On February 29, 2012, after over three years of work, I finally released my latest solo album, “Blue Skies Black”. It’s more than just acoustic guitars and vocals this time around. I produced and recorded most of the tracks myself, mostly in my home studio, performing nearly every instrument on the album. The album also features six different drummers, a live horn player, and guest vocals on a song by Phil Taylor (Future Leaders of the World, Machina).
I got an introduction to Mike the other night on Twitter Tuesday Live. It was a particularly lively broadcast, and professionals from all over the indie scene were in total agreement, that this cat is one of the special gems you find in the music mines which shines out of the dark like a light!
Mike is already known for his work with The Velmas but this new solo album is a journey in new directions! It’s obvious that doing most of it himself, he had the time to really get into the music and explore the possibilities, forming a labyrinth of sound and word worthy of deep exploration.
The songs are introspective, emotional, and powerful. You’ll find love and hurt, angst and joy, wonder and question, all wrapped up in a complex narrative that eschews the normal “poor me, life sucks, so I’m going to scream nonsense at a microphone” stuff that is pounded at us these days. Opting instead for intelligible vocal sounds, and answers to the questions. Anyone can sit down and cry sixteen bars of “oh, no…” Mike Grosshandler doesn’t waste his energy on that. These songs are poetry, or short-stories. Cliche’s aren’t allowed. They truly stand out in the world of indie alternative rock!
Grosshandler’s musicianship is excellent, and with some of the arrangements, it would have to be. I can hear the influence of great bands and writers of several decades. Everything from Paul and George from The Beatles to some of the great harmonies of bands like Yes, grungy guitars and layers reminiscent of STP, and maybe a little Green Day. I’m thinking the track “Drops” is my favorite, I love the simplicity of the intro, and the clean feel of the strings.
When I think about the fact that he did most of this himself, I don’t really know where to start, let’s just say, “damn impressive.”
Here is what Richard Wildman of Music Scene Investigation told me
I can say that during the TTL broadcast, I thought that the 3rd track, by Mike, that was played was an extremely well put together and entertaining piece. I found the piece, Status Quo I believe the name was, to be very interesting from both a vocal and rhythmic perspective. The percussive aspects of the track were in contrast with the vocal lines and music, which gave the tune some very interesting and entertaining variations that one doesn’t normally hear. I liked the fact that the track was extremely well balanced in the mix. During the choruses of the track, the backing vocals didn’t bury the lead, or visa-versa. They were extremely well balanced and well done. A lot of people like to compare vocalists against well know voices. I suppose that I do too. As I mentioned during the TTL broadcast, I find myself hearing an eerie (in a good way) familiarity between Mike’s voice and that of Geddy Lee. Mike mentioned, after hearing that comment, that he didn’t see it, as he couldn’t sing that high. I don’t think it has to do with the vocal range, but more with the tone and timber of the vocal performance. Personally, I like what I heard, especially within the track Status Quo.
Understand that I’m the host of MSI: and do not normally conduct reviews. I’m eager to hear what the MSI: panel will say.
If you aren’t familiar with MSI, we highly recommend you get acquainted.
Another great recommendation came from Walter Hargrave from IndieMusicBus
The first time we heard Mike was on Butterflies Radio’s Twitter Tuesday Live. The song “Status Quo” played and I personally loved it. We invited him for our promotions that very night and did an interview a short time after.
Be sure to check out that interview!
All in all I can truly say, “Thanks for the great tracks, Mike! I’ll be playing this a bunch!” Oh, and here comes “Drive Me” again. It’s one that reminds me of Harrison… Love it! Everyone else, go dig a copy of this one out of the iTunes mine, you won’t be sorry!
for more on Blue Skies Black, check out Paragon-Music Webzine ” Blue Skies Black is a really strong recording from Mike, which I know took a long time to put together. It was well worth the wait and there are lots of varied styles and sounds on here.”