Mike Press captures poetic songcraft of Jeff Tweedy with Beck’s quirks

March 27, 2008 at 7:07 am (Adult Album Alternative, Indie Rock) (, , , , , , , )

Derek’s New Music Bin

Artist: Mike Press

Album: Keep Your Head

Rating: 9/10

Official Website: http://www.mikepress.com

Written by Derek Jensen

Singer/songwriter Mike Press casually tosses out more great lines than most of his peers are barely able to piece together. Keep Your Head is basically moments of genius stitched together. It’s not a smooth ride, certainly, and it took me repeated listenings to appreciate Press’ style in full. In fact, that is the best way to experience this record, in one large gulp, over and over again, letting Press’ rambling, off-the-cuff observations and desert-dry wit into your subconscious.

“Our love was a train wreck in the stars,” Press sings on “Tears of Goodbye (Wayward People’s Hearts),” recalling the poetic imagery of Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Obviously, Press is fan of the Americana segment of the indie-rock population; however, he isn’t too enamored of it in the sense that he is afraid of reaching beyond it. In fact, the influence of Beck and his stream-of-consciousness wordplay is just as pronounced here as the traditional roots-rock elements found in “Short Supplies” and “Taboo.”

I never heard of some of the groups – Drunken Boat, Sticky, etc – that Press used to be in so I’m curious as to how his work has progressed through the years. He certainly has something going for him here.

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Christian band the Day Of rocks with infectious passion

February 28, 2008 at 8:00 am (Adult Album Alternative, Alternative Rock, Contemporary Christian) (, , , , , , )

 

Derek’s New Music Bin

Artist: The Day Of

Album: Awaiting Take Off

Rating: 8/10

Official Website: http://www.thedayofband.com

Written by Derek Jensen

I don’t think the Day Of will have to await taking off for very long. This is certainly one of the most polished and nicely packaged unsigned Christian alternative groups today. I sincerely doubt that this band, if they decide to stick together for the long haul, will remain unknown for that much longer. Rockers like “It Should Have Been Me” and the Coldplay-like “You Don’t Have to Do This” present a group that is on the verge of busting out of the gates – and they know it. You can hear the confidence in Nick Hickman’s voice; his passion is infectious, making you hum nearly every chorus on this CD no matter what your spiritual background is. 

This is a band that is aware of what they’re doing and capable of. Too many rock groups these attempt the clash of hip-hop and rock and fail miserably, humiliating themselves. (I won’t name names.) But the Day Of do not stumble in that regard, tossing in raps on “Be With You” and “You Don’t Have to Do This” with skill and style. There are some moving mellow moments, too, such as “The God You Are to Me.” 

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New 2 the Brain predict the future of music and politics on mysterious debut

February 26, 2008 at 4:45 am (Adult Album Alternative) (, , , , )

 

Derek’s New Music Bin

Artist: New 2 the Brain

Album: New 2 the Brain

Rating: 10/10

Official Website: http://www.new2thebrain.com

Written by Derek Jensen

Recorded last year, there’d be no way New 2 the Brain could’ve predicted the odd shapes that the race for the presidential election has taken. Yet here is the mysteriously named vocalist/producer Wa and songwriter Lawrence Stoller describing “Politics Un Usual,” which aptly mirrors the confusion of voters caught between the excitement of promised changes and the comfort of experience. “The race is on/Going nowhere fast/The parade marches by/But what’s gonna last?” Wa sings as the track continues to dip into caustic commentary. Probably what’s most effective about “Politics Un Usual,” lyrically speaking, is that it doesn’t take the side of either liberal or conservative; it seems to have distrust of both parties and the campaign machines in general. With its funky bass and Steely Dan-ish vocals, “Politics Un Usual” is no stale CNN soundbite; it has a punchy groove with a Beatles-esque appreciation for dramatic tempo shifts.

New 2 the Brain are named perfectly. They do not resemble much of today’s alternative acts. They glue pieces of Peter Gabriel-ish English pop, world music, Genesis-styled progressive rock, and Steely Dan’s sleek jazzy rhythms and give birth to a quirky yet accessible sound that is totally their own. “We’re All in This Together” and “Born Naked” are the catchiest tunes here and will probably taste the sweetest initially for unenlightened listeners. But it’s New 2 the Brain’s more ambitious tracks that’ll eventually floor them.  

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