The holidays are fast approaching, so while you’re wrapping all those awesome gifts, throw on this week’s playlist! We have an awesome group of bands that will get you right into the holiday spirit—who needs traditional tunes anyway?
Some of the bands on our playlist this week will also be playing the much anticipated Mittenfest X in Ypsilanti from December 29th-January 2nd at Bona Sera!
1. Varsity Rats— “Scooby Doo Villain”
Dropped in May of this year, Varsity Rats’ release Y’Abon! brings the mellow party vibes that Detroiters loves to zone out to whilst mingling among one another. Their sound is psychedelic and subtle, but perfectly captivating with lavish guitar effects and reverberating vocals splashed in for good measure. This ambient skate rock group offers a very cerebral experience accentuated by beachy synth, trolling bass lines and repetitious drums beats. It’s a great album to chill to and we recommend throwing it on at your next house party. We’re hopeful that Varsity Rats will be back in the local circuit soon, so keep an eye out for some new music!
2. Ohtis— “Runnin’”
Ohtis offers a cozy folk sound with bright acoustic guitar and twangy, simple vocals that create a perfect atmosphere for musical storytelling. The listening experience is personal and intimate and often heartbreaking at times. The singer/songwriter persona can be hard to harness for some, but Ohtis projects himself as an extension of his music in its most raw form. The guitar work is effortless and comforting, sometimes at the forefront and other times riding calmly underneath his voice. Catch Ohtis with other great Detroit artists at the UFO Factory in downtown Detroit on Sunday, December 20th before he heads off on tour.
3. Fred Thomas— “Unfading Flower”
You’ve probably seen Fred Thomas collaborating with just about every artist in the Detroit area and for good reason, the guy is a musical Renaissance man. When he’s not dipping his toes in everyone else’s music, he’s got quite the discography of his own! His most recent release, All Are Saved, is an alternative indie album with a sentimental and morose theme, with biting lyricism pieced together with simplistic acoustic guitar and smooth electronic/synth beats. Thomas puts it all out in the open on this release, bringing you into his mind and spitting you out feeling reflective and melancholy. It’s crafted with a twinge of bitterness and cynicism — the emotions that fuel some of the most genius of works. If you’re looking to feel disgustingly human, check out Fred Thomas on Tuesday, December 29th at Mittenfest in Ypsilanti at 11:30pm.
4. Stef Chura— “Speeding Ticket”
Stef Chura’s single “Speeding Ticket” is reminiscent of some of our ’90s favorites. It’s grungy and punctuated with idle electric guitar and subtle drums, allowing Chura’s voice to slip through the thickness with a delicate mutter. The tone is slow and rhythmic, allowing the listener to spend more time dwelling on the poetic lyricism. There’s word that we’ll be seeing a full release from Chura soon, and we hope it’s true! Until then, catch Stef Chura at Mittenfest at 10:45pm on December 31st!
5. Sugarcoats— “Numbered Floors”
The Sugarcoats bring that nasty, heart-thumping rock and roll to the Motor City with their lo-fi groove and down-home vocals. Their sound is gritty and classic, with voluptuous guitar, faint harmonica and a tight rhythm section. The vocals are unrefined and drawling as they explode over the trance of the music. It’s wholesome and time-honored rock goodness right at your doorstep. The Sugarcoats bring that nostalgic carelessness to the forefront with their music and it makes us feel carefree. Keep up the tunes!
6. Best Exes— “Friends”
Heartfelt and sweet, Best Exes make quirky cool with their recent Cactus Demos release. The male-female vocals, repetitive beats, and fuzzy guitars mesh a rustic folk sound with flowery punk rock that creates a unique sound we seriously dig. The lyricism is campy and romantic in the weirdest (but best) way. We love the genuineness of this artist and really look forward to hearing them at this year’s Mittenfest on December 30th at 10:00pm. Don’t miss ‘em!
7. Child Sleep— “Baby Bird”
Child Sleep is an alternative rock band with more dynamics than most. The first difference you’ll notice is the tender vocals that soar over smooth guitar, discreet drums and the occasional string instrument (our favorite). Adding a more classical touch to the rough and rowdy rock vibe helps make their album, Distortions, a fit for lighter fare. Don’t get us wrong, this band still knows how to rock and do it quite well, but the semi-psychedelic undertones offer solace from the high-energy riffs. The sound is dreamy at times and fairly new wave, which keeps it interesting and also keeps you guessing. We love being musically surprised by this band.
8. Blood Stone— “Married To Satan”
Underground, maybe in a cave somewhere, Blood Stone has those witchy vibes with their debut album, Friend Group. A lo-fi, garage rock number with glimpses of psychedelic folk pushes out fuzzed-up tunes with charming harmonizing vocals and witty lyricism that will make you wonder why you aren’t as whimsical as Blood Stone. The feel is laid back and distorted which makes for the perfect late night jam experience. Word on the street is they’re back in the recording process, so stay tuned for some new tunes. Get your brooms ready. Check out Blood Stone at Mittenfest at 10:45pm on January 1st!
9. Bonny Doon— “Hanging Around My Door”
Surfy and psychedelic, Bonny Doon’s release Classic Days and Jazzy Nights is a casual and carefree album with catchy guitar riffs and hard-to-forget lyrics that you’ll be singing for hours post-listen. Some tracks have a country rock aura with a hint of nostalgia, others are more along the ’70s rock vein. Bonny Doon may have that impassive sound, but there’s a lot of heart in these songs. The groove is infectious and easy to get lost in, like a dreamy ride along the coast somewhere. Check out Bonny Doon at Mittenfest at 1:00am on December 30th!
10. The Potions— “Death Ain’t Got No Mercy”
Seven Black Shapes is a groovy, dark and bluesy album that is perfect for those late night excursions where mystery and mischievousness are around every corner. This group pools their talents to create an otherworldly sound with soulful vocals and haunting guitar riffs. The bass runs are plentiful and rhythmic, keeping the tempo jazzy. The Potions are bringing back an old school tune that’s often lacking from the current scene. It’s full of soul and blues, which is always welcome here in Detroit. We look forward to catching their next show, which is hopefully soon!
Check back next week for our pre-Mittenfest X coverage, where we give you a rundown of some of our favorite Michigan bands. (We’ll stretch outside of metro Detroit just this once!)
Happy Holidays, ya’ll!