Multi-instrumentalist/singer/composer Mike Keneally has put out a slew of releases over the last 20+ years that run the gamut from prog-rock, jazz-fusion, rock, avant-garde, and everything in between. For his latest album Wing Beat Fantastic, Keneally teams up with XTC's Andy Partridge, who he co-wrote most of these songs with back in 2006 & 2008, and the end result is probably Keneally's first pure 'pop' album, but still sprinkled with all the little elements we've come to love from him over the years. Though Mike plays a good amount of the instruments on the album, there's also help from guests Marco Minnemann, Nick D'Virgilio, Rick Musallam, Bryan Beller, Evan Francis, Matt Resnicoff, Allen Whitman, and April West.
Prog fans who have followed Keneally for years of course know his love for Gentle Giant, so look for some references to that classic band on the quirky "You Kill Me", but for the most part these are engaging, memorable pop songs with crafty instrumentation, with emphasis more on the melodies and vocals rather than long musical passages and solos. Keneally's yearning electric guitar lines add depth to the piano driven "That's Why I Have No Name", and his strong vocals soar on the more acoustic based tunes like "Your House", "Miracle Woman And Man", "Bobeau", and the gorgeous, lush, "Land". And I dare anyone to try and not get swept away by the catchy, breezy "I'm Raining Here, Inside", one of the CDs most alluring songs, combining pop, blues, and jazz in a way that you don't normally hear. Even the hook laden title track manages to throw every style at you, even prog, and still maintain its accessibility.
If you are looking for an album filled with catchy tunes, and superb yet understated instrumentation, then make sure you check out Wing Beat Fantastic. Keneally has found a perfect writing partner in Partridge, and fans of XTC who have always loved that bands penchant for catchy pop & rock tunes will love what's on display here.
1. The Ineffable Oomph of Everything, Part One (Keneally)
2. I'm Raining Here, Inside (Keneally/Partridge)
3. Wing Beat Fantastic (Keneally/Partridge)
4. The Ineffable Oomph of Everything, Part Two (Keneally)
5. You Kill Me (Keneally/Partridge)
6. Friend Of A Friend (Keneally/Partridge)
7. That's Why I Have No Name (Keneally)
8. Your House (Keneally/Partridge)
9. Miracle Woman And Man (Keneally/Partridge)
10. Inglow (Keneally/Partridge)
11. Bobeau (Keneally/Partridge)
12. Land (Keneally)