Friday, August 8, 2008

Music Of My Mind: MyNameIsJohnMichael

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 9:42 PM

In 2007, Radiohead made giving away your music the cause célèbre of record-industry haters from Tucson to Tokyo. In 2008, the New Orleans singer/songwriter John Michael Rouchell offers another novel nail for the RIAA coffin: You and I are the new Rick Rubin. Last January, Rouchell began writing and recording a new song each and every week; and every week this year, he's offering those songs for free at his Web site, in a cleverly designed notebook concept à la Juno or Napoleon Dynamite. Anyone who donates at least $10 to the project gains access to higher quality files, promotional giveaways and event invites. Come December, when the cache totals 52 songs, that same pool of donors will be asked to vote their favorite 12 selections onto MyNameIsJohnMichael’s full-length album — effectively turning the famously caustic A&R process into a democratic love-in. As for those songs? Even with Rouchell's repertoire-purging gimmick, they’re mostly quite good: hook-strong, guitar-based numbers propelled by the irregular drumbeats of Eric Rogers, skin hitter du jour from that bastion of the irregular drumbeat, Antenna Inn. “Every Night of the Year,” from way back in week five, ranks among the best. A bottom-heavy, 1-2 stomp tethers an “Oh Yoko!” strum to Rouchell’s Bright Eyed vocals: “Every night of the year/The writer confronts his fear/Has he done all he could?/And will he be understood?/Or will his work be a dime-store luxury?” And every week, piece by piece, a promising 2009 debut comes into better focus.

     MyNameIsJohnMichael plays the Circle Bar tonight at 10 p.m. and the House of Blues at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10.


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