Mike Park: For the Love of Music

Jason MacNeil

Mike Park

For the Love of Music

Label: Sub City
US Release Date: 2003-11-11
UK Release Date: Available as import

Mike Park seems to have his head firmly on his shoulder and his heart in the right spot. As the president of an organization called The Plea for Peace Foundation, this member of punk bands Skankin' Pickle and the Chinkees believes the glass is more than half full. And with this label, which donates close to a dollar of each sale to charities, it sounds as if he's certainly found the right home. His debut album tends to show Park wearing his heart and messages on his sleeve and acoustic guitar neck perhaps a bit too often and at the cost of great pop nuggets. Nonetheless, it's still a decent album all the same.

Park uses an acoustic guitar for the opening tune "Supposed to Be There Too", but it's as if he is trying to recapture "Disarm", the Smashing Pumpkins song in the same vein somewhat. But as Park's moves deeper into the track, the strings are supplanted by his soft and subtle style, recalling the Goo Goo Dolls with their first hint of stardom. It is a very good tune but takes just a tad too long to find its footing. "And the fighting on the dance floor makes things hard tonight," Park sings prior to wrapping the song up adequately. Later on the same format is replicated on "Thankful All the Same". "On that Stage" gets off to a better start, with his faster strumming and pacing leading into a touch of percussion. The tune works simply for the sweet harmonies halfway through while the beat comes in and out throughout.

What is probably one of the truly grand tracks is the slow waltz oozing from "Counting Sheep". Park sounds like he's being a bit too jaded on the song, but it's the melody and chorus that keeps your interest piqued. "I'm losing and I don't expect to win and I can't stay here with you", he sings before a fuller sound comes to the fore. It even crosses into an alt. country sound with the weary guitar bridge and strumming leading the ditty along. Another perk is that he takes his good ol' time on the song as it glides through five minutes and change. As appealing as that was though, "Challenging Me" sounds tired and forced. Using the acoustic guitar but with an alternative rock feeling, it might do a bit better with, dare I say it, an accordion added to it to give it extra texture. "I'm as bored as can be", he sings, and it actually sounds like he means it on this tune.

The bass line on "Just Like This" is brilliant and gets you into the infectious pop nugget from the get go. Recalling early XTC, Park captures the moment and bottles it for this disc, something that isn't always easy to translate. "I really want to record you just like this", Park sings before the tight yet intricate guitar chords take over this head-bobbing beauty. If there's one drawback, it might be that it doesn't last nearly as long as you'd want it to, but that's comes with the territory of a pristine pop song. The same could be said of "Train Maps", although here Park evokes the ghost of Crowded House or R.E.M. to better than expected results.

"From Korea" is a bland tune musically, but it has some of the best Costello-wise lyrics here. "I'm not like you / I'm from Korea / My eyes are small but your eyes are closed", Park sings in the song about different types of prejudices. "Hey You!" is another sweet pop rock tune that Park nails with ease, making the homestretch quite enjoyable. It might be just too polished during the chorus, but I'm probably nit picking here. The album is good and for a great cause. And anyone who includes an annual photo from cradle to high school and beyond in the liner notes deserves either credit or a medal for bravery.





'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.


Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.


Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.


Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.


Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.


British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.


Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".


In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.