THE REVIEW WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR! MARK MULCAHY RESURFACES AFTER SOME HARD TIMES. DEAR MARK J. MULCAHY, WE ALL LOVE YOU!

This disc is one that has been long anticipated by the fans fellow recording artists, and perhaps more people we don't even realize… yet!

This disc is one that has been long anticipated by the fans, fellow recording artists, and perhaps more people we don’t even realize… yet!

Art is often born of tragedy.  War memorials, natural disaster memorials, Van Gogh…  But some tragedies are needless, senseless. In 2008, Mulcahy lost his wife Melissa, who left behind two daughters.  An all star tribute album Ciao My Shining Star, The Songs Of Mark Mulcahy was released featuring covers of Mulcahy tunes by such notables as Thom Yorke, Frank Black, The National, Dinosaur Jr., Michael Stipe, Juliana Hatfield, Mercury Rev, David Berkeley and Frank Turner, which served as a benefit album for Mulcahy.

Before you get all critical, no I was not waiting for this review because of Ms. Mulcahy’s passing, but rather, I have been aching to put Mr. Mulcahy’s music into your ears.  He is truly an amazing songwriter, singer and overall presence.

This hasn’t been the first bit of hard luck Mulcahy has faced.  His break-through band, Miracle Legion, couldn’t catch a break with the help of the entire Red Sox outfield roster.  They had signed to fledgling label Morgan Creek.  If you are asking why that name sounds familiar, it is because Morgan Creek also operated a movie distribution/production company.  As the band built up steam despite the exodus of various members of the rhythm section such as Jeff Wiederschall, Joel Potocsky, Steven West, final Miracle Legion players Scott Boutier and Dave McCaffrey went on to form Polaris with Mulcahy to be house band for the Nickelodeon show The Adventures Of Pete And Pete.  For one episode A Hard Day’s Pete, Ray Neal rejoined the band for a cameo appearance playing the Polaris tune “Summerbaby”.

But Neal departed the music business after getting a true spoonful of the corruption and deceit that were rampant in the final few years of the music industry’s hay day.  You see, Miracle Legion were the real deal, often compared to R.E.M., Mulcahy’s lyrics were far more impassioned, far more literate than anything Michael Stipe came up with.  The majority of you will disagree.  You may want to make an informed decision on that by getting any and all Miracle Legion, Polaris and Mark Mulcahy products, hearing them and THEN making your decision.

But let’s get back to the new music from Mark Mulcahy, Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You.

Mulcahy returns with “I Taketh Away” which opens with a lone acoustic guitar, but it isn’t long, at the end of the second riff-go-round, the lively band comes out and Mulcahy’s voice booms!  A couple of brief changes make for a couple of bridges with lyrical content that could be about anything from pilgrims to self-help to…

A chorus leads to a gritty, dirty solo.  The verse about Jesus is hilarious.  Jesus getting played out…  To get us out, a nice hushed chorus mixes things up to the end.

A Gary Glitter drum beat starts off “Everybody Hustles Leo” and makes way for a vocal ad-lib straight out of “Bill Jocko” from Fathering.

After an indirect reference to a cocaine deal…  The song is more or less about some poor sap named Leo and well, as you can glean from the title, and chorus lyric, Leo gets taken advantage of.

A minor length solo holds over from the chorus end to the verse intro, at this point the guitar gets some teeth.  A nice break bridges to the chorus in half time, with Mulcahy building on the line “and so on”.

The end rocks out to a triplet hit finish.

“She Makes The World Turn Backward” harkens back (at least in the intro) to Mulcahy’s earlier work.  The previously mentioned Fathering and SMILESUNSET.  Guitar and finger snaps open the track.  But it is that surgically clean, bright, semi-hollow body sound that Mulcahy has adapted as HIS sound.

He’s making a statement with his guitar tone.  ‘No, I don’t sound like Ray Neal, but this is MY album, MY sound, what I want behind my voice.  It’s my record label and no one is going to tell me what to do on MY record then screw me out of payments, promotion, other support.’  That tone often comes from an Epiphone Casino.  He did the appearance on Pete And Pete with a Gibson ES-295, the mainstay guitar of Killing Joke’s Geordie Walker.

Both guitars are hollow-bodies to a degree…

Mulcahy hums his way into the full verse.  I have to reiterate that the vocal mixing on this disc is stellar!

This track was leaked previous to the disc’s release when I heard the quarter-note hit bridge line on the title lyric, I knew this disc would be killer.

Another hysterical lyric, ‘The crowd is yelling jump’.  Mulcahy’s humor?  Check.

Staccato triplet accents done slowly to punctuate the lyric line ascend and that comprises the end.  Mulcahy is succinct and conclusive in his arrangements so far.

“Let The Butterflies Fly Away” begins with your classic clusterfuck open while Mulcahy baritones “Waiter, there’s a frog in my…” and then redirects the subject matter to tell the tale of the abandonment of the local zoo.

Between Lord Russ and Mulcahy, I guess there isn’t much call for linear logic in MA.  ?!?!?!?!?!?

For Mulcahy’s age, the falsetto glide up and back was reminiscent of earlier Mulcahy.

