From the Heart – Adam Plomaritas and Kylee Phillips Co-Headline Saturday’s Trinity House Show

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Two Michigan singer-songwriters will inject some heart and soul into metro Detroit Saturday.

Adam Plomaritas and Kylee Phillips will share emotive selections during their co-headlining Feb. 12 show at Livonia’s Trinity House Theatre. Both sets will melt away the wintry blues and provide a warm, spring-like welcome.

Ahead of Saturday’s soulful show, The Stratton Setlist chatted with Plomaritas and Phillips about their current inspirations, live sets and musical plans for 2022.

TSS: How has your 2022 been so far? What’s been inspiring you these days as an artist, songwriter and musician?

AP: 2022 has been off to a good start, all things considered. I started it off playing a Caribbean cruise for a week. Since then, I’ve been in the studio a bit and coaching high schoolers for the singing competition, Future Stars, in Ann Arbor. I’ll be the musical director for the show, which happens later in February.

What inspires me generally in songwriting are my wife and three sons. It’s also the struggle of being a professional musician and all of the trappings of fighting through insecurity and enjoying your own and others’ art, and being jealous of their success and reveling in it at the same time as they’re often my friends.

Two things I’ve taken in that have affected me greatly in the past year – The Ken Burns documentary on the history of country music and the “Cocaine & Rhinestones” podcast by Tyler Mahan Coe. Some processing of those will surely spill out onto the stage at Trinity House.

KP: I’ve been experiencing a lot of personal challenges and upheaval, but also so much growth and hope as of late. I’ve been more grateful than ever for the outlet that songwriting is to me. During this season, it’s felt more like a necessity than a choice.

Continue reading “From the Heart – Adam Plomaritas and Kylee Phillips Co-Headline Saturday’s Trinity House Show”

Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single

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Hannah Baiardi’s “Reason” single inspires listeners to embrace their authentic voice and rediscover a sense of purpose. Artwork – Abby Clemens

Immersed in sophisticated jazzy soul-pop sensibilities and refreshing, colorful sonic textures, Hannah Baiardi beautifully steps outside her comfort zone.

The Ann Arbor vocalist-composer and pianist provides a calm, soulful reassurance to embrace our authentic voice and rediscover our true calling on her latest hopeful single, “Reason.” It’s her first new material since releasing her genre-bending album, Straight from the Soul, in March.

“There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders right now, but it’s also a very inspiring time. Lightworkers are individuals who come with a purpose and are very driven to make social change and be their true selves and not hide their identities out of fear or shame,” Baiardi said.

“I was blown away when I got responses from other musicians saying, ‘Hey, that really resonated with me and made me feel like you’re standing up for the underdog.’ That’s totally my whole MO, even from being in high school and resonating with clique-busting and trying to be a friend to the friendless.”

Throughout “Reason,” shimmering piano, spirited drums, luminous slide guitar, fervent finger snaps, smooth electric bass and Baiardi’s confident vocals drench listeners in a sultry, protective dreamscape while inspiring a renewed, united social consciousness.

Once inside her encouraging, hypnotic sonic realm, Baiardi thoughtfully sings, “You never fit in/Stood out from the crowd/You waited you turn/Took courage to speak out loud/But now’s your time/You have to see/Your worth.”

“If someone feels alone or thinks it’s a really tough period of time … know there are others out there who see them and want to champion them. We’re all in this mess together while riding the waves. Water and waves are a theme in the song, and I’m trying to incorporate more sounds with nature and more sounds that evoke a feeling of tranquility,” Baiardi said.

Baiardi magically creates a peaceful “Reason” atmosphere with producer Marty Gray and bassist Ryan King of Stormy Chromer. Together, Baiardi and Gray spent two to three months recording the track in the studio for a late summer release.

“The rough melody and rough sketch of the lyrics came over a couple of weeks. The magic really happened when I brought it to Marty, and I was introduced to him through a mutual friend, David Magumba,” Baiardi said.

“We knew each other from the University of Michigan, where we were both students. Our paths didn’t really cross because he was a vocal major and I was a jazz major. We got together to work on this track, and instantaneously there was this sense of creative synergy. I came with the bones and left with a wonderful song, thanks to Marty.”

Baiardi also translates “Reason” into a gray-tinged lyric video filled with placid, flowing waters. While watching the video, viewers float above and reflect on their personal challenges as snippers of white light permeate the screen.

