Michigan Album Reviews – Local Spins

On the Michigan Music Radar: Six New Releases on Local Spins.

Consider this just a taste of the musical world.

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The West Michigan Music Scene

There are so many new releases from Michigan artists piling up on Local Spins' desk, and we're just starting to chop down this mountain of wonderful music.

Check out our takes on half a dozen of these new albums and EPs, and we'll be back with more soon to spotlight another album review. Previous reviews can be found here.

The thin limbs
Mozart for Martians

What stands out: The Skinny Limbs' latest EP almost transports the listener to the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan with its surfy guitar riffs and summery atmosphere. The Grand Rapids-based band often draws inspiration from the beauty of their home state, particularly the Great Lakes, when creating their unique alternative indie rock. The EP experiments with distorted guitar tones and layered vocals, giving the entire project a dreamy, atmospheric quality. Amidst the more relaxed melodies, some tracks feature synth-heavy instrumental breaks that function as integrated dance breaks.
Deep ditch: Skinny Limbs' signature catchy melodies and fun energy are highlighted by introspective lyrics and an underlying narrative that spans the entire EP. “Mozart For Martians” covers themes such as uncertainty, learning to live in the moment and dealing with significant life changes, topics relevant to singer Max Knoth's personal life experiences. “I Know That You Care” is notable for its heartfelt lyrics about family and the cinematic interludes toward the end. At its core, Mozart For Martians is the five-piece band's most vulnerable release to date, encapsulating the distinctive sound they've been building since the band's inception in 2017.
Perfect for: Take the long walk to the lake to watch the sunset. – Holly Holtzclaw
Hear: “To the limit”

Future things
“Watch the sky”

What stands out: Fresh off the heels of their debut album, Future Things is already making waves in the Grand Rapids music scene with “Watch The Sky,” a collection of alternative rock songs that offer a bit of nostalgia for the early 2000s. While there is no internet presence beyond the album's availability or streaming, this band has received high praise for their recent win at the Rebel Road Battle of The Bands competition in March.
Deep ditch: Future Things has taken off in the best way a band could hope for. The first steps towards her debut have already led to recognition in the West Michigan music scene. Her sound evokes memories of trying to process the difficult transitions life throws at you, while inviting you to explore your heart. Moody lyricism full of Midwest emo nostalgia permeates this solid first outing.
Perfect for: When afternoon turns to evening and you've exhaled your last anxious thought in a puff of smoke on the highway. – Dutchman Snedeker
Hear: “Interdimensional cable”

Alex Austin
“Nobody is at home”

What stands out: Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Alex Austin's debut solo album opens with the twangy country track “5th and Broadway.” According to Austin, the song serves as a tribute to the history of famous country music venues such as the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. Throughout the song, Austin pays homage to the history of the genre by mentioning several country stars by name, some of whom likely inspired elements of this album. Several tracks feature vocals from fellow Michigan artist Carrie McFerrin, providing balanced harmonies and adding a unique element to the storytelling, particularly on “Held Back Heart.” “Nobody's Home” features a mix of fun, light-hearted tracks and low-key songs highlighted by honest, impactful lyrics.
Deep ditch: Produced and engineered by Greg Baxter of Grand Rapids-based Second Story Sound, “Nobody's Home” explores everything from a jazzy horn section in “Don't Leave Me Here” to melancholic guitar chords that reflect the mood of title track “Nobody's Home.” . and prominent harmonica melodies in “Oh Pretty Mama.” While the album in some ways reflects the sound of Austin's blues-rock band Deerfield Run, it is evident that he took the opportunity to experiment with new sounds and more personal lyrical inspirations. The origins of this project lie in 2020 and the result is a consciously composed patchwork of experiences, feelings and genres that have inspired Austin over the years.
Perfect for: Anyone who wants an introductory crash course in the many styles and facets of American roots music. – Holly Holtzclaw
Hear: “Nobody is at home”

DuPont Phillips
“Big Sky Sessions”

What stands out: Southeast Michigan natives Chris DuPont and Kylee Phillips have teamed up to create Big Sky Sessions, a collection of covers and original folk songs filled with beautiful harmonies and gentle instrumentation. Through their open lyrics and sincere manner, DuPont and Phillips create the illusion that they are speaking directly to each other and that we as listeners are simply eavesdropping on their personal conversations. Even the covers of Sheryl Crow's “Strong Enough” and Jason Isbell's “If We Were Vampires” feel like they were carefully chosen by the singers, as they are very relatable and full of emotion, fitting both DuPont and DuPont's style Phillips fit.
Deep ditch: While both Phillips and DuPont favor pop production styles for their solo works, Big Sky Sessions offers a more restrained feel. Celtic-inspired strings, intricate guitar playing and dark piano melodies are some of the signature sounds of this EP. Even the tracks “Sandpaper Hymn” and “Carole King (Annie Lindbergh),” which originated on DuPont's solo releases, come to life with Phillips' crystal-clear vocals. These songs are far from being superficial love songs, as many of them, in addition to the optimistic moments, also address the doubts and hardships that come with relationships. Every track on Big Sky Sessions is a testament to how comfortable Phillips and DuPont must make their listeners feel to share these intimate details and thoughts about their relationship so freely.
Perfect for: Listen with someone you love. – Holly Holtzclaw
Hear: “Strong enough”

“Forgotten coordinates”

What stands out: Right off the bat, Metzfire displays a level of polish and style that immediately elevates this group above the noise. Their debut album, Coordinate Oblivion, showcases a band that already sounds strong, creating some distinctive sounds reminiscent of groups like Deftones, but with a vision to color beyond boundaries. There are so many moments on this record where downbeats hit, riffs feel beefy without losing clarity, and all the parts are cohesive without feeling boring.
Deep ditch: “Coordinate Oblivion” is such a strong first outing from Metzfire that it shatters any notion of a new band lacking experience on their first release. Any attempt to write this off is immediately met with the outstanding musicianship and songwriting showcased throughout the release. Banging riffs open up into soaring chorus hooks, thunderous drums are juxtaposed with ethereal guitar textures, and groovy backbeats complement distorted bass lines, all blending into a solid listening experience that everyone can enjoy.
Perfect for: Any Midwestern metalhead who needs to rack their brains and belt out the choruses. – Dutchman Snedeker
Upcoming show: May 31st at Mulligan's Pub in Grand Rapids (with Death by Lions, Paradigm Shifter, Dear Dario)
Hear: “Into the unknown”

Elroy Meltzer
“And the Elder Midnight”

What stands out: Elroy Meltzer has long since established his presence in the Midwest alternative/indie rock scene since Steve Meltzer founded the project in 2010. For 2024, the group has released And the Elderly Midnight and added new songs about Death, Acceptance and Jon Taffer. to their repertoire. Fans of the Lowell music scene will recognize the release from the catalog of newly formed Midwest Gold Records and engineer/performer Ryne Clarke.
Deep ditch: This record oozes personality, with tracks bearing names like “Inextrovert,” “JOHN Pen3:16,” and “5 or 6 Commercial Breaks.” It doesn't take itself too seriously, but it never sacrifices the music either. This concept album is less of a comedy album and more of a colorful satire mixed with storytelling. It goes on back roads and enjoys every turn on winding roads. And “Elderly Midnight” delights in the unexpected without straying from emotional punches, wry observations and a constant undercurrent of Midwest indie rock that flows powerfully into welcoming ears.
Perfect for: Anyone who wants to laugh and immerse themselves in a truly unique offering from the West Michigan rock scene. – Dutchman Snedeker
Hear: “Inextroverted”

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