My Brave Face – Ken Newman Uncovers Societal Fears on ‘What Am I Afraid Of?’ Album

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Ken Newman’s “What Am I Afraid Of?” album features purposeful lyrics, vigorous instrumentation and massive rock soundscapes. Photo – Jayms Ramirez

Ken Newman boldly tackles society’s deepest and darkest fears on What Am I Afraid Of?

The San Francisco indie-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist deftly uncovers and deciphers a multitude of emotional traumas, violent conflicts, racial injustices and political tensions on his insightful debut album.

“It was gonna be called ‘Dreaming of Guns’ based on that one song. At some point, somebody else recommended another title, and I tried that for a little while, but that didn’t quite resonate,” Newman said.

“And then Scott (Mickelson) and I were talking about it, and I said, ‘What if I just called it What Am I Afraid Of? ’ Then, the two of us went, ‘Oh my God, of course, that’s what everything’s about.’”

For Newman, “everything” serves as an umbrella of personal and societal challenges ranging from everyday anxieties to teen suicide to homelessness to gun violence. The album’s 11 gripping tracks provide a poignant wake-up call for the nation to strongly unite, take action and instill change.

“The thing about this album is essentially the same paradigm that’s kind of dictated my entire life,” he said. “I don’t exactly know what’s happening until I look in the rear-view mirror and go, ‘That happened.’”

Continue reading My Brave Face – Ken Newman Uncovers Societal Fears on ‘What Am I Afraid Of?’ Album

Chronological Order – The Blueflowers Process Pivotal Life Moments on ‘Time Didn’t Matter’ EP

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The Blueflowers examine past relationships, present circumstances and future possibilities on “Time Didn’t Matter.” Photo – Lisa Folcarelli Jansen

The Blueflowers thoughtfully follow their own timeline.

The Detroit indie-rock sextet of Kate Hinote (vocals, lyrics), Erin Williams (backing vocals, keys, lyrics), Tony Hamera (guitar, synths), David Johnson (guitar), Bryan Talaski (bass) and Jim Faulkner (drums) chronicles pivotal moments of growth, heartbreak and change on their latest cathartic EP, Time Didn’t Matter.

“I certainly hope that people can relate to it and have that feeling,” Hinote said. “Any time you’re making music, you hope that people can react to it in some way, and I am considering that when I’m writing, but I also gotta get stuff out.”

As an emotional outlet, Time Didn’t Matter carefully opens the floodgates of past relationships, present circumstances and future possibilities. Six passionate tracks flow alongside introspective lyrics, fiery goth-rock instrumentation and ethereal shoegaze sensibilities.

“That’s just what kind of comes out … I’ve always written that way and still try to write in a way that can be interpreted,” Hinote said. “It’s a little vague, so that it can be left open to interpretation, and there are certainly some specific relationships that are addressed on this EP.”

Continue reading “Chronological Order – The Blueflowers Process Pivotal Life Moments on ‘Time Didn’t Matter’ EP”

Strike a Chord – The Indigo Curve Hits Hard with New ‘But I Wanna Write Love Songs’ Single

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The Indigo Curve seeks inspiration from Arctic Monkeys on their latest single, “But I Wanna Write Love Songs.”

Ish Chowdhury couldn’t get a hypnotic guitar riff out of his head.

The Indigo Curve vocalist repeatedly heard the punchy, terse chord progression of Arctic Monkeys’ 2007 track, “Teddy Picker,” and felt a rush of inspiration.

“I was just listening and thinking, ‘Damn, what a simple thing that is … it hits so fucking hard,’” said Chowdhury, who fronts the Detroit indie-rock quintet.

“I wanna write something like that, so I called our guitarist, Adam Liles, and showed him the riff I came up with. He replied, ‘That’s cool. Now figure it out in bar chords. That’s a good way to kill 45 minutes.’”

Those crucial 45 minutes produced a crunchy electric guitar riff, which Chowdhury also shared with bandmates Niko Kannapell (bass), Mike Liles (organ, keys) and Markus Kennedy (drums).

