Michael Lee – Blown Away

Embarrassment-by-proximity, also known as second-hand embarrassment, is an unfortunate symptom of day-to-day life that most of us have had to deal with. It’s the feeling you get when your friend asks the big-boned woman if it’s a girl or a boy, when she’s not even expecting. Or the feeling you get when you listen to a certain Canadian four-piece who somehow continuously churn out such bad music that you begin to feel a tinge of sympathy for them. And as I recently discovered, it’s also the feeling you get when you listen to Michael Lee’s sophomore EP, Blown Away, as it is yet another unfortunate addition to the Nickelback-influenced excuse for rock music.

The EP opens with the track “I Won’t Back Down”. As is explained on Lee’s bandcamp page, the song is about being in a relationship with an individual who “has the upper hand”. “Not only does this song have such an imaginative and original message, but the sound is so fresh and unheard of that I was almost rendered speechless upon my first listen” is what I wish I could say about the song, but unfortunately the only part of the song that induced speechlessness was it’s complete lack of everything that I just mentioned. Lyrically, there isn’t much in the way of creativity. The message from song to song varies from the sometimes-done-right-but-mainly-overused “trouble in paradise” theme to unclear jumbles of words that are supposed to sound artistic. The EP as a whole serves as an encyclopedia for examples of rhyming for the sake of rhyming, which is probably a huge contributor to the nonsensical aspect of the lyrics. Specifically, in “New State of Mind”, the message has something to do with self-betterment, but outside of that, not much is really said by the end of the song, making it virtually impossible for anyone to relate to his lyrics.

The absence of originality flows perfectly throughout every aspect of the songwriting process, as can be heard in the riffs, beats and song structures — all of which generate a feeling of boredom like no other. There just isn’t anything enticing enough on the EP to rank it as anything other than filler music. It’s the kind of music that you would settle for after scanning every other preset on your radio, having to choose between silence, this, or some song featuring Pitbull that’s inevitably playing on one of the other stations.

Although Lee’s range is impressively high for a guy, the way in which he uses it comes off as whiny and a little bit annoying to listen to for a long period of time. The closest comparison that I can draw would be Gavin DeGraw and Daniel Powter’s lovechild after a bitter breakup. While the sound that he’s aiming to achieve seems to be somewhere in the rock category, his voice simply does not match the genre. All of this aside, the actual calibre of his singing isn’t terrible. The man can undoubtedly hold a note, but the music for which he is putting his vocals to use only clouds any smidgeon of potential that they may hold.

Overall, the cons of Michael Lee’s “Blown Away” definitely outweigh the pros. And while musical preference is subjective and there is no definitive answer as to whether or not this EP is a success, I personally wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is looking for stimulating new music. For those of you who are curious all the same, you can find the EP as well as more Michael Lee originals on his bandcamp page, or stop by his Facebook page for all of his latest endeavours.

Written by Karyna Evangelista

About Karyna Evangelista 6 Articles
Karyna is a Montréal native with a penchant for all things artistic. Whether it be music, visual arts, fashion, or literature, you can find her all up in the latest happenings around the city, soaking them all in. When she’s not busy tending to these preoccupations, she’s probably hard at work on her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies at Concordia, or hanging with her other half, Biscuit (who happens to be a tiny poodle). Should you take a gander through her iTunes library, you’ll stumble upon some of her staples such as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, The Smashing Pumpkins, Counting Crows, Elliott Smith, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Regina Spektor, Modest Mouse, and The National. Legend has it that if you ask her real nicely, she might even whip you up a batch of her ever-tasty veggie chili in exchange for some stimulating conversation over a few brews.

5 Comments

  1. I completely disagree with you on this album! I love every song and think Michael is one of the best indie artists out there. Every song can’t be bad like you said in your review. I think it’s utterly ridiculous to say that. I think your ears need a cleaning!

  2. I personally could not agree more with Karyna’s article. I have time and time again given Mr. Lee a listen and myself and everyone who is around me doesn’t really have an opinion on his music. If there is absolutely nothing else to listen too I will make due…

  3. I have to say this is one of the most unprofessional reviews I have ever read. Now I’ve only heard a couple of songs by Michael Lee and thought they were quite good but to say this EP is this bad is not right and plain old rude. How do you expect an indie artist to want to continue on with his music with not one good thing to say about it or him? They pour their heart, soul, and yes THEIR money into making the music they believe in. I think you should think twice before you write another review like this. I have dealt with many indie artists and reviewers (I’m in the media) and have never come across anyone this heartliess in my life. Shame on you.

  4. The job of the media is not to shower every artist in praise just because the artist believes that they are the shit. If Michael Lee is serious about his music, he’ll take this review in stride and keep going anyway. Rolling Stone magazine trashed the first four Led Zeppelin albums and nobody complained that it was “heartliess”
    To argue that a bad review is unprofessional is to declare that all reviewers must love all music, defeating the purpose completely.

  5. Jim,
    I suspect that Gertrude and Mimi Paulette are related to Michael…I saw all of them together having coffee…

    Harry

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