Welcome to Detroit Proud! This week, we are bringing you a full-spectrum playlist full of talented artists residing right under our noses here in Detroit. The glow of summer is coming to an end and the back-to-school traffic has returned with a vengeance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t turn up the volume and have some fun! We won’t rest until you’ve been enlightened, inspired, and filled to the brim with local music deliciousness. Dig in!
1. Friendship Park – “Dancing Tonight”
The name of this song couldn’t be more appropriate, since it really does make you want to go dancing (or you can just dance in your chair like we did). This simplistic and poppy electronic track is the perfect combination of goofy and catchy, which will make it hard to get out of your head. Friendship Park offers up a new experience with their electronic beats, and remind us that not every synth-powered, computer-based, key-punching artist is involved with glow-stick wearing, bass-dropping, and all out raving (not that we don’t admire all of those past times!). It’s refreshing, however, to have a couple dudes pulling out the stops with their multifaceted talent and making everyone want to groove. The vocal landscape of this track is fun and light-hearted with great instrumentation throughout that never stumbles or misses a beat. The masterful duo behind Friendship Park is Justin Lawes and Joshua Jouppi, and we’re happy to have met them (musically, that is). Check out their two singles and take a peek at their website; the quirkiness will make you feel all fuzzy inside.
2. The Burning Ponies – “Costa Rica”
Feeling sad? Contemplating the universe? Sometimes everything is a big joke and there are so many nuances to life that it’s easier to just join in the wacky, lovely nonsense. Need a record to take with you on your cosmic, soul-searching journey? Well, we can provide that for you! The Burning Ponies’ debut album, Pomegranate Mango, is a perfect combo of goofy wrapped up in pure genius. Jim Byrne and Giancarlo DiPonio (does the band name make a bit more sense now?) tell you fruity, imaginative, sad, and perfectly honest tales of the characters strewn across this August 2015 release. Bouncy and brilliant vocals dive and soar over crisp drums and intricate guitar licks. Many times you’ll hear a wild chorus of voices behind Byrne’s, making you feel like you’re part of the band. Just go ahead and sing along! That’s what this album is all about, fun and freedom. It’s obvious this group of musicians are coming into their own and really enjoying it. Such quirky lyricism and unique melodies can’t be ignored, so make sure you take a listen to this saucy and tropical album before they float off into the sunset.
3. HotSauce – “Superstar”
R&B, rock, pop, funk — just about anything really. That’s what HotSauce brings to the table. We find it hard to believe that you could cram any more talent into this band. Eight members make up this eclectic and well-loved group that have played with some of biggest names in the business here in our hometown (and internationally). You may be thinking that this is one chaotic bunch and it must be a calamity of horns, strings and drums; however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their album, PLAY! The MixAlbum. It’s perfectly laid out and holds some real gems in a variety of genres and tempos. They weren’t kidding when they promoted their sound as “real good, feel good music”. The vocals are soulful and harmonious, while the instrumentation between the band members is unrivaled. It’s obvious these guys have been jamming together for quite some time.
4. Chris Bathgate – “No Silver”
Ann Arbor native Chris Bathgate has been drifting around the music scene here in Detroit for quite some time, sprawling his dark and emotional folk wherever he goes. Salt Year, released in April 2011, is an indie folk gem that could easily be kept on repeat for those days when there’s nothing better to do but lounge around and get lost in the intricacies of each track. There are no boundaries on Salt Year in regards to raw, uncensored emotion and perfectly orchestrated melodies. The tracks are littered with tambourines, banjos, horns, and the clanking of chains (maybe even a washboard?). The musical landscape is endless, and you’ll enjoy traveling the folk spectrum with Bathgate as he hypnotizes you with his endlessly beautiful lyricism. His work is a monsoon of emotion, poetry, folk, and unrefined, unapologetic talent. It’s a life-changing album for those who like to dig deep and get lost for a while, but don’t just stop at Salt Year! Bathgate has an impressive discography worth checking out.
5. The Sound Logic – “Unknow”
The Sound Logic is a larger than life duo bringing southern rock, garage, punk, blues, and just downright dirtiness (we like dirty music, apparently) to the table. The intensity that comes from these two is hard to comprehend, considering that it’s only two guys. A guitar and a drum kit. That’s all these guys need to rock your head off and we can’t help but admire that type of energy. Their full-length release, T.S.L, is a head-banger of an album that explodes with unruly guitar solos and fast-paced, precise drums to back it all up. The vocals drone on in a semi-inaudible fashion and add even more to the rough and ragged rock ‘n’ roll persona. We can attest that their live performance is just as, if not more, impressive than their listening experience and that grungy, hardcore vibe flows through and through. So bring your leather jackets, folks.
