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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The Libertines US offer flashback of pre-Nirvana alternative rock

March 7, 2008 at 7:51 am (Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave) (, , , , , , )

Derek’s New Music Bin

Artist: The Libertines US

Album: Greatest Hits

Rating: 8/10

Official Website: http://www.thelibertines.us

Written by Derek Jensen

It may be hard for those who didn’t discover alternative rock until Nirvana or, God forbid, emo, but there was a period of time when just about everybody in the indie scene wanted to be R.E.M. Worshipped by Rolling Stone magazine and the crowned princes of campus stations worldwide, R.E.M. ruled the underground for nearly a decade before their inevitable mainstream breakthrough. You need to read that history lesson to fully understand the Libertines US.

With their continually ringing guitars and enigmatic lyrics (the most straightforward is probably “Everybody Wants to Be My Sister,” which says it all), the Libertines US were among the best of the R.E.M.-alikes. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t like R.E.M. enough. While most R.E.M. clones settled into the same jingle-jangle-jingle-jangle format track for track, the Libertines US skidded in other directions like Goth punk rockabilly (“Voices from the Past”) to neo-psychedelia (the Church-ish “Firetruck”) to, well, proto-grunge (“300 Moons”). However, what may have seemed confusing two decades ago fits perfectly within the electic jukebox of my iPod. Like the Velvet Underground, the Libertines US were way ahead of their time. My only problem with Greatest Hits is that it seems to toss in everything the group has recorded, and not all of it clicks for me. Nevertheless, the many tracks that do – more than half of this CD – make this a must-buy. Get it while it’s still in print.

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