mr. flannery & his feelings
So what sort of feelings do you associate with rock music, anyway? Joy? Anger? Excitement? Lust? Mr. Flannery has the basics covered. But how about the wistful, bittersweet feeling of existence in transit that a passenger might experience on a trans-Pacific freight liner? What about the ambiguity and anxiety of a first sexual encounter? The chilly isolation of Maine in midwinter? The audacity of a groom getting gymnastic on the dancefloor at his own wedding? The righteous rage of a killer fighting fish? For these feelings -- and many others -- there's nowhere to turn but Mr. Flannery's music. Here's an adult who approaches grown-up stories with the urgency of a teenager -- an experienced performer and producer who is making the most of his first turn in the spotlight by expressing his complicated feelings as boldly and broadly as he can.
And though you might not know the name, there's a pretty good chance you're already familiar with Michael Flannery's sound and style. At the turn of the millennium, he was the guitarist, producer, and songwriter for Little T & One-Track Mike, an alternative hip-hop act that collaborated with Slick Rick, toured with OutKast, and landed on MTV with the hit "Shaniqua". As half of the Flannery Brothers, he's released three albums of award-winning and critically acclaimed children's music. He's scored independent films, lent his six-string skills to a panoply of New York and New Jersey groups, and produced albums for a growing series of fearless, idiosyncratic acts, including the Chamber Band, Sara Hallie Richardson, and Tris McCall. Born just outside of Long Branch to a musical family (his dad was a psychedelic rocker in the 1960s), Mr. Flannery has been chasing the brightly-colored butterflies of his imagination around ever since.
Try Your Hardest, Mr. Flannery's first album as a frontman and debut for Rhyme & Reason Records, is a repository of everything he's learned in a lifetime spent on the creative edge of show-business. The songs on the set reflect the breadth of his taste: here he pulls effortlessly and with equal confidence from new wave, punk, island music, reflective acoustic singer-songwriters of the '70s, exuberant electro-funk acts of the '80s, and the willfully obscure and quietly confrontational college rock of the 1990s. This is an album wide enough to include the overdriven, swaggering glam-rock stomp of "NYC CITY", the ruminative reggae of "Embers Of Dead Fires", and the anxious Cars-like party-starter "Dance Of Love" -- all unified by Mr. Flannery's personality, vision, and distinctive sense of humor, too.
Drawing on the deep pool of musicians he's worked with since his adolescence and people he's met during his travels, Mr. Flannery made Try Your Hardest with a cast of thousands. Determined as he was to make an album that reflects both his life and his feelings, he traveled around the country, sometimes recording old friends in their living rooms. The shows he's played to support the albums have been similarly expansive and often downright celebratory: at times, he's filled the stage with horn players, percussionists, and support singers, and turned them loose to push, stretch, bend, and reinterpret his songs on the fly. He's also assembled a tight combo of support players accustomed to improvisation -- all hand-picked to keep up with his wild flights of fancy -- and it's this flexible group he'll be taking out on the road later this year. But even in the unlikely event that Mr. Flannery doesn't bring his Feelings to your town, you can access what he does through a series of engrossing videos he's made for the songs on Try Your Hardest, including one where he's chained up and dunked underwater in a backyard swimming pool as he sings! Direct your web browser to YouTube and visit http://www.mrflannerymusic.com often to keep up with Mr. Flannery's ever-developing -- and never less than fascinating -- artistic journey.