“I told Markus to go full-out, early Arctic Monkeys mode on it,” said Chowdhury about the band’s first new release since 2021’s “Lucidiscene.” “And Markus fucking did it. That dude is just the best drummer, man. Dude is an artist to the max.”

That maximum overdrive produced The Indigo Curve’s latest propulsive single, “But I Wanna Write Love Songs,” which fuses fiery electric guitar, thunderous drums, smashing cymbals, pulsating bass and smooth organ.

In tandem, Chowdhury sings, “Jekyll & Hyde in the back of the bag/The fact of the matter is a matter of fact/I don’t wanna fall in love/But I wanna write love songs.”

“I’m always in the middle of writing a song as Dr. Jekyll until the Hyde in me takes over … It’s funny because this song has absolutely nothing to do with love, but all the lyrics ended up leading to that,” he said.

“Mike named the song, and that’s how it really came together in the end. He just randomly said, ‘But I wanna write love songs,’ and that’s what we rolled with.”

The band rolled with the track at Royal Oak’s Rustbelt Studios and invited engineer Jake Halkey to help shape it. Also a drummer, Halkey added a larger-than-life drum sound to “But I Wanna Write Love Songs.”

“I think that was the most important part … the song is just meant to feel like driving 120 miles per hour against a marmalade sunset, head-first into a herd of goats crossing the road,” Chowdhury said. “I love goats. No goats were harmed in the making of this song.”

Goats aside, The Indigo Curve also dropped a frantic new video for their latest single. Directed by Andrew Brumfield of Love Streams Films, the kaleidoscopic video accelerates through retro pop-culture images, vintage TV screen shots and recent band studio footage.

“Andrew’s work lined up so well with the track, it was ridiculous. I couldn’t imagine any other music vid for that song,” Chowdhury said.

“Homie styled so hard on that thing. He was in the studio with us. ‘Brummy’ asked if we had any preferences or requests. I just remember saying, ‘Involve as little of us and more zombies,’ and I think he nailed that.”

With a new single and video out now, The Indigo Curve plans to drop additional releases, including singles or an EP, later this year.

“A full-length album is obviously what we want, but we’ll never do that until we know every single song belongs on there,” Chowdhury said. “But our new shit, man, that stuff is miles ahead of anything we’ve just released. You find yourself a little more each day, and we’re chillin’ in that sphere these days.”

Loud and Clear – TJ Zindle Finds Inner Fire on Mighty ‘Now Let Go’ Album

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TJ Zindle produces an undeniable musical force on “Now Let Go.” Photo – Jeff Baker

Two years ago, TJ Zindle discovered an unexpected clarity.

With a quiet mind and a fresh creative spark, the Ann Arbor indie-rock artist and guitarist immersed himself in a pandemic-induced songwriting retreat.

“The first couple of months during the shutdown everything felt clear. All the noise was gone, and I was just writing a ton. A lot of it was about mental health stuff and trying to figure that out … because all of sudden, I had time to think,” said Zindle, who’s also a vocalist-guitarist with Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds.

“The hum of life was gone for a bit, and I wrote about 45-50 songs for this record. I also have another record coming out later this year with some friends from another band.”

Those sessions produced Now Let Go, Zindle’s first new album since 2017’s Hold On with All Your Might. Filled with nine insightful tracks, it features an emotive narrative chronicling personal and societal reflections on life, growth and change.

“I’m at the point where it’s not so difficult to be like, ‘Yeah, I’m a real fucking musician,’ which is something that I had never felt like all my life. We all fight that imposter syndrome … we’re all there, every single human,” he said.

“But to be like, ‘I made a pretty damn good record on my own,’ and I got a lot of stuff out … I honestly know I did my best, and it was just me. There was just a lot of power in that.”

Continue reading “Loud and Clear – TJ Zindle Finds Inner Fire on Mighty ‘Now Let Go’ Album”

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”

Breathing Room – Jack Powers Releases Academic Tensions on ‘Music School Burnout’ Single

As a full-time college student and musician, Jack Powers needs some breathing room.

