Matt Bastardson’s “Hard Times” Is Alt-Country With Pontiac Edge

From Matt’s Website

The Pontiac scene won’t let me go. Here we go. So, we’ve got yet another stellar release coming out of one of the folks I met at Exferimentation Brewing Company’s open mic. For a place that’s been closed for a fair shake now, I really love how it keeps popping its head back into my life, it was a good place. Matt Bastardson’s “Hard Times” is well produced, working class Americana that feels like Metro Detroit’s own brand of country music. 

Maybe this is a controversial opinion, but I personally believe Michigan is becoming a real contender in the alt-country scene. We’ve got guitar gods like Billy Strings coming out, as well thrash-grassers The Native Howl, flawless musicians like myself of course, and we’ve got this single right here from Matt Bastardson. It’s been excellently produced into something that feels both modern, and retro at the same time, which also feel appropriately Metro-Detroit. Its alt-country/southern rock at its core, with a lot of blues and even more Americana. The chunky guitar effortlessly chugs and fills driven by the pocket drums, and fiddle that seems to travel between the ears as it plays. 

The star of the show is Matt’s fantastically edged vocals, and his grounded songwriting. A song about perseverance out of Pontiac feels appropriate. Lines like “Hard Times On My Shoulders/ Have Cut These Lines In My Face/ I Will Fight To Make A dollar/ Anybody, anytime, or place” deliver a blue collar feel that makes me want to go get shit done. The song feels thematically satisfying as a kind of come-back/debut as well, as it feels autobiographical. 

It’s been an absolute treat to get to hear music coming out of all these people I was able to see play in some way at Exferimentation. I want to say it’s all been surprisingly good, but I’m not truly surprised. All of them have been clearly talented performers, and the music they make reflects that. Matt Bastardson’s “Hard Times” establishes him as another example of the excellent country influenced music coming out of Michigan right now. The track is currently in pre-release, but you can get your hands on it by signing up for Matt’s mailing list on the Fan Magnet linked below.

Track Credits:

Tracked at 17 West Lawrence with Mike Seeger

Singer/Songwriter and Guitars: Matt Bastardson

Bass and Keys: Jordan Weiss

Drums: Rob Emmanuel

Fiddle: Wes Fritzemeir

Mixing: Ryan Cunninghan (Boxcar Audio, Pontiac)

Matt’s Socials:

Fan Magnet: Click here to get the track

My Socials:

Shameless Begging


I don’t know if you knew this, but neither making music these days or writing about it is particularly profitable. Unfortunately, those our the things that I do, so I, am not very profitable. I want to be able to continue pursuing my passions and bring y’all music and music reviews, and I don’t have any current plans to stop…. But I could really use some money. Money would really help me be able to continue spending as much time as I do on music writing, and making music. So what am I going to do about this? Well, I’m going to start by begging. Well, asking, up to you. Dirt Witch Records is now accepting donations. I’ll include a form below, and there is now one at the bottom of the home page.

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Other than that, I’ve got a couple of merch items over at Band camp for sale here, with some plans for more. Buying the music there is also incredibly helpful. Thinking of putting together a digital zine, sell that for a small price maybe? Thoughts?

Cartridge B-Sides- “Pretty Ugly” Review


Ah yes, the humble solo artist. Well, rarely humble, look at me. I feel solo artistry can be a real double edged sword. You can get stuff that really speaks with a singular vision, or you can get stuff that feels a bit, unrestrained (I know I edge a little into the latter on occasion).  Cartridge B Sides’s “Pretty Ugly” is solidly in the former. 

Cartridge B Sides is Justin Roman, a solo artist in the garage rock style, with music that feels nostalgic, and intimate. Justin (Great name, obviously) says of his own music.

“I play indie-garage rock style genre with heavy influences from bands such as The Strokes, Joy Division and Surf Curse.” 

The strokes is who I personally heard the most influence of, especially with the vocals that feel a bit distant and laconic, but not attempting to replicate Julian Casablancas. The songs definitely have that 2000’s upbeat indie drive, with constant clean rhythm guitar, and high and catchy lead guitar licks. What makes Cartridge B-Sides a bit more distinct is the infusion of bedroom pop, and that aforementioned nostalgia. You can feel Justin reflecting on his influences in the music, almost as if he’s retelling these tales of old music and playing all the parts. It gives the songs a thoughtful construction, and deep intimacy. 

