West Michigan is known as a weekenders’ haven, an avenue for the arts and an artists’ retreat. Summer brings music festivals and an upswing in nightlife events from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids and the lakeshore. Venues such as The Pyramid Scheme and The Intersection attract national caliber rock and pop acts.
When Grand Rapids-based musician Jake Stilson decided to turn to crowdfunding as a means of recording his 2013 release, Stilson Shmilson, he found himself as one of many artists -- locally and nationally -- trying out the relatively new method.
An intriguing mix of American and Brazilian influences mark the work of singer/songwriter Mónica da Silva. A native of both Grand Rapids and Belém, Brazil (and a dual citizen of both), da Silva’s aural creations are aptly described by her as “Indie Nova”: a rich blend of traditional bossa nova of idie pop.
Muskegon’s Infinite Design is one of those bands, serving up classic technical/progressive death metal in fresh new ways. More Between the Buried and Me than Pig Destroyer, the band’s particular blend of hooky riffs, mosh-happy breakdowns and furious blastbeats have an invigorating gleam of originality to them, with a smattering of Dream Theater-style noodling and tempo shifts that keep you guessing (and impressed).
Representing Kalamazoo, Lasso serves as a sonic snapshot embodying the city and its musical direction. Lasso’s latest album, Golden Lasso, was released from Andy Catlin's Double Phelix record label, which houses a Kalamazoo-based collective of artists. On Golden Lasso, Catlin welcomes in various guest musicians to create an effortless mix of vocals and live instrumentation, ideal for a summer afternoon.
Shneal isn't just a rapper in the local Kalamazoo hip-hop scene — he's also an ambassador for the genre. The 24-year-old artist puts arguably as much sweat into growing the scene as he does his personal endeavors, and it has paid him back with an already fruitful résumé.
Voluptuous Panic knows how to keep a nice thirst for new music good and quenched. Featuring the Grand Rapids duo of Brian J. Bowe and Gretchen DeVault, the group is steadily releasing new, whimsical tunes online over the course of the year.
Today's hardcore music features a fairly common formula, but one that so many bands miss the mark on. It's all about brutal breakdowns and insane, barking verses that give way to more melodic choruses with some nice clean vocals. Either a band is on the money with their clean vocals and then wusses out on everything else or vice-versa. I'm William Cutting blends both rather seamlessly.
Ozenza has been slinging its dark brand of doom/stoner metal since 2004 and they stay busy. With 2014 shaping up to include plenty of writing and touring, we quick grabbed a word with Matt Younker, guitarist and vocalists for the Friction Records-signed band.
This week's Local Track of the Week is pretty much hot off the presses. It comes from a Grand Rapids-based band called Midnight Alive. Their latest EP Forever was even released on Tooth & Nail Records, the Christian rock label that has seen such acts as Norma Jean, Underoath and Jeremy Camp on their roster. Needless to say, the whole EP is polished, tight and radio friendly.
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