Friday Five: Taproot, Tension Splash, Kool Ade Kam, Child Sleep, Drew Graham
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features nu-metal from Taproot, grunge by Tension Splash, hip-hop by Kool Ade Kam, indie rock by Child Sleep, and rap by Drew Graham.
Taproot, SC\SSRS, BESIDES - Pre-Atlantic Days, BESIDES - The Gift Era, BESIDES - Our Long Road Home
It's been 26 years since alt/nu-metal band Taproot formed in Ann Arbor and the band just keeps on keeping on. After releasing three compilations in the spring of the band's early years—all pulled from the 2018 Besides box set—Taproot put out a new album, SC\SSRS, in September. The group has never strayed from its groove-metal roots, and if you're a fan of Korn, Faith No More, and the like, you'll probably dig Taproot.
Tension Splash, "Firefly," "Willing" featuring Stephen Richards of Taproot, Soak EP, and Tension Root
Taproot singer Stephen Richards appears on one of two new singles by another vintage Ann Arbor metal-grunge band. Formed in 1992, Tension Splash released a self-titled album and a follow-up EP, Soak, before going silent for more than two decades. The group has decided to give it another go, and "Firefly" and "Willing" are the bluesy, distorted results. Richards' appearance on "Willing" wasn't a planned thing, either: the artists bumped into each other at Saline's The Loft recording studio, where Richards was mixing SC\SSRS and they invited him to sing on the track.
Kool Ade Kam, The 6 Million Dollar Kam and Totally Awesome Mixtape Volume 1
I interviewed Ypsi-Arbor rapper and illustrator Kool Ade Kam in 2021, which also gave me a chance to embed the video for "Banned in Ann Arbor" by his former group, Gostbustaz—one of the best hip-hop tunes to come out of Washtenaw County. But where the Gostbustaz's songs were intricately produced, Kam's solo albums are willfully DIY lo-fi, almost feeling like lost Biz Markie demos because the synth-based music and his sing-song flow sound straight outta the '80s. I love them all. The 6 Million Dollar Kam is a new six-song EP and Totally Awesome is a 28-minute mixtape featuring jams from his now rather large solo discography.
Child Sleep, 10th Anniversary and Distortions
While we're on the topic of best things to come out of Washtenaw County, you have to count Child Sleep's Distortions as one of the finest indie-rock records to be made here. Songwriter Mary Fraser is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Distortions by sharing a compilation of nine demos that give insight into how the songs came about. It's an excellent companion to an already excellent album.
Drew Graham, "Bag Right"
Ypsilanti rapper and producer Drew Graham—aka DJ Ill Will—first put out "Bag Right" on Flooded Visions, a 2021 collaborative EP he did with fellow Ypi artist Sigidy. But he also put it out earlier this year as a standalone song, which is why we're shining the spotlight on it. You can listen to Graham's entire discography on his website.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.