Wednesday, 03 January 2018 10:48

10 Local Bands to Watch in 2018

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Frontwoman Valerie Salerno of Sojii Frontwoman Valerie Salerno of Sojii

There’s no better time than the New Year to discover some great new music. West Michigan continues to overflow with an absolute wellspring of creative talent and the abundance of artists on the brink of breaking out has never been greater. Our strong and diverse music scene continues to make a name for itself all across the state, the web and beyond. So as you’re making New Year’s resolutions to broaden your horizons and welcome 2018 with fresh eyes and ears, take note of some of the names on this list — you might just end up listening all year. 


Tiger and Frame

Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: Indie rock, alternative

Recommended If You Like: Catfish & the Bottlemen, The Cars



Formerly named after frontman David Stout, this buzzy band found the missing piece with a new name and four-song EP, Puzzles, last year. Lead single Novocain took the edge off with a gorgeous video featuring Grand Rapids Ballet dancers. This year, the band is kicking into a high gear with the release of its new single, Mechanic, leading into a massive national tour and more new music. 


Hannah Rose & the GravesTones

Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: Blues, funk, rock

Recommended If You Like: Norah Jones, ZZ Ward



Fresh off celebrating frontwoman Hannah Rose Graves’ birthday at Founders, alongside the release of the long-awaited new EP Awake In A Dream, this talented outfit just keeps getting better. Already Jammie Award winners, Graves has the sort of voice that leaves listeners stunned, while her band knows when to get lost in a groove and when to knock your socks off with pure, polished playing. Fully woke with passion and soul, this band’s dreams should soon become reality.



Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: Rap, hip-hop

Recommended If You Like: Wu-Tang Clan, MF Doom



As a member of West Michigan’s Almighty Foot Clan, WuZee has earned his place in the local hip-hop scene with a steady series of well-timed hits over the last few years. This year, he’s following up on his strong 2016 solo release, Tomorrow Never Dies, with an even stronger new album, Dead Planets and God Jewels. With his eyes on the crown, the sky’s no limit for this intergalactic MC soaring into 2018.



Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: Post-punk, trench funk

Recommended If You Like: Savages, PJ Harvey



Relative newcomers to West Michigan’s music scene, lo-fi sludge rock band Sojii centers around frontwoman Valerie Salerno, who reassembled the trio when she relocated to GR from Brooklyn. Now backed by bassist Danny Sein and drummer Donny Olin, the band sounds absolutely monstrous on its seven-song album released late last year and mixed by the legendary Steve Albini. Road warriors through and through, look for the group to blast its grimy noise everywhere this year.


Boy From School

Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: Indie, dance

Recommended If You Like: Two Door Cinema Club, St. Lucia



2018 is the year to fall in love with Boy From School. The band deserves your attention with its ultra-catchy synth-hooks that you can’t get out of your head. The group has tons of recently released music, a music video in the works, and plans for its first full-length LP this year.



Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: New-garage, dream-pop

Recommended If You Like: Bully, Alvvays 



Local music fans might already know Reggie frontwoman Samantha Andrade from her solo work as the amazing ambient folk-punk artist Charlie Darling. Last year, she teamed up with bassist Nauman Mangla and drummer Ben Patrick to form Reggie, and if their early material is any indication, the group is onto something special. Shimmery yet staggering, the songs have a nervous energy that drip with anticipation and only hint at the busy year the band has planned, with a Midwest tour lined up and a debut release in the works. 


Dead Eyes Always Dreaming

Hometown: Battle Creek/Kalamazoo

Genre: Progressive deathcore

Recommended If You Like: Whitechapel, The Black Dahlia Murder



It doesn’t get more devastating than Dead Eyes Always Dreaming — or D.E.A.D. as it’s known to a growing cult of fans. Fully alive, the five-piece has demolished stages all over, opening for some of the heaviest hitters on the hardcore scene. Playing gut-wrenchingly heavy music with a fearsome ferocity and frenzied fretwork that few can match, the band looks to release a new self-titled album sometime this year alongside several nationwide tours.


Cassidy Bisher 

Hometown: Grand Rapids

Genre: Art rock, ambient pop

Recommended If You Like: David Bowie, Massive Attack



Singer-songwriter Cassidy Bisher released his debut EP, Skin, late last year and already he’s become something of a chameleon capable of changing when the mood and atmosphere strike him. A finalist in the 2016 International Songwriting competition, he’s partnered with the exclusive distribution platform Stem (which has worked with the likes of Frank Ocean) for the release of Skin and plans to follow it up with more new music and a tour this spring. 



Hometown: Grand Haven

Genre: Psych-folk, shoegaze

Recommended If You Like: School of Seven Bells, Fleet Foxes 



Ultra-delicate, like a lakeshore sunset over ice, the music of Cloudlight escapes easy description and demands absolutely rapt attention. It features the haunting voices of Jessica Fogle (also known for her solo work as Jessica In The Rainbow) and Bryan Ralph over sparse ukulele and keyboard parts, along with the magic of Mackenzie Carlson on electric mandolin. Lose yourself to the sky — and discover some other great artists — when the band plays the Local Showcase at The Pyramid Scheme on Jan. 19.



Hometown: Kalamazoo

Genre: Jazz fusion

Recommended If You Like: Thundercat, BadBadNotGood



Made up of musicians with ties to Western Michigan University, this eclectic five-member ensemble ignores all the rules, like all great jazz acts should, and just creates its own sound. Most recently, the band recorded a full-length album live at a mixed-media event where visual artists and a live audience interacted with the improvisational flow. Inspired by everything from video games to electronica, metal and soul, expect the unexpected from these freethinkers.


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