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Mike Keneally - Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins: Half Alive in Hollywood CD (album) cover


Mike Keneally


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2 stars (First written review.) Mike Keneally is a young American guitarist-keyboardist-singer-composer who has played in Frank Zappa's group and is audibly influenced by Zappa. His music is quite fast, hilarious, quirky, jazzy rock with not much deeper feeling or variety. Oh, sorry for sounding so sure, this double disc is my first encounter with Keneally - and the last, no doubt. It was entertaining to listen at first but frankly I got completely tired of it before the ending of the second disc.

For a fan this offers a close view at Keneally's ways of doing music, since he writes shortly about each track (41 of them!). Not about any 'meanings' behind them - what meanings?! - but about recording these live tracks. The first disc was recorded live in the studio while the second offers a real gig. For example he describes how vocals (disc 1) were done in a very careless manner in order to redo them later, but finally the original vocals felt better.

I think Keneally is a sort of "musician's musician": technical interest overshadows emotional interest totally. He's a gifted player, mainly a virtuoso guitarist. He's accompanied by a bassist and a drummer, both very good. I could imagine having a good time listening to them in a park concert, hanging around for 45 minutes maybe, but going elsewhere if the same music still goes on and on. I rate this lowly because music is not just about technical brilliance. For me it's mostly emotions and this leaves me cold.

Report this review (#128055)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album was released after Mike Keneally's first two (and best) albums, Hat and Boil That Dust Speck, so therefore the majority of the material comes from those albums. The first CD was recorded in a studio, and sounds like the band was toward the end of rehearsing their material. The second is a true live concert, in front of an audience of music students.

It's interesting to hear many of these songs in a stripped down setting, as this band is only Keneally on guitar, occasional keyboards, and vocals, Toss Panos on drums, and Bryan Beller on bass. While Keneally can do amazing things with his guitar, very rarely are these versions as good as the the original studio versions. But the live venues do give Keneally the chance to put some "eyebrows" on the songs, giving them more of a Zappa-esque feel.

The first disk I would rate at three stars. Although it is good, the starts and stops of the band, while they learn parts, or make mistakes can get distracting.

The second disk I rate at four stars. The material is great, as are the performances. Especially good are the stretched out versions of Uglytown and Performing Miracles.

So, 3 and a half stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#278901)
Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permalink

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