PLAYING DETROIT: February Releases Showcase Motor City’s Diverse Sound

COLUMNS|Playing Detroit
Still from Mega Powers’ “Virtual Boy” music video

If there’s anything 2019 has to offer so far, it’s a wealth of releases that followed in the new year. February was an especially prolific month for Detroit artists, following in the wake of January’s month-long hangover and a few spring-feeling days that turned into a polar vortex. Likely, these artists spent much of this winter hibernating in home studios, scheming their next moves. Ranging anywhere from Britney Stoney’s ephemeral R&B to angst-fueled post-punk from Paint Thinner, these releases crack the surface of the city’s diverse sonic landscape.

Britney Stoney – “Richy”

Britney Stoney’s evolution as a songwriter comes to a full blossom with “Richy.” Following her 2015 experimental indie-pop EP Native, she released ’80s inspired dance tracks”Grip” and “O.D.” “Richy” leans further into the electro-R&B sphere, with production by Jon Zott of Assemble Sound. Stoney’s smooth vocals are at the forefront of the track and deliver a simple message: “Love me before I go away.” Undulating synths and driving percussion echo the urgency of her voice. However, Stoney’s words are less a plea and more of a demand, reminding the lover in question that she’ll keep dancing no matter what the outcome.

Palaces – Palaces

Alt-disco quartet PalacesSean McGraw, Cat Cobra, Rachel Balanon, Dave Cliburne released a new self-titled record bursting with synth-powered indie pop that pulls from the past’s infinite toolbox without feeling contrived. The songs are tinged with perspective, nostalgia, and even a bit of sarcasm, yet remain worthy of any retro dance party.

Mega Powers ft. Jade Lathan – “Virtual Boy” Music Video

Detroit producers Eddie Logix and Pig Pen make up Mega Powers, a slow-burning electronic project built on collaboration and experimentation. The latest visual for their song “Virtual Boy” is a prime example, as it repurposes a short film called “Flamingo” by artist Michelle Tanguay and filmmaker Andrew Miller that Mega Powers had soundtracked. Even at half of the original film’s 8-minute run-time, the clip manages to tell a story all the same via soft projected images and psychedelic lighting.

Paint Thinner – The Sea of Pulp

Post-punk outfit Paint Thinner released their debut record, Sea of Pulp, via ŌBLĒK. Recorded with Bill Skibbe (Protomartyr, The Kills, Jack White), the album is as clean sounding as a garage-punk record can/should be while exuding elements outside of what you would expect. Yes, we hear tense guitar riffs and heavy distortion (in fact, there’s a song called “Distortion”), but scattered throughout the heavy musical catharsis, there are moments of psychedelia and complex lyricism. There’s even a moment on “Soft Features” when vocalist Colin Simon channels Jonathan Richman circa Modern Lovers.

Sammy Morykwas ft. noMad, King Milo & Khalil Heron – “Into The Skies”

Detroit producer/rapper/songwriter Sammy Morykwas released the second of a long line of collaborative tracks he plans to unveil in 2019. After years of working under monikers and as a ghost producer, Morykwas is ready to take the credit that has long been due for his old-school style R&B and hip-hop production. “Into The Skies” is a contemplative track that features three artists from the underground rap scene. Morykwas is heard singing in the hook, a new role for the producer. Whether he’s behind the scenes or front and center, Morykwas has a knack for creating addictive hooks and beats that stick.

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