Small Houses “Exactly Where You Wanted to Be” LP
Now a resident of Atlanta, Ga., previously a resident of Philadelphia, Pa. and before that, a resident of many Michigan cities, Jeremy Quentin, aka Small Houses, released a great followup LP to 2011′s North this year. Similar to Frontier Ruckus or Chris Bathgate, Small Houses carries a midwestern ethos wherever he’s located.
From my Central Michigan Life review: ““Oh, Hiding Out” starts the record off with lush guitars, sharp harmonica and unusual anthem-like vocals during the verses. “Saint Louis isn’t gone/No, it’s hidden and waiting in my voice,” he sings with volume and conviction.
Without any drums to be heard on the record, Quentin relies on instruments such as an acoustic guitar, piano and his voice to effectively tell the stories his songs convey.
“Sarah’s Song” is a standout track. With the piano providing the hook, it’s reminiscent of New Jersey, Springsteen-influenced punk band The Gaslight Anthem. It has memorable vocals and powerful piano chords that stick in your head with a heck of a hook.
“You were exactly where you wanted to be,” he sings on “Our Sweet,” a track which has storytelling at its finest.”
Frontier Ruckus “Eternity of Dimming” LP
Metro Detroit’s Frontier Ruckus released the massive and expansive “Eternity of Dimming” 20-song album back in February. They then toured the U.S., Europe, played many a summer festival including Lollapalooza then toured again, this time in the midwest and east coast. Ever the workhorses, they’re already working on a followup LP.
Full of intimately specific lyrics (all 5,500 or so of them), this is a great record if you just want to get lost in a sea of localities, memories and emotions. Songs like “Dealerships” and “Eyelashes” show why this band will continue toward more and more success.
Jahshua Smith “The Final Season” LP
Now living in Washington, D.C., Jahshua Smith, a member of Lansing-based hip hop collective Blat! Pack, released a great hip hop LP called The Final Season in February. With high chart performances on the CMJ hip hop chart, look out for more from him in the future.
From my Central Michigan Life review: “With cameos from a who’s-who of Michigan artists from Joe Hertler (on lead track “Seven Year Itch”) to fellow BLAT! Pack members Philthy, The Amature, Yellowkake and Red Pill, the diversity shown in the featured artists is just as diverse as the production on the tracks themselves. “Seven Year Itch” features Hertler’s soulful crooning on the chorus, while “Carry On/The Ark” features Philthy’s lisp-laden flow.
Smith’s lyrics range from the political to the personal, with a party track thrown in here and there. On “Censored,” he raps about making it to college “but still had to wait for Uncle Sam to split the bill.”
It’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness, pointed diatribe with a bit of hope tied to it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel here.”
Cavalcade – Dear Entrails LP
After founding vocalist Zak Warren parted ways with the band and recruited Wastelander’s Sean Peters to take on vocal duties, Cavalcade, Lansing’s “weird metal” champions came back in May and June in full force. The band had a busy second half of 2013: They released two albums worth of material (“Dear Entrails, …” and “15 Year Dog Plan“) on their Bandcamp and, later in the year, played the Housecore Horror Film Festival in Austin, Texas and released a 7″ record, their first physical release in half a decade.
If I were to pick an Album of the Year for 2013, this would be it.
Here’s a little bit about their “Dear Entrails, …” record, from my (quite lengthy) LMTV review:
“An album about failure never sounded so successful in its vision. The self-described “weird metal” band have been combining disparate genres like avant, jazz, sludge, doom and even traditional instruments like tuba and saxophone since at least 2006 and here, after releasing their debut album a few years ago, finally show what their twisted vision is capable of.
“Agents of Bolivian”, with a backwards guitar effect in the intro, puts Cavalcade’s sound in an angular, skewed template. Guitar solos that could fit on a modern day thrash inspired-metal record clash with tuba and glockenspiel, although the latter is minimal while the overall tempo here is sludge and doom-inspired but maybe a little bit faster.”