Time now for our regular check-in on the West Michigan scene with John Sinkevics, editor & publisher of the LocalSpins.com.
This month, he brings us three rocking bands - a super-group, a "rock en español" band and an Americana-fueled, roots rock group, each out with new music.
1) Public Access, “Unlimited” – This is quite literally a super-group of West Michigan musicians who began toying with instrumental rock compositions a couple of years ago and realized they had something special on their hands. The core of the band features Steve Leaf, Seth Bernard, Dan Rickabus and Ben Zito, and this sophomore album from Public Access represents an engrossing step forward from their first recording with really captivating and more focused tracks – all named after National Parks because the group wants to “bring attention to one of our country’s greatest achievements, The National Park Service.”
The band officially releases the new album in a CD-release show Saturday night, Feb. 10 at Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids. The album was recorded at Ben Zito’s Centennial Sound studio in Grand Rapids with mastering by Ian Gorman at La Luna Recording in Kalamazoo.
2) Cabildo, “Sin Fronteras” – This “rock en español” band has been together for about 12 years and has finally released its first official album. Cabildo has built an incredibly devoted audience over the years for its fiery live shows, which celebrate the group’s Latin American roots with a blend of cumbia, folk, rock, ska music and more that get throngs bobbing and dancing. But their studio album shows fire in a different way with lots of political venom, something that shows up most prominently in the title track written by guitarist Julio Viveros. The song “Sin Fronteras” means “without borders” and reflects the plight of immigrants to the United States and the sad dilemma affecting many undocumented workers. There’s an inspiring, communal chant that’s part of the song that really pumps up audiences. The other thing about Cabildo is that it’s a nine-piece band with lots of moving parts and when it all comes together on stage, it’s something to see and hear. Frontman and singer Julio Villalobos conceded there’s some politically charged anger behind the new songs but he’s also somewhat jokingly described the band’s music as “post-mariachi.”
Cabildo performs next on Feb. 16 at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids along with some other Latin-infused groups EPCYA, Pancho Villa’s Skull and La Tyranna y El Cid. The new album was recorded at Third Coast Recording in Grand Haven and at River City Studios in Grand Rapids.
Listen: “Sin Fronteras” (from “Sin Fronteras”)
3) Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions, “I Just Wanna Play Rock & Roll With My Friends” – Jack Droppers is a Grand Rapids native who grew up in Florida, then returned to West Michigan to attend Hope College and has reestablished himself in Grand Rapids with this Americana-fueled, roots rock band called Jack Droppers and The Best Intentions, which just released its first studio album. Droppers says he grew up in a family that listened to artists like Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen, so some of those influences do show up in songs that certainly have an anthemic quality. But really, Droppers boasts his own style and distinctive vocals, with lyrics that exhibit a coming-of-age vibe or as he puts it, “wrestling with faith and with doubt.” The album title, by the way, reflects what Droppers calls a middle-school-styled plea to parents: -- I just wanna rock with my friends” – and it’s a garage-rock sort of attitude that he still carries to this day.
The Droppers took about 18 months to record and self-produce the album, which was mixed at Stone House Recording in Grand Rapids. You can next catch them live at Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids on Feb. 15 when they open for Carrie Nation & The Speakeasy.