Album Review: "Call The Waves" by Mike Benecke




Hey guys!

Before I got a few writers to help me out with the content on HITS, I was wondering what it would be like to have a little team.
Now, that I do have that little team, I know that it's absolutely brillaint to work with some talented minds.

Our writer Liam is on a roll and already finished his second piece for HITS, so please go and read this fabulous review of Mike Benecke's latest record!
 


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Artist: Mike Benecke
Title: Call The Waves
Genre: Folk Label: Independent
Release:
1st February 2016

HITS rating: 8/10


Mike Benecke is an experienced musician; initially plying his trade in "punk" and "indie" bands, he discovered that he wished to explore a more rudimental form of performance and arrangements.
Having left behind music that relied on its sound and reliance on huge noise, Mike began writing solo with just an acoustic guitar as accompaniment.

The resul
ts have been met with great adulation, his debut EP "mike benecke" was widely praised throughout Los Angeles and made the finals of NPR's 2012 Mountain Stage song writing contest. This response gave Benecke the impetus to make his debut album "Call The Waves" a fuller sound with complex accompaniment that flows throughout what sounds like an incredibly organic process- with some tracks being recorded with just one single take.Here is a track by track review of "Call The Waves":

July Fires
A crisp plicked guitar opens "July Fires", Mike Benecke's vocals enter with a soft brimming voice of honesty and wonder. The accompaniment on the song is perfectly placed; used to accent sections of interest and create dynamic contrasts throughout. The vocal harmonies are on point and rich; I really enjoyed the way "July Fires" progressed from a candid and humble beginning, to hits of the potential that the added instruments bring.The song is full of intrigue and has an air of magic about it through its serene and swaying rhythm.

Bloodsong

Moody with an inquisitive tone, "Bloodsoong" has an undoubtable complex melody
which gets more and more infections as it repeats. The electric guitar has a wonderfully clear tone that, combined with the shuffling drums, creates images of coastlines at dusk. Mike Benecke sings with truth and emotion, his words are considered and delicate. As a listener you feel part of something truly special each time you hear Benecke's carefully phrased lyrics.
Call The Waves
The open tuning on the acoustic guitar creates a great atmosphere in the origins of "Call The Waves" and allows a drone to be prevalent throughout.
The added pedal steel is hauntingly beautiful and the sentiment of the song is magnificently portayed through these two instruments.
Mike Benecke delivers his lyrics in such a natural way, that it feels as though he is in the room with you. No added effects needed on the vocal line due to its open and heartfelt delivery.
"Call The Waves" is soothing and charming in equal measure, it will bring a smile to your face as you softly relax under its enchanting embrace. 


Astral Line 

The melody for "Astral Line" is fantastic, a really raw track. Mike Benecke has an adept ability to draw you in, initially with the complexity of his plucking on the acoustic guitar. And then, even more with his laid back Sunday afternoon vocals that will caress you through the song.
Towards the end, the
re is ascending in the track. Repetition with delicate harmonies and staccato chords give a grand and euphoric raise to a climax on the song finishing. As an ending, I feel this works really well- it constrasts the rest of the song and shows Mike's understanding of song structure and how to lead the listening through the song.

Half Life

A s
waying tuneful song, "Half Life" uses long strokes of the guitar to create a sombre mood and one that creates a caring tone. The chords are simple, yet effective. The bass line follows the same rhythm and gives a richer feel to the instrumentation. The subtle melody Mike uses, creates a dreamy atmosphere and provides a soft bed for the listener to sink into.
The song slowly builds throughout each bar with additional instruments allowing it to grow and delevop. It has a Radiohead feel to me, especially in the middle section, as it relys on the eerie Wurlitzer to keep the song alive. Its experimental nature and considered arrangement makes it truly outstanding.

My
Brain
A contrast to
previous tracks- "My Brain" has a Country Pop feel to it. Benecke manages to maintain his musical attitude even in this more mainstream avenue. It shows us just how versatile Benecke is as a writer; managing to span a variety of genres, but still keeping his artistic signature present throughout.The vocal melody is unique and reshfreshing.
In son
gs with more of a Pop/Country arrangement, it's easy to follow what has been done before- but Benecke releases himself into the songs and the result is a sweet mix of cheery Pop combined with his dulcet tones which create excellence.

Recall The Waves

Back to his honest b
est in this track, I feel that Mike Benecke creates his most constant connections when he is performing with just his acoustic guitar. It allows us to truly get an accurate portrayal of his writing process and we can hear just how adept a songwriter he is.
I
feel he knows this with most songs opening with him and the guitar, and the progression into a fuller sound happening later in the track. The soft delivery on the vocals in "Recall The Waves" makes us all more attentive as a listener, as though the words being sang are secret and tender.

Chasing Constellations

A guitar m
elody and a vocal melody that create harmony and also follow one another, is a brilliant device in songwriting as it reinforces the song and its main melody.
In "Cha
sing Constellations" we get to hear the wide ranging abilities that Mike demonstrates on the guitar. As a careful player, his strums and plucks are very clear and concise- this makes the song sound very clean. I feel this is the best track on the album, it represents Benecke as a songwriter and as a solo performer.

Birds
"Bi
rds" is a vocal expression and one which is delivered with raw emotion and tenacity. Opening with delicate harmonies, the thumping kick drum beings to drive us onwards. The fluctuating rhythm in the track is fantastic and shows an understanding of tension in music. It fades to a silence and then erupts with euphoria, warm chords and delicate 'Oos'. A masterpiece to end the album. 

 
To sum it up: "Call The Waves" is a brave album and one which succeeds in every area. The pure creativity surrounding it, is evident in every track and Mike Benecke expresses beautiful music. He has the reigns on his creativity and is steering it through a meandering path that encounters many styles and genres along the way. It is a controlled piece of pure musical expression and one, which you need to hear.




Mike Benecke online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Bandcamp
 




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Credits // Text intro: Vanessa Jertschewske | Text review: Liam McClair | Image: Mike Benecke

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