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Album Review

If there's one word to describe the debut release by Mike Keneally, it would have to be "idiosyncratic." This record feels like it was blurted out intact after being in a pressure cooker. Not a concept album per se, it really only makes sense when consumed as a whole, since there are a number of recurring themes (and jokes) and some of the songs are linked conceptually. He covers a broad spectrum of music, from perfect guitar pop to ballads to all-out guitar skronk to downright weird. Without ever really sounding like him, Keneally proudly displays a heavy Zappa influence, mainly as it pertains to an all-pervasive sense of humor, as well as the aforementioned conceptual continuity. For example, the song "Here Is What I Dreamed Last Night" is followed by the song "Here Is Why" although, beyond the title, there is no apparent connection between the songs. One of the instrumental guitar skronk pieces is called "Backstage With Wilson-Phillips." His sense of quirky pop seems to come from Andy Partridge and XTC; they are thanked in the liner notes and sampled on one tune as well. Although Keneally's influences clearly show through, he definitely has a characteristic sound, with his self-harmonized vocals, guitar playing, and composing all displaying a certain "Keneally-y" quality that has become more refined on subsequent releases. A little rough around the edges, Hat is a wild and often hilarious ride from the start ("Thank you for buying Hat!") to the finish (the bizarre epic "Lightnin' Roy"). While not for all tastes, fans of irreverent, eclectic pop should be quite pleased.

Biography

Born: 20 December 1961 in Long Island, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Mike Keneally obviously doesn't like to be labeled — he's a bandleader and bandmember, a rock and jazz fusion player, and also an outstanding guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist, and percussionist. Taking up keyboards at age five, Keneally's life changed when he moved from New York to California in 1970 and heard Frank Zappa for the first time at age ten. Woodshedding for the next 15 years as a self-taught guitarist, Keneally formed a band called Drop Control in his hometown of San Diego in 1985...
Full bio
Hat, Mike Keneally
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