For Blind Liars, a debut album provides a vulnerable outlet for understanding one’s self-worth.
The Ypsilanti indie-rock quartet unearths deep emotions from the human psyche—including shame, disappointment, and loneliness—to reveal an authentic sense of self on The Ringer.
“A decent amount of what we have on the album deals with failure and loss and picking yourself up from it,” said Schala Walls, one of Blind Liars’ lead vocalists and multi-instrumentalists. “The very act of writing this music was kind of an investment in my self-worth, so all of the songs kind of reflect that.”
Alongside bandmates Jon Root (lead vocals, songwriting, keys, guitar, bass) and Eric Bates (drums, bass, guitar), Walls channels personal experiences of social alienation due to neurodivergence and queerness across eight cerebral tracks. (Bassist Mari Neckar joined after the album was recorded.)
The Ringer features intimate ballads, howling sing-alongs, and emotional tales steeped in ‘60s prog-rock, shoegaze, and a kitchen sink-full of other influences.
We recently spoke to Blind Liars about the band’s formation, its newest member, the album’s theme and sound, the writing and recording process, upcoming album release shows, and future plans.
Chandler Lach explores raw emotions and deep themes of love and heartache on his new album as Ness Lake, I Lean in to Hear You Sing. Released in May as the follow-up to Ness Lake's 2022 record, Yard Sale, the new album displays Lach's evolution as a songwriter and a more expansive sound as an arranger, lacing his indie-folk pop with electronics.
The Ypsilanti-based Lach is turning Ness Lake into a full band with Marco Aziel (bass), Jack Gaskill (drums), and Tanner J. Ellis (guitar), and the quartet is woodshedding this summer to prepare for fall concerts.
I talked with Lach about his beginnings as an artist, his writing process, what he's been listening to, and I Lean in to Hear You Sing.
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features modern classical / exploratory jazz / power pop by Benjamin and Laurence Miller, folk by Adam J. Snyder, quirky pop by Studio Lounge, retrowave by Dillan Pribak, and dance mixes by Vitamin TI, Dykechow, Bubu for the ongoing Immaculate Conception and MEMCO series.
Jonathan Edwards recorded, produced, and performed the 13 songs on Wild Ghosts almost entirely by himself, playing everything from bass and drums to synthesizers and Wurlitzer organ.
But he could have just as easily performed the beautiful songs on Wild Ghost solely with his guitar, the instrument at the heart of the album, with Edwards displaying excellent fingerstyle playing throughout the record.
"Wild Ghosts is definitely more of a singer-songwriter album than anything I have done in the past and is something I have wanted to do for a long time," said Edwards, who studied music at Indiana University and Eastern Michigan. “Most of the songs on Wild Ghosts can be distilled down to more traditional folk tune-type influences, although there are still some more elaborate and dense arrangements with songs like ‘Paper Birds’ and ‘Mask of Bees.' Simplification is an art I am still learning."
I talked with Edwards about his musical upbringing, his influences, his writing process, Wild Ghosts, and more.
My Generation: Social Meteor Shares Everyday Struggles of Gen Z and Millennials on Self-Titled Debut Album
“All the songs are a reflection of what our lives have been like and the struggles that we go through on a day-to-day basis living in 2023 and the past few years,” said vocalist-keyboardist Jordan Compton about the Ypsilanti indie-rock band’s new self-titled album.
“It’s honest because we didn’t intend to make some grand scheme, and we didn’t know what the theme of this album was gonna be when we picked the songs to go with it. It formed over time and reflects what it’s like to live in modern America as a younger person.”
Those reflections not only come from Compton, but also from his three Social Meteor bandmates: Paul Robison (drums, vocals), Brad Birkle (guitar, vocals), and Patrick Frawley (bass, vocals). Together, they explore relationships, losses, and lessons alongside complex emotions.
“They’re like journal entries, and it’s more of a personal approach. When we are trying to write songs, everyone writes them a little differently,” said Robison, who co-formed the group in 2019 and co-derived the band’s name from a wordplay on the term “social media.”
“The nice part about us is that we can all write songs … and something I’ve taken from them is: ‘Don’t try to pretend and be like somebody else. You can take information in from other people, but don’t fake it; try to make it real.’”
During his time at The Associated Press in Detroit, Jeff Karoub wrote obituaries about Motown legends, baseball coaches, and other people of note.
