If it weren’t for Trouble Will Find Me, the new album by The National, MCII by Mikal Cronin (pronounced Michael) would be the sole album dominating my speakers at the moment. Instead, the two have to share the attention of my ears. Lately, I haven’t been in the mood for “growers.” I want albums that grab my attention the first time. MCII fits the bill. At about 10 seconds into “Weight,” MCII‘s opening track, as the drum beat joins the piano riff, I thought to myself, “I like this.” Impressive considering I had yet to hear the vocals, the melody, or the guitar. My gut just told me that it was a good song. My gut was right. Good pop music often does that. I could mention countless songs by The Beatles that I liked within the first 5-10 seconds of the song.
As an occasional bandmate of the more well-known and prolific Ty Segall, Cronin has often received second billing, but on MCII Cronin makes it clear that he’s ready for a share of the spotlight at the very least. On MCII, Cronin’s 2nd solo album, but 1st on Merge Records, Cronin plays nearly every instrument save the occasional guitar solo, violin, and drums on a couple tracks. Though most commonly labeled as “garage rock,” MCII is as good of a pop rock record that you’re likely to hear. Though a bit on the short side at under 38 minutes, there’s not a bad song here. Maybe it’s the era I grew up in or maybe it’s just a personal preference, but I still prefer strong albums over strong singles and MCII is a strong album. I highly recommend it.
As I mentioned earlier, MCII‘s opening track “Weight” had me hooked 10 seconds in. After repeated listens to the album in its entirety, “Weight” remains my favorite track…and the album’s most addictive. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve found myself singing the opening verse of “Weight”:
I’ve been starting over for a long time
I’m not ready for another day I fail at feeling new
The time is right, I’m only getting older
I’m not ready for the second wave, the weight of seeing through
I had wanted to post “Weight” for the past couple weeks now, but had to wait for a good live version to pop up online. The above comes from a recent appearance Cronin made on Dutch television. The video speed isn’t the best, so I suggest pausing it and letting it preload. Maybe Nigel Powers was correct in not liking the Dutch. And no, you can’t skip the commercial at the beginning, but it’s kind of fun to listen to them speaking freaky deaky Dutch.
Recently, Aquarium Drunkard featured Cronin in their Lagniappe Sessions and it’s definitely worth checking out. Cronin performs two classic radio hits of his youth on ukulele. Classic. Click here to listen.
Pick up a copy of MCII direct from the source by clicking here.