The MiCKS – The MiCKS EP (2012)

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THE MiCKS -“FINISH ME” LIVE @ MAXWELLS CD RELEASE 11/16/12 from Hannah Wylie on Vimeo.

An analog recording from Dreamland Studios, this converted West Hurley, NY, church, The MiCKS — raucous, randy, ready to fight — sounds like it could have been made 40 years ago, back before TV singing-contests shaped popular music.

Founded by siblings Matt and Sam McMickle, this Jersey City, N.J., garage-rocking three piece is rounded out by bassist Hank Prol. Matt howls, seethes and sings, while banging on the guitar, even as Sam happily dismantles his drum kit. Prol is the steady, solid foundation that every wildly gestulating house of rock needs.

But don’t get the idea that this is throwaway DiY project, longer on attitude than ideas. Dig past the wild-eyed tatter on the surface, and this eponymous EP (due on December 11, 2012) displays real depth — both in emotion, and in musical complexity.

“The Dry Splash,” for instance, has the whipsawing beat of a snot-nosed punk song, the spittle-flying harmonica of a pissed-off folkie protest song, and the deeply heart-felt vocals of every smacked-out 1970s rocker who ever lived as hard as he loved. There’s a thrumming vibrancy to the song, a sense of actual abandon that the MiCKS never let go over across the length of this lickety-split, floorboard-rearranging new release.

Away from that musical sturm und drang, we find the MiCKS settling into a haggard, Rolling Stones-ish groove for “Cry Every Time,” as Matt does some of his prettiest crooning. “Different Walls” boasts a darker sense of portent, connecting with atmosphere of lost dreams that surrounded the best late-1960s rock — even as the lyric struggles to convince itself of something bigger just over the horizon.

Many of the songs take interesting mid-course turns, generating new narrative and emotional resonance. “Useless,” for instance, leaps out with a crashing riff, tears it down, and then rebuilds it into a soaring recrimination of some heartless lover. “Different Walls” ultimately descends into a cauldron of fiery guitar. “Dancing for the Smokers” begins with a delicately conveyed duet, with Matt performing with just his guitar, before slowly building into an anthematic rumination on a passion that can withstand anything this world throws at it.

Finally, there’s “Finish Me,” a layered journey through doubt. The song skips along with a shaggy sense of carefree joy, but listen again: Matt’s lyric sags with a twilit resignation. As with so much of The MiCKS, there a lot more going on here than immediately meets the ear.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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