Features
Reviews
Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Archives
Bargain Basement
Downloads
Music DVD
Upstart
Pipsqueaks
 
 
 
Features
Reviews
Archives
Send Us Mail
Contact Us
 
 

Ken Michaels
The Last Of Its Kind
Zomo Music
www.zomomusic.com


Naming a record, especially one that's being self-released, The Last Of Its Kind, could lend the impression of pretension, but Ken Michaels makes it seem more precocious than egomaniac. These 14 tracks color folk and 60's pop with electronic tones and vocals delivered in a confession booth whisper. It calls to mind the The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but with a digital twist that sometimes works and sometimes falters. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but when Michaels approaches oft-repeated themes he does it with a sensitivity and modesty that lends the impression of an artist doing more with less.

"So So" is a standout track - a perfectly bittersweet song about helpless resignation that seems perfectly content with its own pop sentimentality. When Michaels sings "She's so, so, so in love / and she's so sentimental about it / she's so, so, so in love / and I can't do a thing about it," a droning cello sets the backdrop for a performance that resists the temptations of cliché and indulgence to which so many songwriters succumb.

It's a boundary Michaels also negotiates on "Up And Down The Aisle". With a Turtles-esque cadence and understated harmony vocals the track smacks of 60's pop. It's undeniably fun, and while lyrics like "relax, you're never going to get to the facts / you're wrapped up like a ball of wax" are annoying (is a ball of wax wrapped up or rolled up?) the sincerity with which Michaels treats his wayward subject sounds genuinely comforting.

These pop numbers are when Michaels is at his best. It's true that his use of electronic instruments and textures is laudably unique, but sometimes it seems like the analog and digital are struggling for equal billing. The subtle organ melody and desert-dry guitar at the start of "Come Rain Or Shine" are too easily overpowered by the mathematically hard filter on the vocals. Effectively marrying both elements would require the kind of sensitivity Michaels brings to his lyrics and without it the pairing of a folk vocals and spacey synthesizer noise on "To Lose" seems to pull the listener in more than one direction.

Fortunately, they are both directions worth traveling, and so while The Last Of Its Kind suffers from an acute personality disorder at times, it works well for itself at others. Taking sounds and subjects that have been part of pop music for 50 years and attempting to usher them into the digital age is a risky business, but Michaels avoids many of the pitfalls inherit.

-Jake McCarthy

Track Listing:
1. Little Fish
2. So So
3. Be Whatever
4. Highlight
5. Up And Down The Aisle
6. Big Skies
7. She's Coming Back
8. All Around Us
9. Come Rain Or Shine
10. What You Say
11. There's A Place
12. Can't Reach You
13. To Lose
14. Summer Love


Check out more reviews

Talk Back
e-mail the chief

Like this article?
e-mail it to a friend!

 


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

-------


South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

AWOLNation
Rachel Fredrickson

Kanrocksas
Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo


Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Epilogues
Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Sebadoh
Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Thrice
Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

MuteMath
Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Thrice
Lawrence, KS


 
hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.