Friday Five: Ian Stirton, Bekka Madeleine, Geranium Red, John Beltran, Kirsten Carey & Aaron Edgcomb

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features pop by Ian Stirton, goth-tinged balladry by Bekka Madeleine, emo excellence by Geranium Red, downtempo grooves via John Beltran, and avant-garde duets by Kirsten Carey & Aaron Edgcomb.

Feral Songs: Kat Steih switches gears for a new rock record, "I Am Not My Self"

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

A black-and-white head shot of Kat Steih.

Kat Steih features honest lyrics and emotive new-wave, hard-rock, and pop-punk instrumentation on I Am Not My Self. Photo by Hilary Nichols.

Kat Steih takes a bold look beneath the surface on I Am Not My Self.

That deep examination reveals the challenges people often face with presenting one persona externally while wrestling with another self internally.

“Each person has an outer persona and an inner world. Even if my persona is funny and easygoing, what’s really holding the strings is what’s on the inside,” said Steih about her new album out May 17. 

“The puppet master can be in pain while still conducting a pretty, whimsical dance—something nice or fun to amuse herself or to self-soothe. I use music to acknowledge things that I feel. Some may call it bold, and it empowers everybody.”

The Ann Arbor singer-songwriter especially shares that courageous and empowering message on the title track, which features fearless electric guitar, bass, and drums. 

Steih sings, “I am the candle, and you are the flame / Fingertip to fingertip, your voice animates me / Tremors I detect in the seismic quake / The look on your face rearranges me.”

The title track also reflects the honest lyrics and emotive new-wave, hard-rock, and pop-punk instrumentation that flows throughout I Am Not My Self’s six tracks.

Friday Five: kayaks collective, Henri Bardot, John Bunkley, Akinsa + Ikiryō, X-Altera

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features ambient by kayaks collective, piano miniatures by Henri Bardot, soulful ska by John Bunkley, tribal techno by Akinsa + Ikiryō, and drum 'n' bass by X-Altera.

Pure Michigan: Sophia Orensteen Pays Homage to U-M and Offers Coming-of-Age Tales on “AmericanGirl” Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Sophia Orensteen wears a black strapless dress and sings into a microphone.

Sophia Orensteen examines past relationships on AmericanGirl. Photo courtesy of Sophia Orensteen.

Sophia Orensteen’s heart belongs in Ann Arbor.

While the pop-rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hails from New York City, she’s ecstatic about attending the University of Michigan this fall as a freshman to study music.

So much in fact that Orensteen has written a song called “Michigan,” which pays homage to the school and serves as the aspirational opener from her debut album, AmericanGirl.

“This song turned into a way that I could express my love for Michigan even though I had never been there [before] or had never seen it,” she said. 

“I got in contact with the University of Michigan about using my song for their social media. I also sent in the song with my application, and I didn’t even tell my parents I was applying. And then I got in, and they said, ‘What?’”

Despite that surprise, Orensteen learned of her acceptance to U-M in February and has started planning for the fall. 

She shares that sentiment in “Michigan” alongside hopeful acoustic guitar and electric guitar while singing: “I’ve never been to Michigan, but I’ve heard it’s nice / You’re going away, going to college, gonna start a new life / You’ll remember me / When you see my name in lights / And you’ll say, ‘Wow, she was right.’”

“I’ve always loved the University of Michigan, and I wrote this in one of my supplemental essays when I applied there,” said Orensteen, who will graduate from New York City’s Professional Children’s School in June.

“I never told my parents or anybody that I loved the University of Michigan, but I’ve always followed the school and their football team. I never thought I’d go there or get into the school.”

Friday Five: Andy Milne, Animal Coup, Queso Tone, Anthony Roperti, Mazinga

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features jazz from Andy Milne, hip-hop/pop by Queso Tone and Anthony Roperti, moody indie by Animal Coup, and psychedelic rock by Mazinga.

Detroit’s Mike Ward Brings His Inspirational Folk Songs to AADL April 28

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Mike Ward wears a denim shirt and holds an acoustic guitar in his living room.

Detroit folk singer-songwriter Mike Ward. Photo by Danny Ward.

The state of the world weighs heavily on Mike Ward’s mind.

That concern prompted the Detroit singer-songwriter to pen a new folk song called “Why Not,” which sends an encouraging message to help others.

