Album reviews: Lokella, Accidentals, Desmond Jones and more
After an incredibly busy summer, Local Spins is back with a batch of reviews of 2,022 releases from Michigan artists, from dark rock to folk to gypsy swing to jam band glory and beyond.
We are the first to admit that we are far behind.
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West Michigan Music Scene
Due to a protracted and incredibly busy summer of concerts, festivals, and musical hubbub of all kinds and forms, Local Spins has ditched its usual diet of regularly published reviews of Michigan artist releases.
But those roundups are back starting today, with a preview of a diverse set of 2022 albums to tickle your ears and get your head spinning. Scroll down to listen to tracks from each of the featured albums and stay tuned for more reviews in the weeks to come.
“As We Unravel”
What stands out: It may be his first feature film, but Lokella – a timeless rock band from Grand Rapids – has long since discovered his signature sound. Dark, heavy bass, haunting melodic guitar, strong percussion and ethereal vocals make them undeniably recognizable. The occasional addition of keys is an exciting detour, slowing things down and bringing an eerie levity. The record is full of emotion and passion; tackling difficult subjects like religion (and the hypocrisy it conveys), death and self-sabotage.
Dig deeper: It’s only fitting that the record begins with a roast from Kendall Joseph, a good friend and fellow musician on the Lokella team. He calls their music “poorly performed”, complains that the guitarist, Chris, “lacks creativity” and is clearly “weak in the fingers”. He even goes so far as to say that they need to work on their syncope. A continuous joke between friends. Lyrics such as “You won’t change the world with silence / When they violently force everything” from “Opt-In” seem to challenge religion and how dangerous it can be: the hypocrisy we see in beliefs. religious against how these religious people act. It is a reminder that we must speak up for what we believe. “Mouthbreathers”, on the other hand, is heavy. Featuring Fedaykin vocalist James Barbour, this song explores a heavier side of Lokella. “Just Nineteen” features electric harmonies between Emilee Petersmark (of the Crane Wives) and Jennifer Bartlett with a danceable breakdown to conclude. Overall, the album makes a powerful statement about the current social climate, while bringing something new to the table, musically.
Perfect for: Jump into a mosh pit and battle the system. –Chelsea Whitaker
Upcoming shows: October 7 at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids (with Barrel Bones, You and Them, Volitionary)
“Presentation of Djangophonique”
What stands out: The instrumental prowess of this quartet from Ann Arbor, with two guitars, bass and clarinet, and their sense of melody, even while improvising.
Dig deeper: While paying homage to the sound of gypsy jazz (the name, you know), this recording has a few surprises. These include “Just A Gigolo”, recorded by a host of performers including Louis Prima’s 1956 hit and David Lee Roth’s over-the-top 1985 version. Tyler Rindo. Then there’s “Funk 39,” a reimagining of Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 39” that has some of the sizzle of Joe Walsh’s “Funk 49.” And don’t forget “On The Road Again” – yes, Willie Nelson’s must-have – which the band transforms from country git-along to jazzy date. The tunes are all fairly brief, with only “Funk 39” clocking in at over four and a half minutes, but the quartet packs each one full of melody, harmony and fun. Overall, it’s not so much hot jazz as good time swing. A good time finger picking.
Perfect for: Showing how certain styles still retain their appeal, even after nearly a century. –Ross Boissoneau
Upcoming shows: November 3 at the Pemberville Opera House in Pemberville, Ohio; November 19 at Modale Wines in Fennville
Listen: “Just a gigolo”
The Accidentals with The Kaboom Collective
What stands out: From the moment the orchestra enters 21 seconds into the recording, it is clear that this is a true collaboration. The arrangements seamlessly integrate the extra strings and winds into The Accidentals sound without ever overwhelming it.
Dig deeper: What goes around comes around. Accidentals mainstays Sav Buist and Katie Larson met in high school orchestra class in 2011 when they volunteered for a project together. Since then, the band Traverse City they founded (which added percussionist Michael Dause in 2014) have toured the country, contributed to soundtracks and compilations, collaborated with numerous musicians, and released several albums and EPs. . Now they’ve joined forces with a Cleveland-area student orchestra, one with serious chops and songwriting and production credibility beyond their years. Sound familiar? Buist and Larson’s music was given additional layers. The opening “Mangrove” is a delight, while the gentle “Eastern Standard Time” enjoys the swell of the strings, as does “Cityview”. Their vocals fit perfectly with the larger scale accompaniment, while the new arrangements reveal just how great songwriters they are.
