Since its inception in the late 1990′s, American Mars has been a musical anomaly in their hometown of Detroit. In a town often passed over by touring Americana acts and dominated by garage and punk, the band has persevered for over a decade with its unique brand of atmospheric roots-influenced rock. American Mars’ emotional and cathartic live shows have earned them supporting slots with The National, The Avett Brothers, Elbow, Clem Snide, Magnolia Electric Company, Richard Buckner, and 16 Horsepower.
Their songs can be heard in three episodes of Showtime’s Homeland and most recently, Fox’s The Finders. A worthy post-punk quartet whose pop is melodically sophisticated at times, if not purposely synthetic; the ’80s-y synths are a nice touch. A few MT staffers swear by them.
Woodsy, weird, chill and yet anthemic, the boys (Ryan Spencer and Adam Pressley – with Ryan Clancey on drums) harmonize with an earthy-acoustic/electro-rattled batch of buoyant pop songs, eccentric ear worms swirling together their penchants for reggae, psyche, folk, noise and various other indie-tinged experimentalism. Fresh–above all. Like, Spring-rain fresh, only in the stuffier, t-shirt tussled glow of an early summer night. Re-fresh-ing.
Rap from Detroit, but not ICP or D12 or Danny Brown or old Champtown. No, this ebony-and-ivory duo drop frog-ass tight rhymes atop a musical milieu that's part Lynch, part Reznor and part De La Soul; there's valid intelligence and wit: "The narcissists, the architects and tall Christians/All dissin' 'cause I ain't have no Bar Mitzvah." Go ahead, top that one.
Kid Rock protégé attacks the music scene with a very homegrown hybrid sensibility. Don’t let the fact that he’s from Detroit dissuade you from thinking he’s a country rocker through and through. There’s long been a musical bullet train running directly from northern Michigan to the deepest South, and Stone has been riding it his entire life. Stone's about singing, playing his guitar and writing songs — that's his work. That's what he does. He might spend 50-something days out of the year working in Nashville, but he's a Detroit boy who simply wants to go to work. 2012 marked the major label release of his album, American Style.
Jeecy And The Jungle
One of most unlikely buzz bands in Detroit in recent months with its soulful swing, guitar and heady rhythms; there are sing-along moments, swaying moments, drinking moments, and moments of strong, simple, outsider purity.
Dutch Pink has evolved into a super-tight unit of blues-rock troubadours, with dual female vocals that add genuine class and clout to what was a fairly conventional set-up.
The Beggars have gusto, to be sure. Theirs is a mix of punk-pop with fat choruses, and singer Steven Davis can work a room. Add some hefty saxophone and cheeky wordplay and here’s a great send-off into your night.
Trippy dance created by tripped folk, Scrummage is deliberately and delightfully weird.
What do banjos, dobros, trumpets, alto horn and a singing saw have in common? Frontier Ruckus has your answer. Though hailing from the mitten, their mournful melodies evoke the loneliness and isolation of a dust-blown prairie, anchored by the intensive lyrics of Matthew Milia.
Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band
The ragged but right Reverend rasps out a gnarly backwater batcha tub-stompin' songs o'protest 'n' faith, all wrapped 'round a seismic swath of tremeloed slide gitbox 'n' harp that'll turn you into a testifyin' witness givin' state's evidence that this here long-player sho 'nuff sounds like a stripped-down high-energy cross between High on the Hog and Led Zeppelin III.
Michigan Roots music at its finest! Each performance is built on originality, fun, and expert musicianship, quickly making the band one of Michigan's premier bluegrass outfits. Dragon Wagon's honest sound and genuine crowd connection never disappoint, and appeal to all audiences. The combination of mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and drums guarantees an infectious energy that gets every crowd dancing! The band formed in 2008, and is now based in Ann Arbor.
DIY musical sketchbook of soul & pop and found sounds by a duo (Jennifer David and Steve Kendzorski) who ooze more charm than Myrna Loy and Reggie Mantle.
This Deleano Acevedo (Silverghost)-fronted band is on fire at the moment. Soaring, giant choruses and major-to-minor pop-punk-hardcore-new wave that’s so ridiculously good it’s no wonder bassist Nick Jones (Bars of Gold), guitar hero Scott Stimic (Bang Bang) and drummer Don Blum (Von Bondies) are all involved. It’s what you’d call one of them gen-U-ine super groups. Blowout booker Eve Doster says they’re a “truly modern rock star archetype.”
Freak-out synth-punk combo Child Bite blazes live; rock 'n' roll with a cockeyed experimental eye toward synths, joysticks (!) and high-frequency howls. Don’t ditch yer britches in that mosh pit, little club girl.
The Hard Lessons
Cultivating their own unique blend of Motown and soul and their high-energy synth-and guitar-driven style, the Hard Lessons are one of the area's most beloved and celebrated groups. With songs that span from loud, rousing rockers with singalong crowd chants to moody, poppy ballads worthy of a stadium full of lighters held high. The group is known for its ability to amp up the energy with the audience, using a simple yet effective mix of girl/boy vocal harmonies, catchy pop/rock hooks, and foot-stomping, hand-clapping beats.
The rock equivalent of a duty-bound pack of Wild West outlaws who've spent the last 25 years on Mars and are now returning to right the musical wrongs of us puny Earth creatures. The Detroit sextet mix garage, disco, punk, new wave, and metal into clever, in-your-face songs like "Danger! High Voltage."