Breakin’ out tonight!

The hitchhiking chicken makes me think of the fighting chicken from Family Guy.  The line about him not having (I think he’s saying) weed didn’t stop any reinforcement of that image.

The second hit chorus didn’t go as smooth.  This does give way to clean guitar chords and Mulcahy ranting through (most likely) a megaphone effect before the big vocals come in chorusing the title lyric.

This track was another leaked song.  Another indication of just how good this album is.

Layering voices take us out on vocal ad-libs, which give way to a Deliverance-style nightmare.

But the hootenanny leads right over to a count in to a sprightly, down-stroke rhythm with Mulcahy’s booming ad-lib and flute!  If you want to recognize Ian Anderson (and I don’t), I see Mulcahy cooking up a new genre, Progressive Folk Pop?

The lyrics have Mulcahy lyrically alphabetizing traits in people, himself included, then he analyzes the bible.

We break for bass, guitar, flute and laughter and build back into a verse structure for the flute solo.

The last verse culminates in self adoration before another prog flute solo break down to an end note.

“My Rose Colored Friend” is subdued guitar and vocal at first, that vocal describing a fleeting series of relationships.  The second verse is punctuated with percussion.  The dead stop for the line in the bridge ‘to stop wondering’ is more powerful than Mulcahy imagined.

A sped-up break put us in our place by reminding us just how much our part time pals care (I really need to buy that sarcasm text symbol).

But Mark will be there.

A dead stop again relinquishes to a verse structure with some piano note interludes.  Mulcahy explains his title phrase a couple of times before a change with piano noodlings comes at us.  The break rises and falls, but builds in dynamic until the final triplets of the song build to a beautiful hold note end.

“Bailing Out On Everything Again” sounds like the descriptive of every human I have ever met.  An unusual start for Mulcahy, keyboard chords with keyboard bass carries the first verse instrumentation.  He talks of reversing viewpoints.

The bridge break down is comprised of hold note keys and drums noodling about.  A rejoinder built on ‘doot-doo’ ad-libs is thrown into the stew.  A second bridge break down has more percussion add-ons, but this yields to a theme line from the bridge, ‘I’ve fallen in love with things I hate’.

We ‘doot-doo’ to a splendiferous ending.

Mulcahy has many meanings in his lyrics.  Deciphering/interpreting/analyzing is best left to the individual.  Doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying, worst that can happen is, I get it wrong.  Won’t be the first time…  Unlike mine, Mulcahy’s words are wise.

A jaunty guitar (now harkening back to Mulcahy’s Polaris days) opens “Badly Madly” with interesting lyrics about a guy who mistreats a gal.  The minor bridge to verse two reveals that Mulcahy, as the observer of the relationship, also feels for the gal.

The second chorus doubles the last line into a lovely vocal ad-lib giving way to a break down.  The break down contains his confession.  He waited too long and missed out on the gal, but he makes sure to send gifts to the ‘happy couple’.

A sad subject, but yet another peppy tune.  After the confession, a flute solo!  Our protagonist even advises the gal to treat her now-ex with civility.  The band goes off again at the end with a touch of dynamic flourish.

Some manic almost bird-like whistling stars “Poison Candy Heart”.  Right away the band kicks in about someone who is inherently bad.

The chorus simply states that this person has a poison candy heart.  Doesn’t get more descriptive than that!

But instead of being all maudlin about it, happy, high pitched flute type synths twinkle along.  The second chorus lyric repeats from break down to build up to let in the Merry Massachusetts Whistlers.

Another bridge about being taken advantage of, running the title line and we are out.

“The Rabbit” begins very much like something from SMILESUNSET along the lines of “Ciao My Shining Star” (the song).  Clean, slightly chorused (?) guitar.  Strumming acoustic guitar and vocals bring us the first verse, and a harmony vocal on the bridge with glorious backing vocals.  Sleigh bells and guitar notes help the chorus through.

Verse two ends with pedal steel as the lyrics repeatedly allude to magic tricks.

Magic sucks.

We double up the chorus and repeat the opening riff with extra guitar.  A variation on the riff brings the song to a close.

A quick guitar intro brings up “Where’s The Indifference Now”.  A song about a suicide by pills.

He laments no note left.  The second chorus is founded in deduction.  This is followed by a light and airy break with ‘la-la’s’, violas and speculation.  The rhythm track is big enough to support the super heavy guitar solo.

I react incredulously to the fact that this is an uptempo, light and easy tune about death, grieving and suicide.

I knew I loved Mulcahy for a reason.

Quickly some melody-based ‘ooohs’ bring us to an orchestrated end.

Cursory and analytical listens gone by, I can say this disc is too short!!!  But I am greedy.  This is the first product from Mulcahy in a long time (short of his 7” vinyl Low Birthweight Child).

But this is tried and true Mulcahy.  But the songs have uptempo bases, and comical themes at times.  Devoid of hypothesis on my part, I say grab this!  If you’re a Miracle Legion fan, a Polaris fan, a Pete And Pete fan, or a Mark Mulcahy solo fan, this is a must have.  If you aren’t knowing Mark Mulcahy, Dear Mark J Mulcahy… is a great place to start!

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