Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mike Viola's American Egypt: Another One For The Best Of 2018 List!

I won't pretend to be Mike Viola's biggest fan. When the Candy Butchers major label debut, "Falling Into Place" was released in the late 90's, I had friends raving, while I found most of it fairly pedestrian. But over the years, these same friends followed Viola's every move and would often suggest tracks or projects that they thought might change my mind. It worked, especially after seeing the "Pure McCartney" video, which featured Viola with my favorite Dane Tim Christensen, Tracy Bonham and Christensen's band The Damn Crystals, performing Sir Paul's "Ram" in its entirety. That video is one of the most exhilarating performances I have ever seen, and over the years, I've come to truly appreciate Mike Viola's brilliance as a songwriter.

So...Mike Viola. He posted this on his Facebook page on Tuesday:

"The American Egypt is on Apple Music today. Other platforms slowly populating as I type. I decided on Friday not to wait until the fall to put this music out. Here we GO."

And then this:

"American Egypt will be on Spotify and other streaming platforms very soon… It just takes a little more time to populate. Also it will be available this fall on LP and CD. But right now if you have Apple Music enjoy! PS I didn’t have Apple Music until about an hour ago ha ha Ha ha ha!"

I decided to go in last night. and quite frankly, I am surprised that I came out.

"The American Egypt" is one of the most raw and intense collections of songs I have heard since Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band." By no means a conventional power pop record, the sounds, melodies and particularly the words, play out almost like a stream of consciousness confessional. I sat frozen, as each story unfolded in ways most pop music would not dare to unfold.

I would recommend listening from head to tail. I think it is important with this particular record. But if you lack the time or patience, here are some highlights.

"The American Egypt" is one powerful listen. It took a lot out of me in the best possible ways.


buzzbabyjesus said...

Yeah. And no "Big Star, Queen, Raspberries, The Beatles, Cheap Trick OR Marshall Crenshaw".

Anonymous said...

Whew! I hear what you mean. Have to get the vinyl so I can take a break after between sides. Sounds really good but rather intense.

I'm kinda like you, been a part-time Viola fan for quite awhile. I probably like Falling Into Place a little more than you but I definitely agree with your 'pedestrian' comment. His 'Blue Thumb' album is probably my favorite.

As with Wilkerson yesterday, thanks for the heads up.

Sal, you're killing my wallet.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for post this great. I'm a long time reader but ive never commented till

Thanks again for the awesome post.

Ken J Xenozar said...

Great stuff. Been waiting a long time for some original Mike Viola.

Chris Collins said...

Listening now.

cmealha said...

I've been hooked on Mike Viola since Sal turned me on to the Candy Butchers and I anxiously await each new release. When I think of Mike Viola I think great pop.

My first listen of "The American Egypt" was on my iPhone while I was working out. Nothing grabbed me but then I was distracted. Today I listened on a proper system, reading the lyrics as the album unfolded. This is not a pop record. There's no "Soundtrack of My Summer". What there is is a collection of soul baring songs by a man in his 50's who is coming to terms with having fewer years ahed than he's had behind. It's something most of us that grew up in the 60's and 70's are having to come to terms with. Fear, weariness, uncertainty, anger, loneliness, forgiveness, raging against the dying of the light. There is joy, beauty and love as well. Each song deals with varying aspects. There are some pop touches in some of the melodies and the production is not as stark as "Plastic Ono Band" but the emotions are just as heartfelt and honest and John's. The haunting chorus of the opening cut, "The American Egypt", will wind up on some rap record a la Dido so make sure to listen to it in it's proper context before it gets ruined. There are so many great lines but I'd prefer you listen to them than me repeating them here.

If you are a Mike Viola fan, you'll need to adjust you're expectations but if you are just a music lover, especially if you're looking at the tail end of your time here, be prepared to ride a roller coaster of emotions. The album is capped by a beautiful song called "Sunset America". It's melancholy is a good middle ground on which to end a wonderfully satisfying album full of the ups and downs that are what make up our own lives.

Sal Nunziato said...

Cmealha, I’m glad you heard what I heard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.