Some artists instill emotions in their listeners. Some tell a story with their music. Some inspire generations. And some, though very rarely, manage to do all three. Toronto musician Mike Nagoda is one of these latter artists. His music is as pleasant to listen to and is as complex as some of history’s greatest blues-rock musicians. As if that isn’t enough, he is one of very few musicians who actually plays double-slide guitar, using two slides on the guitar which makes for a very rare sound. That is still not the only thing that sets this man apart – he has also managed to create a strangely wonderful dystopian album, his debut disc entitled Parliament.
Parliament tells the story of a post-apocalyptic Canada, under martial law. Though this doesn’t sound like the perfect formula for a blues-rock album, it is. As it opens up with the song “Victor’s Hymn”, the sound of the vocals and guitar start off as serene and then progress into a powerful, victorious anthem, as the title suggests. The sounds featured in this song are reminiscient of those found on The Who’s rock opera album, Tommy.
The next song, “Parliament Got Bombed”, has an oddly menacing sound, with its combination of harmonica and guitar. This was contrasted nicely by the third track, “Path of Needles”, that encompassed elements of bluegrass with the recurring sounds of rock and blues. The next song, “Running Man”, mixes in yet another genre, as a very solemn jazz sound is clearly present. The sound of the each song matches its repective theme beautifully, with its sound complimenting the feelings evoked by their titles and lyrics. We are able to feel as though we are living in a post-apocalyptic Canada, and the album is so good that we never want it to end.
Throughout the entire album, the voice was just as powerful as the skilled guitar playing, and the addition of some brass instruments rendered it almost flawless. Though you could never tell since he has more talent in one finger than most people have in their entire bodies, Mike Nagoda should also be commended for his incredible perseverance and hard work as he has managed to accomplish such incredible work, despite having cerebral palsy. He is the perfect example of how anything can be accomplished if we just put our minds to it.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca