It’s a rare occasion when, as a reviewer, I get pleasantly surprised by a new artist who I’ve never heard of before. Now before you start thinking, “man, this guy is a total music snob. What an jerkwad,” understand where I’m coming from. I was always that guy in college who never got excited about Dave Matthews or John Mayer coming to campus, but instead longed to escape (I didn’t have a car until my senior year) to the local dive to check out Further Seems Forever or a spoken word tour featuring members of Stavesacre, Five Iron Frenzy and L.A. Symphony.
In other words, I was always “that music guy,” at least in the small pond of collegiate life. My friends would ask, “who are you listening to?” and I’d rattle off At The Drive-In, The Dingees, Craig’s Brother and many others…all to stares and blank looks. For whatever reason, I’ve always been obsessed about music and thus I’m constantly on the lookout for new bands and artists. The downside of that obsession is that, unfortunately, the bad often far outweighs the good. For every great artist, there’s probably at least 10-15 awful ones.
Which brings me back to Michael McDermott. I was very impressed by what I heard when I first listened to Hey La Hey…doubly so because his style of folk/Americana rock is not what I usually have playing on my iPod. There’s a quiet, but somehow pleasant, desperation to most of his songs. They demonstrate a reflective and plaintive soul, reminiscing over loves lost and all the travels in between.
McDermott has a vocal sound somewhat akin to Bruce Springsteen, which is another area of surprise for me, as I’m not really a fan of The Boss. But somehow it works with his songs and musical arrangements. So the moral of this tale? I am a new fan of McDermott and definitely recommend this album to lovers of just plain old good music.