Lots of great records by Michigan bands from many different genres came out in 2013. Here’s part 1 of  a three-part roundup of some of the records to come out this year.

Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts “Them and Them and Us” EP

Driven by a more punk rock approach in both musical stylings and lyrics, Kalamazoo band Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts delivered a great five-track EP in April.

From my review in Central Michigan Life: “The chugging, downbeat-laden and snare-driven “Them (Evil)” has a march-like feel to it. “It’s not about the people/It’s about the right people,” and other lines like “Lesser of two evils/Won’t you save us from these people” and “I’m tired of speaking softly” accentuate the political bent of the lyrics.

“Who Are You?” is a standout track for the band. With a lone, catchy guitar line and vocals, Simmons lays a lot on the line musically and lyrically. His guitar playing expresses a working class loneliness; one definitely gets Springsteen vibes from this. “Pray to save our souls/pray to save our minds/pray to rock and roll/pray to Jesus Christ,” he belts out.”

Flint Eastwood “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” EP

Detroit’s Flint Eastwood had a busy 2013. They recently played with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. They partied with Andrew W.K. at Bled Fest, played Common Ground Music Festival and, most importantly, released their debut EP “Late Nights in Bolo Ties” in August. The band, known for its energetic live performances of songs like “Shotgun” and “Secretary”, play a furious brand of rock and roll a la The MC5 and mix it with dance hall bangers to create a unique soundtrack to the Michigan summer.

From my LMTV review: “The drums courtesy of Mark Hartman, bring out their trademark balance of crushing rock and roll heaviness (especially the cymbal crashes on tracks like “Secretary”) with a dance hall swagger that is undeniable and driving. Everything else builds off of this foundation, like Clay Carnill’s omnipresent bass, sometimes pumping (like on “Can You Feel Me Now?”) and other times fluid but always holding down the fort.”

The Swellers “The Light Under Closed Doors” LP

The Swellers, a Flint, Mich. punk quartet, released their newest album in October on No Sleep Records.

From my LMTV review: “Although the musicianship (top notch as it is) is pretty standard for pop punk/rock, the band took a different approach to make themselves stand out. The lyrical focus this time around pays off in spades as they’re the best the band has ever put on record. Opener “Should” starts with a defeated mindset about a deteriorating relationship that ultimately comes to an end (“I gave up/I know things won’t get better” and “I went home/You won’t wait forever/I’ll go first/We shouldn’t be together”). Later on, though, the protagonist seems to come to terms with this and move on (“Now I see the light under closed doors/I’m better now”).”