Mike Bankhead is a bass player and songwriter from Dayton, OH. I think the first thing that piqued my interest was that bass was Bankhead’s primary instrument. I’ve worked with a lot of bands and also reviewed a lot of them. It’s obviously common for guitar and piano players to be songwriters and I often see drummers who have a go at it as well but far less so than rom bass players.
Bankhead recorded at Reel Love Recording Company with their engineers for over a year and recorded to tape. As an engineer myself I also love the sound of tape and that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this album. It’s easy on the ears even when it rocks and has the classic warmth that engineers often talk about.
This album is pretty large in scope. There are ballads, rock songs and just a lot of sonic territory and various genres. Take for instance “Your Anthem” which, well, sounds like an anthem. There are heavy guitars which wash over you that combine with a big drum sound.
You also get some more gritty songs like “I Am a Number” that feel more inspired by small clubs and bands like Guided by Voices. The ballad “Goodbye” was really well done and I actually thought his vocals sounded best in this context. That being said when compared to “I Am a Number” it felt like a different band.
This juxtaposition is also noticeable when comparing “Insomnia” and “She Speaks in Metaphor.” I enjoyed both songs for different reasons. “Insomnia” is lush, orchestral and ethereal. “She Speaks in Metaphor” is a more dirty and raw rock sound somewhere between grunge and alternative. There is even a melancholy folk which we hear on “Paterfamilias.” As the album progressed I was constantly impressed by the songwriting and performances.
This wasn’t the most cohesive release I’ve heard and it often felt like a mixtape to me. On that note I think this release will appeal to those that enjoy a good amount of variety. This is an album where you can tell a lot of work went into the process. The proof is the pudding. Take a listen.
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