Mike Park – For the <3 of Music (CD)

This album was another one that I was a little worried about reviewing, as I heard the Dave Matthews-style guitar that opens up the disc, “Supposed to be There Too”. Still, after keeping this disc on repeat in my stereo for the last week has opened my eyes. Dealing incredibly heavily with racism, and hate in general, Mike Park’s For the <3 of Music is an extra-ordinary journey through the mind of an individual who has had to live with visible isms throughout eir life. With strong lyrics like “An A for lovin’ me/ You didn’t need to share your heart with me / I can’t wait to grow old together.” (On That Stage), Mike makes it known that this album is not about one small facet of eir’s life, but actually every single salient issue that Mike deems important. Irrespective of genre or general sound, this music would be as valid and applicable ten years ago as it is now, with messages that show the personality of one individual. While the songs are slower-tempoed and more emotive than anything Park did with Skankin’ Pickle, I think the fans of eir’s work will be able to make the jump from ska-punk to acoustic emo rock. In comparison to the Jeff Ott acoustic disc, the songs on For The <3 of Music are more radio-friendly in their delivery – maybe not in their progressive political message, but in the fact that they include a very melodic punch to them. What really makes the disc for me is the inclusion of “From Korea”, a track that comes hard from the start, trying to show the hurtful terms individuals use, without understanding the implications for using them. At times, it becomes hard to actually decipher what Mike is trying to say with each of eir’s songs. It is not due to any gruff or grizzly voice, but due to the fact that each of the songs are crafted in such a beautiful way that at times, the instrumentation of the matter takes precedence over the lyrics. However, this theory completely goes to pot in the final track, “Present Day Memories”. This track has Mike furthering the acoustic guitar with a very harmonic-laced voice, and lyrics that hit hard. Take, for example, “Present day memories have fallen down and done / and whether it’s true when racism eludes the slanting of the eyes”. A powerful album, that will mean something different to each and every person, whether it be the rich instrumentation or the lyrics or Mike’s soaring vocals. Rating: 7.7/10 Mike Park – For the <3 of Music / 11 Tracks / 2003 Asian Man Records / http://www.asianmanrecords.com / mikeasianman@aol.com / Reviewed 30 December 2003 Top Tracks: Present Day Memories, From Korea

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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