Mike Randle

My Music Loves You (Even If I Don't)

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Marry some of the most bittersweet melodies with one of the sweetest voices in the world of rock & roll and you get Mike Randle's wonderful debut solo album. The packaging mimics Leonard Cohen's equally revered and reviled 1977 collaboration with Phil Spector, Death of a Ladies Man, but there is nothing to be ambivalent about regarding My Music Loves You (Even If I Don't). As one of the masterminds behind the great Los Angeles rock band Baby Lemonade, Randle's tunesmithery is well established, but nothing his full-time pursuit released up to this point could have prepared listeners for the departure that the album represents. It is a graceful and reflective daydream, an oasis of wispy summer songs. Each song sounds fantastically different from the next one, whether it is the loping banjo-trombone-accordion rag "Wrote This Just for You," the breezy bossa nova of "Flat by the Sea," the hazy croon of "Day in the Sun," or the Steely Dan sheen of "Desert Waiting for the Rain." The tribute to friend "Danny McGough" has a Gallic accordion trim that somehow captures both early-century Paris caf├ęs and the sly Bohemian gait of Tom Waits, for whom McGough plays keyboards. Producer Eric Carter even pulls out canned rhythms and odd synthesizer textures for the title track that are apropos, working a smooth groove up into a quiet storm. It is certainly miles away from the clamor of Baby Lemonade, but just as endearing in its own softhearted way. Randle shows a tremendously eclectic range of songcraft. There is sleek garage rock ("Ingrid") with quasi-cheesy Hammond organ that recalls early Love and the Doors but also "96 Tears," or the choked cabaret of "Out of My League," with its rain-soaked sentiment straight out of the boozy after hours of any lounge. And strains of vintage Prince even show up in "Island View Inn." These are insatiably guileless songs, entirely attuned to the wild pangs and beatings of the softest hearts, feelings that extend to old girlfriends and new crushes, city streets and surreal sunsets. They are idyllic tunes, full of all the panoramic faces of Los Angeles, both the actual city and its spiritual shadow, which follows anyone who lives there no matter where they are at that moment, Sunset Boulevard or Stockholm. It is an ode of sorts to the starry-eyed nature of the city that Randle calls home, but it reveals the easygoing mood that runs beneath L.A.'s shiny exterior, the warmth that courses through its veins. In a way, the whole album is a collection of odes and serenades, songs about the delicate desires of the heart. My Music Loves You is a gorgeous, lazy late-afternoon record, music to fall in love to. Music to be in love with. [The 2001 Japanese version includes bonus tracks.]

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