Having already played a part in what will inevitably be one of RPM Online’s albums of the year for 2019 (The Hip Priests’ ‘Stand For Nothing’ in case you have been living under a rock these past six months) Mike McKinnon, or “Silent Mike” as he was known during his time in Da Priests, is right now carving out a musical path that involves just him and an acoustic guitar.
Yup the man of normally few words (hence his old stage name) is back brothers and sisters and guess what? He’s just self released his debut 11 track solo album.
Recorded by Mike at his home studio during the months immediately after his departure from The Hip Priests ‘Self Titled’ is both inwardly reflective, and as the man says himself, “a far cry from what he’s ever done before.”
Spoken word opener ‘Arrogance/Ignorance’ sets the tone perfectly, and sums up Mike’s mission statement in just forty five seconds. Not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes less really is more.
‘You Picked the Right Time’ is the track Mike initially previewed via social media so I guess he already realises this is perhaps his ace card, it’s a tune that stands out from the pack and I for one would love to hear this one afforded a full studio makeover, perhaps even with a backing band.
Vocally Mike reminds me at times of both Ken Stringfellow and Billie Joe Armstrong so he’s certainly no slouch in this department, it’s just that for me, it took a few listens to get fully acclimatised to his rather unique style – one which tends to see him singing more towards the top end of his register. Once I was in however the likes of ‘Save Myself’ and ‘We’re Not Okay’ really are hook laden blasts of acoustic pop, with Mike even out swearing his old band mates during the latter.
When McKinnon steps down an octave or two vocally like his does on the excellent ‘Disaster Slide’, the sombre ‘Your Goddam Face’ and the verses of the introspective ‘Taking Forever’ there is an extra dimension to his storytelling and his use of double tracked vocals is something that really does make his songs stand out. With rumours circulating that Mike will be touring this record later in the year it will be really interesting to see what he does with these tracks in the live environment, and maybe that band idea I suggested above isn’t such a bonkers one after all?
Before all that though there’s the not so insignificant matter of getting ‘Self Titled’ out there on the streets, which it is already via the usual streaming platforms and via Mike’s Bandcamp page. The plan being to then release this hugely impressive debut set of songs as a CD along with a tie-in 7” sometime later in 2019 something I’d love to see not least because these tracks are crying out to be properly housed within the awesome Jay Millette drawn cover art (textured sleeve a must).
Mike McKinnon is one of those characters punk rock throws up from time to time that makes you stop and think about life and sometimes it’s just the simplicity of a man and an acoustic guitar that does this best.
Go on – hit the links below and tell Mike RPM sent you
Author: Johnny Hayward