Good Morning Afternoon
by Frank Kocher, February 2018 - San Diego Troubadour
Good Morning Afternoon is the latest album from Mike McGill, a North County singer/songwriter who describes his music as “a little surf/ meets folk/meets rock/meets pop.” McGill wears his debt to the laid-back surf/beach soft rock music of Jack Johnson and Donavon Frankenreiter on his sleeve, and these influences aren’t a bad place to mine ideas from. Like Jason Mraz, McGill is an East Coast transplant who moved to San Diego and found musical opportunities; he covers a lot of musical ground on the album, achieving the feel of an eclectic crusader for causes like our society’s ills and environmental concerns on many tracks. It all holds together because McGill is backed by some of the best local musicians around, including guitarists Marc Intravaia and Ron Bolton, Rick Nash on bass, and drummers Bob Sale and Duncan Moore. Marti Amado plays keys and her production adds a glossy finish.
“Whisper” opens, a smart pop rocker that sounds like a Mraz outtake, and announces to the listener that this plugged-in disc will probably not be as laid back as they might expect-there are drums on all but one of the 12 tracks. “The Dream” drives this home, a rockabilly rumble about an imaginary road trip to Nashville with Elvis—and rendered in a mock-Big E vocal; it doesn’t miss too many tricks. Next up, “The Pledge,” is a rousing rallying cry about improving ourselves as humans, “a celebration of rebirth… to be non-violent, respect my body and the Earth.” Vigorously delivered with a full horn section, there is no arguing with the message.
McGill covers much of the same turf of “Pledge” on the following track, “When We Were Young,” this time with a reggae guitar hook, and a more introspective soapbox, but with the same horns and vibe. He changes things up on “My Boy,” softly rendered on acoustic guitar with violin accents-singing to a son about the perplexities of life, including maintaining sobriety, and offering support from afar; it is a remarkably touching disc highlight.
After “The One You Love” heads back to the beach (with marimba), one of the catchiest riffs on the album is heard on “The Middle of the Night.” A spare arrangement clicks as McGill sings about missing his lover. “For the Teachers” has an elaborate arrangement as full horns join seriously hot Bolton guitar leads, while the lyrics praise who those toil educating children. This time, the song and its message are mismatched, but a fun listen anyway. McGill’s comfort doing mild protest/improvement tunes continues on “Better World,” as he takes on most of society’s problems in a mid-tempo rocker: “Time will move forward, the clock’s ticking on/ Our kids need something they can depend upon.” McGill’s use of ace sidemen pays off throughout-Intravaia’s guitar breaks on this track and on the harder-rocking, title track/closer kick both songs up a notch.
Mike McGill’s Good Morning Afternoon is beach rock taken a step further, given social messages and some rock edge; adding up to a good listen.
Enjoy the Journey
by Mike Alvarez, November 2009 - The San Diego Troubadour
The title of Mike McGill’s album, Enjoy the Journey, undoubtedly refers to the path each one of us takes through life. The lyrics have a ring of autobiographical truth, offering up vignettes of everyday existence in modern-day Southern California. The bouncy, happy tenor of this album is well-suited to the subjects McGill writes about, which range from an evening in front of the TV to the emotions of fatherhood. These mostly uptempo tunes are delivered with a very back-to-basics approach to songwriting and arranging, driven primarily by the acoustic guitar and McGill’s vocals. He is backed by a rhythm section that does a great job of supporting the songs, never overplaying or eclipsing the artist’s intent.
Opening with “Southern California,” a sunny tune with a tropical feel not unlike Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville,” McGill expresses his joy at moving out West, even over the objections of his East Coast family and friends. Occasional references to San Diego give this song a certain local charm. “Watching ESPN” is a jaunty celebration of temporary bachelorhood (“The wife is out and the kids are gone. It’s not that often I get time alone.”) as our hero breaks out the snacks and the remote control. The real appeal of this song lies in how easily many listeners can relate to the lyrics. Its message is simple: a guy just needs to channel surf to be happy. McGill continues to share his story on “He Just Plays for Love,” detailing his love for music and his reasons for making it. Although it is written in a minor key, he still manages to inject the song with the kind of ebullient energy that is a hallmark of his style.
Things take a somber turn on “Where’s the Love?” as he makes a social statement, lamenting the state of humanity. Some electric guitar licks and rhythms bubble beneath the surface, giving this song a different texture from those that preceded it. Melancholy is the mood that defines the ballad “You and Me” while a wistful joy suffuses “My Sweet Simone,” an ode to a daughter. The mood brightens with “Little Miss Sunshine,” a sprightly number that takes its inspiration from early British Invasion groups like the Kinks. “Emo Escondido” keeps the energy flowing with its driving beat and electric riffing. The rest of the album leans more toward his acoustic folky side. “Friday” has a real Loggins and Messina feel, bringing to mind their hit “Danny’s Song.” “Our Remember When” continues very much in this vein as does the quiet album closer “So Long.”
McGill’s songs are easygoing and optimistic. His sentiments as well as his music are straightforward. The one exception to this is “Once A Rising Star,” but it still manages to avoid being too much of a downer. The music is pretty easy on the ears, perhaps leaving one hungering for something a little more challenging at times, but in the end it all works out just fine. At times he stretches to make the lyrics rhyme, but it’s all done in good fun. And really – who can complain about that?
by Chuck Schiele, February 2007 - The San Diego Troubadour
"File the new CD from Mike McGill under beach-folk-pop.
Not to name names, but if someone were to ask me the question, 'What does it sounds like as far as influences go?' I'd say, 'Equal parts Jimmy Buffet, Jack Johnson, and Don McLean's ÔVincent' mode.' It works in a coffeehouse. It works at a beach bonfire.
This 14-track collection of music was primarily written on acoustic guitar and then built into the mix with supportive arrangements contributed by producer, multi-instrumentalist, and accompanist Lee Coulter, along with Jared Gianquito and Jim Woodruff.
This is a friendly, breezy-sounding work. The songs are good, well-written songs, which possess a charming quality to them by way of their gentleness and simplicity. The melodies are simple and right where they need to be, managing to maintain a sing-along quality. What's most interesting here is the relationship between the writer and the producer in that the writing weaves between the moves of, say, the '70s pop-folk thing and more current trends that are still being defined. The productions are really cool, sometimes leaning toward retro Ñ sometimes leaning forward Ñ sometimes combining both and always finding the perfect middle.
Lyrically speaking, you'll find nuggets of light irony and humor, personal insights and experiences, doses of spirituality, a few good questions, and tender relationships. Thematically speaking, McGill sings along the lines of hope Ñ sort of an inspired 'chin-up' attitude, with a soundtrack evoking seagulls, salt air, five-knot southwesterly on-shore breezes, and the hush of soft surf at the green-flash moment of twilight. It is the CD's common denominator, the thing that threads it together.
And even though there are 14 cuts on here, the running time of each is inside two or three minutes, which is amazing, because I usually think records have one or two too many songs on them, diminishing a certain 'wow-ness' for the overall listen. I kinda get the same feeling when I overeat. I was ready to say that here, but I retract the thought. He gets into the song, does his business, and he's back out. Finding another spot on the beach and another song to sing.
Nobody does that anymore. Cool.
Make yourself a tropical bevy with those little paper umbrellas, sliced pineapple, a curly straw, and ice cubes. Then cheer up, have a nice day, and pop in this Mike McGill CD".