Homecoming — The National Hosts Inaugural 2-day Music Festival in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — Indie rock giants The National returned to their stomping grounds to host the inaugural two-day Homecoming music festival this weekend at Smale Park with Feist, Big Thief, Father John Misty as well as other emerging rock and alternative artists.

Along with Wilco, Bon Iver and The Decemberists, The National is part of a growing wave of indie rock artists who are curating their own music festivals for fans. It’s a way to provide music lovers with a more intimate experience in comparison to the larger likes of Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

Homecoming truly felt like The National had returned to their roots with two special performances each night. Saturday’s set featured selections from “Sleep Well Beast,” “Trouble Will Find Me,” “High Violet” and “Alligator.” Sunday’s set featured 2007’s “Boxer” in its entirety and the debut of the band’s newest song, “Light Years.”

Bryce and Aaron Dessner also treated fans to a special performance at the Cincinnati Masonic Center Friday night to demonstrate their guitar prowess as part of Red Bird Hollow and celebrate the release of German electronic duo Mouse on Mars’ latest album, “Dimensional People.”

Lisa Hannigan, Spank Rock, Sam Amidon and Kristin Anna joined the Dessner twins and Mouse on Mars to kick off the first night of the festival.

Fans also enjoyed riveting performances by Lord Huron, Julien Baker, Future Islands, Moses Sumney, Alvvays and other talented artists.

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Science for Sociopaths — Detroit’s Maggie Cocco Gets Personal on Upcoming ‘Love & Life’ Double EP

DETROIT – For Science for Sociopaths, writing and singing about romance and growth is a labor of love.

The Motor City indie pop-rock singer-songwriter, aka Maggie Cocco, digs deep and gets personal on her new nine-song double EP, “Love & Life,” which drops June 1.

On “Love & Life,” Cocco’s inspirational lyrics and soulful, powerhouse voice are reminiscent of Carole King, Patti Smith, Kelly Clarkson and Emmylou Harris rolled into one. Her richly-layered songs unravel relatable situations for fans who have experienced the trials and tribulations of life and love.

Cocco is releasing her first single, “I See You,” today from her upcoming double EP. “I See You” brings an acoustic foot-stompin’, finger-snappin’ tale of an unexpected love facing personal triumph despite life’s ongoing challenges.

“‘Love’s four heartfelt songs explore infatuation, confidence, insecurity, frustration, anger and loss as it pertains to romantic love. I was inspired to draw personally from my own love life and pulled a ‘Taylor Swift’ of sorts,” said Maggie Cocco, who formed Science for Sociopaths in 2016. With ‘Life,’ I dealt with the deep stuff bordering on existential. Everything from self-love and being our best selves to life’s toughest questions and big decisions. It’s real, and so sometimes it’s dark, but it’s always hopeful.”

Continue reading “Science for Sociopaths — Detroit’s Maggie Cocco Gets Personal on Upcoming ‘Love & Life’ Double EP”

Buzzworthy — Honey Monsoon Drenches Detroit in Jazz-inspired Indie Rock

Honey Monsoon at Ann Arbor’s Om of Medicine in February. Top row from left: Taylor Greenhields, Ana Gomulka and Ian Griffiths. Bottom row from left: Andrea Holther-Cruz and Leo James Willer.
For Honey Monsoon, the sweet sounds of jazz-inspired indie rock, neo soul and funk are dripping heavily throughout metro Detroit’s music scene.

The Detroit-based quintet are spreading the nectar of the Motor City’s burgeoning jazz indie rock scene at clubs like The Blind Pig and Om of Medicine in Ann Arbor, The Loving Touch in Ferndale, the Plymouth Roc in Plymouth, the Tangent Gallery in Detroit and The Loft in Lansing.

Together, Ana Gomulka (music, lyrics, vocals, guitar and keys), Taylor Greenshields (drums and percussion), Ian Griffiths (bass and vocals), Andrea Holther-Cruz (keys and vocals) and Leo James Willer (live painting) are introducing their talents to a growing Motor City audience.

Gomulka attributes the band’s smooth sound to their longtime love of past and present jazz, soul and funk singers and musicians, including Esperanza Spalding, Sharon Jones, Kneebody and Hiatus Kaiyote.

