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Mikey Erg! on The Jersey Beat Podcast

MIKEY ERG – Tentative Decisions (Don Giovanni Records,

The Ergs have been gone for several years, but we haven’t exactly been lacking for records with Mikey Erg on them. Probably one of the most tireless musicians in the scene, Mikey has played with many bands over the years. And, after releasing a few EPs under his own name, he’s finally putting out his debut full-length LP, on Don Giovanni Records, no less. In a way, we know what to expect from something with Mikey Erg’s name on it: something pop punkish, melodic, bouncy, and fun. And that’s exactly what’s on offer. The songs tend more to the indie rock side of the equation, but the pop punk roots are still clearly there. The songs are predominantly mid-tempo, but still rock pretty hard. There’s nothing tentative about it. Mikey jumps right in, with “Faulty Metaphor” opening the album. And Mikey does it right, putting one of the best songs first. This one comes right at you, hitting all the right marks. I really like “An Abundance of Julies,” a song that, to my ears, at least, has a strong Elvis Costello sound to it. “Scenic Turnout” has a gritty Americana feel to it. More than that, it has a desolate, lonely feel, even as it hammers hard, like a desert anthem. “Song for New Britain” is probably the song with the most jangle on the record, almost sparkling at moments. And the closer, “Nyquil and Sudafed,” is a slower track, epic in sound, and almost grunge-like in feel. It’s the perfect way to end this debut, and definitely leaves me wanting more. And more is what we’ll be getting, soon, with Mikey out on tour this summer (with The Falcon, The Copyrights, and Sam Russo), as well as playing some shows with a reunited Ergs! Until then, I recommend picking up this record and listening often. - Paul Silver

MIKEY ERG - Tentative Decisions (Don Giovanni)

It's one thing to write dorky teenage love songs when you're a teenage dork. The reason the Ergs' DorkCorkRod remains a pop-punk classic is because every word and every note rings true, delivered by three talented but hopelessly outre music nerds with glasses, Converse All-Stars. and bad haircuts who clearly spent way more time with their record collections than girlfriends. Fast forward to the present and Mike Yannich - aka Mikey Erg, the Ergs' drummer, principal songwriter, and lead singer - is still writing pop punk songs, only now he's an accomplished thirtysomething professional musician in a steady relationship who's spent the last decade touring the world, sitting in with dozens of bands (many of them his boyhood heroes.) And so, the question looms, how does Mikey Erg rekindle the teenage dork inside of him to (finally) write his first solo album, a good eight years after the Ergs called it a day? Happily, Tentative Decisions should delight every Ergs fan (or pop-punk aficionado) who's been waiting for Mikey to get over his writer's block and give us a new full length. I honestly think Tentative Decisions is a better album than the Ergs' swansong, Upstairs /Downstairs. What the new album may lack in immediate pop gratification (sadly, there's nothing quite as instantly infectious as "Books About Miles Davis") it more than makes up for with consistentcy. The album was recorded by Mikey and two musicians with a minimum of overdubs, capturing a live energy that's almost kinetic. It's all crunchy sonic guitars and punchy drums, melodic basslines and emphatic vocals in Mikey's trademark nasal yowl. Women remain a mystery ("all I know is what I've heard, but even then I can't be sure," he sings in "Comme Si About Me,") but these songs find Mike trying to solve life's knottiest problem with humor, empathy, and a little more realism than the lovesick dreamer of "Pray For Rain." Musically, the album remains pop-punk more by association than execution; the songs are written with a seasoned complexity, with strong melodies, clever bridges, and hooky choruses. "An Abundance Of Julies" could be a lost Gin Blossoms track, while "Waiting Out The Winter" might be Mike's first true ballad (with strings even!) Fear not, though, punk fans, Mike can still crank it up a few notches for head-bobbing rockers like "(This Is Not) The First Time," the snotty, thrashing "Apart Time," the regret-tinged,. lost-love lament "1001 Smashed Hotel Rooms," and finally, a sequel of sorts to Upstairs/Downstairs' noise-jam title track called "Nyquil & Sudafed." (For more information on how the album was written and recorded, I recommend listening to my interview with Mikey on the Jersey Beat Podcast.) Album of the summer, maybe of the year? - Jim Testa

MIKEY ERG - Tentative Decisions (Don Giovanni Records)

The rightfully beloved Mikey Erg finally releases his first complete solo record and all the greatness that prior EPs teased and the fond memories so many of us carry from the Ergs are present on Tentative Decisions. From the opening seconds of “Faulty Metaphors”, a typical self-deprecating take on his emotional struggles, Erg blasts away at heartbreak with eleven ridiculously catchy songs. Jeff Rosenstock and Louise Hanman help out on bass and drums respectively, and they give the record a richly fleshed out sound, particularly on “An Abundance of Julies” and the first sneak peak of the record, the blissfully sarcastic “Comme Si About Me” (“I wished that you loved me, blah blah blah blah”). While Erg experiments a bit with tempo and stretches his punk sensibilities of “Waiting Out the Winter” and “Scenic Turnout”, he is his best on the speedy, snarky “(This is Not) The First Time” and the bombastic, noise fest conclusion “Nyquil and Sudafed”. In between, the soaring harmonies of “Apart Time” and the groove of “1001 Smashed Hotel Rooms” are unmistakably Erg. Everything about Tentative Decisions both pay homage to Erg’s lineage as a performer while also declaring himself as a highly sophisticated writer steeped in emotional intelligence. Legions of punk acts have written about the pain of loneliness, but few do it with the introspection and love of harmony of Mikey Erg. - Rich Quinlan

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