Go it alone

. May 16, 2012.

Okay, so, I’ve got my own blog. Whenever I feel like it, I click “post” and I ruthlessly relay scrolls of (hopefully insightful) essays about music to the world. And, hopefully, I distinguish myself from other mad blogger types, zealous pundits, deluded wind-bags or schmaltzy-recipe-posting grandmas. Anyway, call me crazy, but I think the Internet, (the double, triple, or even quadruple-edged-sword that it is), can still help to cultivate identity — maybe self-confidence? As Cat Stevens put it, "If you wanna sing out, then sing out."

Band or no band. No drums? Just a synthesizer, or just an acoustic? The window is open – sing out.

Last year, I saw a notable number of local rock/pop songwriters spring up online, striking out on their own, posting their songs, not those of a band — one mind’s melody. I’m not saying bands are dead, but the sanctity of bands, needing four complete elements, has been rattled and redefined.

Some of these solo outings showed new sides of perennial band leaders (like Timothy Monger of Great Lakes Myth Society with New Britton Sound). Others were not-yet-known to be frontmen/frontwomen, getting their voices out for the first real time (as Ben Collins, of Lightning Love and Starling Electric did, with his Demos and Ghost Stories digi-EPs). Two years ago, electro/dance-rock group My Dear Disco (now Ella Riot) saw its guitarist, Theo Katzman, step out into a solo project that has blossomed into his main musical venture. Similarly, Jared Saltiel, who’d developed an autumnal indie/Americana rock sound with The Dirty Birds, eventually went out on his own, as well, and, just like Katzman, has since taken his solo trip out to New York. Thing is, most solo artists I talked to said they did the DIY thing because it was so exasperating to both find other band members and subsequently tolerate said band members.

See, now, with Bandcamp, Tumblr, or whatever other new app or outlet, we have constant props that open digital windows to stream and hear the sounds coming out from inside countless bedrooms and basements of local lo-fi songwriters, capturing their compositions through Logic or Garage Band. That outlet, that window of opportunity, stirs new motivation – why wait for a band, when one has all these songs, ready to be sung, ready to stream.

Folkster Nathan K. is a constant poster, as has, lately, been Jeffrey Freer (the latter dabbing more into a Brit-pop/Motown-ish fusion). Jeremy Quentin (who just put up the North LP) may collaborate with others here and there (like Ann Arbor’s archetypal solo troubadour Chris Bathgate, earlier last year), but for the last three years he’s updated his own blog with digi-albums under the moniker Small Houses.

Mick Bassett tried the band thing for half a dozen years – first in Detroit with garage-rock upstarts The Dollfaces, then zigzagging from Ann Arbor to Detroit and then back again with The Marthas, finally to go it on his own with his most recent (and perhaps most assured batch of songs), Here Lies the Lion that Lied In Your Bed: a caustic acoustic tear of haunting left-field folk that growls, dazzles and croons.

Even Saxophonist Dan Bennett (of NOMO) leads his own Jazz Quartet, while hip/hop MC Jah Connery (of Smash Television) released (and self-produced) two solo works. So goes the instantaneousness of the Internet.

Sing out…if you want. 

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