To be honest, I think this music speaks for itself in a way that is giving me difficulty writing about it. This album is super consistent in its delivery, tonally and thematically. The songs are quick and catchy, not overstaying their welcome (Is it cool? Is my personal favorite earworm). It’s music that definitely makes me want to go back and listen to more of The Strokes and Joy Division, but you know,  not before I finish listening. 

I like this album, it’s familiar without feeling like already tread ground, and I love the intimate and singular feel. It’s an album you can put on and pretty instantly know your stance on as well, so I’d recommend giving it a try. 

P.S.: This music is my first reviewed using my contact/submission portal, that you can access here.

Cartridge B-Sides’s Socials

My Socials

HI 5 9/9/22

I heard some nasty imperialist died, anyways, let’s talk about music!

Leo Sun-“I Don’t Wanna Be Strong”, September 2

LA “booty rockin cowboy” and songwriter delivers this dreary and atmospheric slow love bop. The mellow instrumentation really suits the vulnerable vocals.

Easy Sleeper-“Dream Prison”, September 9

“Dream Prison” is suitably dreamy with its clean and melodic guitar soaked with atmosphere and backed by low, whispery vocals. Easy Sleeper always puts out music that makes me want to go for a drive, and just cruise along.

Ghost Orchard-“bruise”, August 30

The constant drums are pretty up in the mix with this song, and it gives a really hypnotic quality to all the subtle instrumentation and whispery vocals that is quite satisfying. This cryptic song demands to be listened to on repeat to decode.

sleepyhead-“Hoax”, September 9

Sleepyhead really are a power duo; recording, mixing, and distributing their upbeat indie pop out of Manchester. Their music is relentlessly earwormy, and full of hooks. The acoustic start to this song is unexpected, but fits the song amazingly in their hands.

The Lounge Society-“Blood Money”, August 26

This track off of The Lounge Society’s Tired Of Liberty drives forward with constant, upbeat drums and a relatively simple but horribly catchy guitar riff. I love the chaotic energy of the song.

HI 5 9/2/22

It’s September. I don’t have a point here, just making sure you were aware.

Hank – “Your Ex, Man”, August 28

Did I listen to this song initially because the band name is the name of my cat. Yes. Obviously. I have also listened to this catchy as fuck pop tune with folk elements several times since. It toes a great line between natural and more produced sounds.

Loops & Loops – “Can’t Shut It Out”, September 2

Loops & Loops consistently put out great singles and instrumental albums (I’ve written about them before). I love the intimate vibe of this track and the breathy, understated vocals are contrast wonderfully with dynamic instrumentation.

A Rueful Noise – “It’s Not That Kind Of Party”, August 26

Off of their EP Let The Revels Begin, this Lansing band delivers dramatic and dynamic indie rock that feels haunted (in a good way).

Red Scarves – “Robin”, August 24

This song feels a lot different than previous releases I’m familiar with from Red Scarves, and it is beautiful. A beautifully written and sung alt-country tune that makes me want to cry into a beer.

Bluhm – “Ranger”, September 2

Bluhm has been pumping out some wonderful singles, like “Everything” which you can read about here. I’m a sucker for a duet, and they move their dreamy sound in an alt-country direction that reminds me a bit of Shovels & Rope.

HI 5 8/18/22

CHRISTOPHER! Did you know Michael Imperioli has a band?


Bluhm – “Everything”, August 12

You can read the full review here. Haunting and understated indie pop. Love the reverby vocals and lyrical guitars.

Zopa – “Red Sky”, February 16

Another band I feel a bit late to the party on, with Michael Imperioli on lead vocals and guitar. Gives me strong The Velvet Underground vibes, love the deep bass.

Gogol Bordello – “Forces Of Victory”, August 16

Folk punk that is always super exciting, honestly this almost feels like a folk metal song, and I love that.

Permanently Pissed – “CHAT”, August 11

With the recent Bluhm review it seemed appropriate to CHAT about John’s other band Permanently Pissed. High distortion garage punk that doesn’t linger.

The Native Howl – “Sons Of Destruction”, August 18

Who gave these metalheads out of Leonard MI all these grandpa guitars. Native Howl continues to play dope ass metal on folk instruments making them one of my favorite groups in bluegrass right now.

