CD REVIEW: Ryan Michalski - I am Starting Over
By Cyrus Rhodes - 07/31/2013 - 02:55 PM EDT
Artist: Ryan Michalski
Album: I am Starting Over
Label: Independent Artist
Sounds Like: Love and Rockets, Iggy Pop, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty, The Psychedelic Furs, The Ramones, The Cars on
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Hearts and Diamonds. Movie
Weakness: Mix, Production Value, Synthetic Soundsing Drums
Ryan Michalski is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who comes from a small town in New Jersey called Ringwood where he lived for 25 years. He started playing guitar at the age of 14. Ryan always worked on his playing technique and writing skills. He grew up in the 80’s hair-metal generation developing a taste for indie-pop and alternative music. He moved to Tampa, Florida in 1996 and went to art school. He also dabbled in public access television and other projects. For the last 20 years he’s been writing, recording and releasing CD’s under alias’ such as Ryan Cosmonaught, Dead Dark Slide and Space King.
The CD kicks off with "Ninth Moon” a rocked out kick-off statement delivering a heartfelt ditty that serves up steady rock beat reminiscent of vintage Todd Rundgren and The Cars on Steroids complete with rocked out guitar, driving rock rhythm, and hard hitting message. Track 2 “Rock Star” keeps things moving with it’s hooky rock groove, hypnotic vocals from Michalski coupled and impressive melodic ambience. Track 3 “Crazy Things You Do” keeps thing s moving with its full throttle guitar attack rock steady vibe, coupled with impressive vocals against a grand slam chorus that flows and ebbs it’s way through to emotional fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Todd Rundgren, Love and Rockets, Smithereens, R.E.M. Tom Petty, to The Psychedelic Furs, Iggy Pop, and The Ramones. The actual musical format is very intimate, up close: a personal snapshot of a band. The songs themselves are very naked and personal with messages revealing the highs and lows of life, love, passion and do I dare say life’s observations. Despite this Michalski is upbeat and just a blast to listen to. Overall the catalog is methodical, providing a brilliant perspective on life. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice brief splashes of Classic Punk, Alternative Rock to Psychadelic Rock with a UK Sounding flair. Alos present are well placed rhythm and solo guitars, Keyboards, Electric Piano, and lush harmonies layered everywhere all built upon a sonic/electronic sounding rhythmic foundation. Lyrical content is pushes hard, is extremely revealing and thought provoking. All songs cut deep to the core and its obvious Michalski is a very capable songwriter and infectious vocal performer. He has an effective visual as well. By track 4 the CD hits solid stride and finishes strong. From heartfelt “Don’t Cry” to my favorite “Hearts and Diamonds” to melodic “She’s a Girl” to heartfelt “She Makes Me Feel” to rocking You toucjed Me” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 14 “Do You Love Me” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
This is also not the best mix I’ve ever heard. At the end of the overall production value comes across as a bit dated, lacking dynamics and a modern-day flair. It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, and master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall sound cannot be overstated. If this was 1980 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2013, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Michalski. It’s safe to say the catalog is a bit repetitive and dated sounding reminiscent of music popular 20+ years ago. I’m not a fan of the drum tonality – it sounds extremely synthetic, electronic overly sonic and thin.
The strong suit of Michalski is his strong musical consistency, lyrical wisdom, Infectious vocal feel, bold passion and raw straightforwardness. Make no bones about it folks; it took raw courage and honesty to write and perform these songs. What I like most about Michalski is there is no attempt to hide how he feels, or sugarcoat the truth. I really admire artists out there who are themselves and just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that has the courage to show us something real and genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Ryan Michalski is one of those artists.
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