CD Play With Your Head (CD 971261),
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Play With Your Head
1. Worry My Dome
2. My Monkey Made a Man Out of Me
3. You Belong to Me Now
4. Ruby's Got a Big Idea
5. Tough Hang
6. Baby, It's a Long Way Down
7. It's a Line
8. I Let Her Get Away
9. My Heart Isn't in It
10. Make No Mistake
11. Call Off the Dogs
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 86347
The Candy Butchers: Mike Viola (vocals, guitar); Pete Donnelly (bass, background vocals); Mike Levesque (drums, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Melora Creager.
Recorded at Bennett Studios, Englewood, New Jersey.
Personnel: Mike Viola (vocals, guitar); Melora Creager (vocals); Mike Levesque (drums, background vocals); Pete Donnelly (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: David Boucher; Bob Clearmountain.
Liner Note Author: Jason Fine.
Recording information: Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ.
Arranger: Mike Viola.
On their/his full-length debut album, Falling Into Place, Candy Butchers' Mike Viola (the group name is really a polite fiction) came off as a successor to Graham Parker and early Elvis Costello in the romantically angered post-punk new wave vein, a worthy enough position that tends to delight critics without engaging the critical mass of fans it takes to maintain a major-label record contract. On his/their second album (this time the billing is Candy Butchers instead of Mike Viola & Candy Butchers), Viola often comes off as a Marshall Crenshaw-style power popper, steeped in the sound of mid-'60s pop/rock and its fascination with unusual sounds audible on the margins of tracks dominated by electric guitar riffs and hooky choruses. "Baby, It's a Long Way Down," for example, is distinctly Beatlesque, while "My Monkey Made a Man Out of Me," apparently a celebration of addiction, boasts an intro and outro that recall George Harrison's flirtation with Indian music. On Falling Into Place, Viola seemed to be writing the same song of romantic disappointment over and over; here he is still disappointed, but his frustration is more global. "The older I get the more it seems/I watch my dreams get smaller," he begins on "It's a Line," and this sense of diminished expectations pervades the songs. The romantic element is not absent, but things are more specific and more desperate, notably on "I Let Her Get Away," in which a pregnancy is compared to mold. By album's end, Viola has practically abandoned the studio trickery to return to a Parker/Costello-like stance on "Make No Mistake," singing over acoustic guitar accompaniment with bitter wordplay that continues into the elegiac closer, "Call Off the Dogs." The album makes another impressive, if severe, statement likely to play well to the brainy and miss the masses. ~ William Ruhlmann
Rolling Stone (3/28/02, p.70) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Mod to the bone...3-minute pop tunes so nattily tailored they make the rest of modern-rock radio sound decidedly off-the-rack....richly textured guitar ballads in the tradition of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Eric Carmen and Paul Weller..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/29/02, p.75) - "...Mike Viola has had his share of trials and tribs in the music biz. Virtually all of them reach lyrical fruition on this...CD....[Enjoy] the pleasure of his tangy, tattered vocal rasp and the album's occasional crafty sonic twists." - Rating: B-
CMJ (4/22/02, p.12) - "...Full of power-pop gusto and moments of soul-felt longing and heartache, the songs bounce from playful romps that aren't too sugary to slower, pensive tracks that aren't afraid to explore lost opportunities and unrequited love..."
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Sony Music Distribution (USA) 86347
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