Perfect for: Those who like to spice up the familiar with a little extra orchestral punch. Yes, it’s a rock tradition that goes back to “Days of Future Past”, or more precisely to the tours of ELP and Yes with orchestra. But here, it’s not in the service of pompous progressive rock, but of tunes originally drawn from folk, indie and classical influences. And it works. –Ross Boissoneau
Upcoming shows: September 30 Sisters Folk Festival, Sisters, Oregon; November 8, I Voted Festival (webcast)
The Wild Honey Collective
“The Wild Honey Vol. 2″
What stands out: Perhaps the vocals, with four of the five full-time members changing tracks and backgrounds. Or maybe it’s the instrumental accompaniment, with all sorts of string instruments, plus some keyboards and percussion. No, it’s the way the band and guests merge it all into a vintage sound reminiscent of background woods.
Dig deeper: The quintet formed two years ago as an acoustic band on the back porch, and stays true to that tradition with a few additions — like “Across the Ocean” with its pub-rock sound reminiscent of early outfits. of the British New Wave, such as Brinsley Schwarz, although it is doubtful that the Brinsleys ever featured the accordion. There’s a lot of twang, like on “There Goes My Love,” and you can almost hear the train whistles on “Ode To Thor.” Don’t miss his screaming backing vocals (hint: you can’t). The fun finally ends with an ode to “The Red-Headed Boy,” lasting a minute and a half.
Perfect for: Those who yearn for the high, lonely sound of decades past. If the string and folk music of Appalachia moves you, you need this recording. –Ross Boissoneau
Listen: “Here’s My Love”
“Rays of Light and Stardust”
What stands out: With “Rays of Light and Stardust,” popular Grand Rapids jam band Desmond Jones creates a vibrant, genre-defying record, incorporating elements of rock, funk, country, and jazz. It is loosely bound by a space theme, although many songs, such as the autumn longing “Sweater Weather”, deviate from it. Although the vocals on the album are by no means an afterthought, the instruments – usually saxophone, guitar, bass and drums, although orchestral instruments are often included – are the real stars of the album. show: “The Chase,” for example, has no vocals at all. The record covers a range of moods, from catchy songs like “Hive Mind” to the more melancholic “Anyhow”. But one thing is certain: it’s never boring.
Dig deeper: At many points, “Rays of Light and Stardust” feels almost otherworldly – and appropriately, given its theme. It’s a sentiment best summed up by the album’s opening and closing songs. Opener and first single “Poor Sylvester” is a daring anthem that almost echoes the Decemberists’ “The Hazards of Love” in its fairytale quality. The album ends with the equally supernatural “Shadow of Venus”, a masterful demonstration of Desmond Jones’ versatility. The long song, which spans over seven minutes, swings between many moods – almost as if the song is its own orchestral suite, with several different movements. Perhaps the most noticeable change occurs just past the six-minute mark: with the lyrics “as we dance around the sun,” the music suddenly shifts from slow to upbeat and groovy. The last moments of the song are weird, funny, and perfectly fitting for the album as a whole.
Perfect for: Fans of Frank Zappa and Weird Al, according to the band’s website. – Katie Rosendale
Upcoming shows: Sept. 30 at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids; October 6 at Flour City Station in Rochester, NY; October 29 at Parliament Hall at Otus Supply in Ferndale
Listen: “Poor Sylvester”
What stands out: “Reset,” the latest release from Grand Rapids-based instrumentalist Jeremy Ensley, is an experimental album characterized by swelling waves of sound and a constant surge of energy, though the songs range from laid-back and atmospheric to more austere and more aggressive. The disc in its entirety contains a grand total of five words: the distorted phrase “do you like music or what?” in the opening track, “Bismuth”, which is quickly swallowed up by a purer exploration of music. “Reset” is thematically organized as a dynamic exploration of the world – from the depths below, with “Nadir” and “Fathoms”, to the sprawling skies above, with “Aether” and “Sursum”.
Dig deeper: “Nadir” is by far the most dynamic track on the album. The title of the song refers to the point in the celestial sphere directly below the observer. Fittingly, then, its opening is rich and entirely atmospheric, masterfully evoking the occasional twinkle of a star against a dark sky. But then the song changes: Ensley introduces an otherworldly chorus and adds strong rhythmic elements. Eventually, those more aggressive elements fade, but the background chorus remains – a somewhat unsettling conclusion that almost conjures up images of aliens.
Perfect for: Watching the stars, walking along the shore on cloudy days and exploring the depths of your own mind. – Katie Rosendale
Copyright 2022, Spins on Music LLC
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