Revue music writer Nolan Krebs suggests must-hear local acts
1. The Soil & the Sun (Grand Rapids, Indie Folk-Rock)
One of the state’s most ambitious bands and a powerful group, the Soil & the Sun are West Michigan rock royalty. The group has been touring relentlessly behind 2014’s Meridian LP with no signs of letting up. Most of their shows the past month or so have been in the Midwest — fingers crossed a new record is in the works.
2. The Go Rounds (Kalamazoo, Rock)
A Kalamazoo staple, Graham Parsons and his merry band, The Go Rounds, tout high-energy rock for the masses. Most of the dudes in The Go Rounds have a hand in Kalamazoo’s amorphous Double Phelix Collective – but this particular project focuses on solid country and soul-tinged rock tunes. The group plays July 31 at Farm Block Fest along with some of the region’s best folk outfits.
3. Vox Vidorra (Grand Rapids, Indie Rock/Soul)
Vox Vidorra craft rich, colorful soul songs with flecks of jazz and indie rock. The group’s exceptional debut 2015 album Promise Land was recorded at Goon Lagoon in Grand Rapids. The foursome has a number of performances lined up for this month — including GRAM on the Green on July 8 and Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater on July 28.
4. Jade TV (Grand Rapids, Dreampop)
Jade TV is the project of Grand Rapids popsmith James Allen. Allen has a hand in a number of Grand Rapids-area bands, including Sapphic and Jimmy Pop, but he released his stellar, self-recorded debut, Parallel Moments, earlier this year. While the songs on the album are dreampop through and through, the live show is a lesson in shoegaze catharsis.
5. Maraj (Kalamazoo, Hip-hop)
Another offshoot of Kalamazoo’s Double Phelix Collective, Maraj’s inventive take on hip-hop is one of the most exciting things to come out of the scene in a while. Maraj consists of multi-instrumentalists Andy Catlin and Ben Lau, rappers MotorCityKam and Darius G, Teath Leisure on bass, and singers Sam Cooper and Julia Toro. The result is an inventive fusion of hip-hop, funk and psychedelia.
6. No Bails (Kalamazoo, Punk)
No Bails is a group of skate punks from Kalamazoo who dish out classic, unapologetically snotty hooks. Fans of The Spits or Cosmic Psychos might want to check out the band’s 7-inch single Soundproof Room + 2. Different iterations of the band have been ripping it up for a while now and have worked with some legendary record labels, including Memphis’ Goner Records. The band is hitting the road this month for shows in Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.
7. Legendary Wings (Kalamazoo)
Another excellent garage-punk band from Kalamazoo, Legendary Wings is the brainchild of Jeff Mahannah and Scott Terrian. Specializing in poppy blown-out punk gems, the group debuted in 2012 with its Making Paper Roses LP released via Portland, Oregon’s Dirtnap Records. Last fall the band dropped its killer second LP, Do You See, and are working on material for a third record. Their tunes can be found at dirtnaprecords.bandcamp.com.
8. The Crane Wives (Grand Rapids, Folk)
The Crane Wives are a paragon of West Michigan’s lush folk scene. The group is set to release their next full-length, Coyote Stories, in August — as well as another in February 2016. According to the group’s PledgeMusic site: “The albums are separated by lyrical themes, but share common threads, and both feature a balance of soft and heavy tunes, bright and dark tunes, our most intimate work and our most rockin’ work.” The group is playing quite a few West Michigan shows this month, check out the full list at thecranewives.com.
9. Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish (Grand Rapids, Rock/Blues)
Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish are a two-piece that’s hell bent on reviving the spirit of classic rock‘n’roll. Delightfully retro and full of swagger, the duo won “Best Roots Album” at the Jammies this year for their album Gravedigger. The duo plays Founders on July 4 and heads south for a few dates in Alabama later this month.
10. Shane Tripp (Grand Rapids, Indie)
While Shane Tripp has been an active player in the Grand Rapids music community for a few years now, his most recent solo endeavor is promising work from a talented fella. His latest album, Silk Challenge, was recorded with Matt Ten Clay in Grand Rapids and is available for streaming and download at shanetripp.bandcamp.com.