steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Mike Bruno

"In Memory" CDR


Genre: lo-fi late night folkhounding

Viljandi, Estonia

March 2010

It's Bruno's hearty but wistful voice, cousin to a yowl, which helps bring these minimal folk ideas to surprising heights. Accompanied only by a longingly stroked and plucked electric guitar, he assembles poignant and subtly infectious fragments which carry you straight to an early-morning campfire in the deep wild (with a mini-generator for the amp). Twenty-three songs is a bit much to follow Bruno through, however, and even ardent listeners will likely begin to lose enthusiasm about halfway through. As such, Mike is, perhaps, victim to his own ambition. Yet In Memory deserves recommendation because – put simply it hosts several memorable songs; and, after all, nobody is forcing the listener to absorb it all in one sitting. In terms of this album's strengths, one need not wait long to encounter certain gems – the disc's strong opening track is delightfully haunting, while roomy “Song for the Dead” is three minutes of heartrending longing with a smart melodic turn near track's end, though Bruno's piercing vocals can become grating (to put it lightly). Even more sublime is the tambourine-laced record highlight “Fairytale Lives,” with its downright infectious chorus, as well as brilliantly mournful Summer Song.” A wade further into the album reveals several other treats (“Reggityanne,” “Crawlin' Skin, "Hallowe'en Song") as well as some lesser songs (“Harvest,” “Catholic School Boys & Girls,” “Falling Down a Spiral Staircase”), but the sum of In Memory's parts amounts to an unjustly obscure gem of a record which makes up for its inconsistency by way of several evocative, melodic highlights. The less tolerant listener may want to avoid those songs which feature Bruno's voice at its most piercing, but the bulk of this record offers remarkably accessible appeal.

mike bruno's myspace

Mike Bruno live:

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 23 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]