Recharge and Reset – The Soods Explore Renewed Mindset on ‘A Ray Rewired Vol. 2’ EP

RR2 artwork
“A Ray Rewired Vol. 2” deeply explores The Soods’ internal terrain while focusing on the future. Photo – Jason Roy

Jason Roy instantly breathes a sigh of relief.

The Soods frontman and multi-instrumentalist quickly sheds a weathered emotional exoskeleton for a recharged future mindset on the collective’s latest contemplative indie rock EP, A Ray Rewired Vol. 2, via GTG Records.

“These songs feel like you’re shedding some skin, and you’re hatching out of an egg in a way. The world is a lot different now than it was two years ago, and it will be in a year, five years or 10 years from now,” said Roy, who’s based in Grand Rapids. “If you’re not shedding your skin every once in a while, then you probably need to do some self-reflection.”

As a cerebral outgrowth of A Ray Rewired Vol. 1, the second volume deeply explores sensitive internal terrain throughout pier houses, Haight-Ashbury and nearby neighborhoods and action-packed reveries. It also features an impressive roster of returning Soods collaborators, including Chris Coble, Matt Ten Clay, Steven Meltzer and others.

“There were a few things that kind of changed course a little bit along the way, and that was something a younger me wouldn’t have always been as open to,” Roy said. “The longer I get to make music, the more rewarding it is to come up with a really good idea and then have someone strengthen that with an equal or better idea.”

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Instant Connection – The Soods Fuse Hopeful Tales on ‘A Ray Rewired Vol. 1’ EP

Ray Rewired
The Soods’ “A Ray Rewired Vol. 1” EP serves as the quintessential companion for a short summer sonic getaway. Artwork – Tansy Harris

As a Grand Rapids musical connector, Jason Roy seamlessly wires together hopeful vignettes for the unknown days ahead.

The Soods frontman and multi-instrumentalist solders brief mesmerizing, impactful tales of renewal and release on the collective’s latest electrifying indie rock EP, A Ray Rewired Vol. 1, via GTG Records.

“I think the overall feel of these songs has an upbeat rhythm of life to it. At the root of it, there’s an emotion of love, and music is meant to uplift,” said Roy, who co-produced the project and named it after a lyric in The Soods’ single, “Symbiotic Mono Band.”

“Even with the saddest stuff there should be some connective tissue of ‘Hey, it’s not always gonna be this bad, or shit’s gonna get better.’”

Along with a talented cast of Soods collaborators, Roy elaborately threads seven thoughtful tracks into an emotive, cohesive 15-minute listen. A Ray Rewired Vol. 1 serves as the quintessential companion for a short summer sonic getaway during a hectic, stressful day.

“I approach it like an art project in a sense. Let me start it, and I’m gonna use my palette to paint as good of a picture as I can to set you up to put on the finishing touches,” Roy said.

“Sometimes, I’ll get a vocal back, or I’ll be recording one with Steven (Meltzer), and be like, ‘Oh OK, we need to change direction.’ Not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s more of a ‘Ooh, I never thought to approach it that way.’”

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Made to Heal – The Stratton Playlist December 2020 Edition Provides Soothing Escape

As the year (thankfully) comes to a close, we reflect on the strength, grit and willpower that slowly got us through. Together, we relied on new soothing, hopeful tracks that provided a welcome escape from the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, political rifts, grief and loss.

Uplifting, rewarding bits of indie folk, country-pop, folk rock, psych rock, shiny lo-fi soul, reggae, dreamy pop, chill hip-hop and experimental art rock demonstrate the courageous creative and emotional spirit we all share heading into 2021.

The latest edition of The Stratton Playlist provides an introspective sonic path for healing, reflection and growth. Featured musical healers and friends include Lily Milo, Meredith Shock, Mark Jewett, The Soods, Dani Darling, Joss Jaffe, Ava Panza, Blaksmith, Dirt Room and more.

Thank you for everyone who supported The Stratton Setlist in 2020. It’s an honor to feature you and the share wonderful music you create today and tomorrow. Interested in becoming part of The Stratton Playlist on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres welcome.

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.”

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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.

Sonic Potion – New Drinking Mercury Album Drenches Listeners in Soothing Folky Dream Pop

Drinking Mercury will host an album release show Saturday at The Robin Theatre in Lansing.

Editor’s Note: Fans can now pre-order Drinking Mercury’s self-titled album on vinyl with a bonus download of alternate mixes, live recordings and demos. 

It only takes one swig of Drinking Mercury’s new self-titled album to feel warm and dreamy on an overcast November day.

In this case, the Lansing indie rock quartet’s newest album functions as a sonic potion drenching listeners in soothing waves of vibrant folk-influenced dream pop.

“We knew that was the kind of record we wanted to make. Michael Boyes and I had done a lot of acoustic shows together, or rather where he played acoustic and I played electric,” said Tommy McCord, Drinking Mercury’s guitarist and vocalist, about the band’s latest release out today via GTG Records.

“We had focused on embracing that sort of finger style-like folky guitar playing and bringing that in with more textural and psychedelic stuff. From there, it was a matter of filling in the arrangements, but we all knew we wanted to have the vocals be really prominent and arranged on the album.”

Soaring vocal harmonies intertwined with slow, thumping drumbeats, driving basslines and gentle acoustic and electric guitars abound on the band’s striking follow-up to 2011’s alt-folk debut, “Orcades.”

Recording Drinking Mercury, Split Album with The Soods

To create the album’s laid-back feel, McCord invited longtime friends and bandmates Boyes (guitar, vocals), Timmy Rodriguez (bass, keys, vocals) and Kevin Adams (drums) to his family’s 60-year-old rustic cabin in Bitely last July to record new material.

“It’s like the cliché of getting back to nature to write your masterpiece. My grandpa and some other guys built this cabin in the early ‘50s, so I’ve been going there my whole life. I had thought in a daydream it would be cool to record an album up here,” said McCord, who co-formed Drinking Mercury nearly 20 years ago with Adams while growing up in Ionia.

“It’s not like it’s a big acoustically awesome space. It’s just a pretty simple cabin, but it’s in a beautiful area, and the atmosphere is really relaxed, and your cell phone doesn’t work there, and there’s no internet.”

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