These releases among others are available to request at wyce.org/request or call (616)742-9923 For a complete list of everything we add visit: grcmc.org/wyce/music/library
May Erlewine – Second Sight
May Erlewine is the type of songwriter and performer who can project genuine humanity in what she plays, writes, and produces. Second Sight has some fantastic production, full of lush chords, string swells, a chorus of vocal harmonies, and some expert performances from the artists involved. It speaks to listeners about searching through the world for the people, experiences, and emotions that define our global population. We all have stories of family, growing up, reflecting on sage wisdom from our elders, and called to action in our communities. There is a pervasive message of hope throughout the album, whether it’s wanting to make things whole again, looking towards a better future, and facing down the fears in the world around us. Whether it’s just May and an acoustic guitar or a large ensemble with strings and added vocalists, it all beautifully serves these messages and makes for comforting and motivating listening experience. Artists like Micahel Shimmin stand out on this record, his dynamic and varied approach to the drums fit perfectly into the moods and textures within each track. May always does a great job in bringing like-minded and talented artists into the studio and tour with her, and hopefully you had a chance to see her recent shows at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe and the Wealthy Theatre. There is a lot of love and dedication behind this record, and it is a joy to have her creating works of art in Michigan. Head to her website to find out where she is playing next so you can experience this wonderful music live!
Highlights: Whole Again, That’s My Home, Afraid
Last Gasp Collective – Seen Not Heard
During my time in Kalamazoo studying at Western Michigan University for my Masters degree, I had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful, passionate creatives in the music scene around that city. One group of such musicians was the Last Gasp Collective, a literal collective in however many interpretations they can fully realize it. The name is associated with a live band, a series of artists under a label with in-house producers, and a collaborative entity that has worked with other art disciplines and ensembles. Seeing them live is like feeling the black experience personified: multiple Black American styles being performed (funk, jazz, gospel, hip hop, soul, etc), Black issues woven into the lyrics (black excellence, police brutality, education, growing up, etc), and celebrating black culture through engaging live performances that seek to educate and entertain audiences. You can feel the collective power in the album track “The Mantra,” which fans can often hear from back-stage before they go on stage, as it expresses statements of affirmation the whole group can rally behind. Within the collective you have standout solo artists like frontman Jay Jackson, cellist/vocalist Jordan Hamilton, singer/songwriter Nezi, and jazz saxophonist Xavier Bonner. The collective themes, motivations, and creative ideas within the variety of talent in the group flourish beautifully on Seen Not Heard. At 20 tracks, this an album you can take your time with, as each track dives into a unique experience within the larger narrative with lush string arrangements, vocals expressed through expert lyricism and colorful harmonies, and a blending of rhythms inspired by black music styles past and present. I’m so excited to see where this group is headed, they have a fantastic creative engine and a solid community foundation to take their messages around the world.
Highlights: Crew Love, What You Want, Knee High, Solar Dreams, Fly’n
Rachael & Vilray – Rachael & Vilray
Rachael and Vilray met back in 2003 and bonded around the songs of the 1930s and 40s, inspiring them to craft music that “recalls both the warmth of radio's golden age and the intimacy of parlor concerts in a time before recordings.” (Website Bio) Vilray is a respected New York musician and Rachel Price has been performing for years in Lake Street Dive. Now, with their self-titled debut album, they present an intimate listening experiences that puts you right back into the era of jazz lounges and swing music permeating the airwaves. Each track has a tasteful sense of presence, and the love for this particular genre is clear in the way Rachael & Vilray perform, arrange, and settle into each recording with a laid back ease. Each song is a short vignette about love, allowing for depictions of longing, playful teasing, and quiet nights wrapped in another’s embrace. The performing ensemble is a wonderfully accompaniment to the vocals, from swinging tunes to intimate bossa novas, and there is even a feature from Jon Batiste (Stay Human, Late Show with Stephen Colbert). If you’re longing for the past or searching for new inspiration in the historic, iconic sounds within the American jazz music catalog, Rachael & Vilray have a great debut to dive into.
Highlights: Do Friends Fall in Love?, Go on Shining (ft. Jon Batiste), Let’s Make Love on This Plane
GA-20 – Lonely Soul
In a world where so many artists are looking to capture the current sounds and production tools to make the next big pop hit, there is a push from so many artists to capture the inspiring sounds of the past to sonically inform listeners in the present. The duo behind GA-20 includes Pat Faherty and Matthew Stubbs, two blues artists who played in harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite’s band, and their latest album, Lonely Soul, mixes blues and soul with a dash of rock’n’roll. The songs are on the shorter end, offering great nuggets of songs showcasing each musician’s character, instrumental skills, and arranging choices. The album feels as if it was tracked straight off of a live performance, with very little overdubbing, and this is complemented by the fact that there are no strict music videos but a host of live performance videos around the album. Blues fans will love the deeper connection to blues history with Musselwhite’s band members expanding upon the repertoire and rock’n’roll fans will feel nostalgic for artists in year’s past.
Highlights: Naggin’ on my Mind (ft. Charlie Musselwhite & Luther Dickinson), My Soul, Lonely Soul
Various Artists: The Time For Peace Is Now (World Spirituality 2 – Gospel Music About Us)
When I think of compilations, my mind immediately goes to “Songs from the (insert decade)” or “Now That’s What I Call Music,” and they are often labels repackaging songs into collector’s bundles for infomercials. So I’ll admit, seeing “Various Artists” immediately got these thoughts into my head, and I had to put those thoughts aside and do some research. What this second installment of World Spirituality - Gospel Music About Us delivers is fourteen tracks all recorded decades ago that speak to our current state of humanity. Each song carries a message that is timeless, calling for peace, perseverance, diligence, love, unity, and steadfast resolve in the daily struggles we face in the world. There is a variety of gospel artists on this release, from bands like The Floyd Family Singers, The Soul Stirrers, The Triumphs, Staples Jr. Singers, and The Mighty Revelaires to featured solo artists like Rev Harvey Gates, Wilie Scott and the Birmingham Spirtuals, and Wille Dale. The blend of nostalgia while feeling the power in each message today is palpable, and it’s a wonderful collection of tunes. If you’re interested in reading more about the project, there is a lot of information on their Bandcamp profile and some various videos to absorb the music in animated and informative formats.
Highlights: Keep Your Faith to the Sky, The Price of Love, It’s Hard To Live in This Old World, We Are In Need, Time for Peace
New Music Monday is a collaboration with WYCE Staff and Dutcher Snedeker. These among others are all available for request at wyce.org/request or call (616) 742-9923 For a complete list of everything we add visit: grcmc.org/wyce/music/library