CP REVIEW: Mike Ian - Puzzle Pieces
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"Ian is a force to be reckoned with"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Artist: Mike Ian
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
Sounds Like: John Mayer, Gin Blossoms, The Rembrandts, The Beetles
Technical Grade: /9/10
Weakness: Winded songs
Singer, songwriter, guitarist Mike Ian based out of New Jersey releases his debut CD entitled Puzzle Pieces in 2010. Recorded at his own Eyeball Studios Mike Ian has performed, recorded, mixed, mastered & produced the entire production himself.
Logging in at just over 45 minutes the CD takes flight with “Ticket to the Moon” a hard rocking intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, driving rhythm guitar chops & catchy vocal melody from Ian. This intro track sets the tone for the entire CD, with it’s feel good groove & grand slam chorus. Track 2 “The Sweetest Sound” dishes out yet another impressive rock ditty with its driving rock rhythms, addictive vocal melodies & thought provoking lyrical wisdom from Ian. Track 3 “Puzzle Pieces” serves up yet another solid track with clever lyrical content, driving melodies & impressive vocal accents again from Ian. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Blues Traveler, John Mayer, The Rembrandts, & even a dash of Gin Blossoms & even The Beetles. This CD makes a pretty solid first impression. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of warmth, variety, & strong melodic structure. I would classify this music as acoustic pop rock, with a slight alternative rock aftertaste. The songs themselves are addictive, & upbeat, complete with positive, carefree subject matter. The musicianship of this band is pretty solid across the board. The players themselves write, & play there parts extremely well. I especially like Ian’s guitar playing throughout the CD. Along the way you will notice lush layers of instrumentation. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice things like well placed slide guitar, classical guitar, banjo, & well placed sonic touches layered in the music. Equally as impressive is the vocal presence of Ian as he takes many vocal risks throughout the CD indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. If Ian just so happened to write all these songs – well he could be bigger than any of us realize. He clearly is a premier talent within this project & pound for pound possesses a lot of musical talent. Equally as impressive is the fact that he recorded, mixed, mastered & produced this CD himself – more on this later. All songs are short & sweet musical experiences, never too winded, never to short. From my personal favorite “Puzzle Pieces” to upbeat “My Lucky Day” & Better Days” to passionate “The White Gown” & “Mountain Song” to dynamic “Take Another Way” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. The CD Ends with Track 10 “Tele Chicken Pickin” a perfect finale statement for a CD that doesn’t have a weak song on its entire catalogue.
It's hard to find any notable weaknesses with this CD. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical noticing that Mike Ian recorded, mixed, mastered, produced, the CD all by himself. 90% this is a recipe for disaster as Independent Artists attempt o take all this on by themselves – severely underestimating the end result. This is in fact the first CD I’ve ever reviewed where one engineer was able to wear all 4 hats adequately. The CD is clearly industry standard. Typically having a few different Engineers assigned to a project will give it more production perspective. It’s fair to say all songs over 4 minutes tend to drag to the finish line. Perhaps 20% of this catalogue needs to be trimmed to make the experience more short & sweet.
“Puzzle Pieces” by Mike Ian is an impressive musical production from start to finish. The music is clean, goes down smooth, & the messages are upbeat & sung from a deeply carefree perspective. Its strong suit – the amazing musical talent of Mike Ian, My hats off to him for taking all this on (performing, recording, mixing, mastering, producing). He possesses enough musical talent, engineering savvy & songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. Like the aforementioned, there isn’t a weak song on this entire CD. The musicianship is first rate, the vocals, dynamic phrasing, & melodic accents are brilliantly placed & extremely well crafted. Puzzle Pieces let’s it all hang out musically on the CD. Mike Ian has clearly proven himself a force to be reckoned with this release.
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