Save Our Scene


Review: Finding Home – Apathetic Critic

ApatheticCriticAlbumCover

Why yes, they are still in high school. I imagine in the coming months, many people will be asking how Avery Black, Parker Munson, and Jeremy Head, three high school students, have managed to create one of the best albums to come out of the underground Michigan music scene. Talent, determination, and a lot of hard work are clearly their secrets to success, and all the work they’ve put into Finding Home make it well worth the wait.

The album opens up softly with the sounds of Black plugging in his guitar and the trio opening the studio, but from the first riff, the album starts a journey for the listener that is all the while diverse and passionate. The first two songs are a fast paced blitz led by alternating vocals and harmonies between Munson and Black, who both have found where they fit comfortably vocally after playing together for a few years. By the third song, the band  throttles back and lets Head lead the way with smooth bass grooves in “No Idea.” The disc opens with these three songs that showcase how the band can go from a happy jam session, to a raw and angry emotional trip, to a smooth and heartfelt slowdown. The band uses all of these on the rest of album, effectively mixing elements of rock, punk, indie, and blues that sounds reminiscent of bands like Manchester Orchestra, Brand New,  and the Hard Lessons.

One of the highlights on the album is the second song, “Dig Your Grave,” which is probably the darkest and heaviest song on the album. Munson showcases his talent by really letting loose on the drums and pulling out all the emotion he has into him as he belts from behind his drum set. It is one of the most honest vocal performances I’ve heard in a long time. Aside from that, another track to play very close attention to is the title track, “Finding Home,” a six and half minute exploration of where home exactly is and what it means. It truly showcases just how far the band has come on a personal and music level. The lyrics show an astounding level of maturity, especially for musicians so young.

Finding Home is something that is truly remarkable. There are musicians that have been playing for years that have not been able to impress me as much as what this three-piece has put together. This album will definitely be getting a lot of plays for a long time and I hope it does for all of you. Make sure you pick it up the first chance you get. They album officially releases next Friday, 11/13, and you can get a copy with admission to their CD release show. Check out their Myspace for more information.

The Bottom Line: Buy it.



Album Reviews
November 4, 2009, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Hey guys! Thanks for checking out the site, I’m proud to say we’ve gotten a fair amount hits as of late and we’re just setting. I really want this to take off by providing you guys with new content on a regular basis. So, I want to try and start doing album reviews as well as show reviews.

Shoot me an email at SaveOurSceneMI@gmail.com and we’ll start from there. Whether it’s a new full length, an EP, or just a couple of songs you’re putting out as a demo, I’d be more than happy to review it. It’ll get your name out to more people and hopefully generate some buzz for you.

We’ve got a link to our email to your left if copy and paste isn’t your style. Hope to hear from you soon!

-Matt



Mac’s Bar 11/01/09
November 3, 2009, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , , , ,

I’m finally going to catch up with my show reviews. Yay!

First of all, happy November everyone. I picked a great way to start the month off as this was a fantastic show. Only three artists, but that meant fairly lengthy sets and time for me to get home and work on “homework.” Or just dick around. Anyway. Music:

Audrey (myspace.com/audreymichigan) was the first band tonight, an awesome quintet from Muskegon, MI. I’ve seen this band a few times before and they get brownie points for being some of the nicest fellas I’ve ever met. They played a much longer set than I am used to today, which was very refreshing. They opened up with older songs that I hadn’t heard before and finished with playing a bunch of songs off their just released EP. They play some really cool upbeat pop-rock that has a lot of lyrical depth, something a lot of bands in the genre can’t say. They are led by vocalist Everett Parks whose is always impressive with his range and how much he moves around on stage. He is truly a great frontman. The best thing about this band is seeing how much fun they are having on stage. The crowd at Mac’s was probably 20-25 people, but the band was still running all over the stage and singing along to their own songs. They were all smiles it was a great site to see. They played a super solid set and look poised for a big end of 2009 and early 2010 with an EP under their belt and a fine tuned live show. Keep an eye on them this year.

Next was Chase Pagan (www.myspace.com/chasepagan) from Mountain Home, AR. Chase came on stage with a guitar around his neck and a piano on the other side of the stage, but he played all the songs by himself. Some he used the piano, which had a strange almost old-Western sounding tone that reminded me of a saloon, and acoustic guitar songs that he played with a lot of reverb for a very cool, unique tone. I enjoyed his guitar playing a lot more than his piano, as I felt like the latter got repetitive and over simplified at times. He was a very talented guitar player though for the brand of folk rock that he plays. However, I felt that lyrically he was a weak songwriter on some of his songs. I felt like the songs were cheap imitations of folk classics or unoriginal, repetitive, and distant from the person he was. It just seemed like his songs didn’t really deal with anything personal or important to him, but were just songs. Consequently, I couldn’t really get into his music, and found myself just looking forward to the next band.

