Johnstown, Pennsylvania's Endless Mike and the Beagle Club have released a brand new album of not-so-brand-new material on the My Idea of Fun label. Titled Side B, this one is obviously a collection of fifteen tracks of odds and ends. Presumably, these are songs that were not used on the other albums for some reason or other, have been sitting around gathering dust, or simply did not get the attention they deserved after being written. Whatever the case, they are simply too good not to share.
Now, you may not be familiar with Endless Mike and the Beagle Club. And if that is the case, it is probably because they are one of Western Pennsylvania's more obscure musical treasures. But once one stumbles upon their music, one is almost invariably glad they did. To put it simply, or not so simply, Endless Mike and the Beagle Club's sound is a combination of indie singer/songwriter and punk rock, with their truly well-crafted arrangements, engaging vocals, and lyrics by bandleader Mike Miller, which range from intelligent to emotional, personal to general, observational to confessional, and poetic to philosophical.
Like Endless Mike and the Beagle Club's previous releases - Husky Tenor and We Are Still At War - Side B possesses all of the things that make this band one to fully appreciate: song quality and lyrical substance, and that unnameable musical trait that makes a certain song, or a collection of songs more than a little meaningful to the listener. In other words, the scales are rarely balanced when it comes to music; songs are typically driven by the musicianship or by the vocals and lyrics. But this particular project is made great by the artistic output of each of its component parts coming together to create an inspired whole, resulting in the unforgettable songs they have written, recorded and performed thus far.
While it seems unfair to this album to pick and choose which of the songs are better than the others, I will be so bold as to point out a few I am fond of, including "Sick Day," "Planet Mike," "Dan Gaughin," "In Like a Lion, Out Like a Light," "Strange Little Stories," and "Oxygen Tank." Check out the video for "Oxygen Tank" attached to this write-up to find out for yourself.
Also, if you are ever able to attend an Endless Mike and the Beagle Club show, do yourself a favor and go. The lineup may vary from Mike doing a solo acoustic set to a small handful of members to a lot of participating musicians. Either way, you are in for a treat. Personally, I had the pleasure of attending an Endless Mike and the Beagle Club show in Philadelphia at a little house show type venue, and it was a memorable experience, to be sure.
Side B by Endless Mike and the Beagle Club is available on CD or as a digital download from My Idea of Fun and the band.