Elliott Smith once said that “If you play acoustic guitar, you’re the depressed, sensitive guy”… obviously Mike Got Spiked didn’t hear him. It’s been almost four years since the Poetry and Prozak EP, released prior to their relocation to America, and after three years of constant touring, the former Dublin-based band have decided another record is long overdue.
Damien Rice fans beware, this definitely ain’t no 9; just like debut Caveat Emptor, their “acoustic” release is a cacophony of ska/rock/metal-laden riffs. Recorded live at The Cat Club in Hollywood, California late last year, Mike Got Spiked: Live & Acoustic sees a mix of old and new material given the acoustic treatment. Yet, even stripped back, their acoustic sound is filled with the energy and passion that has become associated with the Mike Got Spiked frenzied live performance.
With David Lodge holding it all together on the sticks, Jonathon Myles’ funky bass lines escape the fret board and collide with the listener’s unsuspecting ears on opener ‘Speechless’. While new offering ‘Tit For Tat’ is filled with catchy hooks and clever choruses, with its melodic moments sounding akin to Goldfinger.
Thirty minutes into their set sees the performance of their Irish Top 30 single, ‘All You Need’, which sees guitarist Conall McMahon throws all kinds of jazz shapes and chords through the pickups of his acoustic, while McGuire’s lyrics lectures, rather sarcastically, on how to be hip. Another new track, ‘Come Dancing’ sees the band’s Incubus similarities shines through, but songs such as ‘Stop Thinking’ and ‘Prising I’ shows a different side to these alternative rockers.
The closest tracks to acoustic on the album brings out a delicate side to McGuire’s vocal ability; his hushed melodies showing a more caring, sensitive aspect to his lyrical skills. A guest appearance from 23-year-old, Irish-native, American-based, singer-songwriter Lorraine Maher is a welcome addition on the aforementioned ‘Stop Thinking’ but the calm doesn’t last forever.
Judging by first glimpses of new tracks ‘Outta My Head’, and ‘Vacestomy’ it’s a return to familiar ground for the LA-based band and their unique ability to utilise elements from a wide variety of genres and styles. Mixed and mastered by fellow Irish man Jason Donaghy in Perfect Sound Studios in LA, Live & Acoustic is the first of two full-length offerings in 2010, with their sophomore studio album expected to drop later in the year.
Live crowd favourite, Flogging Molly-esque ‘Whiskey for Me Tae’ gains the biggest reaction from the American crowd, but the highlight of the album comes in the form of ‘Fool for the Ladies’, with front man Gavin McGuire’s distinct vocals coming into full force, reaching dizzying height amidst the wall of music. Infectious ‘No Is Not An Answer’, with its rhythmic pulsing bass lines, displays subtle elements of QOTSA, finishes off their live and not-so-acoustic album and will definitely leaving you frothing at the mouth, counting down the days until their sophomore, full-band assault, effort is released.
Mike got Spiked Live and Acoustic is a download-only release and available from all major internet outlets (iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, MySpace and Napster).