The Michael Character / Fame Swoll / October 2016
RIYL: The Mountain Goats early shit, Ted Leo, anything revolutionary
Boston’s The Michael Character (James Ikeda) has been making records for a longass time now–this is his ninth record!
I grew up on shit like this and it touches me in an elemental place. Recently I’ve been thinking about the old days–the times when you’d go to a punk show and there would be a full table of anti-fascist leaflets, “Keep Our Country Nice and Clean” T-shirts (with girly sizes, even!), and the like. This TMC album brings me right back to that time and place, but with a look toward our scary and uncertain future. For that alone, I love it.
But we can also talk about how it’s so intelligently written–the songs on this record are often simply composed, but they’re performed with force and pack in so much dialogue you need to listen a couple of times. Take “Literally My Master’s Thesis,” 326 words in three minutes and 16 seconds. (You can also buy the literal leather-bound copy of said thesis via bandcamp.) Just managing your breath to do this in a non-obnoxious way is hard work. Doing it while actually saying something clever is also pretty rare.