Feeling Seen and Validated: Moonwreckers Examines the Trajectory of Heartbreak and Grief on "Why Look Here?" Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW
 
The four members of Moonwreckers stand against a tan brick wall.
Paul Stiem, Jamus Sumner, Matt Konkle, and Matt Galbraith of Moonwreckers. Photo by Chuck Marshall.

After encountering heartbreak and grief, Moonwreckers understands the importance of feeling seen and validated.

The Metro Detroit-Ann Arbor quartet of Matt Galbraith (vocals, guitar), Matt Konkle (drums), Paul Stiem (guitar), and Jamus Sumner (bass, vocals) explores that emotional need and its evolution on the album, Why Look Here?.

“It certainly is autobiographical. At the time, I was married, and we were having issues, and we did eventually divorce. A lot of these songs were written around the time when I was in my early 30s, so shit hit the fan between us and we had been together since we were 18 years old,” said Galbraith about the band’s indie-rock-meets-emo debut release.

“I didn’t know what a world looked like without that, so I was very lost, and it was scary to me what life looked like outside of that relationship. There’s some coming-of-age stuff in there, too, but a lot of it has to do with that relationship, the struggles and the attempts of trying to reconcile things, and then failing and rinse and repeat."

Moonwreckers examines that trajectory across 12 personal tracks on Why Look Here?. The album’s honest lyrics, plaintive vocals, and evocative instrumentation prompt listeners to process their emotions and struggles alongside the band.

Friday Five: The Stellars, Jacob Sigman, "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Kelly Moran, Grant Johnson

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.

On the opening track of The Stellars' second album, singer Erez Levin sings, "I wish you didn't live so far away," which is the theme of this Friday Five. All the acts in this edition spent formative years in Ann Arbor before moving on, including polished indie-rockers The Stellars, soul-pop crooner Jacob Sigman, avant-gardist "Blue" Gene Tyranny, experimental pianist Kelly Moran, and sound sculptor Grant Johnson.

Total Eclipse of the Art: Studio Lounge's "Staring at the Sun" ups the band's absurdity, eclecticism, and musicianship

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Studio Lounge

Studio Lounge photo courtesy of the band.

The Ann Arbor-Plymouth indie-rock band Studio Lounge takes a significant step forward on its second full-length album, Staring at the Sun

The record showcases the offbeat sense of humor, eclectic influences, and first-rate musicianship heard on Studio Lounge’s 2022 debut, Amateur Hour. But the 18 original tracks on Staring at the Sun also hang together better as a fully realized album, with new depth to the band's songwriting and more polished recordings from the group's home studio.

“Join Us” is a perfect way to lead off the album; less than a minute long, it includes echoes of ’60s/’70s garage rock psychedelia as it invites listeners on this album’s journey. “Day With You” is sweet and wistful, while “Constipation Station (Exit Strategy)” is an all-too-relatable reaction to a lousy job. And while some songs display an underlying seriousness, the band sometimes goes all-in on pure silliness, such as the pirate tale “Arrgh!” or “Dimo’s,” a brief ode to the beloved Ann Arbor deli and donut shop

Studio Lounge consists of Ryan Hasani, lead guitar, synths, vocals, and production; Constantin Balan, rhythm guitar, accordion, lap steel, and vocals; Dani Balan, bass and vocals; and Max Wilkinson, drums and vocals. The band plans to busk all summer at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market and Eastern Market in Detroit and posts all its upcoming concert dates on Instagram.

The band members recently answered a few questions about the new album via email:

Hip-Hop Hooray: New U-M exhibit looks back at 50 years of the music and culture

MUSIC PULP LIFE INTERVIEW

Exhibit co-curator Dani Williams stands next to the hip-hop divas wall.

Dani Williams stands next to the hip-hop divas section of U-M's Hip Hop @ 50 exhibit at Haven Hall's GalleryDAAS. Photo by Lori Stratton.

I remember the moment I fell in love with hip-hop.

It was 1985, and my older brother had rented VHS copies of the films Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo from our local video store.

Seeing the breakdancing prowess of Kelly, Ozone, and Turbo in the films instantly captured my attention and spurred nine-year-old me to experiment with some moves of my own.

While I couldn’t quite emulate the popping, up-rocking, down-rocking, or power moves of the films’ heroes, I embraced a love of dancing and developed my own quirky style over the years.

As I grew up, I danced to the music of Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Young MC, MC Hammer, and others.

By high school, I had started learning about three of the five elements of hip-hop—rapping, DJing, and breakdancing—and would encounter the other two—graffiti and historical knowledge—as an adult.

Today, these five elements provide the foundation for a hip-hop history exhibit curated by the University of Michigan’s Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and on display at Haven Hall’s GalleryDAAS through September 4.

Known as Hip Hop @ 50: Defs, Dates, Divas, Detroit & Dilla, the exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the culture and explores its evolution across music, society, fashion, language, entertainment, and politics.

