School is out, bare skin exposed and the sense that anything is possible is undoubtedly in the air. Yes, it’s summer in the city. While we may all have our ideal soundtrack for the season, we’ve put together a few forgotten Detroit tracks that embody the whirlwind of emotions, expectations and possibilities that summer is so often defined by. Will you fall in love? Start over? Will you finally overcome your irrational fear of swimming in private lakes because you never could shake the premise of the movie Lake Placid from your brain? Summer is yours for the taking (and snacking) but mostly for the taking. Dive into these five tracks that are sure to be the aloe to your awkward sunburn.
1. Anna Burch: Tea-Soaked Letter
Anna Burch is a quiet storm. An vital touch in the folk-rock outfit Frontier Ruckus, Burch delves into her own acoustic woes with a similar rawness, this time backed by veteran scenesters Adam Pressley (Prussia, OHTIS) and Matt Rickle (FAWN, Javelins.) Simple, sweet and sorrowful, Burch delivers an aimless summer bike ride with “Tea-Soaked Letter,” a track that confesses to being unraveled and needy with a cooling dose of pop ennui.
2. Passalacqua: Been a Minute
Hip-hop duo Passalacqua revisits and rebirths hazy porch vibes with beautifully-crafted rhymes that go down smooth. There is something particularly retro about “Been a Minute;” it feels like it could soundtrack a subway montage on an episode of Broad City.
3. The Kickstand Band: Fall Back
Upbeat and wistful, surf pop DIY duo The Kickstand Band find a tender bruise with “Fall Back” as it toggles with one foot in spring, the other firmly planted in summer and one arm stretched out to graze Autumn.
4. Mountains and Rainbows: How You Spend Your Time
Possibly my favorite local record for taking mushrooms on Belle Isle or getting so drunk I call up my ex and asks if he still has my record player (not that I care, or anything), Mountains and Rainbows’ Particles contains this frantic gem, “How You Spend Your Time.” It’s perfectly posed for summer indiscretions, but masked with a sort of playful recklessness that is more fun than damaging.
5. Lightning Love: So Easy
Good god, I miss now-defunct Ypsilanti trio Lightning Love. Leah Diehl’s preciously imperfect vocals explore commitment vs. being alone, a perplexing crisis many of us find ourselves dancing between during these high-temp, highly tempting sweaty months. Appearing on 2012’s Blonde Album, “So Easy” features elements of 2005’s best power pop, and as such is well-suited for driving past addresses you don’t live anymore but think about sometimes.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
In wake of what most consider one of the most turbulent years in recent memory, 2016 carried a heavy weight. From the death of idols, poets and American democracy, this year challenged our collective patience and sanity leaving no stone unturned. That being said, 2016 reared its resilient head by means of music, the ultimate rebellion. And Detroit? Well, my sweet little city on the rise broke new ground with a slew of releases that eased our troubles, cooled our fevers and incited a burning fire that not even 2016 could extinguish. Below are a few notable moments in Detroit’s music year and perhaps a telescopic view of the year to come.
Best album to cry, drive and reflect to: Anna Ash: Floodlights
Anna Ash’s sophomore record Floodlights is, without much deliberation, my favorite album of 2016. Having spent the better part of the year collapsing and mending Ash’s innate ability to give power and strength to her raw and exposed vulnerabilities paired with the sincere Midwestern, orchestral dashboard dust makes Floodlights a strikingly honest portrayal of (my) hearts fragile design.
Best album to start a new life on Mars to:
Zoos of Berlin: Instant Evening
Okay, so I lied. Zoos of Berlin’s masterfully produced and cosmic journey Instant Evening is in constant contention for my favorite release this year. What Instant Evening offers is a poignant and tireless orbit that explores the depths above and below without ignoring our enslavement to gravity. A dizzying leap into perceptions of time, Zoos of Berlin delivered this years soundtrack for your existential eclipse.
Best record to drop acid and make-out with a stranger to: Mountains and Rainbows: Particles
There is something pleasantly debaucherous about Mountains and Rainbows LP Particles. A loosely woven parade of psych-pop jams and zombie-beach-party rock that is intended for the night you’ll forget to remember. Unwashed, untamed and yet, politely tethered to a structure all their own, Mountains and Rainbows delivered a much needed dose of revelry.