Those obituaries recounted life accomplishments and caused the Dearborn singer-songwriter to ponder how he’d best summarize his own life.
“At the AP, we called that ‘between the commas’—the high points of someone’s life. You know, the stuff you might be remembered for—good and bad,” said Karoub, who now works as a senior public relations representative at the University of Michigan.
“Imagine that you’re reading your obituary: What would you like it to say? What’s in there? Pack it in; you don’t have a chance afterward. You only have a chance now to start putting in the good stuff.”
Karoub advocates bringing that “good stuff” to light on the title track from his latest folk-rock album, Between the Commas. Serene electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, keys, and drums echo that sentiment as he sings, “What I offer is just one small thing / Imagine your obituary / Think of what you’d like to say / Something more than ordinary.”
“It’s not that I’m necessarily demanding that you all come gather around and listen to my wisdom; it was as much wisdom to myself,” Karoub said.
“The ideas were coming to me before my mom died [in late 2021]; she wasn’t the inspiration, but she was a catalyst. That makes it more pressing when you lose one of your parents or someone very close to you.”
Friday Five: Eve Machines, Juliet Freedman, NewBassoon Institute, The Regenerate! Orchestra, Pepperoni Wilson
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features indie-folktronica by Eve Machines, folk-pop by Juliet Freedman featuring Ben Wood, and site-specific performances and/or compositions by the NewBassoon Institute, Pepperoni Wilson, and The Regenerate! Orchestra.
Heading East: Grand Rapids Outlaw-Country Band The Bootstrap Boys Perform July 22 at Saline's Acoustic Routes Concert Series
The Bootstrap Boys are driving their outlaw-country anthems eastward to Saline later this month.
The show serves as The Bootstrap Boys’ debut appearance at the decade-old Saline concert series. It’s also the only Washtenaw County stop on a current summer tour in support of their latest album, Hungry & Sober.
Throughout the album, vocalist-songwriter Jake Stilson (Big Jake Bootstrap), guitarist Nick Alexander (Nicky Bootstrap), bassist Jonny Bruha (Jonny “Bubba” Bootstrap), and drummer Jeff Knol (Jeff Bootstrap), share “cheerily nihilistic road tunes” and “sincere ruminations on family and queer identity” alongside hard-hitting, country-rock instrumentation.
“This album has more honest poetry to accompany the storytelling that’s always a part of my work,” notes Stilson on the band’s website, which credits Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Bob Wills among the band’s biggest influences. “I edited myself a lot less.”
Ram Jams: Evan Haywood's latest solo album is one of many new projects for this busy Ann Arbor creative
Evan Haywood's 2023 solo album, Elderberry Wine, is an engaging showcase for his craft as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. But that’s just the start of this Ann Arborite's growing creative ambitions, which have been on public display since Haywood joined the hip-hop group Tree City in 2006 when he was at Huron High School.
Elderberry Wine is a pleasure. Opening track “Peggy’s Farm” is good-time acoustic roots rock. Other tracks maintain a largely acoustic sound with a mellow, almost 1970s vibe. “Strands of Love” offers an engaging a cappella interlude, while the title track is an instrumental featuring a string section—one of the few instances on the record where Haywood didn’t play the instruments himself.
Beyond writing and performing, Haywood also operates a recording studio, Black Ram Treehouse, and his own record label, Black Ram Sound. He wants to branch out into clothing and merchandising as well. That sounds like a lot, which is partly why he recently left his “day job” in order to work on his creative pursuits as a full-time venture.
Haywood recently answered a few questions about his recent and upcoming projects.
The Chelsea singer-songwriter / producer unearths past fears and forges a new path for the future on her debut EP.
“You get this recipe of thoughts, feelings, and sounds, and you don’t know the impact of it. We do what we have to survive, and it’s a luxury to reflect sometimes,” Tea said.
“We piece together the life we have to get where we have to. The moments that we can reclaim pieces of ourselves … I think there is healing that can come from that. I hope that we all in our own way can do that to the best of our ability.”
Tea suffers from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) dysautonomia, which often begins after a major surgery, trauma, or a viral illness. It causes symptoms when you transition from lying down to standing up, such as a fast heart rate, dizziness, and fatigue, and creating Songs for Discarded Souls was one way she dealt with the symptoms.
Throughout the EP, Tea finds healing through five intimate tracks steeped in experimental soundscapes. Ethereal elements of ambient music, trip-hop, and indietronica seamlessly fuse with her lush vocals.