Friday Five: The City Lines, Juliette Freedman, Joanna Sterling, The Missing Cats, Big Chemical
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features the Midwestern power-pop of The City Lines, a jazzy original by Juliette Freedman, indie-folk by Joanna Sterling, jazz-and-blues by The Missing Cats, and folk-pop by Big Chemical.
The City Lines, Analog Memories
Ann Arbor firefighter Pat Deneau describes the songs on his second album, Analog Memories, as "Bruce Springsteen if he were backed by Jimmy Eat World." I agree though there's a lot more of the latter than the former—especially sonically—on these seven ultra-catchy songs, which evoke the 1990s power-pop-punk boom with a Midwestern twist.
Juliette Freedman, "Take Me in Your Arms"
When I first saw Juliette Freedman's single "Take Me in Your Arms," I figured it was a cover of the Doobie Brothers' hit version of the Holland–Dozier–Holland tune. But nope, this is an original by the University of Michigan voice student and former singer for the pop-soul band Electric Chic. It has a bouncy, vintage, jazz-ballad vibe thanks to the instrumental performances by her fellow U-M students, but Freedman's singing sounds equally informed by modern R&B and indie-folk as it does classic torch singers. She recorded "Take Me in Your Arms" last year but it took her a while to release it. Glad she did.
Joanna Sterling, "Girl by Choice"
Former Jaywalker leader Joanna Sterling is back with her second solo single in a month after a several-year break since The Open Sea Before Me album. This lovely folk-and-cellos tune is her most direct comment on being trans and it comes at a time when her community is under attack by all sorts of cretins. It's too musically somber to be an outright anthem but it is a quiet rallying cry for people to, as Sterling sings, "live their truths."
The Missing Cats, Adrift
The debut album by this Ann Arbor sextet, led by guitarist Brandon Mitchell, exists somewhere between a smooth jazz combo—maybe even a smooth-jazz combo—and an R&B party band, but with a hint of the avant-garde in some of the phrasings and arrangements. I can't quite get a handle on Adrift, which is a good thing.
Big Chemical, Baldie
Ann Arbor's Big Chemical has progressed from a one-man bedroom project to a full band, but its debut album is still defined by Alec Bertoy's quirky, spirited, folk-pop writing style. The 10 songs on Baldie should appeal to fans of Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, and Mat Kearney.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.