Friday, 20th April 2018. 6:52:13am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Michal the Girl- Strung Out

 


Artist: Michal the Girl
CD Title: Strung Out
Label: self-released
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 9/16/05

 

Currently hailing from Brooklyn, Michal the Girl incorporates cello and, sometimes, flute into an acoustic/electric hybrid that's modern yet showcases a distinct and refreshing 90s alt rock/pop flavor on her second release, Strung Out. Hints of Aimee Mann, The Sundays, and, perhaps, Rasputina (if merely for the cello comparison) resonate throughout the disc's 8-song set (err…actually 9 if you count the disc's lovely *cough* bonus cello instrumental *cough*). Somewhat mellow, intimate acoustic guitar and cello based songs are countered by rhythmic bass hooks and drums that sometimes even recall Luscious Jackson, juxtaposing low-key acoustic rock with a more straightforward danceable rock underbelly. Top it off with spectacular arrangements, well-written, straightforward lyrics, and strong production, and you have the makings for a solid, albeit relatively short, release.

Highlights include the downright catchy opener, "Transmission", the funk-infused, wah guitar enhanced "Do Over", and "Eyes Wide Open", which features some of the album's best cello arrangements and includes an interesting bass groove that appears to be either plucked cello or stand-up bass. "Cold" and "Flashlight" are, in fact, also quite noteworthy, the former going a bit acoustic electronica with a bass groove and breakbeat, the latter featuring nice string swells and percussion that incorporates handclaps and even guiro. "Message Machine", "Thrown", and "English" are the disc's mellower offerings, the first a nice low-key ballad, the second bouncing between a stripped down whisper of a verse and more powerful rock chorus, and the last a lovely, sparser, percussion/bass-free track.

Overall, Michal the Girl's Strung Out is a rather strong and consistent album. While consisting largely of acoustic guitar rock/pop at its heart, it's Ken Hashimoto's cello arrangements and performances that really drive the album home, providing the main melodic material to complement Michal's lovely vocal work and transforming fairly low-key, intimate rock/pop songs into lush, emotive pieces. It's a spectacular sonic blend that's got both groove and heart. The album's only major shortcoming is that, even with its short bonus track, it clocks in at under half an hour. However, that said, it's an impressive 28-or-so minutes of cello-laden rock that's definitely worth a listen.

 

Michal the Girl website: www.michalthegirl.com

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