Wrapping up the set was Lansing locals Elliot Street Lunatic (myspace.com/elliotstreetlunaticmusic). This 4-piece plays a spacey brand of 60s inspired rock and roll. Another band that looked like they were having a great time on stage, ESL did a lot of interacting with the hometown crowd and had people singing and dancing along all through their set. They played mostly songs off their new EP as well as a cover of The Beatles’ Twist and Shout and The Pixies’ Where is My Mind? that were both a lot of fun for audience and were played very well. They didn’t try to do anything too special with them, but they were fun breaks from their original music and gave people that hadn’t heard their music a chance to sing along as well. Their set was very solid with good sound and no real mistakes and they made sure everyone had a lot of fun. Certainly another artist to watch in the coming months.

That’s it for the weekend folks. Gave you plenty to check out for self for sure! I’m going to start trying to do album reviews soon, so keep your eyes and ears out for that. Leave a comment, let me know what you think!

-Matt



Fischer Hall 10/31/09
November 2, 2009, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , , , , ,

For Halloween this year, I decided to drive out Frankenmuth, MI for an event called Hallowfest. It was a night of music and ridiculous costumes and one of the most fun shows I’ve been to in a very long time. The crowd was much more in the Halloween spirit than those at the previous night’s show. But let’s talk music.

First up was a band called Take The City (myspace.com/takethecity). They played pretty standard pop music led by keyboards and harmonizing vocals. It reminded me a lot of Beneath the Medicine Tree-era Copeland. I felt like the music was really uninspired though. The artists didn’t seem too terribly invested in what they were singing about and it sounded too much like things I had heard before. I just felt sort of bored the whole set.

Next was the return of Koji (myspace.com/kojisaysaloha). It was a privilege to be able to see him play two nights in a row, though his set tonight was not as good as the previous night. Much of the crowd was at the back of the venue talking and enjoying the festivities while a small handful of people were up front listening intently. Koji played just as well, but he wasn’t as comfortable with the audience and did a lot less talking, which is a big part of the set for an artist like him, especially with the message he tries to spread. Still a solid set however.

Finding Clyde (myspace.com/findingclyde) came on stage next dressed as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They started off with trouble as the guitarist couldn’t get his pedals working properly. His set up was very impressive; he had a lot on his pedal board, so I was disappointed that this wouldn’t be their typical set. The band opened with a cover of the classic Beatles song, which was a lot of fun, but I was pretty unimpressed from there. They played soft alternative rock that I just found really boring and again not very original. It put a bit of a damper on the show in my opinion, but the band looked like they were having fun all the same.

La Dispute (myspace.com/ladispute) took the stage next still dressed in their Star Wars costumes from the night before. I have never seen the band play on a stage before, so this performance was sure to be interesting. They opened again with their version of the Imperial March and started into their set with New Storms for Old Lovers from their newest album. Right away, the performance was much better than the night before. The band actually had room to play, but Jordan was still close enough to interact with the audience and sing with them as he usually does. The sound was much better than the night before and you could hear all the intricacies of their songs. This band is incredibly impressive and is easily one of the best in Michigan and this set proved that once again.

Finally, hometown heroes Ports of Aidia (myspace.com/portsofaidia) took the stage. They hail from Birch Run, just down the road from Frankenmuth, and brought with them a huge fan base. They also were in costume for in honor of the holiday and they get points for having some of the best I saw all weekend. The whole band was dressed as luchadores, including full masks and underwear outside their spandex. The costumes were no distraction from their playing though. They play a fast paced, heavy mix of metal and progressive rock full of spacey tones and weird instrumentation. They launched into their set at a blistering pace and never slowed down. They had the whole crowd singing, moving, and moshing. It was really refreshing to watch another crowd that just got along great. In the pits, if someone fell, there was a handful of people picking them up right away. It was another one of those nights that make you feel good about the scene that we’re in. Ports played a great set once again and never missed a beat. Now that they finally got their full length out, they will be turning a lot of heads in the music scene and deserve a lot of attention.

Lots of fun to be had on Halloween, hope everyone had fun and was safe. I got a few pictures from this show as well. You can once again find them on my Flickr.

