It’s been so long since the White Stripes’ Detroit-branded garage rock took America by storm that people might have forgotten that it’s still a breeding ground for good music. With musical hotspots like Ann Arbor—which features Kurt Cobain’s favorite music venue, The Blind Pig— Lansing and Detroit, there’s no reason you can’t see great local every week. Here are a few of our favorite local acts from Michigan. Tell us yours in the comments section below.
12. Bars of Gold
Current Release: Of Gold
Members: Ben Audette, Scotty Iulianelli, Nick Jones, Brandon Moss, Marc Paffi
Bars of Gold’s ragged, folk-twinged take on punk might not make sense on paper, but it sounds awesome on the record. Fronted by Marc Paffi, the former singer for Bear Vs. Shark, the band explores the harsher side of mandolins and banjos over drummer Brandon Moss’ booming beat.
11. Danny Brown
Current Release: XXX
After a mix tape and a rock solid album, Danny Brown wasn’t only Detroit Metro Times’ artist of the year — he was one of the most buzzed-about rappers in the U.S. Although the guy is shrouded in mysterious, crazy stories, he’s got the rhymes and beats to back up the hype.
“Die Like a Rockstar”
10. Little Island Lake
Current Release: Jawbones
Members: Bob Voorheis, James Truman Garfield, Mary Fraser, Zach Harris, Eric Hurd
Hailing from one of Michigan’s best known folk pockets, Ypsilanti’s Little Island Lake channels Sufjan Stevens with banjo-led songs like “Great White God” and “Zilwaukee.” The band released their debut album, Jawbones, last year and their impressive, slow-building live shows have solidified them as a local force.
9. De La Montaña
Hometown: Ann Arbor
Current Release: Postmodern Whirled
Members: John Healy, Madison Velding-VanDam
Although De La Montaña just returned from a European tour, the band’s roots are in the University of Michigan college town, Ann Arbor. Fronted by guitarist and vocalist Madison Velding-VanDam and bassist John Healy, the duo mashes ’80s-style synths and electronics with Velding-VanDam’s off-kilter lyrics. The band’s first single —“City Slicker,” which appears on the Berlin-based 33rpm Records— was released after 2011’s synth-soaked Postmodern Whirled.
“Money Hungry Astronauts”
8. The Soil and the Sun
Hometown: Grand Rapids
Current Release: Wake Up Child
Since 2008, Grand Rapids’ The Soil and the Sun has blossomed from a basic two-piece act to an eight-piece ensemble that is producing layered, challenging folk tracks. Sporting elements that made Fleet Foxes and Local Natives’ spacious, moving albums great, the band’s album Wake Up Child is a consistent chunk of songwriting from some talented new comers.
7. Frontier Ruckus
Hometown: Lansing, Ann Arbor
Current Release: Deadmalls and Nightfalls
Members: Matthew Milia, David Jones, Zachary Nichols, Ryan Etzcorn, Brian Barnes
The Matthew Milia-led Frontier Ruckus took Michigan by storm near the end of the last decade with two very solid records, 2011’s Deadmalls and Nightfalls and 2008’s The Orion Songbook. The band’s countless local live performances landed them on alt-weekly covers and made them one of the more beloved local acts in the state. And nationally, they got a bit of attention, too.
“Nerves of the Nightmind”