King Mike Entertainment System - King Mike Entertainment System (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

King Mike Entertainment System

King Mike Entertainment System (2022)

State Champion

Who knew King Mike had such a beautiful voice? When the bassist is on stage with Screaming Females, he usually does that Bill Wyman thing where he leans black and plays with an almost aloof confidence- David J does the same thing to great effect. That’s why his explosive LP as “King Mike Entertainment System” is such a tasty surprise.

Mike plays almost everything on his solo debut, except for a few noises here and there. (Bandmate Marissa Paternoster stops by for a solo). Yet, to my great astonishment, while Screamles revel in the energetic swing of ‘70s rock pushed into the ‘00s, Mike kicks out a high energy, rough and ragged basher. There are flashes of the Spits, the Adverts, Jay Reatard, GBV, and the Boys here. Alsmot everything is raw and bright sounding while Mike calls out in a sing-songy voice. And let me teel you, he sounds great.

On “Reality,” which has a bright ring and a brighter vocal delivery, Mike approaches power-pop territory despite the noise that bounces around the recording. (I also like when he goes “woooo hooo hooo hooo hooo!”)That is, Mike writes sweet tunes and the purposefully dirties them up with instrumentation that is just about to fly off the rails. In doing so, he proves that sonic violence is most effective when it’s based on something nice underneath (go ask Black Flag or the Sex Pistols).

Like the GBV inspiration, Mike appears to be making deep and profound points here, but he washes them in a sort of psychedelic ambiguity, so the meaning is often warped by the delivery. That in turn, let’s you bend the meaning of the track pretty much however you lie. A certain still depression does creep into the edges. “No ambition, low nutrition” speaks its meaning through its title. That being said, Mike might be making sad points, but he revs it up with hard striking punches so it feels like it’s a lot of fun… or at least mean in a fun sort of way. I love how he says, “So… you can go talk a walk” in a Lou Reed cadence on “Just Another Mike.” The even better question is, is he admonishing himself?!

Screaming Females are known for their precise, high technicality on their records, so it’s a thrill to hear Mike take the opposite approach with a down ‘n’ dirty blast. He might be the King, but he can get down in the street and rumble with any hooligan you can find and as the album shows, the result will be a knock out.