“When I have played it, people get how the song starts out small, gets broader as it goes on, and ends at a point where it’s up to us on a personal level,” said Ward, who’s also a University of Michigan alumnus. 

“One of the things I have to work hard at is trying not to be too preachy, especially when I’m writing about things on a political level. It’s one of the areas where I try to find a balance.”

Backed by hopeful acoustic guitar and cello, he sings, “Why not do some good today with the time that we’ve got / Start with something simple / A lesson learned or to be taught / Plant a seed or lend a hand / A little helps a lot.”

“I’ve also been looking at not only how that affects the world in general, but also how it’s affecting people’s relationships,” Ward said. “It goes as broad as the country, but as narrow as some relationships and the struggles that people are having.”

Why Not” is one of several songs Ward will be performing with Sara Gibson (cello) and Annie Bacon (vocals) at an April 28 show at the Downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

Ahead of the show, I spoke with Ward about his current state, his career transition from advertising to music, past albums, his latest songwriting efforts, his setlist for the AADL show, and plans for new material.

Monday Mix: Creative Currents, Arts Engines, Othercast, Vesface, Duck Trash

MUSIC MONDAY MIX

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Monday Mix.

The Monday Mix is an occasional roundup of mixes, compilations, podcasts, and more by Washtenaw County-associated artists, DJs, radio stations, and record labels.

For this edition we've highlighted Creative Currents and Arts Engines, two podcasts by University of Michigan music instructors, as well as a Performing Arts Technology showcase piece by Othercast, and dance mixes by Vesface and Duck Trash for MEMCO and Immaculate Conception.

 

Friday Five: Lauren Blackford, Mordake, nelson, DJ FLP & Monsuun, Maddy Ringo

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features pop from Lauren Blackford, black metal by Mordake, retrowave by nelson, electronica by DJ FLP and Monsuun, and Americana from Maddy Ringo.

Double Vision: DuPont Phillips Combines Catalogs and Influences to Release New “Big Sky Sessions” EP

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Chris DuPont and Kylee Phillips each wear all black and sit next to each other.

Chris DuPont and Kylee Phillips' new DuPont Phillips EP, Big Sky Sessions, features stripped-down instrumentation, emotive duets, and lush harmonies. Photo by Misty Lyn Bergeron.

Ypsilanti’s Chris DuPont and Kylee Phillips decided a joint EP was long overdue.

After several years of performing and recording together, the singer-songwriters pooled their talents, catalogs, and influences to form DuPont Phillips and release Big Sky Sessions.

“This Big Sky Sessions EP was a very natural project. We used stuff that we have, and we used songs from our catalogs that have been out,” DuPont said.

“What feels good to me is that all of these interpretations of our songs that exist live now have a home. This project proved to me that putting out something doesn’t have to make you suffer. … We cut it in two days.”

During those two days at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording, DuPont Phillips reimagined three tracks from prior solo releases and recorded two renditions of Sheryl Crow and Jason Isbell classics along with a new song.

“Sometimes it can be hard to explain to people what we’re doing because we’re playing things from our individual catalogs, but we’re supporting one another,” Phillips said. “For me, it’s fun to have something we can show people and say, ‘This is what it is. It’s this cross-pollination of what we both do.’”

Those collaborative efforts have resulted in an intimate folk-pop EP filled with stripped-down instrumentation, emotive duets, and lush harmonies. The six tracks featured on Big Sky Sessions offer vulnerable tales of love, growth, and change.

I recently spoke to the duo about revisiting and reworking older tracks, doing covers, recording a new song, spending time in the studio, preparing for an EP release show, and planning for the future.

Monday Mix: Marcus Elliott, Nolan Wayne, Oblongata, DJ Cheesecake, Sapphyree, Steph Who?, Agent 99, PoetTreeTown, WCBN's Local Music Show and Electric Kingdom

MUSIC MONDAY MIX

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Monday Mix.

The Monday Mix is an occasional roundup of mixes, compilations, podcasts, and more by Washtenaw County-associated artists, DJs, radio stations, and record labels.

For this edition, we have a jazz concert from Marcus Elliot, DJ mixes from MEMCO and Immaculate Conception members, original poems read by local authors as part of the PoetTreeTown project, and live performances from WCBN's Local Music Show and Electric Kingdom program.