“The grayness of it conveys the uncertainty of the murky waters that we’re in right now. My social media manager Melissa (Zhuang) played a huge role in helping me craft that, and she’s very adept with Adobe,” said Baiardi, who’s also working on a new video for “How Do You Want Your Love.”

“I was like, ‘Hey, we just need water and some gray, so run with it.’ I think lyric videos are powerful so that someone can contemplate as they’re watching the visual element.”

Continue reading “Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single”

‘Who You Gonna Call?’ – Ray Parker Jr. Premieres New Documentary at Detroit’s Redford Theatre

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Ray Parker Jr.’s new “Who You Gonna Call?” documentary chronicles his longtime career as an influential artist, songwriter and guitarist.

Ray Parker Jr. found his groove way before 1984’s mega-smash, “Ghostbusters.”

The R&B-pop vocalist, songwriter and guitarist strummed his way into Motown studios and onto live stages recording and performing with Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and other legends in the late 1960s as a teenager.

A Detroit native and guitar prodigy, Parker brought a signature rhythmic groove to his session work that quickly captured the attention of arrangers, songwriters, artists and musicians.

“For me, I was just trying to play the guitar the best I could to get everybody to like it. Now, in hindsight, it’s becoming, ‘Oh, he was doing great rhythm guitar.’ But at the time, I didn’t really think of it like that. I was just trying to play a guitar part or something that would work on the record,” he said.

Parker revisits his five-plus decades in music through a compelling new 90-minute documentary, “Who You Gonna Call? A Portrait of Ray Parker Jr.,” which premiered Thursday night at Detroit’s Redford Theatre as part of the Freep Film Festival.

Directed by Fran Strine (“Hired Gun”), the documentary “traces Parker’s path from the segregated streets of Detroit in the 1960s to the top of the charts and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, offering a candid look at a complicated artist whose musical legacy is overdue for wider appreciation.”

“That’s what this film is about. I mean, ‘Ghostbusters’ came out, and it was such a huge hit. It just overshadowed everything; people didn’t even know I played the guitar or where I came from,” said Parker, who attended the documentary’s premiere with Strine. (Another screening without Parker will be shown Sunday at Emagine Birmingham 8.)

“They were like, ‘Where did he come from? He was born under a broccoli patch, and he just appeared one day.’ This film actually takes you back and says, ‘There was a lot more going on before that. It didn’t just sprout out of nowhere.’”

Continue reading ‘Who You Gonna Call?’ – Ray Parker Jr. Premieres New Documentary at Detroit’s Redford Theatre

Pep Talk – Alison Albrecht Silences Self-Doubt, Second-Guesses on ‘I Say’ Single

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Alison Albrecht shares her personal transformation on “I Say.” Album artwork – Andrew Albrecht

Alison Albrecht elegantly transforms past lessons into future growth.

The Ann Arbor pop-soul-folk singer-songwriter deeply reveals her personal metamorphosis on “I Say,” an authentic, fearless anthem about taking charge of one’s life.

“It encapsulates exactly how this last year has gone for me. It’s just been a huge transformation in realizing if you can let go of the ‘supposed tos’ and the ‘shoulds’ and just live more boldly with conviction and confidence life opens up so much more,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht carries her courageous mindset forward as beating electronic drums, delicate cymbals, mellow bass, contemplative piano and tranquil synths provide internal strength. She soulfully sings, “Silence the voices/Chin up/Look into the mirror/Lock eyes with the face/And finally the fog begins to clear/Biting my nails down/But alone/Nowhere to hide/I breathe the same air/With a fresh new pair of eyes.”

“I’ve been diving into passion projects rather than thinking, ‘I should do this’ or ‘I should do that.’ I’m finally having the confidence of living in every moment and being present. This time, I say I’m not going to listen to those outside voices like I had been for a long time,” said Albrecht, who’s inspired by Sara Bareilles.

Albrecht teamed up with younger brother Andrew Albrecht to co-write and produce “I Say” in their home studio. Andrew provided the thoughtful piano instrumental while Albrecht penned the personal lyrics during a brief, torrential downpour.

“Two seconds later, the clouds suddenly parted and the sun beautifully shined. I was like, ‘That is such a metaphor for the song, and I need this right now.’ I tried to harness that sort of energy, and we wrote the song real quickly. It’s definitely one of my favorites,” she said.