Song most likely to be playing when you’re arrested for getting busy in a public restroom: Stef Chura: “Slow Motion”
Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated releases of 2017, Stef Chura’s specialized brand of tortured kitsch kept 2016 afloat. Chura’s first single “Slow Motion” from her upcoming record Messes, is a hazily languid, hickey-necked crisis that begs to get caught (and to be kept awake by thoughts of the “what the fuck am I doing? variety.)
Artist most likely to score a foreign sci-fi film: Humons
Eclectic and texturized dream house artist Humons busted through a few atmospheres with his debut EP Spectra. A multi-dimensional, electro-pop collision course of cosmos and other worldly feels, Humons arrangements channel the extraterrestrial and the extraordinary complete with danceable, sensuous beats that any human or alien could get down to.
Song most suited for a girl-gang rebellion/club takeover: Bevlove: “Do What I say”
A word of warning and a call to arms, “Do What I Say” from badass hip-pop game changer Bevlove, was the girl gang anthem we all needed in 2016. Laced with tenderness but swollen with commanding and demanding pussy power, “DWIS” was the most radio-ready song out of Detroit this year, channeling the likes of RiRi and Queen Bey, our Lady Love delivered one hell of a punch (and maybe even a groin stomp or two.)
Video most likely to feature yours truly: Gosh Pith: “Scoop”
Our beloved Josh x Josh trip-hop duo Gosh Pith were busy boys this year. They toured, recored, released and churned out several videos for their EP Gold Chain all of which embody their sexy poetry and big heart lifestyle. And yeah. Okay. This is a shameless plug of sorts but being a love interest in a music video has been a life long goal of mine (well, I think it started with Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” but whatever.) So when GP (I get to call them that now that I’m on the inside) asked me to star in the video for “Scoop”, a catchy, love lorn groove about the girl that got away (and then slept with someone else at her heartbroken ex’s house party. SAVAGE!) I immediately said yes and actually brushed my hair for the occasion. Full of cameo’s by Detroit’s many intermingled squads, this video is a fun look back on the year that was as brutal as, well, a breakup but as hopeful as a new spark.
Once hailed “The Best Band That Doesn’t Have an Album” pysch-rockers Mountains and Rainbows can finally re-categorize themselves. After bouncing around for almost a decade with nothing but a cassette tape and some scattered demos, Mountains and Rainbows caught the ears of Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer after sharing a bill with the head rattling 70s art punk revivalist foursome last year. Dwyer signed them to Castle Face Records and released their double debut LP Particles last month. Particles is more than an album, though. It’s a transient, transcendent head trip that sweats and absorbs in equal measure. There is a boldness to the album as an adventure through time and memory, trailing across stateliness and atmospheric boundaries, that convinces you to overturn yourself as if you were some government implemented barrier between happiness and obligation. Particles is salty and dry, thirst inducing and never quenching. It is that very thirst that makes Mountains and Rainbows’ long awaited exploration of chaos so surprisingly satisfying. It’s a high without the hangover.
It’s hard to consider the album as individual tracks. The songs blend together, not monotonously or statically, but with a meticulously reckless smashing. Each song strikes one another forcing tinier and finer divides like an astral phenomena we read about but never actually see. Sludgy, strung out Velvet Underground-esque track “Fancies” breaks the album up and clocks in at just over ten minutes. It’s anxious and uneasy and feels more like a band warmup where the instruments sound like vocals and the vocals are a series of warbled announcements. This is a complete departure from the bouncy beach party track “How You Spend Your Time,” which is tightly composed and fulfills the albums strained pop tendency. Mountains and Rainbows play with distance and warped dissonance, which invites a cosmic spacial awareness that lends itself to feeling like fabric ripped at the seams. Drums seem to interrupt, the guitars are manic and distressed and the bass is spastically metallic. These elements crowd the vocals in such a way that it often feels like attempts to suffocate, but also is aurally victorious at regaining breath. Considering it is their first “proper” release, Particles is a fully formed thought that is not for the faint of heart, rather for those whose heart beat persistently askew.