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What Would You Do

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Album Review

Although he used to play bass in Dinosaur Jr., Northwest singer/songwriter Mike Johnson has always sounded more like his brothers in melodic melancholia, Mark Eitzel and Mark Lanegan — or those holy folk ghosts, Nick Drake and Tim Buckley — than former bandmate J. Mascis (his voice is a lot deeper and steadier). On "Come Back Again," he even rips it up with the same sort of swirling intensity as Lanegan's psych-garage rock combo the Screaming Trees. This shouldn't come as a complete surprise, as Johnson has also played with members of the Screaming Trees in the past (both Lanegan and Barrett Martin). But most of the rest of the songs on What Would You Do, his fourth solo release, are more hushed and slower-paced than that, and producer Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse) has imbued the proceedings with a welcoming warmth and immediacy. It's as if Johnson were whispering rather than singing these sweet somethings in your ear. He can't help but command your attention, encouraging you to listen closely and to step inside his world. It may not be as bright and cheery as some, but everyone is welcome. And if you're into Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood, and Charlie Rich, well, he just may let you stay later and longer than the rest. ~ Kathleen C. Fennessy, Rovi


Born: 1952 in Grant's Pass, OR

Genre: Graphic Novels

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

Whether as a solo artist, an accompanist for Mark Lanegan, a bassist for Dinosaur Jr., or a sought-after mixer, the talented Mike Johnson has always been an active part of the indie rock scene. Starting in 1985 with the melodic punk-influenced combo Snakepit, he sang and played the guitar with that group for six years. In that time they managed to release material locally in Eugene, OR, but around 1990 Johnson was tired of the group and they broke up. Johnson met up with J Mascis in this time, and...
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What Would You Do, Mike Johnson
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