|MIKE ALVIANO "The Vagabond Songs"
We've been looking forward to the release of Mike Alviano's third solo-album. He has built a solid fanbase in Europe, especially in The Netherlands, but still travels the Trans Canada Highway every Summer, to play pubs, coffeehouses and folk festivals. This CD "The Vagabond Songs" radiates the confidence and experience he gained since he made his second album, he's definitely more than the sweet guy with sweet songs about dreamy girls! Mike's smart songwriting was already worth noticing, but got only better. His subjects are still people & places plus their stories, a little less poetry and a little more down to earth storytelling -more drifters & vagabonds- this time around!
The music is mainly folk and folkrock, with influences from alt.country and a bit of melodic pop, but less experimental than "Radiate", almost no soundscapes here. Mike sings slightly more throaty, the acoustic guitar and harmonica play starring parts, very good! His Vagabond Players are: Chris Giesbrecht (who also co-produced and engineered), Shannon Lyon (Mike's best friend), Dave Tolley, Jay Schneider and Ian Ring, who only added handclaps... The others handle a wide variety of instruments, many singer-songwriters will envy Alviano for this band!
Only nine songs, to a total of barely 34 minutes, I would have liked to hear more, but on the other hand: there are no "fillers" now. Favorite of many fans -including me- is the wonderful story of "1942 Penny". "Tonight" is a perfect folkpop pearl. "Onward" has a dark touch and an undauntedness that I absolutely love. "Carolyne" is a sunny, California coffeehouse kind of song, while "Into Another Day" and nicely built-up closer "Remedy" are made of plain good folkrock. Only thing I miss with the goodlooking digipack is a booklet or any piece of paper with the printed lyrics, important for poet's albums! But a great addition is the collection of drawings that the real vagabonds out there use for: "Good road to follow", "Food here if you work" or "Religious talk gets free meal".
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, January 2007.
|MIKE ALVIANO "Radiate"
(Busted Flat Records / Inbetweens Records)
In the CD booklet Shannon Lyon receives abundant thanks, Mike and Shannon are buddies for a very long time already, that's why. Roughly ten years ago the Canadians from Kitchener, Ontario started their musical careers in Strange Days. Afterwards Mike played for a long time in the band that accompanied Shannon, before he -as an introvert musician- gathered enough confidence to try and go solo. The result was the album "Jubilee" in 2002 and Mike travelled all over that huge country Canada to perform.
Unlike many other artists, Mike loved it to write songs during a tour. No normal daily worries, but all these new things to see and all these strangers to meet, plenty of inspiration! And then it was time again to call some friends together and to work the outcome of this creativity into the CD "Radiate". No, Shannon Lyon doesn't play here, but the musical style is somewhat the same, so this album will be interesting for his fans too. Drummer Dan Cornelius and bassist Adam Buschlen are present indeed and among others Ian Smith (guitar) and Kevin Hundt (keyboards) from The Miniatures, whoever had time was invited to play.
Mike tries to make a combination of two things: telling that little story and experimenting with sounds, for which he thinks of Flaming Lips. His lyrics walk more the path of philosophical poets than that of "storytellers", but the arrangements are magnificent! Listen for example to "Karmalita", enchanting with melotron, mandolin, piano and keyboards, also "Azalea" (a girl, not a plant!) gets her sweet song, but opener "The Flood", "All We Are" and "Go" are tasty rockers again. Versatile album, so Mike doesn't have to write so childlike surprised on his website anymore, about all these very different music lovers who see something promising in him!
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, Dutch original of this review previously published on Real Roots Cafe, The Netherlands.