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


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.


Ian Stirton, Moons of Neptune
The majority of the songs this debut mini-album by Ann Arbor's Ian Stirton come out of the Ed Sheeran school: polished, guitar-rooted radio pop supported by a crystalline singing voice. Then there's "Basement," an Eminem-esque hip-hop song that mixes humor and raw sentiment. It's pretty good but it sticks out on the otherwise ballad-oriented Moons of Neptune, which highlights Stirton's knack for earworms.


Bekka Madeleine, "love in the time of climate change"
Once you hear her mature voice, it's hard to believe Bekka Madeleine is a Huron High School student. Her singing evokes gothic opera more than teenage melodrama. The lyrics to Madeleine's new single and video, "love in the time of climate change," urge everyone to spend as much time on the beach as you can before climate change wreaks havoc, but it's more of a darkly romantic sentiment than a dire, didactic warning. This is Madeleine's second single following the recent "jar of sand."


Geranium Red, "Everything's Okay?"
The debut single by this new Ann Arbor trio will whisk you back 20 years ago when the second-generation emo bands were making their way onto the radio with a mixture of anthemic songs and excellent musicianship. "Everything's Okay?" is an urgent, expertly played two-minute rush.


John Beltran, "MCWR018 // Back To Bahia Vol. 4"
Ann Arbor's John Beltran is a legit vet in the world of DJs and dance music, and he just keeps banging out excellent tracks in a variety of styles that can sound good inside a darkened club or when you're walking the beach at sunrise. "Laguna," the A-side to his latest entry into Beltran's ongoing Back to Bahia series of singles is more for the early risers (or late goer-to-bedders) than some of his techno-trance jams, with its Latin percussion, fretless bass, and jazzy synths. 


Kirsten Carey & Aaron Edgcomb, Mature Defense Mechanism
Guitarist Kirsten Carey has been doing a lot of cool things since she graduated from the University of Michigan about a decade ago. In addition to her ongoing no-wave project Throwaway, Carey has been writing about anime, manga, and video games for The Daily Beast, composing music for The One Piece Podcast, performing with the ensemble that made the soundtrack for Netflix's House of Ninjas, and continuously collaborating with fellow seekers from Detroit to Tokoyo on various avant-garde—or traditional Japanese—musical projects. But like the rest of us, Carey was in lockdown during lockdown, so she teamed up remotely with New York City drummer Aaron Edgcomb to make Mature Defense Mechanism, 11 tracks of uncompromising, whimsical, left-field improv. Recommended if you like Derek Bailey's duets with Han Bennink and Tony Oxley.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.