Music » CD Reviews

Mike Johnson

Gone Out of Your Mind (Up)

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Anger, it's said, is depression turned outward. We already knew Mike Johnson was musically a melancholy sort, as his previous, sepia-tinged solo records spoke of betrayal, decay, and mortality, with subdued brushstrokes of acoustic guitar, wistful strings, and the singer's resigned baritone. But on Gone Out of Your Mind, Johnson puts aside the gentle instrumentation and country ballads for an in-your-face electric record that's no less bleak, but a lot louder and pissed off.

The former sideman for Dinosaur Jr. seems to take a page from the J. Mascis book, trading massive reverb-drenched guitar licks with Brett Netson (Built to Spill, Caustic Resin) during the rave-ups "On Track" and "Pass By," and the Soundgardenesque "Can't Get It Right."

The record's best tracks ply a middle ground, like the slow-burn blues of the title cut and a transcendent Black Heart Procession-meets-Junior Byles cover of the latter's reggae classic, "Fade Away." Sounding similar to Mark Lanegan (with whom he also performs), Johnson sings of artifice, the fickle nature of friendship, inequality, and the damage drugs do. Standard themes for him, true, but here their collective weight has driven him to let loose, and it suits him.

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