The Michael Mills Band – Stand Up
Indienink Music /Sony Music/The Orchard
12 tracks/54 minutes
Hailing from Huntington Beach, California, the Michael Mills Band is a rocking blues band from what they call “the Blues Mecca of the world.” They state influences of Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, The Delgado Brothers, Tedeschi Trucks, Stevie Ray Vaughn and hundreds more. They mix it up with blues, rock, R&B, funk and soul in their approach with a modern and fresh sound. Founded in 2012, the band is tight and together; this was my introduction to them and I was impressed.
The Michael Mills Band is Mills on vocals and guitar, Jesse Godoy on guitar, Scot Campbell in bass, Ron Ravicchio on drums and Mark Weisz on the B3 organ. Also appearing are the three piece saxophone section of Eddie Hagihara, Ron Robbins and Jim Butler. Chef Denis appears on harp and backing vocals are Jackie Simone Elliott and Cydney Wayne Davis. Mills and Godoy wrote all the songs for this endeavor.
The set opens with the title cut “Stand Up,” a driving, up tempo rocker with a solid guitar solo and forth right vocals. Mills and the band get into it with emotion as they start the CD in overdrive. The gears shift as the band moves into “Feel It,” a pretty and emotive acoustic ballad with layers of guitar and vocals to enjoy. The resonator gets broken out for “Real Good Thing” as Mills slips and slides to a solid groove and shouts out the lead vocals in this cool blues. A hot guitar solo and great resonator licks along with powerful vocals make this one a winner. “One More Alone” is a nice slower to mid tempo piece with Mills again aptly singing the lead; another ringing guitar solo is offered up to enjoy here. Mills builds up and then guitar takes us home here. “I’m Not Sorry” is slow blues with a big, meaty guitar intro and bass line. The vocal and guitar testimonials with the cool B3 and horns overlaid are powerful stuff that will get the most ardent blues lover moving and grooving to the sweet, slow blues here. “My New Woman” is up next, another cut with some sweet resonator and a big kick drum beat to get things rolling. Mills tenor vocals are intense, the slide is excellent and we get some well done harp to boot here; more good stuff!
“My Baby Drives” continues the resonator and harp attack with a great shuffling approach. Mills bemoans his baby eating all his food and drinking all his wine as she drives him mad; she has to go! The harp is greasy, the vocals are again cool, the resonator is intense and the groove makes you want to get up and dance. The horns get featured front and center for “Big Black Car.” The guitar and organ lay out some funky stuff and Mills gets into it vocally in this great little blues number. After a couple of verses and a chorus the tenor sax begins to blaze in an intense solo. Mills returns for some more good vocals and then the funky guitar brings us to a fine conclusion. The piano opens “Love Is Ahead of Me” with some lilting notes and then the acoustic guitar and B3 appear before Mills comes in with some somber lyrics as he sings about getting home to his baby. Haunting harmonies and backing vocals make this even prettier. A restrained guitar solo is featured here, too. “I Know” is next with the guitar belting out some hot licks. Mills testifies to us in this slow blues with B3 and guitar with him. The horns come in as the song builds. A huge guitar solo fills a good part of the second half of the song before Mills concludes the piece. “You Can’t Hide” features a hi energy beat and big, rocking feel. West coast guitar fills the listener with a great vibe as Mills sings with abandon and the band cruises with him in high gear. A big, distorted guitar solo hits you in the face for a short bit and then it’s back down the road with the top down and guitar and harp continuing to blare. The album concludes with the rocking “Chasing These Blues,” with a major guitar assault and howling vocals that sound like a fire truck to get things off to a fiery start. The song is another cool blues rocker with a major league beat and hard charging approach. The guitar is big and distorted as Mills maintains order vocally. The final, short guitar solo shreds us to a big finish. Hot stuff!
I had not had the pleasure to listen to Mill and his band before; this was an outstanding intro to these guys and their music. Who knew Huntington Beach could be a hot bed for the blues, but apparently it is; these guys were on fire! Solid guitar work, well done Hammond B3 organ, great vocals and overall fine musicianship all around here- loved this one. If you are looking for something to get down with for the summer, then look no further. Put the top down, turn the volume up and hit the road with this great new CD!