Torch Tunes

Mitten Musicians

Graphic by Sienna Parmelee

Detroit has been known to produce great music for many years, dating back to the Motown days, but there are many artists currently working in and around the area that aren’t getting enough recognition.

One of my favorite smaller groups from the area is Clinic Stars, an electrifying, shoegaze duo, whose two EPs are pleasant signs of what’s to come. The intriguing production hides Giovanna Lenski’s brooding voice under Christian Molik’s simple yet hypnotic instrumentation.

The band evokes a darker version of the sound of Mazzy Star, while not quite falling into the trap of being a My Bloody Valentine rip-off, which is the route that lesser bands of the same genre have taken since My Bloody Valentine’s album “Loveless” debuted in the 90s, captivating critics and fans alike.

Another outstanding group from the Detroit area is Zoos of Berlin, an electronically-influenced alternative group formed in 2005 by Trevor Naud and Daniel Clark. The band has retained the same members for the most part, most importantly keeping the core of Naud and Clark together.

One specific song I really enjoyed while researching for this article was “Rush at the Bond,” a song that reminds me a lot of the New York alternative bands of the early 2000s, such as Interpol and LCD Soundsystem, while also sounding like something completely different.

Another group I found only has 49 monthly listeners on Spotify, though they may be my favorite out of all the groups I mention in this article. The group is Strawberry Heritage, and they are a folk project mainly consisting of freelance photographer John Hanson and his friends.

Standout tracks include “Fifteen More Years” and “Sweet Marie.” These songs are on their 2020 sophomore album “Light Magic,” an easy-listening, slow-swaying, lo-fi, folk record of great depth and no imposed self-importance. I love this sound and look forward to hearing more great records in the future.

The last artist I want to mention is Detroit’s Sugar Tradition, whose 2021 entry titled “Sugar Shack” is a face-melting and speaker-annihilating deep dive into 1960s psychedelia and the great fuzz trios of the time, which hasn’t been replicated by anyone other than Ty Segall.

Sugar Tradition does have slightly more monthly listeners than Strawberry Heritage, but it still doesn’t feel like enough, although I think bands like this are better listened to when discovered on a late Thursday night.

If anyone is reading this and enjoys the bands I’ve recommended, please go to Bandcamp and just search artists from the Detroit area. It’s a great way to support small musicians from the mitten, not to mention it’s just a great way to find some incredible new music made by groups of friends.