Another Michael - New Music and Big Pop Music Album Reviews

Another Michael - New Music and Big Pop Music Album Reviews
The Philadelphia indie rock trio’s debut is gentle in both sound and spirit. Singer Michael Doherty can turn simple moments of reflection into marquee statements with his outstanding voice.  

Another Michael make songs rooted in empathy and connection. Take “New Music,” the opening track off the trio’s debut New Music and Big Pop, which begins with, “We were up late online talking about new music/And you sent me a link to a song that I’d never heard before.” Who among us has not been in this exact position more times than they can count? But the band’s vocalist and songwriter Michael Doherty digs deeper, and over a softly ruminative melody, this commonplace experience gives way to existential ruminations about ambition, the creative process, and finding meaning in art. “And I want to make something timeless/The time isn’t on my wrist/I am willing to hold myself and put up with this awful loneliness,” Doherty sings before landing on a delicate conclusion: “I’m kind of new.”

Although “kind of new” is really no longer the case for the band. Another Michael began around five or six years ago in Albany as the solo project of Doherty and grew to include guitarist/keyboardist Alenni Davis and bassist Nick Sebastiano. After relocating to Philadelphia, their first record as a trio, 2018’s Land EP, co-mingled their interests in indie rock and pop. Now, New Music and Big Pop pushes this envelope further in more subtle ways. Comprised of 10 songs penned between 2016 and 2018, the record is warm, playful, and self-aware—yes, Another Michael, their eyes knowingly roll.

New Music and Big Pop was recorded outside Ferndale, New York, a site that is reimagined by artist Jaime Knoth on the album’s cover: a tiny rowboat dwarfed by green hills and a sorbet-colored sky. Like this scene, the record carries an innate gentleness in both sound and spirit; one of the band’s Bandcamp tags is simply “nice.” “I’m fine, but I know a lot of people who are feeling a bad way,” Doherty sings midway through the record. Just a few minutes later on a song called “What the Hell Is Going On?”, he reiterates the desire to be a vessel of placidity: “I don’t want to be a bummer in these darker times.” And so Another Michael move forward with a light but direct touch in the easygoing vein of Whitney, LAKE, or Real Estate.

As a lyricist, Doherty is plainspoken and specific, lingering on small details but not forcing their depth. “It’s not often that I notice a sunset/So I point it out again,” Doherty sings on the upbeat closer “Shaky Cam”; sometimes a moment of reflection can be as simple as this. The second of the album’s titular songs, aptly-named “Big Pop,” opens with an effervescent bit of color: “Big pop, lemon drop, sipping the whole way through/Tiptop, circus cop, I’ve got something crazy to tell you.” The lines are silly enough to momentarily border on cutesy, but they provide a nice, light match for a narrative about believing in your own artistry.

This sort of gentle, heart-on-its-sleeve music walks a fine line: too slight and it slips into the abyss of forgettability; too self-referential and it becomes an inside joke to which the listener is not invited; too sincere and its emotional stakes disappear in a puff of smoke; too obsessed with profundity and it loses all meaning. But New Music and Big Pop nimbly avoids all of these traps by letting big questions simply exist. The centerpiece might be the ambitious “Row.” Beginning as a lush, sweeping breath of classic rock about conflict, the song grows to reveal the group’s tight-knit cohesion, bright harmonies, and willingness to put their own spin on a variety of touchstones. Doherty’s springy falsetto gets a moment to flex and gives Justin Vernon and—dare I say it—Shawn Mendes a run for their money; there’s even a hint of Joni Mitchell in the way he sings “California on my mind.” To flashback to the late-night song sharing on “New Music,” it’s easy to imagine passing “Row”— and New Music and Big Pop as a whole—to a friend. It would be a nice thing to do.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Another Michael - New Music and Big Pop Music Album Reviews Another Michael - New Music and Big Pop Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 19, 2021 Rating: 5


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