaze, and it’s not just folk. It’s just us trying to put forth what the band and I do best,” said Lipski, who formed the band in 2006.
A follow-up to 2019’s Wishes album, Avec Muscles also pays tribute to Majesty Crush, a highly regarded Detroit dream-pop/shoegaze quartet that formed in 1990. The band featured the late David Stroughter (vocals), Hobey Echlin (bass), Michael Segal (guitar) and Odell Nails (drums) as part of a regal lineup that released their final EP, Sans Muscles, before splitting in 1995.
“It’s supposed to be the reverse of the Majesty Crush EP, Sans Muscles, because ‘Muscles’ was Hobey’s nickname. That was the last EP they did knowing Hobey was leaving the band,” said Lipski, whose new EP, Avec Muscles, means “With Muscle.” (“Avec” is French for “With.”)
“The whole concept is that I’m a huge Majesty Crush fan, and maybe Hobey will play with us. And if he’s going to play with us, then why don’t we name the song and EP after him? Who knows? Maybe he’ll come out to the show and play some Majesty Crush songs with us.”
Lilly MacPhee continually searches for a deeper understanding in life.
The metro Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter explores the true meaning of everyday words and actions on her new contemplative EP, Between the Lines.
“When I named the EP and thought about the overall theme of all the songs, I wanted people to really think about something before they say it. I believe in the notion of ‘say what you mean and mean what you say,’” MacPhee said.
“My whole goal with songwriting, and especially with the lyrics on this EP, is to always be authentic and raw. I also want to write lyrics universal enough to where everyone can interpret their own meaning.”
While reading Between the Lines, MacPhee digs beneath the surface and uncovers hidden thoughts about the passage of time, the loss of a loved one, the value of simple pleasures, and the need for lifelong connection.
Each haunting track also reminds listeners to learn from the past and find a sense of gratitude in the present, even as life’s troubles and uncertainties continue to build.
“Even through all the loss and the grief that I’ve experienced and others have experienced during these crazy times, I’m always trying to find the bright light,” MacPhee said.
“And for me, that’s through songwriting and the idea of trying to find the bright light in the darkness and finding the positivity when it might be hard to see.”
While mining past voice memos from her phone, Allye Gaietto discovered a future sense of closure.
The Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter’s surprise finding included the first verse of her latest cathartic single, “I Guess I Don’t.”
“I thought, ‘What is this?’ And then it made me cry listening back to it, and I was like, ‘Oh no, I have to finish it. I have to write the rest of this,’” said Gaietto, who started writing “I Guess I Don’t” in 2017.
“It’s about my relationship with my dad … I was processing this relationship in therapy and in life, and I was able to bring this song into it to push forward that conversation and express some things that were hard for me to bring up verbally. It’s like being able to open up your journal, and say, ‘Here, read it.’ You feel a little weird, but you also hope maybe someone will understand.”
Throughout “I Guess I Don’t,” Gaietto’s raw vulnerability and tender revelation instantly strike a chord with people experiencing family estrangement. Crashing cymbals, thunderous drums, tearful pedal steel, forlorn piano, hopeful electric guitar and melancholic bass unlock tightly bound emotional floodgates.
A spectrum of emotions quickly flow as Gaietto sings, “I’ve been writing the same song for years/And I’m not sick of it yet /I’ve been crying the same kind of tears/Don’t think I could forget.”
“A lot of parent-child relationships are estranged now. And it looks like for a lot of those people, there’s an active connection that they’re severing, like a lot of children are saying, ‘Do not contact me,’” Gaietto said.
“That was never my experience, which was more my parents got divorced, and after I moved away after college, we just stopped talking. Every once in a while one of us would call to check in on a holiday or birthday, and then it would just fall away.”
Gaietto continues to process those poignant experiences while singing, “Pretty sure you still have my number somewhere/Pretty sure you know how to dial/I’m not sure how much time I can bear/Not sure if you’ll still call me your child.”
“We just talked for the first time in a long time the other day,” she said. “The concept of closure … it’s never gonna be exactly what you think it is. I was getting to a point of just letting it go, and right as the song was gonna come out, I was like, ‘Oh no, we’re gonna kind of open this back up again.’”
Tom Alter deeply examines art and life from different perspectives.
The Fraser indie folk singer-songwriter and guitarist candidly depicts the thoughts, feelings and challenges of society’s creative voices on his latest insightful album, Poetry and Protest.
“I realized that so much of what I was writing about were things based on what I had read or had come from memories that had stayed with me for a long time and made me want to write about them. That’s the poetry side of it,” said Alter, who produced, mixed and mastered his own album.
“And the protest side blends in with that because a lot of the poetry is coming out and speaking to important matters. The last song I wrote for this was (the title track), and that was after thinking about this collection of songs. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of somebody who has a very different experience from me.”
