By: Derek Spencer
There’s a lot of god damn people named Michael in this world, and it feels like half of them have requested I review their god damn music. This post is for a bunch of you musicians named god damn Michael.
Hello Michael Sterns (or “Mike”, as you call yourself on your bandcamp page). I appreciate your honesty here Mike. There are a lot of people making music alone in their dorm rooms these days. It takes grit to fess up. You could have left that to my imagination, Mike, leaving me to imagine you as a solo artist with his own studio band. But you’re an honest guy, Mike, a real stand up guy.
You’re also a precise guy. Like on that song, when you sing “when I was 22/and you were 19”. Those aren’t round numbers, Mike. Those are specific numbers, and I appreciate that attention to detail. Mike, you’d be surprised how rare attention to detail is these days. Trust me, I know.
Anyways, I like your shit, Mike. You have gumption. You have real pizzaz. You pull back and push forward. Dynamics! You got em. Tone! You think about it. Real high quality stuff here Mike. You got the whole singer-songwriter thing down. I mean, sometimes I wish you were saying different words, but cringe-inducing earnestness is part of the indie game, isn’t it?
Biggest negative here has got to be these sound effects. Man. If I knew how to make memes I would do one where Bernie Sanders likes spoken word interludes and Hilary thinks it’s a good idea to put lightning sounds and alarm clocks in your tracks.
You know, you’re doing yourself a disservice by calling this album Collegiate Daydreams. That name makes me think your too young for this to be good. And maybe you are young, and maybe this isn’t good in the professional and/or critical sense, like maybe you can’t make money doing this, or like maybe you could have made money doing this but only if you had a time machine to go back and release the music years ago. But, point is, you don’t sound like a Collegiate Daydreamer, Mike. You sound like maybe a twenty-something go-getter. Or like at least, like, a graduate underachiever. You get what I’m saying, right Mike? Of course you do.
Michael fucking Blackmond. You record under the name Dora the Destroyer, but you’re a Michael, through and through. It’s in your music. Don’t hide from that.
Anyways, Michael, I gotta hand it to you. You and Mike up there are repping the Michael crew well with your honestly. Glad to know Michaels like you are out there ready to disclose the fact that you recorded all of your prog metal songs in your living room. Thanks!
I like when you get all metal with it. The thumpity thump suits you, Michael. Sometimes, though, you get all leggity-leggi-wah with your metal, and it kinda feels like I’m playing Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, did you score any Sonic the Hedgehog games? According to this list, you didn’t, but maybe you have an alias?
Anyways, I imagine that the word you’d like people to describe your music with is “soaring”. and I’ll give you that, Michael, sometimes this music soars. But sometimes it putters, too. Sometimes, I’m not really sure what to think. You got these Joe Satriani vibes that really take me out of my Sonic space, you know what I mean? I think you do. Oh and the synths! Really not working for me, Michael. Gotta say.
End of the day, I could see this being fuck-wit-able. I don’t think anyone will ever fuck to this music, but that’s a whole different question. Thanks Michael!
Michael Byrne! Sausage suit in a Sam Adams! Your email says (not making this up, readers) that you go by Dirty Mike, and I think that’s god damn swell. I like how your friend is named Uncle Jesse too. The album here, folks, is Die Until Ur Not Alive Anymore… by The Raspberry Keystones.
Dirty Mike, it says in your email that you aren’t really sure what genre your music is. I think that’s a good question! It’s a little bit puzzling to me too, if I’m being totally honest. Let me say this, your music sounds like strung out teenagers rapping over Animal Collective‘s Campfire Songs. But with surprising wit (at times!)! I think we are permitted to call this “experimental”. Does that work for you?
Anyways, Dirty Mike, y’all got some promise here! Sure, we’re missing some vital production elements that might be necessary to qualify this as listenable music to the majority of the population, but what they’ll call “stupid shit” I call a “niche product”.
Middle track “Above Ground Places” stands out to me as the most captivating composition. It’s like your version of a banger.
The covers are a bit baffling, both in choice and style, but that’s okay! This EP seems like a great place for ol’ Dirty Mike and Uncle Jesse to stretch their wings and figure out what works. In this humble reviewers opinion, covering “Sleepwalker” might not be your strong suit. But now we know!
Past and Future Michaels
There are quite a few Michaels I didn’t get to here. But don’t worry! I will endeavor to review all people named Michael before anyone else gets reviewed.