Thursday, 20 June 2013 11:15

Buzzworthy: West Michigan bands you should get to know now

Written by  Carly Plank
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Genre: Alternative rock
Key tracks: "The Things That I Forgot," 'When Love Rescued Me"
Sounds like: Counting Crows, The Killers

The group's latest single recently scored a 180 rating on Triple A radio, so maybe you should start paying attention, as much of the nation already has. Founded in 1996 in Kalamazoo, the hardest working band in Michigan is finally attracting big names, including producers who have worked with the likes of Dave Matthews and U2. To the tune of lead guitarist Chad Hendrickson's rootsy guitar riffs, vocalist Lukas Ross injects an almost self-effacing honesty into coming-of-age lyrics. Unforgettable hooks represent one of many strengths of a band whose versatility shines live and in the studio.

The B-Sides
Genre: Garage pop
Key tracks: "Let Her Go," "Everyday"
Sounds like: The Hollies, Badfinger

Formed with the goal of recreating timeless sounds reminiscent of the often underrated b-sides of pop singles, Tommy Schichtel's latest project brings to light infectious retro-pop. Diehards of '70s and '80s garage rock will find much to appreciate in The B-Sides, a band to turn to in the case of modern melancholia.

Flashing Blue Lights
Genre: Alternative rock
Key tracks: "One Way Trip," "These Heights of Sterling"
Sounds like: My Morning Jacket, Oasis, The Wallflowers

Nineties pop culture nerds who recall the greatness squandered by the feuding brothers Gallagher of Oasis will be happy to know Grand Rapids has its own band of brothers, and they're on good terms. Jason and Tim Roy and company have been churning out laid back rockers with tinges of country and Brit pop since 2009. For those looking for a little more drama, there will always be the Gallaghers.

Strawberry Heritage
Genre: Alternative folk
Key tracks: "Grow Back New," "Work Harder"
Sounds like: Breathe Owl Breathe, The Soil and the Sun

Songwriter John Hanson specializes in soaring pseudo-folk balladry and catchy lyrics that require contemplation and self-reflection. Uplifting harmonies and guitar strums successfully suspend time for the listener.

Roosevelt Diggs
Genre: Americana
Key track: "Paul Bunyan"
Sounds like: The Avett Brothers, Frontier Ruckus

This band thrives on the energy of a live showcase for legendary talks of folklore heroes and adventures. Also, nothing quite legitimizes a foot-stomping Americana band like the presence of an upright bass.

The Campanellis
Genre: Power pop
Key Tracks: "Tessa," "Say You Don't"
Sounds like: Bowling for Soup, Fountains of Wayne

There are certain songs that keep repeating in your head ever since you heard them decades ago. The Campanellis have that type of staying power and self-assured pop swagger.

Genre: Progressive hip hop
Key track: "Fall Back," "Full Circle"
Sounds like:, Notorious B.I.G.

This rap and hip hop conglomeration knows how to entertain. The group combines lyrics hearkening back to the freestyle feel of 2Pac and Biggie with smooth, contemporary vocals. Live shows involve many genres and instruments, including saxophones and acoustic guitars.

The Legal Immigrants
Genre: Alternative rock
Key tracks: "Out of Control," "Swimming in the Sun"
Sounds like: Jack White, The Kooks

At their best in a live setting, these Grand Rapids rock 'n' rollers inject American attitude into a sound heavily influenced by British rock. The group's showmanship and charisma are showcased up close and personal with scorching cover songs and original material.

Romance for Ransom
Genre: Pop rock
Key tracks: "Recover," "Trigger"
Sounds like: Mayday Parade, Westland

Melissa Dylan's power pop vocals have no equal in the region, and the same goes for her band's wall of sound that recalls early Blink-182 and other bands that laid the foundation for modern pop. With a recognizable ability to craft songs that build to breaking points followed by monumental lyrical hooks and musical releases, Romance for Ransom is certainly a Michigan pop original.

Genre: Latin folk rock
Key tracks: "Vengo del Pueblo"
Sounds like: Carlos Vives

For 10 solid years, Cabildo has provided West Michigan with flavorful and celebratory tunes colored by strong horns and guitars. The band incorporates influences from reggae to ska to create danceable beats perfect for summer street festivals.


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