Week 23 Review (End of Summer Blow Up 2)

This week I’m reviewing Mike Pinto’s Little District which came out in 2005 for End of Summer Blow Up. Though I was only recently introduced to his music, he is absolutely deserving of a bigger following.

5

Artist: Mike Pinto
Album: Little District
Year: 2005
Genre: Reggae, Ska
Rating: 4.5/5

Worth Your Time? Absolutely. This album is jam packed with memorable lyrics and melodies and has a nice blend of several genres and instruments to keep things fresh.

Twitter Review: Mike Pinto writes incredibly heartfelt and insightful lyrics. And he has both the singing voice and guitar skills to be a complete package.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Bill’s Song
  2. When I Die
  3. Chilean Lover

Things to Look For:

  • Epic First Track. The album starts out with the story of Bill, worshiper of the almighty dollar, who is a bank robber. The production of Bill’s Song had me smiling every time the album started over. Not only do you have Mike’s clever writing but the little touches on this song really put it over the top for me. If you really want to appreciate this song I’m begging you to listen with headphones. Why? Because half of the stereo mix is used for letting you listen in on the bank robbery in progress. It sounds fantastic on headphones. My favorite part is when the upbeat trumpet solo starts and the music goes into high gear with the sirens blaring as the cops head toward the bank. It creates a momentary sense of urgency that I’m sure Bill was also feeling. I also love the line “Put your hands up! Put your fucking hands up!” because it works equally well with a bank robbery and at a concert. Finally, the ending was unexpected for me. Very different from say the classic Children’s Story by Slick Rick.
  • Point/Counterpoint. Mike has two songs on here that cover the topic of adultery. The first song Dear Señoritas which blames a husband’s cheating squarely on the woman for not providing loving “three times a day” which apparently is the bare minimum for any guy. I really don’t think Mike believes this but rather he is just telling a story. Possibly based on someone he’s met in his life either in Philadelphia or San Diego.  Where this gets interesting for me is three tracks later he starts telling another story of adultery in Chilean Lover. This song tells the story of a husband and father who constantly cheats on his wife but ends up with a bullet inside his brain from a scorned ex-lover. And as Mike put it: “You’re gonna get what you deserve.” So both sides of the coin I think are well presented here.
  • Genre Blending. While Mike lives mostly in reggae and ska, he transitions into an almost industrial sounding song with When I Die. The song is quite a brilliant take on the topic of the existence of an afterlife. It starts out with a very minimalistic acoustic opening of just Mike and his guitar.  Eventually this turns into this driving industrial beat that relentlessly comes at the listener. Perhaps the transition is a metaphor for how the question becomes more important in life as we follow our own slow but inevitable march towards an ultimate demise? Or maybe not. I just know I loved the song.
  • That One Night. Despite One More Time (radio edit) making me think back fondly to my college days with fabulous heartfelt lyrics, the over-processed vocals on the song’s chorus make me think of the infamous That One Night song from the Dinner Party episode from The Office with Jan’s incredibly awkward dancing. Rest of the song is actually quite beautiful and really captures the magic that is friendship.

Low Points: This is a fantastic album with gorgeous lyrics, stunning guitar work and a brass section that just won’t quit all the while covering some impressively deep topics. There’s nothing bad to say about it, right? Well, not quite. How about we skip to the hidden track found about two minutes after One More Time (full version) is finished? It actually resumes the really funky beat found in Dub Interlude. It even finishes the lyrics that Dub Interlude unexpectedly stops at. That’s a pretty cool idea. So how does the rest of the song go? “Shove my lyrics down your throat like my dick, like my dick” Woah. Back it up. Back it up. Beep. Beep . Beep. What the hell did I just listen to? Um, that was unexpected. I’m not sure what Mike was going for with the hidden track but I’m not totally digging it besides the incredibly groovy beat. To me, it just doesn’t fit. Or maybe I’m just pissed because that hidden track meant two minutes of silence before I could finish the album and start it over.

Anything Else: I don’t really have anything else to say. Mike seems like a cool guy. Apparently, he’s big in Japan. So that’s kind of interesting and unexpected. Not dick down your throat unexpected but still unexpected. From what I understand, he is freaking amazing live so catching one of his concerts would be highly suggested if you get the chance. And like one of my friends, he grew up in the midwest (Mike grew up in Philadelphia, PA) and moved to beautiful San Diego, CA where he did some amazing things with his life with more to come I’m sure. So maybe that’s not interesting to you, but the parallelism was interesting to me.

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Week 11 Review

Seeing that Blended just opened on the 23rd, I could not have timed this week’s review any better. I’m reviewing the soundtrack to an earlier Sandler/Barrymore romantic comedy: 50 First Dates.       

Album: 50 First Dates: Love Songs from the Original Motion Picture
Year: 2004
Genre: Movie Soundtrack
Rating: 4/5

Worth Your Time? It’s really enjoyable background music.

Twitter Review: Basically, the soundtrack is reggae/ska covers of new wave songs. It sounds like a great idea on a paper and it’s actually executed well too.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix) by Wyclef Jean (original by Outfield)
  2. Drive by Ziggy Marley (original by The Cars)
  3. Hold Me Now by Wayne Wonder (original by The Thompson Twins)

Things Not to Look For (cause they ain’t there):

  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The beautiful, heartwarming, tear-jerking, make you want to hug the person next to you as tight as you can and never let go Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley that plays at the end of the movie is not there. Iz died before his 40th birthday but I don’t think his music will ever be forgotten. He was incredibly respected in Hawaii with 10,000 people attending the funeral and the state flag being flown at half-staff.
  • The Beach Boys. Wouldn’t It Be Nice even though it was heavily featured in the movie including the hilarious cry-a-long by Adam Sandler is sadly not there.
  • Ula. Ula’s Luau Song isn’t even on it! I know you’re as disappointed and frustrated as me about that but they did include Forgetful Lucy at the end to help heal the deep wounds of an Ula-less album.

Low Points: There aren’t really any low points. And it doesn’t have any particular high points either because it is after all just a collection of pop songs from a movie. So I’m not saying the album is a masterpiece or anything despite my above average rating. And it’s not something you would listen to while doing nothing so you can really soak in the masterful attention to the tiniest of details. But maybe you’re cleaning up the kitchen on a Saturday morning or driving to the grocery store, then by all means queue it up on your smartphone and enjoy yourself. I don’t think there’s a bad track on the entire album.

Anything Else: It looks like every cover featured on the soundtrack was specifically created for the movie. So this is the only place you’re going to find these songs. It shows they put some effort into this and didn’t try to grab a bunch of pre-existing covers. I guess part of the reason I’m so impressed with this album is I’ve listened to countless cross genre compilation albums and most of them have been utter crap. It seems to me that the modus operandi is to get one or two good bands and then find a bunch of unknowns that work cheap to fill out the rest of the album and ship it out ASAP to try to make some money off poor suckers like me. I’ve been disappointed so many times. The songs covered were well-chosen and they had quite a few well-known artists participate. I’m ecstatic that I can even write that sentence.

There are a lot of people angry that this soundtrack failed to include The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and I believe they have every right to be mad (there’s some seriously pissed off people on Amazon) because it’s a completely reasonable expectation. But the fact that they actually pulled off a reggae goes new wave album that doesn’t suck more than makes up for it from my perspective.

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