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Keneally, Mike: Wing Beat Fantastic

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.

Track Listing
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)

Added: October 24th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 4776
Language: english

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Keneally, Mike: Wing Beat Fantastic
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-10-24 20:23:01
My Score:

Unfortunately it has taken me a while to get this review off the ground but better late than never I suppose. No doubt most readers here are familiar with the genius that is Mike Keneally so I won't delve into his impressive past accomplishments. Anyone who has played with Frank Zappa has to be good, right? Listen to Wing Beat Fantastic and you will get the answer real quick.

On this album Keneally has collaborated with XTC veteran Andy Partridge and the results are stunning. Even though the album is performed mostly by Keneally, he does have a few extra hands on some of the tracks like Marco Minnemann (drums), there is an XTC vibe coursing through these songs. Take the breezy art pop of "I'm Raining Here, Inside" or the tasty title track with its hummable melody to hear what I'm talking about. Throughout the album the songs shine with the focus on songwriting and melody. This just might be the most accessible Keneally album yet but is still inundated with a quirky offbeat charm that only Mr. Keneally can provide. One of my favourite tracks is "That's Why I Have No Name" featuring some nice builds and excellent guitar and plaintive piano. The vocal arrangement is one of the CDs many highlights.

This is an excellent album with nary a weak track in the bunch. Definitely one of the most thoughtful albums from 2012 and one that still gets plenty of playing time in my player. Mr. Keneally, you have done it again. Simply outstanding.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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