Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Album Review: 'Your New Norman Rockwell' by Micah Schnabel

Album:  Your New Norman Rockwell (BandCamp, Last Chance Records, iTunes)
Artist:  Micah Schnabel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, Big Cartel)

Micah Schnabel's latest album Your New Norman Rockwell is a powerhouse release of poignant poetry, biting social commentary, and personal heartache, all held together by brilliant hooks and heart wrenching melodies.  There is a power and a purpose behind each and every one of these songs and though the subjects are often dark, the world is a far better place because of their existence.  There is a wisdom in these words, born from a point of view that puts others before self refusing to dwell in the gutter of self-service and delusions of grandeur.  Schnabel gives a voice to those who feel alone and worthless and powerless, to those who have been marginalized, belittled, and demonized, and he does it in the best way possible.  It's very easy for those who feel low and stepped on to become angry and bitter and filled with hate.  And that's what makes Your New Norman Rockwell so utterly and completely special.  This record does none of that.  Yes there is anger and frustration but there is no wallowing in self pity or cries for vengeance.  This record is all about making the world a better place by taking care of each other.  It's a musical plea, appealing to the better angels of our nature, begging people to take the higher road of love and compassion and serving others.  And if all of that wasn't enough, these songs are brilliantly crafted mixing the best elements of folk, punk, indie rock, classic rock, and country.  One shining example is the best song that The Replacements never wrote "Jazz and Cinnamon Toast Crunch" with its ridiculous riff, incredible hook, and driving melody that tell the story of growing up making music.  Then there's the soul crushingly moving "The Interview" with it's Lou Reed / Bob Dylan-esque delivery and drives home the desperation of feeling lost and without hope.  Those are just two examples of the 11 exquisite musically diverse moments that make up Your New Norman Rockwell.  From start to finish the album is a roller coaster of emotions and styles held together by Micah Schnabel's voice and words.  This is an exceptionally important record, one that should be felt as great poetry as much as enjoyed as fantastic music.

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