The Albrechts sent the finished track to Jim Kissling at Ferndale’s Tempermill Studio for mastering. Once the single was released in March, the siblings started developing a concept for the upcoming “I Say” video, which will drop later this summer.

“We’re so lucky to live in an era where we can do things ourselves. I’m all about authenticity and trying to know exactly who I am and who we are. I think capturing video and audio in spaces where we feel comfortable gives the audience great insight into who we are,” Albrecht said.

Continue reading “Pep Talk – Alison Albrecht Silences Self-Doubt, Second-Guesses on ‘I Say’ Single”

Take Solace – The Stratton Playlist September/October 2020 Edition Provides Everyday Escape

While the world turns to chaos outside, it’s time to search for solace inside.

Throw work, school and virtual commitments aside for some long overdue relaxation. With headphones in hand, adjust the volume and press play to start a new musical journey into uncharted local and regional waters.

The latest edition of The Stratton Playlist serves as a refreshing sonic escape from politics, pandemics and people. Visit country-filled skies, fuzzy lo-fi jams, jazzy hip-hop points, psych rock bangers, vibrant piano pop anthems and other new terrain.

Featured artists include Shawn Butzin, Zilched, Speak Mahogany, VVISIONSS, LoraDale, The Soods, The DayNites, Blank Tape Tax, J.E. Sunde, Major Murphy, Speelburg and more.

Interested in becoming part of The Stratton Playlist on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres welcome.

Written in the Stars – Angela Predhomme Celebrates Everlasting Love on ‘Changeless Sky’

Angela Predhomme applauds long-term relationships on her latest single, “Changeless Sky.”

Angela Predhomme brilliantly shines in the late summer night sky.

The metro Detroit soulful pop singer-songwriter serves as an inspirational North Star for lifelong love on her latest poignant single, “Changeless Sky,” which dropped Aug. 28 via all streaming platforms.

“I’ve been married for a lot of years, and it’s really different than people who are popping in and out of relationships. If you’re in a long-term thing, then it’s the ups and downs of being there and sticking it out and growing together. Everything else changes around you, but you’re there for each other,” she said.

Throughout the glistening, peaceful monogamous track, Predhomme weaves soft piano with passionate, uplifting vocals as she sings, “No matter the sun and shade passing by/The world might be twisting, thrashing right outside/But I am your changeless sky.”

“I had the idea for the title and thought those were cool words, and it’s about this enduring, never-changing thing. I took that title and just made it a love song,” said Predomme, whose latest single is the lead track on The Stratton Playlist.

Predhomme wrote and recorded “Changeless Sky” late last year in her home studio after releasing her eloquent fifth album, Love. The tender track is the second in a series of new monthly singles from Predhomme’s uplifting, expansive multi-genre catalog, which dates back to her 2008 self-titled debut.

Finding Freedom

In July, Predhomme dropped her luminous, laid-back ode to authenticity, “So Good to Be Free,” which fuses jubilant acoustic strums, upbeat maracas, rhythmic bongos and vibrant electric guitars into an infectious Bo Diddley-inspired beat.

The shimmery single also beautifully showcases Predhomme’s signature optimistic outlook as she sings, “I don’t need the look or the trend/I’ll be the least cool of my friends/You can have all that/I won’t please the pack/‘Cause I’m free/To be whatever I choose to be.”

“It’s probably more ‘me’ than a lot of the other songs I’ve released. I used to worry about how I looked even when I went to the grocery store, and now I go in sweats and no makeup. It’s good to be free and not worry anymore about what people think,” said Predhomme, who collaborated with Nashville guitarist Cheyenne Medders on the track.

“It’s also freeing about the way I write music now. When I started, I was trying to send songs to Nashville, and I thought I was too old when I was in my 30s. I was sending songs thinking maybe some major artists would sing my songs, and I got no bites. When I started singing and releasing them myself, people started picking them up for licensing.”

Continue reading “Written in the Stars – Angela Predhomme Celebrates Everlasting Love on ‘Changeless Sky’”

A Prelude to Fall – The Stratton Playlist August 2020 Edition Shares Crisp Sounds

The crisp sights, scents and sounds of autumn linger in the late August air. The days are still long, but the nights slowly steal precious sunlight a few minutes at a time.

This month’s edition of The Stratton Playlist captures those final summer moments and simultaneously serves as a welcome, refreshing sonic prelude to fall.

Soulful pop, groovy psych rock, thoughtful piano ballads, fiery dance, reflective post-rock, introspective folk, fresh hip-hop and timeless country soar across 35 hypnotic, multifarious tracks.

Featured artists include Angela Predhomme, Asphalt Flowers, Brian Perrone, Madelyn Grant, Monte Pride, Al’Exist, Tauri, Jakob Leventhal, TREASVRE and more.

Interested in becoming part of The Stratton Playlist on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres are welcome.

Happy Accidents – Torrey Mercer Celebrates Living in Disarray on Latest ‘This is Fine’ Single

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Last year, Torrey Mercer unknowingly penned a fitting anthem for 2020.

The Los Angeles pop singer-songwriter co-wrote a peppy, ironic new track, “This is Fine,” about perpetually living in disarray with pop-rock singer-songwriter and producer Una Jensen.

“We wrote this in December of 2019, which is wild to think about, considering the times we are in now. It was meant to be a song about feeling like a ‘hot mess,’ little did we know. The song is meant to be a pick-me-up in some hard times, which I hope it can be for others during the times we find ourselves in,” said Mercer, who released the track in May.

Mercer beautifully exposes that frustrating, turbulent world throughout “This is Fine,” which fuses gleaming acoustic strums, bouncy synths, thumping bass and striking electronic drums in a poppy, cheeky ode to bad days. She nonchalantly sings, “My bank account just froze/Bedroom full of dirty clothes/Of course I stubbed my toe/What day is my cycle/There it goes.”

“It was inspired by a meme we are both familiar with on the Internet originally created by KC Green. The original artist gave us permission, and we recreated his art for the album art of the song, which was fun. The song has lots of quirky details in it, which started with both of us listing things that we were feeling at the time,” Mercer said.

“We wrote this song in its entirety in about two and a half hours, all in one sitting. And we spent a few weeks nailing down final vocals, production and mixing. It was actually a total fluke we wrote this song before the current moment we are facing in the world, and when everything started happening, I realized it might be the perfect moment for this song. I’m glad we got to release it.”

Boys/Girls

This is Fine” isn’t the only shiny, effervescent new material Mercer has dropped this year. In February, she released Boys/Girls, a vibrant, inspirational six-track EP filled with bisexual anthems, misogynistic tales, patriarchal challenges, changing relationships, inner revelations and personal empowerment.

“This EP was meant to be a liberation for me as a woman and as a bisexual. In the music industry, there’s a lot of pressure to perform a version of yourself that is more likeable to others. This project was about taking the duct tape off my own mouth and embracing what makes me different and outspoken,” she said.

Continue reading “Happy Accidents – Torrey Mercer Celebrates Living in Disarray on Latest ‘This is Fine’ Single”

Free Flow – Alluvial Fans Deposits Raw, Refined Musical Sediments on New ‘Earth to Astronaut’ Album

Alluvial Fans’ new album explores multi-genre peaks and valleys, atypical song structures and varied tempos. Album artwork – Antoine Langenieux-Villard

Detroit’s Alluvial Fans beautifully deposits raw and refined musical sediments on their solid new album, Earth to Astronaut.

Out now via all streaming platforms, Earth to Astronaut freely flows through indie rock mountains, art punk hills and garage jazz canyons to form a new fertile sound. Through these multi-genre peaks and valleys, atypical song structures and varied tempos, Alluvial Fans’ second album deeply explores the spaces between distorted, mosh-worthy cathartic freak-outs and quiet, sentimental and reflective moments.

“Sometimes your mind goes, and you find yourself jumping from place to place. And that’s sort of how my mind was working at the time and how it has been just kind of scattershot, and now I’m more aware of that. I wanted to represent that kind of fragmented or abstract thought in the lyrics, and in sum, I wanted to become more precise,” said Drew Bartosik, Alluvial Fans’ vocalist-guitarist.

“For the past two years, I’ve been practicing meditation and trying to become more self-aware and mindful of my thoughts and how I act in my environment. Things now are becoming more focused and cohesive for song ideas, and I wanted to highlight the vulnerability in that respect.”

Bartosik and his Alluvial Fans bandmates Gilad Granot (bass) and Ollie Elkus (drums) venture deep beneath the Earth to Astronaut surface to examine a juxtaposition of themes, including technology and nature, independence and interdependence, and reflection, solidarity, and devotion, over 10 expansive, metaphysical tracks.

