Friday, December 4, 2009

Mission Hill: A Pleasant Surprise

One of the nice things about working for Chunky is that my job consists of going out most nights and finding new music.  Most of the time this quest is a drastic failure, as most bands are terrible (read: Pink Floyd wannabes, singers who can’t sing, musicians with no message, etc).  However, the reason to stay patient is a pleasant surprise.  Mission Hill is a pleasant surprise.

Mission Hill is not U2.  They are not Jimmy Hendrix.  They are not Bob Dylan.  They are not game changing artists.  But neither are No Doubt, Simple Plan or the Offspring, yet they all three are great.  What separates these three bands from Mission Hill is the fact that, despite not changing the game, all three of these bands have a signature sound whether it be Gwen Stefani’s nasal crooning over punk-pop tracks or the Offspring’s permanent teenaged angst turned adult anger-rage over guitar laden frenetic drums, the sound is distinct.  Mission Hill gives glimpses of the same type of stamp from time to time, though it is too rare.

Overall, Mission Hill is highly listenable.  Their music is solid fare, like eating at a good friends house.  It's not your mother's cooking but it's in the same neighborhood and it's still good.  Their music is of the solid Northeastern rock variety, i.e. Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.  It's semi-addictive, the more you listen, the more you'll like it.  But it's not  Nirvana.  It won't change your perspective or give voice to things internally unheard.  You'll like it but you won't write home about it, but friends will ask you who it is if they hear you playing it.  It can entertain, rarely intrigue, but can also bore. 

To hear the intrigue, two songs, “Down With Young Love” and “Dancing with the Rascals”, the lead guitarist, a Norweigian (who says we don’t need Europe?) Zach Jagentenfl, whose name means 'Devil Hunter' (nice), kills the potential monotony of these tracks.  In “Down With Young Love” we have a singer that sings his usual m.o.: introspective tracks without being deep.  To his credit, he knows he is not Chris Doughtry.  

He stays within his range and sings about topics he knows.  There is something to be said for restraint.  In the interview however, listen for a mild case of LSD (Lead Singer Disease), with respect to taking credit for the actual music.  He has some notable songs, i.e. "Long Time Comin'" and "Save Me From Me"  where he talks about girl issues, respectively, a woman who he's fed up with and a woman trying to 'fix' him ... not that he's all that broken.  

The rhythm section has apparent chemistry.  Drummer Takuma Anzai and bass player Alex Knutsen get along swimmingly musically and personally.  (Listen to a full interview below).  This foundation allows for the lead singer to perform and the lead guitarist to put his stamp (on two out of ten songs) on their music.

Overall, this music is highly marketable.  Think a younger Bon Jovi style band.  While lacking the smash hits that make Bon Jovi … well … Bon Jovi, this band if they keep working will surely stumble upon these songs as their chemistry improves.  If  Jagentenfl’s musical skills are infused into the songs more often the songs can be notable.

 Their fan base, college educated 23-34 year olds are loyal.  They sing respectably, don’t delve into topics that are uncomfortable, normally play decently, and occasionally surprise the listener and rock out hard, but the long and short of it is that their music is safe.  It is edu-rock with a blue collar tinge.  It won’t rock your world but it’s marketable and listenable.  It can be more ... perhaps a lot more, but only time will tell.

Mission Hill Interview Part 1:

Mission Hill Interview Part 2:


No comments:

Post a Comment