This week’s playlist features a little old with a little new and a smattering of stuff in between. We’ve got your local dance pop favorites and your super sappy, love song ballads. It’s a melting pot of music!
Click the links below to have all that delicious sound pumped into your brain and take a minute to read what we have to say, because sometimes we know what we’re talking about.
1. The Questions – “Separation Tax”
Putting a grungy spin on the classic Americana, The Questions’ 2015 EP, Starting Over Again, is twangy and gruff with a splash of punk and blues. Acoustic guitar pushes past excited electric solos with nostalgic harmonica and bluesy bass runs. Each track has its own personality, but carries the same theme throughout, stringing along one after the other. We really enjoy the subtleties each song possesses. The Questions have a tried-and-true, down home vibe that is easily detectable in their playing style. It’s genuine and authentic.
2. Water Cops – “I’m Showing Up Late & I’m Leaving Early”
Indie pop rock group, Water Cops, released I’m Showing Up Late & I’m Leaving Early in 2012 and it was quite the doozy! It’s lively, energetic and bright with lots of auxiliary percussion, dreamy, washed guitar and chipper vocals. The lyrics are uber catchy and will easily make you want to dance. Their sound is easily comparable to great new wave/pop collections of past and present, but Water Cops put their own surfy spin on what could easily just be a replicate of the classics. There’s a lot of experimentation and zest in this album, which absolutely requires a thorough listen-through.
3. Matthew Millia – “Song For Ben”
Many know the popular Michigan band Frontier Ruckus and the frontman Matthew Milia, but how about his solo project? Milia released a mixed bag of lo-fi, bedroom recordings ranging from 2010-2015 all under the title Even F***boys Get The Blues. This acoustic serenade is simplistic and intimate with the poetic and complex lyricism we come to expect from Milia. His voice breaks a staticky silence that surrounds the snuggly singer-songwriter vibes and creates a cocoon of angsty sound. The tracks are haphazard and individualistic, but still seem to mesh together and reflect a specific point in time. It’s a beautiful compilation, even if these songs never found a true home. It’s a kaleidoscope of quiet, contemplative listening.
4. Tahnz and The Filthy Animals – “The River Knows”
Neo-soul, funk group Tahnz and The Filthy Animals light up the blues/jazz scene with their 10-track release, Swimming. Rich in soulful vocals, jazzy instrumentation and hearty variety, this release is far from typical blues. It’s exceptionally experimental and plays with different genres that all stem from the same seed. You’ll find blues, R&B, new wave and even some funky folk. The vocals are heartfelt and resonant as they rise and fall with the intensity of the music. It’s easy to see that Tahnz can’t be wrangled into one genre. There’s too much to explore and enjoy! It shows beautifully with this release.
5. The Native Howl – “Hurricane”
Ever thought about thrashing to bluegrass? Neither did we, until we stumbled upon The Native Howl and their recent release, Thrash Grass. Talk about intense! They bring a whole new style of music to the scene that has yet to be duplicated. It’s an energetic, unique listening experience with folky storytelling and fast-paced jams running rampant with impressive bass runs and hyperactive banjo. However, what we find most impressive are the barbershop quartet-style harmonies sprinkled in for that extra old-school flare. You would think these guys were born and bred southern ruffians, but we’re lucky enough to call them our own up here in Detroit. We can only imagine that their live performance is just as captivating as this album.
6. William Kalmar – “I Can’t See You Anymore (Moving On)”
Released at the very beginning of this year, William Kalmar’s A Fifth of Filth and A Fistful of Naughty breaks your heart and refuses to apologize. His intricate guitar picking and emotionally distraught vocals really do a number on hopeless romantics like ourselves, but that’s okay! The instrumentation is perfectly manicured to provoke a response and we have a feeling that this is exactly what Kalmar wants. The sound is rich and warm with perfectly-placed string and wind instruments with haunting harmonies and tear-jerking lyricism. If you’re looking to weep just a little, this one’s for you and all those feels you’re about to feel.
7. Bastardous – “Black Clothing”
Bastardous single, “Black Clothing” is an explosive alternative punk jam with heavy guitar riffs and anthemic vocals, accented by full-throttle drums making for a thick and ear-muffling sound. They work a tight meter and maneuver musical breaks with surgical precision. We love the layers throughout this track keeping it interesting and unpredictable and far from just a typical head-banger of a song. We’re looking forward to hearing more from Bastardous! Don’t keep us waiting!
8. Telephon9 – “Castle In The Sky”
We’re warning you right now that when you hear this single you’re going to want to dance. It’s infectious, beat-heavy and just an overall club classic. It’s not what you would typically expect from today’s Top 40, however. We think it’s on a whole ‘nother level. There’s a catchy hook throughout the track with a unique spacey vibe that repeats with an infectious beat to back it up. It’s not overly flashy or obnoxious like some dance hits can be and we really enjoy the production behind it all. Having this type of electronic pop music coming out of the D is cause for celebration (so turn this up and dance!).
9. Copper Thieves – “Take Me To War”
Copper Thieves released an album in 2011 called II, and boy is it fun. It’s a perfect mesh of alternative rock and groovy indie pop. They have some undeniably catchy hooks on almost every track and quirky punk rock style vocals. One minute, you think you’re listening to something familiar and then a second later, you’re being pleasantly surprised by an unexpected meter change or guitar riff. The listening experience is extremely enjoyable and uplifting. If sunshine rock could be a thing, we would drop Copper Thieves into that category. We don’t know what their plans are here in 2016, but we hope they resurface soon!
10. Big Mess – “Look Up At The Strangers”
Big Mess likes to refer to their style of music as “courtesy rock” and we couldn’t agree more after listening to their 2014 release, Romantic Warrior Softball Team. It’s tasteful, respectful and “loud, but responsible”. It’s the best kind of rock n’ roll for those that want to rock, but not too hard. Their sound is youthful, but experienced as they jam effortlessly through each track. The bass lines are lively as they bounce to their own melodic beat, keeping perfect time with the lively guitars that talk back and forth to each other with silky riffs that are sure to impress. They have the ability to slow it down into a bluesy ballad or speed it up to early 2000’s geek rock. Either way, Big Mess will have your dad grooving.
Who are you jamming to? Tell us in the comments!