The Montclair, New Jersey indie rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist briefly escapes a heavy course load and mounting creative demands on his supercharged latest single, “Music School Burnout.”

“I’m going to school for music, and I can’t even do the music things that I want to do. That’s directly the thing that inspired it,” said Powers, a music education junior at Montclair State University.

“It was also having the time to actually finish something … it takes a long time to write a song, and I do all the recording, producing and mixing. To do all that, and then to make the music video, and then release it … seeing any project to fruition is so hard to do when you’re also taking 19 credits.”

As a concise, energetic release, “Music School Burnout” clobbers lingering tensions and anxieties with a whirlwind of smashing cymbals, weary electric guitar, thumping bass and fitful drums.

Powers sings, “I haven’t wrote a song in a minute/Harmony in thirds been my limit/Can’t tell what’s been off/But something’s probably wrong/I hate it already/I hate it already.”

“I want to continue releasing music and keeping doing this because it’s what I really want to do. It’s been really frustrating to not be able to do it because of music theory in school,” he said.

“And now, I finally have a band that plays my music now, which is super fun. We’ve been playing shows, and we’re going to start touring. Once I’m out (of school), I’m going to put all my energy into this and see what happens.”

Continue reading “Breathing Room – Jack Powers Releases Academic Tensions on ‘Music School Burnout’ Single”

Hit-Worthy Parade – Matthew de Heus Unveils Hidden Gems on ‘Greatest Misses’ Album

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Matthew de Heus shares his multi-genre gems on “Greatest Misses.” Photo – Avram Golden

Matthew de Heus prefers to acknowledge life’s under-the-radar moments.

The Bay City Americana singer-songwriter and bassist thoughtfully unveils those hidden milestones on his new hit-worthy anthology, Greatest Misses, out today.

“I had planned on having two releases. One was gonna be a new EP, but then I was gonna do what I initially called a Greatest Hits album, and it was almost self-deprecating,” said de Heus.

“I wanted to take some of the songs we had already done and put them on one album, so that people who wanted those could get them. I don’t reprint any of the old albums, they’re just gone … because that way if I ever do get famous, they’ll be worth a fortune.”

With Greatest Misses, de Heus assembles a priceless 15-track collection of multi-genre gems, including old favorites from prior releases and three new songs. Filled with melodic hooks, memorable lyrics and clever instrumentation, the album glides through country, power pop, jazz, blues and indie rock terrain.

“Traditionally, in pop music, and in the early days of rock and roll, you might put the same song on more than one album. That was part of it. Though I did want to throw those three new ones up front, I tried to still sequence it like an album, so it was a decent listen,” de Heus said.

“In way, this is almost like a second version of Silk Purses. Andy Reed called that my Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or White Album in the fact that every song is a different genre. Making the songs individually is one thing, but mixing and mastering them so they can sit next to each other on an album is another.”

Continue reading “Hit-Worthy Parade – Matthew de Heus Unveils Hidden Gems on ‘Greatest Misses’ Album”

Going Strong – ATMIG Demonstrates Musical Prowess, Honors Majesty Crush on ‘Avec Muscles’ EP

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ATMIG’s Drew Borowsky, David Jackowicz, Tobias Lipski and Dan Clark build a robust sound on “Avec Muscles.” Photo – Scott Millington

ATMIG strongly flexes a new creative muscle.

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.”

Continue reading “Going Strong – ATMIG Demonstrates Musical Prowess, Honors Majesty Crush on ‘Avec Muscles’ EP”

Uprooted – treesreach Grows from ‘The Great Resignation’ on ‘How It Seems’

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treesreach explores the need for personal fulfillment during “The Great Resignation” on “How It Seems.” Artwork – Dillon Rairdin & Luke Long

For treesreach’s Dillon Rairdin, it was time to branch out in life.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa indie rock vocalist and multi-instrumentalist left his humdrum day job in September 2020 and opted to pursue music full-time.