From ‘Blowouts’ to ‘Droves’

Together, they weave an erratic, yet refreshing jazz-punk-garage-rock fusion on their latest single, “Blowout/Future Games,” which starts with light cymbal taps and delicate electric guitar and quickly erupts into a frantic musical cataclysm.

During the “Blowout” section, Bartosik eagerly shouts, “Yeah!/You never look me in the eyes these days/You’re so far gone/You’re so far” and memorably repeats, “Two for my friends/One for myself.” The first half also serves as a scintillating ode to the Detroit-Hamtramck indie rock scene.

Next, “Blowout” seamlessly segues to the mellow, thoughtful “Future Games” section with light drums, calm vocals and easygoing electric guitar strums. Bartosik quietly sings, “If the future’s playing games with me?/Who is the player playing games?/It’s just the future playing games with me/It’s just the future playing games.” Here, Alluvial Fans questions the uncertainty that lies ahead, especially in an unthinkable year like 2020.

Continue reading “Free Flow – Alluvial Fans Deposits Raw, Refined Musical Sediments on New ‘Earth to Astronaut’ Album”

Paradise Lost and Found – LEVELS Chronicles Timeless Adam-Eve Tale on Mixed-Genre Debut Album

LEVELS entwines assorted genres, changing tempos and complex time signatures on their self-titled debut album.

LEVELS spiritually rises above standard musical conventions.

The international super group magically entwines assorted genres – R&B, hip-hop, funk, jazz, pop, prog rock, Latin and Afrobeat –  changing tempos and complex time signatures into an expansive sound that transcends space and time on their 2019 self-titled, full-length debut.

“These cats are all masters of their craft. The name LEVELS was fitting for us because we all come from different backgrounds culturally and musically and disciplines giving our unit so much dynamism. We’re always adding new levels to the tunes and each other. It’s great to be multinational and international since there’s so much flavor and opportunity to learn and push envelopes musically,” said Keith “WildChild” Middleton, LEVELS co-lead vocalist and co-founder.

Middleton pushes global, multi-genre musical envelopes with American-Italian bandmates Jacopo “Snow” Mazza (piano), Luca “Mack” Marcias (guitar) and Aaron Marcellus (vocals) on their intergalactic, poetic 16-track concept album, which beautifully follows the time-traveling journey of Adam searching for Eve after being exiled from paradise.

“The entire album is woven this way and becomes their journey. We have so many styles it’s only right that they are all represented to tell this story our way. Everyone can identify with having a relationship of some sort. I just put a cosmic, spiritual twist on it to provoke thought and start a conversation – ‘We all share Eve’s and Adam’s atoms,’” said Middleton, who’s currently quarantined in Italy due to the country’s coronavirus pandemic.

‘A Place’ for ‘Unicorns’

Eve’s and Adam’s atoms form a complex musical chemistry on “A Place,” a slow, groovy R&B hip-hop declaration of eternal love (think Garden of Eden). LEVELS’ breathtaking track features tweeting birds and soothing waterfalls as vibrant acoustic guitar, crashing cymbals, bouncy bass and pounding electric drums surround the star-crossed lovers.

To celebrate the lovers, Marcellus hypnotically sings, “There’s no place that I would rather be/Than here with you my dear beside me/Made a space for you inside my heart/Don’t ever fade away my shining star.”

In return, Middleton seamlessly raps, “Yeah shining star if I may elaborate/I follow my heart when I navigate/Palpitations causes sensations at faster rates of rotations of butterflies proclaiming my candidate/No space or time Donny Hathaway/In this and our next lives you won’t have to wait/When we grappled that apple that ample sampled that unraveled the man with the time travel secret passageways/I’ll always find you baby.”

“‘A Place’ tells their tale, and you find out in the first verse, it’s Adam professing his love for Eve. In the second verse, they are doomed from the apple incident, but because of the bite revealing a secret, Adam vows to find his Eve in their next lives. In the third verse, Adam breaks down all of their incarnations till present time, also revealing that on this next go-round, he will spot her at one of his shows while he’s performing with his band LEVELS on stage,” Middleton said.

Continue reading “Paradise Lost and Found – LEVELS Chronicles Timeless Adam-Eve Tale on Mixed-Genre Debut Album”