-Matt



Hartland PAC 10/30/09
November 2, 2009, 1:26 am
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , ,

I ended up having an extensive weekend of show going, as I promised in my first post. So be prepared for an onslaught of musical knowledge as I review the weekend in the next few posts.

Friday night some friends and myself went to the PAC in my hometown. I’ve been looking forward to this show and this weekend for months as La Dispute is one of my favorite bands. But they played last, meaning we have other things to attend to first.

The first band to play was Apathetic Critic (myspace.com/apatheticcritic). They were thrown onto the bill last minute as other bands canceled due to illness, but they managed to pull together a great set, something to be expected from them. I have seen them many times over the past few years and have had a privilege of watching them grow as musicians. The three of them are some of the youngest people in any of the local bands I listen to and are easily some of the most talented. They play very simple rock and roll with a bit of blues influence, but it is beautiful in its simplicity. They are set to release a new full length album soon and played songs off of that at the show tonight and really showcased how good of songwriters they have become. Their lyrics are much more mature now and song structure has become more complex. It is great watching them play, especially in their hometown as you can tell they are having a great time on stage. Lead singer Avery Black’s brother Wes was filling in on bass as their normal bassist Jeremy couldn’t make the show on such short notice, and consequently there were flaws at times. Wes normally plays drums though, so some mistakes were certainly acceptable. Apathetic Critic played a super tight set and both Avery and drummer Parker Munson were on par both vocally and instrumentally, though I would have liked to see Avery get more creative with his guitar playing. I’ve seen him play some great improv guitar solos that showcase just how talented he is, but they were missed today. Regardless, a great set, especially given the short notice and lack of normal bassist.

Next up was Tiger! Tiger! (myspace.com/tigertiger) who also hail from Brighton, MI. Tiger! Tiger! truly embraced the Halloween spirit as each member was dressed up. The highlight was seeing guitarist Devin Kirby play dressed as Teen Wolf, complete with a full mask. They’ve been playing pretty much the same set each time I’ve seen them recently, a good mix of songs off their yet-to-be-released full length and from their EP, which was released when they first formed.Today however, they played a longer set and included a few songs I haven’t heard recently which was very refreshing. Tiger! Tiger! plays a good blend of pop and punk, though they’re newer songs have gotten heavier and showcase the influence bands like Gatsby’s American Dream and Forgive Durden have had on them extensively. They once again played a tight set, not missing a beat even in ridiculous costume. Many friends were at the show and it was great to have everyone singing along as they played. It was a very fun, fast-paced, high energy set, which is to be expected from them.

Koji (myspace.com/kojisaysaloha) was next, a change of pace for this show as he is a solo acoustic artist. Koji is one of the most interesting and enjoyable shows I’ve seen. He works very close with a group called Colormake from his hometown of Harrisburg, PA and creates a show that entails all forms of artistic expression, not just music. I’ve seen his show include person sized paintings and light boxes and his merch booth as a lemonade stand. It’s truly a unique experience every time he comes to town. Today, he had an audience of over 150 sitting on the floor of the PAC with all eyes on him. He was sick, but managed to still pull together a very strong set. The troubles he was having with his voice were only noticeable a few times. As usual, he included lots of storytelling, conversation, and audience participation in his set and he had the entire room listening to and working with him, something that is refreshing to see in a scene so often plagued by people being disrespectful and inattentive. His music is upbeat and fairly fast-paced for acoustic music and all the while the music is very uplifting and positive. This was the first time I’ve got the chance to really watch Koji, and I was thoroughly impressed. Definitely worth checking out on your own.

And finally, La Dispute (myspace.com/ladispute). I’ve seen this band countless times and have been blown away every time. Tonight, was no excuse, though it was not the best performance I’ve seen. In honor of Halloween, the band dressed up as Jedis and Siths while lead singer Jordan was dressed as Han Solo. They proceeded to open with a cover of the Imperial March down as a slow paced, sludgy breakdown that got everyone excited. As usual, the audience was taking over the stage area, giving the band little room to move around and play. They made due with what they had though and did a great job of interacting with the crowd all throughout their set. They played a few songs off of their first album and a bunch off of their newest, all at a blistering pace. Their blend of experimental, rock, and hardcore is unlike anything I’ve heard today. They have so many varied styles in their sound from Western slide guitar to riffs that fit in perfectly in songs from bands like Have Heart. Jordan’s voice was it’s usual perfection of pure emotion and energy that cannot be truly described as singing, screaming, or talking, but a blend of all three.  The crowd was screaming every word and loving every minute of it. They band was incredibly tight once again, something I continue to find remarkable as they rarely have any room to play or hear what they’re doing. As always though, they didn’t disappoint.