“The only turmoil that was going on in that job was in me. The people I worked with for the most part were really great. It was a good company, but what was going on was this feeling of complete discontentment,” said Rairdin, who previously worked for a law firm.

“It was the weirdest spot to be in because it wasn’t so bad that it was obvious I needed to quit, but it also wasn’t fulfilling in any way. And in the middle of that, I was trying to find contentment with where I was.”

Rairdin and his treesreach bandmates, guitarist Riley Thurm and drummer Luke Long, deeply explore that mindset on their latest contemplative single, “How It Seems.”

Throughout “How It Seems,” ticking cymbals, trotting drums, vibrant electric guitar, humming bass and tender acoustic guitar beckon Rairdin to uproot his professional life and grow in a new direction.

He sings, “But that song that you’ve been making/Gets stuck in my head from time to time/Like a dream/I’ll follow where it takes me/‘Cause if I stay I’m wasting time/At least that’s how it seems.”

“It was in a really awkward kind of spot that I think a lot of people were in with their jobs,” said Rairdin about the band’s “Great Resignation-themed” track.

“From what I’ve heard, it wasn’t so bad that you wanted to quit, but it was like, ‘Man, I know that I’m meant for something better,’ whether that was in a destiny sense or being in a place that utilized your strengths. I think taking a step away from that job was the right thing to do.”

Once Rairdin embarked on his new “Great Resignation” journey, treesreach started recording drums for “How It Seems” last winter in Rairdin’s parents’ basement and later finalized it in their new home studio.

Mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Ryan Freeland, the track provides a refreshing sonic growth spurt for the band, who traded their previous lush sound for a new indie rock approach.

“Ryan just seemed really gung-ho about the song, and he really dug it. Usually, we mix all of our own stuff, but we knew with ‘How It Seems’ that we had potential for some success beyond what we’ve seen before,” Rairdin said. “The song is way more pop-accessible than anything else we’ve written, and we just really felt better handing it off to a Grammy Award winner.”

Continue reading “Uprooted – treesreach Grows from ‘The Great Resignation’ on ‘How It Seems’”

Screen Time – Cashmere Washington Channels Rom-Coms, Coen Brothers on ‘Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them’ EP

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Cashmere Washington seeks inspiration from film on his new EP, “Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them.” Photo – Mikael Dunn

Cashmere Washington didn’t expect a car accident, a degree completion and several rom-com binges to spark a new EP.

Ironically, that chaotic period provided the Ypsilanti indie rocker with an unexpected setting for writing their new “love letter-style” EP, Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them, out today.

“I got rear-ended by a tow truck right after The Shape of Things to Come came out, and it really destroyed my confidence for a bit … like I didn’t want to be online or even want to leave my house,” said Washington, aka Thomas Dunn, who’s now an Eastern Michigan University (EMU) alum.

“But I had this screenwriting course at EMU in which we analyzed movies from a screenwriting perspective, and I watched so many more of them because of last semester. I blazed through so many Rachel McAdams or Meg Ryan movies and also got really interested in a few K-dramas. I watched a lot of them while I played guitar at night and most of the new EP was written this way.”

While watching rom-coms and K-dramas, Washington also sought inspiration from another unlikely source, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s 2007 Academy Award-winning film, No Country for Old Men.

“I pictured the whole EP as an indie romantic-comedy soundtrack. Because the songs on the EP lean into a variety of emotions, I see ‘Life Is’ as a good example of both. It straddles the line between a cataclysmic sadness and an unwavering optimism to me,” they said.

“It’s funny because No Country for Old Men is such a dark film. I love how it sits within many genres and influences, yet is its own thing. The EP … pushed me to write songs that have multiple sides and angles. The songs have these dark and cinematic edges to them, but I hope they also feel kind of cheeky and cute.”

Continue reading “Screen Time – Cashmere Washington Channels Rom-Coms, Coen Brothers on ‘Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them’ EP”