Detroit is known for a lot of things: Faygo, Stroh’s Beer, Ford Motor Company, Hockeytown, the music of Motown, and much more.
However, it’s not just a town full of former glory Motown ballads, the area still has a rivaled music scene sprawling with new, exciting talent every day. Plenty of up-and-coming Detroit bands call this beautiful Michigan city their home, and it’s probably about time you started listening.
Here are 5 Detroit rock bands/acts hailing from the 313 Detroit Rock City (and the metro area) that I think you need to know… Take a moment to listen now and be one of the cool kids who knew them right before they hit it big:
#1 Jena Irene Asciutto
The nineteen-year-old became a household name during the 12th season of “American Idol” in 2014. Finishing as runner-up, judges called her “the sleeper,” and a “darkhorse,” as she continued to defy the odds, week after week on the FOX singing competition. She even performed an original piece on the piano, a rarity for the show, which almost entirely consisted of cover songs.
These days, Jena (pronounced GEENA) is currently studying music at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) and performing with her band in Detroit. She released her EP “Innocence” in April 2016 and continues to belt out the tunes, extremely personal in subject matter. At such a young age, it’s hard to imagine how comfortable the singer-songwriter is to expose her heart and soul for all to see and hear in her music. The Farmington Hills-native even chose Detroit over LA and Nashville when choosing a record label, Original 1265 Recordings. Jena, we salute you – keep on making the 313 proud.
With pretty piano leads, powerful vocals, an important journey of self-discovery, and empowering lyrical matter, Asciutto proves that girls rock. Even better yet, Detroit girls kick serious butt. She’s a firecracker who will be around in the music business for what seems like a long time to come.
Check out her song, “Unbreakable,” complete with pretty Detroit skylines and cityscapes below.
“I’m unbreakable. Take a look around and just lose what I have found … I won’t break again.”
#2 Flint Eastwood
Keeping up with the girl power theme, Flint Eastwood, despite the play-on-words of the masculine Western outlaw actor, also goes by the name Jax Anderson.
Donning a wide brim hat, dark sunglasses, and often wearing all black, one might think that the figure on stage would sing somber music or not know how to rock a party. That person does not know Jax Anderson, err, Flint Eastwood.
Known for her ability to get the crowd goin’, Flint Eastwood provides Detroit its own little slice of Spaghetti Western heaven. Described as indie, alternative, electronic, funky pop, this female-fronted ensemble notes Motown group, The Supremes, as a prominent influence.
Her latest single delivers the always-poppy dance beat, sure to be stuck in your head for days. Jax’s inspiration for her latest work, “Small Victories” comes from tragedy, but the message is delivered in an uplifting light.
Get your dancing shoes ready, and turn that dial to Flint Eastwood. It’s time you forgot about life’s burdens and be celebrate your own small victories every day.
“Glitches on my radio, coming from the sonar…”
If you’re more of a rocker through-and-through, Detroit’s own Kaleido is about to be your new go-to Saturday night soundtrack. Their music is dubbed Guns ‘N’ Roses meets No Doubt, and they’ve been on tour with names just as impressive.
They’ve been named the Best Band in Detroit by Real Detroit Magazine in 2013 and 2014. Kaleido also has plenty of loyal fans from the 313, having a record-breaking win on the 89x Radio airwaves. Their song, “Love & War”, featuring Dryden Mitchell of Alien Ant Farm, was named the People’s Choice song for nearly a month straight!
The fivesome has been playing music together for years and has found a comfortable groove with their rock sound. Female-fronted vocals, hearty drums, and plenty of guitar riffs make this Detroit act music to your ears.
“Open your eyes, it’s a new day. Yesterday don’t matter and tomorrow’s still far away.”
Take a hint from the band and open your eyes, chances are you’ll see Kaleido all around town. The band frequents acoustic open mic nights all across the metro Detroit area including Greektown Casino, Great Baraboo Brewing, and more. Catch ’em before their upcoming fall UK tour!
#4 Mike Mains
Facebook: Mike Mains Music
Indie pop rock, infectious lyrics, delectable keys… Mike Mains has everything you could ever want out of a band.
Their sophomore album, “Calm Down, Everything is Fine” debuted at #15 on the Billboard Top New Artists Albums Chart. New York Minute Magazine said it best: “In a time of Bieberesque silliness and hipster pretention, Mike Mains is a voice of reason.”
Don’t let the indie pop label fool you, though, Main has some pretty raspy, gritty screams and yells full of emotion in his songs. It’s equal parts poppy as it is raw. The band has opened up for Motion City Soundtrack at Lansing’s Common Ground Music Festival, Relient K, Hellogoodbye, and more.
Mike Mains is currently on a “Living Room Tour,” bringing the tunes straight into the smallest of venues, many including house shows and basement parties. Stops include Lansing, Owosso, Mt. Pleasant, and Grand Rapids. Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with this Detroit indie rock outfit!
“Tonight when I fall asleep I pray that you would come to me ’cause I need you by my side.”
Nostalgic feels are heavy with this new wave rock Detroit duo. With ‘80s synth pop influences, their music proves danceable.
Chances are, you’ve been to a show featuring IAMDYNAMITE before, considering they’ve practically stayed on the road for the last few years, opening for Blue October and Sum 41. Their 2015 album, “Wasa Tusa,” included the track “Where Will We Go” that spent 20 weeks in the top 20 Billboard Alternative charts.
Powerful, catchy harmonies and a full sound make their newest single, “In the Summer” feel like a block party, despite only two dudes producing the dynamic sounds.
“You’ve got my pictures and they’ve got me facing … Won’t even tell me that I’m moving.”
BONUS WILD CARD: Stories Untold
Facebook: Stories Untold Band
Stories Untold is a group of twenty-something punk rockers, but that’s not to say their resume isn’t already impressive. They’ve played festivals including Bledfest with The Black Dahlia Murder, Kevin Devine, Knuckle Puck, Citizen and Common Ground Music Fest with Red Sun Rising, Rise Against, Bouncing Souls, and IAMDYNAMITE.
The alternative rock/post-hardcore group’s influences include Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Sum 41, and Senses Fail.
The band released their album, “Cant’ Go Home” May of 2016, and chances are, things are gonna change for this up-and-coming band. Good things for our lil’ Michigan buddies, we hope.
“Those were different times with a different touch. Now we live different lives with different loves.”
Now that you’ve hopefully learned about some new Detroit rock bands, tell me, what sounds are you digging from Detroit Rock City?