Tonight was a very special night for music as I felt like for once the whole scene was really together in what they were trying to do. Both Koji and Jordan from La Dispute gave inspired speeches about the importance of keeping the independent music scene strong and together and about looking out for the people around you. I felt like all the bands and fans tonight really believe in that message as well, something that is hard to find. Tonight was just one of those special shows that only happen every once in a while and I wish everyone could get a taste of that. Nights like this one are why I started this site and want to stay involved with keeping my scene alive.

Just a few pictures from tonight. You can check them out on my Flickr.

-Matt



RCAH Open Mic Night 10/28/09
October 29, 2009, 3:39 am
Filed under: Show Review | Tags: , , ,

Today, I stumbled upon some tunes. I was minding my own business in my dorm when some friends appeared from nowhere rallying troops to come watch a friend of ours play in an Open Mic Night. I had some free time and so I checked it out. To my surprise, there was quite a few people there and a handful of other artists were playing as well.

First, I caught Dan Pechacek of a local band called DSF (myspace.com/fogontheshore). As was the theme for the night, Dan was playing acoustic guitar by himself. He played a few songs, all of which were good indie songs. He had a solid vocal range and used volume changes well to emphasis different parts of his songs. He was easily the best guitar player of the night and his work was very impressive. I talked to him a little after he played and he apparently usually plays electric guitar with an array of pedals. This excites me. I hope to catch him again soon. Apparently he’s playing at Mac’s Bar in a few short weeks.

Next was a fellow named Jack Grendel (myspace.com/jackgrendel). Grendel’s style was really western folky. I quickly realized that I’ve seen him a number of times before playing music over outside shops on Grand River. His voice had all the rasp and roughness to be desired in that style of music. His guitar playing was a little weak and rough, but his whole body was into his music and it was an altogether passionate performance. He added harmonica on a few songs too which was a very nice touch.

My good friend Emily Nott was up next. I’ve heard her play for friends a few times and have become familiar with a few of her songs and her vocal style. Tonight she was on par once again. She has one of the more beautiful voices I’ve heard in a long time and a female voice is a nice touch as well. She played a couple covers as well as a few original songs. Her song writing ability is very impressive and she expresses wisdom beyond her years when she uses Alice in Wonderland as an allegory for her grandfather’s dementia in Alice. The guitar work leaves something to be desired, but she herself doesn’t claim to be exceptionally talented and piano is her first instrument. However, the rhythms are steady and work well to showcase her voice.

And finally was a girl named Ariel whose last name I did not catch. Ariel’s guitar playing was much softer and deeper than anyone of the night. Her songs were dark to match the tone and reminded me a bit of 90s alternative/grunge. Her voice was strong, however her guitar playing was especially weak and she kept making mistakes. Instead of working through it, she would often laugh and start the part over again. I think this was due to nerves more than anything else. For her final song, she requested a guitar in standard tuning. This threw up the flag that perhaps she was just not trained in guitar as well. Her voice on this song was rather impressive and reminded me a bit of Zooey Deschanel. It was a very strong finish to her set. If she works more at the guitar, I see a lot of potential from her.

I was pleasantly surprised by tonight’s Open Mic Night. I had no plans to hear any live music and in a short amount of time heard a handful of good artists. No links for Ariel and Emily, but make sure you check out Dan and Jack’s stuff.

-Matt



Save Our Scene
October 28, 2009, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Hello Blogosphere. You’ve managed to stumble across my corner of the internet. And you’re probably wondering, what the hell is this thing?

Save Our Scene is born out of a passion I’ve carried for years and that many people share. That passion is music. Growing up in Michigan, I’ve spent much of my time and money going to shows and spending money on the bands and music that I love. I’ve had opportunities to see some of the greatest artists up close and personal before they become major label artists. And I want to share that with other people.

With a camera and this keyboard, I want to give you a look into the world I see. I want to show you some of the bands that I’ve had the privilege and hopefully encourage you to check them out for yourselves. A lot of these people are friends of mine and they pour their heart into their music so I want to help them as well. I want to bring you the consumer and they the artist together in hopes of building up the Michigan music scene into a community.

As you can see, I’m just getting started, but I’m going to be checking some shows out this weekend. I’ll have some pictures and thoughts to share afterwords. So not much to see now, but stick around till this weekend and beyond. I promise, this will get cooler.

-Matt