Michael Kane, a Boston based songwriter, is a guy I can really relate to. He grew up on classic rock, had his life changed by punk music, and has continued to broaden his musical interests as an adult. That's a story very similar to mine. And although I'm no musician, I just love how the songs he writes today bring together most of the music he's ever loved. Formerly a member of Punching Judy and now sometimes a rhythm guitarist in the mighty Cheap Cassettes, Kane is about to release a solo EP on Cassettes on Record Records called Adding Insult To Industry. His backup band The Morning Afters consists of Ryan Kane on bass and Kevin Parkhurst (The Cheap Cassettes, Dimestore Haloes) on drums. The cover arts pays tribute to a myriad of influences from Tom Petty & Bruce Springsteen to The Clash & Ramones to The Replacements to Johnny Cash - and that really gives you a good feel for what Michael Kane is all about. His music is a really nice mix of gutsy punk, blue collar rock n' roll, and reflective alt country. Adding Insult To Industry has the ideal ratio of rockers to ballads - offering two of each. Both of the punkier tunes are top-notch. "Back On The 9", with its unaffected blend of melody and grit, takes me back to the late '90s heyday of bands like the Swingin' Utters, Beltones, and One Man Army. Man, those are some nifty bass lines! Equal parts power pop and rugged rock n' roll, "The Likes of You" is probably the "hit" of the EP. It's a damn fine song - and not at all far removed from The Cheap Cassettes or Dimestore Haloes. Meanwhile, I appreciate that the ballads are not throwaways. They're quite good, and in particular "I'd Propose, But a Song Ain't A Ring" is a standout track on this EP. It's such a wistfully beautiful song that I can't help imagining it playing in some dimly lit bar just before last call
as lonely souls reflect on battles lost
and heartaches never healed. I'm sometimes lukewarm on ballads, but I find this one to be genuinely moving and simply a gorgeous piece of songwriting. If "The Likes Of You" is the track here likely to catch your attention most quickly, "I'd Propose..." is the one that identifies Michael Kane as a distinctive and exceptionally talented songwriter. I'm definitely left wanting more. Let's hope that this is just the first of many solo releases!
Adding Insult To Industry releases this coming Friday. Locals can buy copies at a CD release show Saturday night at the Hotel Vernon in Worcester. For further info, check out Kane's Facebook page!