Mike Glendinning – “The Tenderloin”/”One Armed Waltz” – Singles Review
I think Mike’s my kind of guy.
While I might not say that either of these two-songs quite hit the mark of perfection…they’re quite infused with personality, heart and an audible genuine WANT to be a part of music overall. These two songs I’ve got from the multi-instrumentalist and musical-experimentalist are both commendable through their ambitions and ideas…and you can tell Mike could clearly take his music in any direction he wants to at any time. What I really liked…and why I’d vouch for Mike Glendinning being my kind of guy is his willingness to explore uncharted terrain in music in effort to breakthrough to something fresh and new. Whether or not he’ll have hit that mark entirely with something that the people will want to listen to might be another story…one to be told & tried on an individual basis case by case…but I’m personally interested as to where this guy might go next and what he might sound like around the corner of the next twist in his music…
Take “One Armed Waltz” as the first meter-stick in trying to evaluate an artist such as this. Mike reveals his hand slowly on this one…keeping true to the waltz-theme in the title and letting the music stay delicate, emotional, melancholy and moving inside the first half of this tune. Perhaps a few slight timing-issues…it’s hard to say…I mean, his website refers you to www.mikegrungejazz.com – so you already know there’s a bit of the jazz-element here…and that means things like stuttered timings and skips in the beat could very well be on purpose. Whether they are on purpose or they’re not is often lost on the listener…if they sound like they are, that’s how it’s generally perceived. But I think for the most part, what Glendinning is onto here has kind of a bizarrely hypnotic-vibe to it that kind of settles into a real relaxing set of tones & distortion. I know…I know that sounds strange…but go with it…you’ll hear what I’m talking about. It’ll begin with an acoustic guitar that has real personality before it drifts into its more melancholy attitude…and it stays entertaining in the sense that you really know the song is going to launch SOMEWHERE from here. There’s a tension in the music and vocals that keep us wondering as to what it might be, and when. Unique to listen to in its sound, approach and composition…it begins to morph as it heads towards the third minute until ultimately, “One Armed Waltz” breaks open into something truly fantastic. The guitar elements that drive the second part are seriously fantastic to listen to…they wander over-top of what becomes that hypnotic-grind of distorted guitar-chords. Vocal-wise…maybe not the strongest…but we’re also not talking about something typical like verse/chorus/verse here either…what Mike has to do within each of these experimental ideas of his is create his own space to exist and his own vocal-melodies to go with it…and that’s always a challenge for anyone to write music in this way. On the bright-side of that challenge – it quite often leads to interesting breakthroughs and uniqueness in music like on “One Armed Waltz.”
In some ways, with its dreamy-flow and gentle rhythm…”The Tenderloin” might be a little bit more accessible overall. It’s a tough call for the music of Mike Glendinning…I can definitely hear that some people would get this kinda stuff…for others, its wandering nature of ideas within music will prove to be too far out there. “The Tenderloin” reins it in a little…I’m not saying this is the song where the audience magically starts singing along…because I think those words are pretty buried in the mix of the music here…so they’re not going to know all the words, but I can definitely hear the potential for the overall melody of this tune getting stuck in our heads to hum along with, wherever we are. “The Tenderloin” mixes psychedelic sounds and a slight pop-inspired rhythm & groove to make its magic…the entire hazy-groove of the vibe in this song will leave you wondering if a song itself can ingest a substance or two…it sounds like it’s on something. The ending is abrupt…like…seriously abrupt to the point where you can tell it either leads directly into another song, or that it’s been straight chopped-off at the end…and even though I think “The Tenderloin” melts musically right into one of those moments you kinda want to stay & swim in for a while…it felt a little unfinished as a result of that cut at the end. Kind of like that moment where you’re just about to fall asleep or into your own world of thoughts and then you hear a car engine or lawnmower before you can finally get there.
But as I mentioned at the outset of this article…I still think Mike’s my kind of guy. I like that he’s willing to experiment with all kinds of ideas, textures and sounds…and I like that you can hear real skill at moments throughout listening as well that indicate there’s a lot more going on with Glendinning than just what we hear through these two songs. I think the ideas wander a bit too far for the average-listener out there to grab onto…but I think those that like a little bit of raw strangeness and creative-ideas stand a good chance here. Most importantly…I think Mike is the kind of guy that is ALWAYS going to be making music and testing new theories for the genuine love of the craft and ability to explore new sounds in music…because he genuinely WANTS to. I’ve got a lot of love & respect for that for certain.
Find out more about Mike Glendinning at his official page: http://mikegrungejazz.com/
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