Bluhm – “Everything” Single Review

Man, you guys remember The Bronze from buffy? The vibes there were tight. “Everything”, the debut single from Bluhm would fit right in. I can picture it honestly, though it does help this is one of the few bands I’ve written about where I’ve actually seen all the people playing in person. What feels like long ago, I used to go to Exferimentation Brewing Company open mic all the time. Unfortunately that lovely place closed down, but for me, hearing this song brings me right back to watching Claire & Matt of the opening band play “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, haunting me beautifully. I can move that scene to The Bronze without a missed step. 

Bluhm is what I would describe as atmospheric indie folk pop, which I’ll admit is a bit of word salad. They honestly remind me a lot of the aforementioned Mazzy Star unsurprisingly, or a bit like Florist with a lot more 90’s flavor. Reverby, not in a hurry, and with soft vocals that the instruments never overpower. I expected this from vocalist Claire Bluhm, but it’s cool to see such range from Permanently Pissed member and other band member John Marion (not certain on names, going off instagram and memory.) The aforementioned Matt also played drums on this track, and he continues to be a fantastic pocket drummer. 

The lyrics fall right in line with the vibes the music puts out, telling an understated love song that feels familiar but not cliché. The guitar tone is perfect, and the melodies feel a bit lyrical as well, coming together with the vocals themselves in a haunting chorus softly supported by a subtle  rhythm section. 

Overall, this is an incredibly strong debut from Bluhm. I was pretty excited for this track, and it did not disappoint. It’s haunting, understated, and beautiful. I’m really stoked to hear more, and I’m quite confident it will be just as excellent.


Bluhm Socials:

My Socials


Bogue Millionaires Digital Distribution

Howdy y’all. An update to let you know we will be digitally re-releasing music from Kyle’s college band, Bogue Millionaires. I’m going to go backward for this one, releasing their split with Radiator Hospital and then their first venture in about another 6 months. The music is going to be up August 14th (Kyle’s B-day).

https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/boguemillionaires/split-w-radiator-hospital

I’d describe the music as high energy garage punk, with fantastically done lo-fi production and heavy pop sensibility. Bogue Millionaires songs hit you so fast you you can’t help but go back for another listen.

Bogue Millionaires was a garage rock/punk band in Michigan from 2009 to 2012. Members included Kyle Kehus on guitar and vocals, Alex B on bass, and Laura P on drums. Kyle and Alex were friends in high school and were previously in the band Goodbye Heffalumps together. They met Laura while attending Michigan State University and the three founded Bogue Millionaires. They released “Bogue Millionaires Play Selected Hits with Originals” in January 2010 and a Split with Radiator Hospital in August 2010. They frequently played shows in the East Lansing and Grand Rapids scenes. Kyle passed away in 2018 but more of his music can be found from his solo punk rock project, Kyle Kaos. – H. Hurst-Kehus

HI 5 8/11/22

The music keeps coming and it never stops coming. Like a pornstar I guess.

Loops & Loops – “Beautifully Volatile”, August 5th

More from Loops & Loops (and there always is, that man records). Dark and beautiful indie folk song.

The Greedy Beat Syndicate – “If You Want It”, August 5th

Funky and chill. Fantastic bass, love the snare sound.

Matthew Milia – “Keego Harbor”, July 16 2021

I’m completely ashamed to say I just got my ears on this album. I’m working on a review of this album right now, and this is the best off an amazing album. Thought provoking Americana.

The Mountain Goats – “Mark On You”, August 2

The final single (I think) coming out before Bleed Out (which I am obviously very excited for, The Mountain Goats have been my favorite band for like a decade at this point). I think I still enjoy “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome” more, but I love how The Mountain Goats are introducing subtle and melodic electric guitar parts.

Cheap Teeth – “What A Feeling, What A Day”, August 11

You can find my full review at Rock At Night here. Highly dynamic, and lyrically excellent garage rock that feels like a blend of UK and American influence.

HI 5 8/2/22

Music? Music.

Red Scarves – DKHTBA, July 27

I really enjoy Red Scarves version of jazzy indie rock. This song is catchy and well written, with fantastic production.

Private Party – Like It Or Not, July 23

Ultra upbeat indie rock out of South Wales. I love the urgency of the song and vocals.

Trevor and The Joneses – Love It, July 29

You can check out my full review here. Catchy garage rock with hints of surf.

Easy Sleeper – Actuary, July 29

Another fantastic, chill single from D.C. emo style rockers Easy Sleeper. Love the low vocals and atmosphere.

Loops & Loops – Twilight, July 29

You can check out the full album review here. Fantastic ambient that makes you feel like you’re floating.