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Mikal Cronin - MCIII

  • Published in Albums


On MCIII Mikal Cronin has aimed to “go big” with the soaring, poppier elements of his sound very much enhanced and to the fore. Strings are used to greater effect right from the off with ‘Turn Around’ gaining a balladeering quality from their inclusion.

Sounding closer to the likes of Alex Chilton or Teenage Fanclub than his more garage rock roots Cronin has certainly succeeded in lightening up his sound and the album comes across more like you’d expect the next Kurt Vile one to sound like rather than one on a path that seemed obvious for Cronin to take. As such whilst third track ‘Say’ contains the kind of drawn out mid-point guitar break (repeated at the close as well) that previous album MCII made great use of the cleaner sound of the production here renders it less of a compelling force.

The album’s obviously not distortion-free but, having slightly more polish than Cronin’s previous work, shades into rather generic territory a lot of the time. At this point you get the sense that fans will be clamouring for older songs in the live setting.

Side B of the album is described as a personal concept album in miniature but even before you get to the songs there you have the slow, string-heavy & mournful ‘I’ve Been Loved’ to get through. This fails, unfortunately, to be emotionally engaging and musically is kind of a drag. Thankfully the second side of the release begins promisingly with some more brio in the shape of ‘Alone’ and you can start to see Side A as having been a bit of an experiment with form and a warm up for the inclusion of all the previously mentioned newer elements into the tried & tested Cronin formula. Or possibly the better songs are just those that he’s invested more of himself and his life story in.  

MCIII is therefore an album striving for more depth than was contained in MCII but which works best, over tracks six to 11, when the earlier album’s template is fiddled with the least. Development and growth are never bad things but when you can still come up with barnstorming tracks such as ‘Ready’ it’s clear that your heart can be on your sleeve without dubious dabbles in maudlin territory.

Mikal Cronin is appearing at Beaches Brew, amongst other events & venues in Europe this Summer.

MCIII is available from amazon & iTunes.


Ex Hex - Rips

  • Published in Albums

As album titles go Rips is about as representative of the contents of the album it adorns as you’re going to get. Twelve tracks that rip past you in next to no time, leaving you spinning around like some cartoon character who’s just had a close call with a juggernaut. Taking their name from singer Mary Timony’s 2005 solo album the trio offer up no apologies for their loud, fun and honest approach to bringing rock ‘n’ roll to the masses.

Opening with the glam-psych of ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’ they’re into the fast lane straight away with insistent riffs and searing solos, which sets the scene for the rest of the album’s duration. Largely effect-less under the watchful eye of veteran producer Mitch Easter there’s a comforting honesty about the music on offer here, nodding as it does quite frequently towards its obvious heritage amidst Seventies acts such as The Runaways & Suzi Quatro. It holds up very well in comparison to what would be considered classic output from that era and equally well with contemporary acts. Think back to when The Donnas were in their prime and you’re in the right ballpark.

‘How You Got That’ slows the pace slightly and allows for some good vocal harmonies to make their presence felt as a less than perfect ex is disparaged. And the solos keep on coming too, to an extent that I’m at a loss when it comes to thinking about any recent album where they stand out so prominently.

With Rips Ex Hex have fashioned one of the year’s stand out rock records of any flavour – one size fits all on Timony's first album since Wild Flag's debut. Whether it’s sing-a-long, fist-in-the-air-jumping-around, out for a drive or whatever you’re looking for wherever you’re playing it, it will provide. Again and again and again.  

Rips is available from amazon & iTunes.

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