The follow-up to 2002’s Play With Your Head is somewhat of a diversion for the Candy Butchers, fronted by singer/songwriter Mike Viola.
Hang on Mike experiments and takes more chances than any previous Candy Butchers work, and the result is an eclectic mix of rock and pop with interesting melodies and arrangements. The songs are less radio-friendly than what fans of the band have come to expect, but the elements of Viola’s songwriting, which continues to deepen and mature, are there.
One might think a lot of the songs are autobiographical, especially with titles on the hook-laden songs “What to Do with Michael” and the title track. “Nice to Know You” has an easy-flowing, almost lo-fi quality about it and sounds to me like the best chance for radio play. “Kiss Alive II” is a piano-driven piece about growing up in the 1970s and the music that shaped that era. “Painkillers” is a stunning acoustic track about how Viola has dealt with the death of his wife a few years back. “Not So Bad At All” is another poppy gem that brings to mind Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello. “Sparkle!” resembles what would happen by crossing a show tune with a rock song, but where Viola consistently shines is on ballads like “Unexpected Traffic” and “Charlie.”
There’s something about the formula Mike Viola and his Candy Butchers have used to write music. There are hooks throughout, but at times they take a few listens to find or get used to. The melodies always twist and turn against unique chord changes, but somehow everything is tied up into a neat package and this is never more evident than on
Hang on Mike. Fans of the band, you’re really going to grow to like this one.
Mike's interview with Mike Viola click