ANOTHER MICHAEL – ” New Music and Big Pop “

Posted: March 28, 2021 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
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While “new music” obviously serves as a descriptor for the ten tracks on the debut record from Philly’s Another Michael, “big pop” may be a bit misleading—rather than embracing the hyperpop movement at its presumable crest, these recordings are mostly soft bedroom-esque recordings generally falling in line with labelmates like Field Medic and Sun June. The latter of the two title tracks, “Big Pop,” feels sufficiently upbeat for its name, though it’s led by bold acoustic guitar rather than infectious synths.

Sometimes, there is value in taking time to sit with a finished product and pick apart each piece. After the pandemic pushed the planned release date by several months, Another Michael had nearly a full year to spend with their debut album, New Music And Big Pop, between submitting the final master and releasing the first track. “I’m actually more connected to the record now than I would have been, maybe, had we released it sooner,” says Michael Doherty 

1. “New Music”

Shortly after posting a voice memo of the first verse on SoundCloud, I spent an entire day writing and recording what would be the rest of the song in our basement. It was uncommon for me to have a day like this, where I set out to record some real drums myself and really carefully demo something. But at the end of the night I brought the song upstairs and showed it to everyone. Scoops, who is our dear friend and engineer/producer, insisted that we could use most of what I’d done as the album version and that really helped direct the sound and vision of what was to come throughout the process of finishing the album. When I listen back now, I really get so transported back to our initial year of living in Philly and using music as a way to grow into new experiences.

2. “I Know You’re Wrong” 

This was the most upbeat guitar song we were playing at shows for awhile. We had originally recorded this one in Albany before moving, but decided to redo it and go for something more energy driven. I was really craving snow that winter, because we didn’t have any the year before. That’s the image I wanted to paint with that end line, I just wanted everything to stop for a few days.

3. “What Gives?” 

First song I wrote after we moved to Philly, and one we recorded at our house there. We finished Land as soon as we moved in and the lyrics in the second verse are about that. It feels good to have catalogued that moment in a song that’s unrelated to the project. Also, I guess that was foreshadowing the music references to come. Should note here that our friend Jacob Crofoot plays guitar all over the record and does it so wonderfully here.

4. “My Day”

The guitar part for this song came first, it was my first time finger picking sixteenth notes like that. I have a hard time strumming quietly, and it felt good to have dynamic limitations with finger picking for the first time. We decided to let this one be the album’s solo guitar song—I think the arrangement variations are key to the album’s sound. 

5. “Big Pop”

When it comes to song writing, I can get really in my head about ripping something off. But writing “Big Pop” was a chance to let go and take some classic rock and roll motifs and bring them into the Another Michael world. My friends Connor and Aurora inspired this song, they listen to lots of great power pop music and writing this song made me think of getting in the car with them and driving to a show together.

6. “What the Hell is Going On?”

I wanted to write a song that sounded like it could be on Fearless by Taylor Swift, or even more relevant to the time, Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves—just a really warm and pillowy singer/songwriter sound. The band taps into it so well, I think. There’s also a lyrical nod to our song “Football” on here.

7. “I’m Not Home”

I wrote this song alone in my room a few days after my 26th birthday. Within that experience, I would have never guessed that it would become one of the louder and more experimental-leaning cuts. We were recording this one late into the night, very cloudy vibes. Scoops was feeding Jacob spoonfuls of hot sauce after each of his takes. At the very end of the sessions it seemed unclear whether or not the song belonged on the album, but we took a closer look and rearranged the layers to build as opposed to play forward all at once, and it was meant to be.

8. “Row”

I’d been playing with variations of the opening riff for a few months and finally stumbled upon one that led to a full song. I wanted to arrange it to strike a balance between our acoustic and electric elements. Mount Eerie’s album Sauna was a big inspiration for this song.

9. “Hone”

The only song on the record that mostly features just Nick and I, and the oldest one of the bunch. Lots of life changes going on amongst all the lyrics on this album, but I’m probably my most direct about that here. 

10. “Shaky Cam”

This one ended up becoming the most studio-focused of the bunch. I started by tracking into Scoops new 8 track tape machine in the spring of 2017 with the rhythm section of friends Josh Marre on drums and Dan Paoletti on bass. We had planned to meet up for recording that afternoon, and I had finished writing the song that morning without knowing we’d get around to it. Later that year, Another Michael began to identify less ambiguously as my solo project and the live band was solidified. So we had a night at home where Nick, Alenni, and Jacob added their parts, and then we switched over to the computer for vocals, and that’s when the song really started to take its shape. Big thanks to Josh and Dan for helping us shape this one.

There is a spirit of soaring indie-pop in several of these songs, though—perhaps Michael Doherty’s vocals most inspire comparisons to Nada Surf—and Doherty will be the first to tell you the project was nearly as inspired by Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves as it was by Phil Elverum. To give us a better understanding of the record—as well as a proper introduction to Another MichaelDoherty went deep on each song from the album

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