Alter’sPoetry and Protest provides an enlightening narrative filled with bold tales about humanity, sacrifice, loss and compassion. It seamlessly ventures from the vast emptiness of space to the sparsely populated shores of Hudson Bay to the tightly packed streets of Hamtramck.
“The Poetry and Protest idea came from me being out on a walk and thinking about this collection of songs that I was putting together and realizing where the influences for them came from,” said Alter about his sixth album.
“There’s a song, ‘Four Blue Horses,’ that is directly from a Mary Oliver poem, and it comes from Franz Marc’s Blue Horses. She wrote a poem about that series of paintings, and she got so personally involved in the paintings. I just thought, ‘I want to write about this; it was as simple as that.’”
Brimming with atmospheric soundscapes and curative tales, After Blue provides a calming, aerial pathway to new possibilities.
The metro Detroit indie folk duo of Katie Williamson (vocals, piano) and Tom Alter (vocals, guitar) instantly soothes and invigorates weary, lost souls on their enchanting new album, Far Above and Far Away.
“I think the first song, ‘Armada,’ was written prior to the pandemic, and I read an article in the paper about the town and what they did to build the garden. And Katie and I finished that one off together in her old house. I think that song kinda set the stage for the rest,” said Alter, who formed After Blue with Williamson in 2016.
Throughout their latest release, After Blue gracefully discards the painful feelings of the past and surges toward the radiant promise of the future. Each mesmerizing track allows listeners to rediscover their sense of spirituality and inner peace within an azure-filled dreamscape.
“I think ‘Charlotte’ was the next one that was written … but it is about persistence. There’s a line in there where it says, ‘I promise that bruises heal,’ and that’s the core of that song,” Alter said.
Lucas Powell deeply digs into buried experiences and emotions of the past.
The metro Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist delicately exhumes old selves and uncovers entombed painful memories on his cerebral, haunting debut album, Michigan, which dropped in August.
“One of my favorite songwriters as a kid was Jon Foreman because I grew up religious and liked Switchfoot. He once said songwriting is like archaeology for him. He just digs inside and finds something. I saw that in an interview a couple of years ago and realized that’s my songwriting process,” Powell said.
“If I can’t write something, then I know that it’s because I need to meditate and get it out of me. Michigan is very embodying of a young, coming-of-age kid trying to get it all out. I could just see me trying to find the right words to say, and I love it for that reason.”
On Michigan, Powell slowly unearths fragile thoughts about spirituality, growth, self-worth and loss throughout his 12-track personal excavation. Filled with vivid religious imagery and layers of swelling cinematic soundscapes, the album thoughtfully chronicles his cathartic journey toward inner enlightenment and existential freedom.
“I’m exploring those themes to use that language as my own narrative. Artists use Christianity or religion as a way to talk about themselves or question it. It’s a mix of sometimes I’m addressing it, and sometimes I’m just using the language that I have,” Powell said.
Lilly MacPhee instantly provides a comforting, emotional release for the brokenhearted.
The Brighton indie folk singer-songwriter beautifully soothes and relieves grief-stricken souls on her tender, thoughtful latest single, “Waves,” which serves as a heartfelt tribute to her late uncle Ron.
“For me, songwriting is helpful as an outlet. I saw my family going through the grieving process, so I wrote the chorus really quickly and instantly felt better. I wrote that song within a half-hour after I had the idea for it,” said MacPhee, who lost her uncle to COVID-19 in December.
Throughout “Waves,” MacPhee openly shares her personal sorrow amidst a calming, acoustic-centered folk symphony. Somber, glistening guitar, heavenly strings and contemplative piano soar as grief slowly washes over her.
She elegantly sings, “Can we pause this moment/Freeze for a second/Not make any decisions with mixed emotions/As the waters rise, I try to find/A way to breathe/Full speed it hits me.”
“My family just loved it. At one point, we had gone to visit my aunt and cousins. I had a recording of it on my phone, and I had them listen to it. My aunt was so teary, and she said it really explained the grieving process,” MacPhee said.
While “Waves” boldly captures the raw honesty of MacPhee’s grief, it also reminds listeners to cherish their loved ones and focus on the present.
“Sometimes we need to sit back and really appreciate the small moments, whether it’s having a cup of coffee or going for a drive with someone. Time just goes so fast, and sometimes we forget that. I try to live in the present and not worry too much about the future,” MacPhee said.
As a DIY artist and musician, MacPhee recorded, produced, mixed and mastered “Waves” in her home studio earlier this year. She also released an intimate acoustic video for the track, which features a poignant, memorable live performance.
“That was the first song I recorded and released at home. During the pandemic, I invested in recording equipment and slowly built my own home studio. I thought, ‘I have all this stuff here, so why not give this a go?’” she said.
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.”
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.”