Seels delivers one of the best local albums this year
Brian Passey, firstname.lastname@example.org 2:29 p.m. MST December 9, 2015
You might remember Mike Seely from his local band Shallow Day that had a minor YouTube hit with its song “Twilight" (What Have You Done To My Wife?) a few years back.
His latest musical project, Seels, is fairly extreme stylistic departure from that song, which featured an entertaining video filmed in St. George. “A New Familiar Place,” the new release by Seels, leaves behind the pop-rock trappings of Shallow Day in favor of electronic atmospheres and groovy beats, anchored still by Seely’s melodic vocals.
His vocals on “Patient And Gray” are beautifully somber until the music picks up with a Passion Pit-like fury of sound, building to an emotional crescendo. Meanwhile, a simple but melodic keyboard refrain frames “Promise To Be Better” while the chorus — “All this talk is bound to take forever / So just let it slide and I promise to be better” — will have you singing along partway through the track. Similarly gripping is the upbeat “Sucker Punched.”
“Mexico” is among the catchiest tracks, retaining some of the Shallow Day pop rock sound while fleshing it out with a lush array of both electronic and organic instrumentation. It’s one of those songs that would work well on a road trip mix — especially for a trip to Mexico.
The intense “Silhouette Love” is a little harder hitting while also remaining somewhat seductive, coming off a bit like a late ‘80s Depeche Mode song. The multi-tracked guitar duel at the end is especially tasty.
Some tracks like “Skimming The Sky” serve to show Seels' diversity. It’s quite lovely, full of luxuriant textures while even sporting a nice vocal hook.
A clear sign of a successful local release is when it doesn’t sound like a local release. Seels achieves that “A New Familiar Place” as it becomes one of the best albums to come out of Southern Utah this year.
Email Brian at email@example.com and follow him at Facebook.com/PasseyBrian or on Twitter and Instagram, @BrianPassey. Call him at 435-674-6296.
SLICK, POWERFUL ‘EMOTION CITY’
Saturday, 09.03.2011, 09:37pm (GMT-6)
Many of you may recognize Mike Seely as the voice behind
Shallow Day. With the breakout hit "Twilight (What Have You Done to My Wife?)" leading the charge, Shallow Day's "Shine" record produced a host of catchy pop tunes and power ballads (including "Hollywood Lady,"
"Flames,” "Prize Fighter," "Throw It All Away," "Daybreak Dr." and "Next Life").
What some of you might not know is Seely had a plethora of outstanding tunes under his belt well before the viral sensation that was "Twilight." If his new album, "Emotion City," is any indication, he has much more to offer.
Following rigorous touring, a couple of TV appearances, and performing "Twilight" innumerable times, Shallow Day did the unthinkable: they threw in the towel. At least, for the time being.
The disbanding was completely amicable (no inside fighting and no drug problems factored into the equation). The guys were simply tired and ready to embark on a new chapter in their busy lives. Perfectly content with taking a much-needed break and spending more time with his family, the creative bug bit without warning, and Seely found himself imbedded in a new project right at the peak of relaxation time. If inspiration comes, an artist must answer, so Mr. Seely immediately went back to work.
The appropriately titled "Emotion City" (which was independently produced and recorded at Seely's own home) is a collection of polished works from the musician's past, mixed with a roster of new songs he put together during and after his stint with Shallow Day. While this might be considered a departure from the more poppy, structured styling's of "Shine," the sonic, heartfelt and overall dreamy tone of "Emotion City" is hardly new terrain for the Shallow Day front man.
Hailing from San Diego (he moved to St. George when he was 14), Seely cites U2 and Radiohead as major influences. While this is apparent when listening to his work, he's managed to hone a style all his own.
What's most intoxicating about "Emotion City" is its patience, sincerity and an utter reluctance to stick to any one specific formula. There are tunes here that would be right at home on the radio ("Higher View," "Notice,” "Flower Bed in My Head," "Complicated Game" and "Face the Cold"), while others (pure, instrumental interludes like "Beneath the Surface," "Warm
Air," "The World Without You" and "Soft Skin") seem perfectly suited as movie theme music ("So Full of Love" was actually used for a Utah Film Commission commercial spot directed by Tysen Bang). When Seely sat down to put this record together, he wanted it to come from the heart. Mission accomplished!
Currently, Mike Seely is planning a few live gigs to support his latest spirited effort, including a performance at The Westates Film Festival (Saturday, Oct. 1 at Pine View Stadium 10) and a stop at Horror-Fest
(Saturday, Oct. 28 at The Electric Theater). "Emotion City" is available now at iTunes and CDbaby. For a taste of Seely's latest effort and a look at a music video for "When I'm Gone" (a powerful collaboration between Seely, a very uncooperative scorpion, and local filmmakers Shaun Labrecque and James Beacham), log on to SeelsMusic.com.
Here's my top 20 favorite albums (by decade)
1. Arcade Fire- Funeral (2004)
2. TV On the Radio- Dear Science (2008)
3. Coldplay- A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
4. M83- Before the Dawn Heals Us (2005)
5. The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
6. Muse- Absolution (2003)
7. Placebo- Sleeping With Ghosts (2003)
8. U.N.K.L.E.- Never, Never, Land (2003)
9. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible (2007)
10. Sigur Ros- ( ) (2002)
11. The Dandy Warhols- Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (2000)
12. Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
13. M83- Saturdays = Youth (2008)
14. U2- How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
15. Paloalto- Heroes and Villains (2003)
16. Kings of Leon- Only by the Night (2008)
17. Radiohead- Kid A (2000)
18. Coldplay- Parachutes (2000)
19. The Album Leaf- In a Safe Place (2004)
20. MGMT- Oracular Spectacular (2007)
1. U2- Achtung Baby (1991)
2. Radiohead- OK Computer (1997)
3. Massive Attack- Mezzanine (1998)
4. James- Laid (1993)
5. Jeff Buckley- Grace (1994)
6. Radiohead- The Bends (1995)
7. The Verve- Urban Hymns (1997)
8. U2- Zooropa (1993)
9. Grant Lee Buffalo- Jubilee (1998)
10. Garbage- Version 2.0 (1998)
11. Moby- Play (1999)
12. INXS- Welcome to Wherever You Are (1992)
13. Pearl Jam- Ten (1991)
14. U.N.K.L.E.- Psyence Fiction (1998)
15. Oasis- (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
16. Duran Duran- The Wedding Album (1993)
17. Rage Against the Machine- The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)
18. Live- Throwing Copper (1994)
19. U2- Pop (1997)
20. Bunbury- Radical Sonora (1997)