Detroit Rock City has been home to some of the world’s best music for over half a century and more, including the likes of Motown and jazz, to the new sounds of techno, hip hop and garage rock. From Stevie Wonder to The White Stripes, and so many more in between, here are a list of some of 2014’s best bands looking to continue to drive that fine and longstanding tradition of amazing music coming out of the Motor City and the great State of Michigan. If you get a chance to, pick up the latest offering or catch these performers live before they make it too big.
The Appleseed Collective
Hometown: Ann Arbor
Formed in 2010, The Appleseed Collective is quite insistent that fans and people interested in their music understand one thing: The Appleseed Collective is an Americana-style music band. Sure, they play lots of music that sounds like gypsy jazz, or ragtime, or even folk and bluegrass, but they’re so much more than that. Their message is that their music represents a hodgepodge of so many different American and world styles, all of which may have a dated feeling to them, but in a refreshingly bright new way. Attendees of Ann Arbor’s Annual Summer Festival have become accustomed to seeing The Appleseed Collective headlining their own night of music, with 2014’s performance being hailed as their most entertaining yet. Music and tour information can be found at their new website.
Hometown: Metro Detroit
Kaleido may not be new on the Detroit music scene, but 2014 saw an incredible boost in their popularity thanks in part to an increased visibility and to their high-energy live shows. Kaleido and their lead singer, the “spitfire hellcat,” Christina Chriss, are becoming a routine staple among many Detroit Tigers games, as well as a fixture at other large-scale Detroit events. Their performances showcase a raw Motor City spirit that defies the crowd to ignore their powerhouse rock. Chriss is pitch-perfect with her vocal stylings and the band happily lends its energy to back her up. Tour dates and more information can be found here.
The Mega ’80s
Face it, young people are obsessed with the 1980s. Sure, they may have just been toddlers or perhaps not have even been born yet, but the ’80s are more popular than ever (even more so than in the ’80s). The Mega 80s may just be a cover band, but they own the distinction of being named by Hour Detroit Magazine as the “Best Live production/Cover Band” for 11 years straight. They also took home the award for “Best Local Band Overall” a few years back. This year was a tremendous year for the group, touring around Southeast Michigan and watching their fan base grow ever larger. You can often catch them playing at their favorite haunt, The Magic Bag, in Ferndale.
Related: A Breakdown Of Detroit Neighborhoods
Hometown: Metro Detroit
Frontier Ruckus got its start in the suburban landscape of Birmingham, Michigan, north of Detroit. Songwriter and lead singer Matthew Milia attended Michigan State University and formed the band in 2003 with David Jones, a banjo player and high school friend who was attending the University of Michigan. Since then, the group has gained a cult following of folk rock devotees who share in Frontier Ruckus’ love of all things ’90s, including Polaroids, strip malls and the rise of the warm family sitcom where everything becomes all right in the end. The group’s songs embellish the past and a childhood spent in the suburbs of dying metropolis – a world so many of their fans can recall at a moment’s notice. Lately, the band has been taking their show on the road across the country, and is gearing up for the release of their 4th studio album, “Sitcom Afterlife.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Hometown: Metro Detroit
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. may not be a big secret to Detroiters, but the secret is finally out to the rest of the country: this band is popular. After signing with Warner Bros. Records, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., the pop rock group who sold out shows in the Motor City, turned their sights on the rest of the world. This year was a big year for the group, taking their tour internationally, which is quite a feat, considering that the group began as a quiet basement project between founding members Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott. One of their new fans? NASCAR’s actual Dale Earnhardt Jr., who said he enjoyed their music, despite their playful moniker that began as a joke.
Related: Best Parks In Detroit
Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at Examiner.com.