Mike Adams At His Honest Weight: Graphic Blandishment [Album Review]

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Mike Adams At His Honest Weight
Graphic Blandishment
Joyful Noise Recordings [2022]

In spite of the inevitable earworm infestation, power-pop has proven to be one of the most reliable and long-lasting musical genre trends. Early British Invasion bands laid the groundwork, and iconic bands like Big Star, Cheap Trick, Weezer, and my personal favorite Material Issue have all worn that banner, right up to the most recent indie rock release by The Beths. Mike Adams at His Honest Weight has been bringing his own midwestern take on this durable rock staple for over a decade, making Graphic Blandishment his sixth studio album.

Recorded mostly on his own at home during the pandemic, Graphic Blandishment, finds Adams with an “Open Heart,” and while he claims to be “Tye-dyed & Tongue Tied,” he may have embraced a retro wardrobe, but he’s clear throated and capable of speaking his mind. As they prime examples show, he’s got the power pop vocabulary down to a tee, fast rhythms and crunchy guitars, catchy melodies and wall of sound harmonies, and a clever turn of phrase often elevates the proceedings. While the choice of keyboard settings leaves little doubt that Adams is channeling 80’s new wave influences, for the most part, he’s able to avoid a damning retro disqualification on serious rockers like “Cherry Corolla,” “Arrow & Asa in the Year 3000,” and “Out There in the Way” where his overly earnest intention to make good music prevails.

Oh, and this works because it’s fun and engaging, right down to his genuinely sappy love song, “Me & Tammy.” You gotta love when a guy gets down on one knee and wears his heart on his sleeve, especially when the power chords played on guitar suggest he really means business. Coming out of Bloomington, Indiana, Adams makes the most of his “heartland rocker” bona fides, and as he says right there in the title, he’s willing to use flattery to worm his way into your consciousness. But be warned, these melodic earworms are hard to get out of your head.

“Tye-dyed & Tongue Tied” / “Open Heart” / “Arrow & Asa in the Year 3000”

Material Issue / Carseat Headrest / The Beths

Best Of Boiler Room Classics (2014)

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Brian Q. Newcomb

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