Friday Five: Harper, The Missing Cats, Premium Rat, Charlie Porter Quintet, ness lake

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 edition features indie-gaze by Harper, jazz fusion by The Missing Cats, pop-punk by Premium Rat, trumpet jazz by the Charlie Porter Quintet, and electronica by ness lake.

Ukrainian Folk Group Kommuna Lux to Perform July 27 for Saline's Acoustic Routes Concert Series

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

The seven members of Ukrainian folk music group Kommuna Lux.

Kommuna Lux features seven classically trained musicians from Odesa, Ukraine. Photo taken from Acoustic Routes’ Facebook event.

You’d be hard-pressed to think of a more fun, entertaining way to support Ukraine than to see Odesa-based, klezmer /“gangster folk” band Kommuna Lux play at Saline’s Stony Lake Brewing Co. as part of the monthly Acoustic Routes concerts series on July 27.

“Sometimes opportunities just fall into your lap,” said concert series founder Jim Cain, noting the band reached out to him about performing.

“In the 10-plus years I’ve been doing this series in Saline, word has gotten around about us across the country and internationally. We’ve had bands from Northern Ireland, Canada, England, Scotland—the music community’s so tight, especially bands who tour a lot, that we can punch above our weight class. Yes, the venue’s a brewery, but there’s a listening-room vibe, and one hundred percent of the ticket proceeds go to the artists.”

That last point is often a big selling point for Acoustic Routes, since, as Cain notes, by the time touring bands pay for hotels, gas, and food, there’s often little money left.

But in the case of Kommuna Lux—a group of seven classically trained musicians who blend vocals with clarinet, accordion, trumpet, trombone, acoustic guitar, and percussion—its current U.S. tour is primarily aimed at raising funds for its war-torn home country.

“The needs of the people [in Ukraine], the scale of it, is hard for us to really comprehend,” said Cain. “One of the things that’s fascinating to me is the diaspora. Here in Michigan, I’ve had Ukrainian people reach out, and the Jewish community as well, offering to help spread the word about the show.”

Monday Mix: Miller Brothers, Far Leys, The Nuts, Cedar Bend, Djangophonique, Bob Sweet Quartet, Pink Marlena

MUSIC MONDAY MIX

Cassette tape with MONDAY MIX written on it.

Original version of cassette image created by Vika_Glitter/Pixabay.

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

This edition features sights and sounds from the Miller brothers, Far Leys, The Nuts, Cedar Bend, Grant Johnson, Djangophonique, Bob Sweet Quartet, and Pink Marlena.

 

Friday Five: Bunkerman, Head Full of Ghosts, Molly Jones/Hunter Brown/Ishmael Ali, Acid Lab, Anteomedroma

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 edition features spacey grooves by Bunkerman, alt-rock grunge by Head Full of Ghosts, improvisations by Molly Jones/Hunter Brown/Ishmael Ali, drum 'n' bass by Acid Lab, and black metal by Anteomedroma and Gnosis.

It’s “About Time”: Dexter Singer-Songwriter Jim Bizer Releases First New Solo Album in 20 Years

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Jim Bizer stands in a cabin and holds an acoustic guitar.

Jim Bizer features evocative lyrics and earnest folk instrumentation on About Time. Photo courtesy of Jim Bizer.

After two decades, Jim Bizer realized it was time to release a new solo record.

The Dexter singer-songwriter hadn’t focused on his own album since 2004’s Connected and had spent ample time working on several collaborative projects, including a duo with Jan Krist and groups The Yellow Room Gang, Diamonds in the Rust, and Floyd King and The Bushwackers.

“It’s crazy that I’ve taken that long,” said Bizer about his new folk album, About Time. “I’ve done things in between, and the thing I did the most was the duo with Jan, but I wound up in a few different bands and made records with some of them.”

Even as he worked on different projects, Bizer’s songs for About Time started brewing in 2005, and they began accumulating.

He eventually landed on 13 tracks for his third solo album and noticed a theme of time had emerged. On About Time, Bizer brings that theme to life through evocative lyrics and soundtracks it with earnest folk instrumentation.

“Not that every single song deals directly with time, but a fair number of them do. I got a kick out of writing ‘Going Nowhere’ about slowing time down and what that could mean and how that would work,” said Bizer, who produced About Time and played guitar, bass, and guitjo.

“There’s also the fact that it’s been so long since I put out my last record, and time played a piece of that. And I think of these songs as a time capsule of the last 20 years, so time was so much on my mind as I was putting the record together.”

To learn more, I spoke to Bizer about his latest album ahead of a July 7 show at Livonia’s Trinity House Theatre.

Friday Five: ZZVAVA, Mike Vial, Notomaton, Fearless Amaretto, pink marlena

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 edition features eclectic indie rock by ZZVAVA, singer-songwriter tunes by Mike Vial, modular synths by Notomaton, leftfield R&B hip-house by Fearless Amaretto, and groove-oriented experimental jazz by pink marlena.