Break the Ice – Au Gres Finds Instant Romantic Comfort on New ‘Nervous’ Single

Au Gres’ Josh Kemp celebrates a new relationship on “Nervous.”

Au Gres instantly creates the proverbial comfort zone.

The Fenton indie pop singer-songwriter quickly throws anxiety, hesitation and doubt aside in his latest warm, dreamy pro-soulmate single, “Nervous,” which dropped Oct. 16.

“The song was inspired by my girlfriend, and I don’t usually set out to write a song. Instead, I mess around with progressions until I get an idea of what I want it to be about, and the song kind of writes itself. But for this one, I just felt so comfortable with her, like right off the bat, and I wanted to write something that felt that way,” said Josh Kemp, aka Au Gres.

“I sat in my room for a long time, and I wrote that bendy hook and everything else around it because it felt perfect to me. It was just me with my laptop in my room. I think I wrote most of it in an afternoon, and then I came back to it quite some time later and added more and more to it.”

With glistening acoustic strums, whimsical electric guitars, vivid bass, pulsating drums and atmospheric synths, “Nervous” serves as the ideal romantic icebreaker that immediately puts apprehensive partners at ease. It’s the melodic, soaring anthem everyone longs to hear on a magical first date.

Throughout the Mac DeMarco-like track, Kemp reveals, “I think I overstayed my welcome/But I think you want me to/Stick around/To bring you coffee or a cigarette/I don’t think we’re done yet/Not for now.”

“It’s a reminder that the reward is worth it so to speak, and I’m talking about long-lasting, real relationships. It’s tough to make yourself vulnerable with people, and sometimes if you want to have that kind of relationship, then you have to be the one to take the plunge and let your walls come down,” said Kemp, who’s inspired by Passion Pit and Phoenix.

Eight months ago, Kemp shared bedroom laptop demos of “Nervous” with Jake Rye at Adrian’s Social Recording Company. Rye solidified the track’s final version while Noah de Leon (guitars, keys, synth) and Kemp (guitar, keys, synth) handled the arrangements and invited drummer Brodie Glaza.

“Noah and I had most of the arrangements filled out, but Jake would take a look at certain parts and help fill in the gaps a little bit. He gave things a lift where they needed and dove into those melancholic, indie feels. He was really good at drawing that part out,” Kemp said.

“I think it really grew into what I had in my head, like when I was in my bedroom. And to hear it come alive with real drums because I was just using samples, and even now listening to it and thinking about that experience, like COVID, and how strange it is to be back working on music, but also at the same time it felt very right and very good. It finally felt like a slice of something very nice.”

Last week, Kemp shared another slice of “Nervous” through a new lyric video recorded with Darity’s Linsley Hartenstein. The quirky video shows Kemp enthusiastically performing multiple parts on a flashy, portable ‘80s color TV (akin to Lindsey Buckingham’s 1981 “Trouble” video).

“It’s a little silly, and it’s my first go ever using a green screen,” said Kemp with a laugh. “We wanted to have fun with it.”

Continue reading “Break the Ice – Au Gres Finds Instant Romantic Comfort on New ‘Nervous’ Single”

Knock, Knock – The Sneeks Drop New ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ EP Today

The Sneeks have released their fun-filled “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” EP today.

For The Sneeks, opportunity knocks with a new five-song EP.

The East Lansing alt rock quartet has delivered their latest release, “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” today via streaming services as a fun, breezy follow-up to their eight-track 2017 debut album, “Sneek Attack.”

Through “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” Niko Matsamakis (vocals, guitar), Kevin Neumann (vocals, bass), Alex Olivero (vocals, guitar) and Houston Smith (drums) create a laid-back summer sound filled with shimmery Mac DeMarco-inspired guitars and wrapped in personal tales of fleeting relationships.

It’s the musical alter ego to “Sneek Attack,” which follows a “rad rock and troll” sound born out of the band’s Michigan State University (MSU) party days and garage punk rock shows with Twin Peaks at The Loft in Lansing.

“The different approach for ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely the songwriting and recording style,” Matsamakis said. “We recorded it in my house upstairs in four different rooms at the same time, and we tracked it all together. Houston was in one bedroom, I was in another, Kevin was in the other bedroom and Alex was in the bathroom.”

Neumann and Olivero also contributed tracks to the “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” while Matsamakis wrote the material for “Sneek Attack” – his personal journey through post-breakup single life.

“We used some different effects on our guitars that we don’t normally use, and some of those ‘Sneek Attack’ sounds are harder in general, but ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely a softer sound,” Matsamakis said. “I wrote a few of the songs, showed them to Kevin, and Kevin put his touch on them, and then vice versa. I would say Kevin’s songs are definitely the softer ones.”

Continue reading “Knock, Knock – The Sneeks Drop New ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ EP Today”

Brilliant Disguise – 3 Michigan Bands to Perform Halloween Cover Sets at Ypsilanti’s The Late Station

Three Michigan bands will go undercover to perform classic tunes Wednesday during a Halloween show at one of Ypsilanti’s burgeoning DIY underground music venues.

Strange Flavors, The Sneeks and Liquid Thickness will cover songs from The Black Keys, Mac DeMarco and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks at The Late Station starting at 8 p.m. Former Critics and Complainer will be unable to perform as No Doubt.

“All these bands chose their own covers, and they’ll be doing complete 30-minute cover sets,” said Greg Hughes, the After Hours Radio bassist who co-runs The Late Station with his three bandmates. “I started recruiting bands a little over a month before the show, which is a lot to learn in a short amount of time for a true Halloween costume cover set.”

To get in the Halloween spirit, some bands will wear costumes to impersonate artists while others will come as they are. With costumes and holiday-themed wear, Strange Flavors, The Sneeks and Liquid Thickness will ensure the crowd grooves to spooktacular cover sets.

“We will be encouraging the crowd to wear costumes, that’s kind of the whole idea,” said Hughes, who’s been booking shows at The Late Station since February. “It’s an informal welcoming space that serves as a platform for different kinds of artists and genres.”

Continue reading “Brilliant Disguise – 3 Michigan Bands to Perform Halloween Cover Sets at Ypsilanti’s The Late Station”

Stratton Setlist Snapshot: Mo Pop Day 2 Sizzles in Detroit

Scorching July temperatures and high humidity didn’t deter five hot acts at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival on Sunday.

Mac DeMarco, Father John Misty, Matt and Kim, The Head and the Heart and M83 shined during the closing day of the indie rock festival with memorable summer sets at West Riverfront Park.

The Stratton Setlist captured the artists in action before thousands of sweaty, energetic festivalgoers.