“When we first started this band, I don’t think any of us were like let’s make jazzy music. When I was young, I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan because that’s what my parents played,” she said. “So when I sang people would be like, ‘Oh you sound like Sarah Vaughan or something like that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t even trying to sound like her.’ I think that’s where our jazzy sound comes from. It’s just what comes out.”

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Selling England by the Pound — The Musical Box Covers Peter Gabriel-era Genesis in Detroit

The Musical Box performs Genesis’ “Watch of the Skies” at Motor City Casino’s Sound Board in Detroit.

French-Canadian Genesis tribute band, The Musical Box, covered the prog quintet’s famous 1973 “Selling England by the Pound” tour Sunday at Motor City Casino’s Sound Board in Detroit.

The two-hour show celebrated the best of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis with “Firth of Fifth,” “Watcher of the Skies,” “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” “The Knife” and other favorites.

The Musical Box singer Denis Gagné wore memorable and colorful Peter Gabriel-inspired costumes from the era — Bat Wings, Britannia, the Old Man, The Reverend, The Flower Mask and Magog.

It was like stepping back in a 1970s British prog rock time machine and never wanting to come back. At least I didn’t.

Celebrating David Bowie — Musicians, Friends Commemorate Thin White Duke at Royal Oak Music Theatre

The Stratton Setlist caught the Feb. 19 Celebrating David Bowie tribute show at Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, Mich.

Fantastic Four — Adventures with Vultures, 3 Other Motor City Acts Showcase Musical Prowess at The Blind Pig

Adventures with Vultures, aka Matt Sauter, headlines his first show at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Mich.

A new “Fantastic Four” demonstrated their musical prowess Jan. 20 at The Blind Pig.

The “Fantastic Four” – Adventures with Vultures, Brother Elsey, Great Expectations and Honey Monsoon – represented some of southeast Michigan’s emerging musical talent during a 3.5-hour show filled with folk, roots, pop and jazz rock at the iconic Ann Arbor, Mich., 400-person venue.

It also served as the first headlining show for Plymouth, Mich.-based folk rocker Adventures with Vultures, also known as Matt Sauter, who released his debut EP, “Junction,” in October on Original 1265 Recordings.

Sauter’s down-home and fun-loving stage presence instantly connected with the crowd during his 45-minute set, which included the folk rock gems “Okay Guy,” “Skies of Gold” and “I Found a Dreamer” as well as a new track, “Hell or High Water.”

“So many of you f*ckers came to the show tonight. I can’t believe it,” said Sauter, who’s also a student at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). “We used to play at coffee shops in Plymouth, Michigan, and all you guys came here, and we really appreciate it.”

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Musical Masterminds – Singer-songwriter, sister duo APLUS prepare to release debut album ‘Pride Liberty Detroit’ Feb. 9

APLUS Press Image 1
Anesha Birchett, left, and Antea Shelton of APLUS

DETROIT – Singer-songwriters Antea Shelton and Anesha Birchett are masters of musical mind reading.

Together, the R&B and pop sister duo known as APLUS know how to compose hit songs without even saying a word to each other.

“Because Anesha and I know each other so well, it’s such a natural process across the board for both songwriting and artistry,” Shelton said. “I think I didn’t value how we have a natural connection as sisters until we started working with other people, and I realized she and I may have our bickering and our battles, but man, like the records get done, and we have a smooth flow.”

That smooth flow and intuitive songwriting process has helped APLUS pen songs for Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Tamar Braxton and a host of other R&B and pop artists as well as music for the TV shows “Empire” and “Star.” Once a producer plays a chord, Shelton and Birchett start their songwriting magic.

“She’ll go, I’ll email her, and we’re literally in the same room while I message her,” said Shelton, 36, who’s head of songwriting at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). “I’ll email her a couple of titles, she’ll go into the booth, she’ll sing some melodies, sing the title like I said, and I’ll be like, ‘Yep, I want that one.’ Then, they’ll play it, put it on loop, I’ll fill out the lyrics, send it back to her, she’ll go into the booth, sing it, and it’s done.”

Shelton and Birchett used that same songwriting process while recording tracks for their debut APLUS album, “Pride Liberty Detroit,” which drops Feb. 9 on Original 1265 Recordings. In December, they released their latest single, “Strangers,” a groovy R&B track featuring lush harmonies backed by a piano.

Continue reading “Musical Masterminds – Singer-songwriter, sister duo APLUS prepare to release debut album ‘Pride Liberty Detroit’ Feb. 9”