6. Sleepless Inn – “Dreaming”
Detroit duo, Laura Finlay and Eddie Logix come together on their EP, The Rainbow Room, released in April 2014 to bring syrupy beats, mixed with luscious and dreamy vocals to give you the feeling of underwater bliss. The consistent echoing vocals perfectly compliment the industrial sound of synth and drums making this album a must listen for those late nights in downtown Detroit. This new wave, electro-pop sound is intense and rhythmic, which showcases the talent of both Logix and Finlay as a rather uncommon collaboration of sounds and genres. We also can’t deny the talent behind the production of this album. The beats are crisp and vibrant, but still provide a constant complement to the airy vocals that drift and weave effortlessly around them. They’re taking their collaborative talents to the next level and we’re diggin’ it.
7. The Anonymous – “Searching For Kid Calamity”
It’s impossible to deny an artist that can take you to school (literally, we learned something) and keep your head bobbing. These guys can: Emcee Goldzilla (Kwesi Akaah) and beat master SomeKid (Paul Wilson). Another up-and-coming innovator in the Detroit music scene, The Anonymous has the ability to fall under more than a handful of genres, but manage to keep their sound organic and well-contained in a space all their own. Their debut album, Why Am I Grinding My Teeth?, is intelligent and ground-breaking. Akaah’s lyrical ability isn’t something you’d typically find in the hip-hop circuit. His stream of consciousness has a biting sarcasm, but at the same time you can hear the humor in his voice. Wilson lays complex and rhythmic tracks that perfectly express the tone of Akaah’s lyrics. Their style is unlike anything we’ve heard in a while and we’re highly intrigued by their well-mixed beats, sprinkled with theatrical sound-clips, bass lines, piano, organ — the list goes on and on. If you love sharp and smart rhymes laid over highly-infectious beats — The Anonymous is for you.
8. Joey Pecoraro – “Great Food”
Ambient, instrumental, soothing and just downright sophisticated as ever: that’s where we’re taking this album. Joey Pecoraro’s most recent release, Little Pear, is a soundscape that deserves your finest china on the dinner table (if you know what we mean). Every track is unobtrusive and makes for the perfect listening anytime-anywhere. The seamless transitions are impressive, but hold just enough surprise to keep things interesting. There isn’t one hint of choppiness or uncertainty on this album, and it’s obvious he knows his way around a board. The theme resonating throughout is straight-up elegance (let’s be clear, this isn’t your basic-bro’s electronic music). Pecoraro knows just how to manipulate classical piano ballads, orchestrated melodies, and string instruments to bring a groove that you never thought you’d experience. The overarching theme of this release is simple and clean; so pour yourself a glass of your favorite spirits and get cultured.
9. Alicia Michilli – “I’ve Been Lovin’ You”
Michilli’s debut self-titled release this past February is soulful and jazzy, but has a bluesy rhythm that allows Michilli’s voice to shine. She may be petite, but don’t underestimate the power and magnitude of her vocal ability and range. Throughout the EP, she transitions from strong, throwback Motown to sultry and breathy R&B without ever missing a beat. The instrumentation is deep and heartbreaking at times, leading you through a time lapse of love and loss, but once the last track breaks open with uplifting piano chords and bright horns you’re back to that soulful and warming sound. We wish Alicia all the best on her musical journey! And make sure you check out her EP on Spotify!
10. Austin Scott – “You Bring Out The Best In Me”
Country music in the D! It’s not something we see very often (or maybe we’re just in the wrong scene), but when it falls into our lap, we feel the need to put it out there! Austin Scott has been playing music in Detroit (and Nashville) for over a decade and proving that country music can find a home in our concrete jungle. Scott’s recent release, Nice Guy, holds more than the typical twang and clang of the country music some of us love to hate. Scott brings more to the table with rockin’ electric guitar solos and an amped-up tempo that gives the often delicate and storybook lyrics of country tunes a different feel. You will find the honky-tonk country you’re used to sprinkled throughout this album, but we think Scott did us all a service and made his music more accessible and charming. He still maintains his down-home feel and twangy vocals, which will definitely appease the more hardcore country fans. His acoustic guitar plucking is rhythmic and homey, which gives you that feeling of natural wood and warm sun. We think this is a great introduction to all that is cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats. Enjoy!
Have a favorite local artist you’d like to see featured here? Are you a local artist that would like to be featured? Well, don’t just sit there! Reach out to us and we’ll take a listen!