Sound: Mike Glendinning is one of the most unique guitarists I've heard. End of story. To take something like grunge, a distorted, sort of hunchbacked thing, and to combine with honest to God jazz. It's seriously a treat to hear. Another thing is, I never considered the similarity of subject matter between jazz songs and grunge. Take Nirvana's "All Apologies". This is a pretty good song, but I'm not here to write Nirvana's review. Anyways, this song deals with a loss of some sort, most likely a lover, and sounds extremely mournful. I'd say that about a half of Mike Glendinning's album follows suit (especially on tracks like "Dead Red Summer" and "Fade"), but in a much calmer, melodic fashion. His technicality is superb, and he can really make his guitar intone a feeling with a few chords. Really, the man has a gift for cross-genre work. // 9
Lyrics: Not only does Mike Glendinning play an amazing jazz/grunge guitar, his singing fills out any doubt that this Californian wasn't true to the Seattle scene. He may not have the stunning vocal range of say, Cobain, but his vocal gifts are nothing to sneeze at. The sorrow and loss is pretty palpable in most of his tracks just by listening to such lyrics as, "Where does a man's soul go when hope fades away? Anger takes over, there's nothing left to say... The moon takes over, even brighter than the sun. Too many hours, and not enough days... Where does a man's soul go when dreams fade away? Does he put a bullet in his head and let the rest decay? It goes in his mind that he's a waste of life... Cutting his wrists would be a waste of a knife."
It's pretty apparent that in terms of morbidity and depressing, thoughtful lyrics, Glendinning can run with the best of the grunge artists. But the way Glendinning sings them is phenomenal, to say the least. His drawling, mournful opening on "Fade" gives the listener a great taste of what is to come. However, this talent of Glendinning takes a backseat to the guitar, what with almost half of the album as instrumental tracks. Really, the songs with vocals aren't even the best, in my opinion. But then, they're all amazing. // 9
Overall Impression: This album is no "In Utero" or even a "Nevermind," but I could see it as a "Bleach" or a "Superfuzz Bigmuff". Glendinning's ability to take a guitar and make it say what he wants with a light distortion and a couple of chords is uncanny. Really, the entire album could be compared to a 38-minute long take of "Dumb" or "All Apologies", and in some cases, "About a Girl". Picture that for a second. Then throw in a Thelonious Monk cover. That's right. Mike Glendinning covers "Mr. Misterioso" in the album, transcribing the bass line to a ballsy five minute track, complete with pentatonic solos here and there, making it the most melodic, varied track on the album in my opinion. Not far behind is "Vincet", a sort of demented ditty, more grunge than jazz. However, the bass fills and breaks are in there, true to jazz tradition. I'd have to say that the worst song on the track is "Cold Heat". Only because it is a full minute shorter than any other track on the album. Had it been a little longer, there would be no bad track. In fact, I'm getting a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about saying that any track on this album is bad.
I would most certainly buy this album again. It is a very rare example of cross-genre experimentation gone right. I keep this album amongst my other treasures of music, including "Master of Puppets" and "Axis: Bold As Love". This is a must have for any of you out there who enjoy a unique, extremely listenable character who's not out to make money, merely to make music. Enjoy! // 10