Daily Dose: Mike Viola, “The American Egypt”

What I like most about Mike Viola’s music is that it feels unique, a la Elvis Costello. So many songs and albums sound the same these days, and, while it’s clearly influenced by vintage songwriting structures, his approach feels fresh at a time when 80s synth pop is dominating a market that wasn’t alive to remember the 1980s. It certainly feels honest. These are things I appreciate.

If you’re wondering if you should keep listening, maybe his pedigree will intrigue you. Viola co-wrote the theme song for That Thing You Do, and also composed much of the music you heard in Judd Apatow’s Rock Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. He’s worked with Ryan Adams, The Monkees, Jenny Lewis, and Rachael Yamagata. These are also things I appreciate.

 

Daily Dose: Bush, “Everything Zen”

If Gwen Stefani was the role model, then Gavin Rossdale was all that a teenage girl could possibly want in an imaginary boyfriend. He was British, incredibly handsome, and frontman for the quintessential 90s rock band. If you lived in the suburbs, this was a particularly potent combination. We little ladies ended many a long middle school week with a sweet slumber party where pieces of paper were folded and a game was played to decide who we would marry, how many kids we would have, and what kinds of cars and houses we would own; I always included Gavin Rossdale. And when I found out he idolized Allen Ginsberg while watching an episode of MTV’s cribs, well, I was done for.

While my lustful teenage melanchology compelled me to put “Glycerine” on repeat, I listened to “Everything Zen” when I wanted to thrash about my room and feel cool. The albums Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase were permanently embedded in my walkman, and I recall my sullen puss listening to them while riding in the backseat of my Dad’s car on the way to dinner, my Mom in the passenger seat and his cologne permeating the entire interior–the leather of which would creak as he turned a corner too fast, which he always did because he was a Terrible driver with a capital “T”.

For me, Bush harkens back to Southern California winters in which we wore sloppy sweaters with sleeves that hung past our hands so we could twist them neurotically in emulation of our silver screen idols of the era. Bush helped me build my identity in ways I could not know then, but appreciate now, and Gavin Rossdale has had an indelible influence on the type of men I’ve chosen to date over the last 10 years. While it pains me to see how far the band has fallen in recent years, Bush and its enigmatic frontman will forever hold a place in my heart. Rock on, you 1990s gods.

Escondido by way of Nashville

Having partially been raised in San Diego, I was immediately intrigued by a band named Escondido. Turns out they’re from Nashville, Tennessee, a fact that is imminently evident after listening to the album The Ghost of Escondido for mere minutes. The Nashville swagger is in full force with Jessica Maros and Tyler James, whose music pairs Mazzy Star smoothness with that Jenny Lewis je ne sais quoi. Escondido just recently finished the summer festival circuit in support of Lord Huron, with a smattering of smaller venues in the likes of Missouri and Illinois. If you weren’t able to catch any of those shows, why don’t you buy their debut album–definitely worth the purchase price.