Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Michael O'Connell, if we were just to take this man on the intense and thoughtful descriptions he gives for this collection of his songs alone, should make us reexamine what the hell we're doing. All of us. No one should get out of this. He should make us rethink our pettiness and all of the contrivances that we seem to so simply become infatuated with. It should make me finally feel dumb about checking something like Twitter two dozen times every day, without fail. It should make us bite our tongues about so many of the things that we throw out there with our spit and visible teeth - either caught in a grin or grimace. It should make those thoughts never even grow their legs. They just wouldn't exist anymore, eliminated from the ether and the everywhere. In speaking with O'Connell, it's so obvious that he's making art for the betterment of all, using it to embolden others, to strike all of the dirty deeds or the seeds of them down to the ground. He chooses his words wisely, adding a cabaret of sounds to their backs and letting them just hover and flap around in a spectral fashion, making living feel nothing like dying, as some seem to stress too much these days. He is the kind of person who doesn't care what vintage the wine is, just that there's some wine on the table, enough glasses to go around and loved ones holding them in their hands happily. He strides on his songs, allowing everything to feel as if it were begotten through stream of consciousness, but the kind of matter that only reveals itself after hours and hours healthy introspection and an attentiveness to all of the backwards ways that others let themselves be ruled. He sings, "Who fucking loves New York," on the ace second track of his self-titled album, called, "Inside The Cinema," and it's doubtful that he's looking for hands of support. He's just asking in a way that he knows how. He steps into his arguments, all arranged with some gorgeous and stunning orchestrations that are equal parts like the experimentation of John Vanderslice and Scott Solter as well as Zach Condon and Beirut, as well as Jeff Mangum if the reclusive songwriter were to go on a reggae-at-twilight bender occasionally and leave the field recordings behind. Later on "Inside The Cinema," O'Connell takes us on another draft of his, singing, "I want to get home/I want to get stoned/Make myself food/Make myself good/Make myself good," and it's a sentiment that he continues to explore on the record, the idea of making himself good and seeing how it will play out. He seems to challenge us to recognize more closely and to scrutinize what we're really letting our senses discover and be turned on by when they're being lit up by our surroundings, getting trampled by the sparks and the loud noises, all of the chatter and clatter that cushions everything we face. He seems to be challenged as well in all that he allows past the fence and the filter, getting caught in the din and sifting himself out of it like a prospector. He's working on the noise, finding ways to hear himself think easier, to become someone less distracted and more at those tables with the good or the bad wine, makes no difference as long as it feels true.
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