(Jeff Milo, Dec. 30, 2013)
It’s got a ring to it, doesn’t it? New Year at the New Way?
The modest-sized bar just north of Cambourne, with new management taking over last May, has since been regularly hosting a revolving roster of line ups featuring exciting and up-and-coming music groups from around the area, spanning indie-rock, electro and experimental R&B.
They continue this welcomed uptick of concert-hosting on the last day of 2013. George Morris currently calls Royal Oak home, but he’s been playing around Detroit venues for eight years (or longer) with psych-pop outfit The Satin Peaches and, more briefly, an indie-rock quartet called The Vatican.
Last year, Morris experimented with the route of “solo-singer/songwriter” and sat down with his organ to craft a debut album under his own name (George Morris’ Organ Solos). Over the last year, Morris gathered a trio of talented local musicians (drummer Zack Pliska, keyboardist Helena Kirby and bassist Aaron Nelson, the latter being a fellow-former Satin Peach, himself) and together they formed The Gypsy Chorus.
You’ll witness a band transitioning back into more of a rock incarnation – filling out Morris’ initial batch of songs that were more like minimalist dream-pop, a whirl of acoustic guitar under atmospheric synth effects and a fuzzy organ’s traipsing melody. Morris will no longer be solo, will no longer have drum-machines backing him and will no longer have to do everything all himself… He’s got a chorus to back him up.
And some HandGrenades, too! I mean, the group, rather…not any kind of explosives (though, there should be plenty of noise ‘round about midnight). The HandGrenades are pop-songwriting whizzes, having cut their teeth as a lauded Beatles cover band, and matured together over the last half-decade into a formidable live act with two album’s worth of original songs.
Just as Morris is opening his initially-solitary experimentations to other collaborators, local songwriter Joel Sanders has enlisted a quartet of musicians to help bring his more meticulously arranged songs to the stage for live recitals. Sanders crafted an album’s worth of ambitiously orchestral post-rock, meditative melds of electro-jazz and abstract baroque-pop, for an album titled Regeneration (which will be out in March). Pliska (from the Gypsy Chorus) also plays drums in Le Voyage – along with Danny Kahn on bass, Ryan Wood on guitar, Sanders on vocals and guitar and Alex Norris on keys and back-up vocals.
So there you have it – three exceptional indie-pop outfits each in aesthetically transitional phases – inside a Ferndale-based venue that is, itself, starting to realize its potential to be a significant hub for live music in this ever burgeoning scene.
Happy New Year.