Wing Beat Fantastic
The spirit of Frank Zappa permeates Mike
Keneally’s recorded oeuvre, and that’s hardly
with Zappa and
played on five
of his albums.
On Wing Beat
works with an
equally distinctive collaborator—XTC’s Andy
Partridge. This pairing yields a set of quirky,
melodic songs that manage to sound catchy
while remaining unflinchingly adventurous.
Partridge provides the lyrics and some drum
loops, while Keneally handles all the guitars,
keys, and lead vocals. And let’s not forget
Keneally’s trademark background vocals—an
eerie choir that drifts across the album like a
sonic version of the Northern Lights.
Fans of this virtuoso’s serpentine electric
lines will find plenty to celebrate here. His
jangly acoustic chording and crisp flatpicking
get plenty of airtime, but it’s his
arranging that will keep you mesmerized.
Richly layered parts unfold in startling
ways: Guitars seamlessly morph into voices
or horns, and synth pads mutate into backward
6-string riffage. Kudos to Mike Harris
for mixing a perfect album to explore with
headphones late at night. —Andy Ellis
Must-hear track: “Wing Beat Fantastic”