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Music Reviews

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»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Everything in Between
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Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
Mike Park
For the Love of Music
Sub City Records

Rating: 4/10 ?


January 19, 2005
I put off writing this review for way too long. This is going to sound really lame, but I was waiting for other reviews of this record to be posted around the Internet to see if there were any other writers out there that could validate my feelings about it. Alas, I've been sitting on this thing, and nothing came out that I wanted to hear.

Before I get too far, let's back up: Mike Park, the name evokes memories of the good times I had at the two Skankin' Pickle shows that I had the pleasure to attend in my younger days. Mr. Park doesn't need me to defend his credibility, but this is the same Mike Park that founded Asian Man Records (I still spin my Misfits of Ska compilation from time to time), the same Mike Park who founded the Plea for Peace Foundation. I have nothing but respect for Mr. Park.

Apparently so does every other writer out there. So much so, in fact, they don't really write about the music very much, aside from what can be regurgitated from the press kit. It seems also that most of the online critics are tiptoeing around an elephant in the room: this CD is not very good. I don't want to take away from all that Mike Park is doing, especially in regards to the Plea for Peace Foundation's fundraising efforts, but I can't write a good review for this disc with a clear conscience.

It would not be a stretch at all to say that this effort is an attempt for Park to diversify and use an intimate and personal album to try to raise funds for the Plea for Peace Foundation. However, this is an album review, so it has to be about the music. This album sounds as if someone recorded the guy playing a guitar in the corner at a party. The songs seem half-conceived, lyrically clunky and lose their identity midway through.

From a topical standpoint, Mike Park doesn't quite make the break from ska. Violence and racism are subjects easily handled in folk and acoustic music, but they don't work when they filtered through ska sensibilities or forced into a three or four chord acoustic ballad.

The opening track, "Supposed To Be There Too" starts promisingly enough - a heartbreaking crush story, but the interjection of scene politics and the lyric "…the fighting on the dance floor is making things hard tonight…" instantly reminds me of the Specials' "Ghost Town". Also, in a strictly thematic sense, "From Korea" is a dead ringer for another Specials' tune, "Your Racist Friend".

In "Challenging Me", Park takes on capitalist culture, and how it can alienate an individual and diminish one's ability to make a positive impact. However, the lyrics are cumbersome and obtuse: "I'm crowded, limited in this world of free enterprise/ shaken down to the rhythm of a lost cause/sure that I've found it". This reminds me of something that Operation Ivy would have written, but they could have gotten away with it on account of their age.

For The Love of Music's identity crisis is also aggravated by the fact that the listener is kept on the edge of their seat as some of these songs sound as if they are just about to burst into a full-band ska-punk rocker - "Hey You" comes to mind. I was itching for a little palm-mute/upstroke strumming as Mike Park is calling to you in the audience; this particular song was seemingly arranged as a ska song, which is why it annoys me. Let the song be, man.

I can understand why many critics would be hesitant to write a negative review about this album as a portion of its proceeds benefit the Plea for Peace Foundation, which seeks to promote healthy discussion and raise awareness of violence and racism in our communities. If that is enough for you to go out and buy For The Love of Music, then God bless you. If you want to help, but don't want the CD, then please visit www.pleaforpeacecom for details about what you can do to help further Mr. Park's noble cause (and God can still bless you). This is a cause near to our hearts here at LAS, and I hope that you, dear reader, understand that I am not trying to diminish Mr. Park's message… I'm just offering my thoughts about the music.

Reviewed by John Peters
A former contributing writer for LAS, John married former music editor Sarah Iddings. That\'s the last we heard from him.

See other reviews by John Peters

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