Just stretching

Mike’s Modern Music has a hard-to-characterize sound all its own that demonstrates a commendable willingness to try out new styles. Bands willing to stretch out beyond comfortable labels usually offer up one style on one CD, then perhaps stretch out into undiscovered territory on a separate effort, maybe even on a separate label.

Mike’s Modern Music, a Pontiac-based crew, seems to be saying, “Damn that. We’re going for it all right here, right now. Whatever happens, happens, but this is who we are.” If I’m reading the message correctly, then I’ve got to say I definitely appreciate what they’re doing. If there’s one thing that modern music needs these days, it’s a little artistic bravery, even if the effort doesn’t always hit the mark dead center. For example, the somewhat thin, plinky (sorry, but that’s the only word that seems to describe the sound) tonal quality generated by the keyboards could be strengthened and fattened up considerably.

Still, the songs themselves are good. And since it might be helpful to give readers at least some idea of what Mike’s Modern Music sounds like — as noncommercial as it may be — it’s overall somewhat of a laid-back, rhythm-driven, New Orleans, bluesy type of sound. The vocalist — listed on the credits simply as “Mike” — reminds me a lot of Randy Newman, the guy who wrote the lovably controversial tune “Short People.” But this is just a broad-brush characterization. To really get the flavor, you’ll have to check it out for yourself.

And Mike’s Modern Music is definitely worth checking out.

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at [email protected].

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