The Finer Things
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The Finer Things

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Pop Rock


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"Day 197 The Finer Things"

Their music, indeed, can be added to the list of awesome things to come from our great state. - Awesome Mitten

"City Slang Music Review - The Finer Things"

the All I See is Blue (self-released) album is full of synthy, poppy indie rock that bobs around in Wilco and, occasionally, Flaming Lips territory. - Metro Times

"Local indie rockers The Finer Things find inspiration in members' Michigan roots"

If you think the finer things in life include beer, bicycling and the Wolverine state, then you’re on the same wavelength as the Ann Arbor indie rock band The Finer Things.

“The name works for us in an ironic way,” explained Dave Hawkins, the band’s vocalist / piano man. “You think about the finer things and you think about eating caviar, aged cheeses and wines, and having a Rolls Royce out in your parking garage. We like riding our bicycles, having a beer, just taking it easy and keeping down to earth.”

The Finer Things started playing together in 2010. Their upbeat musical style is piano-driven rock, with influences ranging from Ben Folds and White Stripes to locals such as My Dear Disco (now Ella Riot) and The Hard Lessons. The band will celebrate the release of its debut CD Saturday at The Blind Pig.

“I would say the CD is very full of this Michigan influence, a lot of the songs reflect our experiences and life in Michigan. We’ve all been raised here, lived here our entire lives, that’s something we certainly pride ourselves on,” added Hawkins.

The group’s other two members are Joel Cieslak (drums) and Joe Shaheen (guitar). All are 24 years old.

“We’ve known each other for varying lengths of time. I’ve been friends with Joel the drummer since third grade (and) I met Joe the guitar player at the University of Michigan — we were in the same civil engineering program for a while before he switched out to go to music recording."

Hawkins and Cieslak grew up in Plymouth-Canton, but the band is based in Ann Arbor. The pair made music together while in college, but it wasn’t until Shaheen joined up that The Finer Things found their sound.

“Joel was the glue that pulled us together,” said Hawkins. “All of a sudden these songs we produced we all really liked and could get behind.”

The band has jazz, classical and classic rock influences, Hawkins said.

“We certainly have a jazz influence. And then, being trained on classical piano, that always sneaks its way in, in chord changes or certain melodic lines,” he explained. “I don’t mind telling people we are sort of like an edgier Ben Folds because we have that instrumentation, but we also have this Detroit rock and roll influence. … Me and Joe are huge fans of the Hard Lessons, I am a big fan of My Dear Disco, so we also draw influence from local groups.

The new CD, recorded at Big Sky studio in Ann Arbor, consists of 10 original songs. Hawkins said the track “All I See is Blue” illustrates the beauty that can be found in the Wolverine states.

“I was running a relay race — for one of the legs I got there late, so I got to run it alone. It was along the Au Sable River, first thing in the morning. It was just silence, and the river running and the sun was rising. … One of the true beauties of Michigan is the parks and the water. At its most essential level “All I See is Blue” is just the water and the sky, like that perfect day on the lake.”

The album art, by Miranda Steffler, incorporates birch trees and stylized art based on a Detroit street layout as een from above.

Since The Finer Things are just taking off, all the band members still have day jobs. Hawkins works at the Environmental Protection Agency in Ann Arbor and has an engineering background. Shaheen is employed by Leon Speakers, while Cieslak attends the U-M Dearborn where he is finishing up a degree in computer engineering.

“Obviously this isn’t our career,” said Hawkins. “This is something we’re passionate about but it's what happens after 5 o’clock.

“If we can play a show and have people leave feeling a little more optimistic or feeling good about the state of Michigan then that’s a success for us. Certainly it’s not about the money.”

Besides the show at the Pig, summer touring plans bring the trio to Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti June 30.

"Dryvel and The Finer Things rock the Belmont"

they’re the best thing out of Ann Arbor we’ve heard since Tally Hall. -

"The Finer Things and Syndicate at the Blind Pig"

Their energy and passion for what they do resonates off the stage and infects anyone within earshot. -


All i See is Blue - May 2011



"The music of Ann Arbor rock act The Finer Things hits listeners on two levels; first there’s the infectious happy-go-lucky energy that emanates from their sugary, pitch-perfect melodies. Second, there are the slightly more stylish variations on typical pop composition—for instance, dissonantly syncopated drum fills and layering of multiple hooks. There’s a reason for this layered dynamic; Finer Things vocalist Dave Hawkins is a classically trained pianist and a vocal modern jazz aficionado. The three-piece makes traditional forms like jazz and classical ready for mass consumption by meshing them with rock standards. The band’s debut album, All I See Is Blue, was independently released in the spring of 2011."

-A.V. Club Ann Arbor