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    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Behind the blog: Obscure Sound

    Mike of Obscure Sound can't vote yet, but he's already honed some of the best musical taste in the tri-state area. That's especially impressive to me, considering I still have to blackmail my friends to keep my teenage-era purchases a secret. (Here's one freebie: Jewel's Pieces of You.) And Mike ably lives up to his blog's name, showcasing interesting under-the-radar acts from all over the stylistic map. Everyday, his page delivers the prospect of another thoughful departure, another promising sound. He's introduced me to a whole lot of great stuff, so I was grateful to get to lob a few questions his way. Here's my interview with the man behind the blog:

    Tell us a little about yourself.

    I'm probably one of the youngest music bloggers out there, considering I'm still in high school. I'm just an average guy from New Jersey who enjoys music and sports, so I'm typically a fan of the Yankees and the Jets. I love music. I would like my future career to be in either music journalism or teaching English in an Eastern country. Actually, I'd like to do both. I make music too, though I'm not very good (myspace.com/mikemineo). I also enjoy running, which is where I listen to more music.

    What first got you into blogging?
    I listen to so much music, it may eventually become unhealthy. I also enjoy writing (about anything from media to sports), so I decided to combine the two to see if I would enjoy it. As it turns out, I do. Also, in my town (some suburb in NJ), people tend to have the same generic tastes (mainly emo), so most conversations regarding music are pointless. I enjoy talking about music and if I can't do it verbally, I'll do it through writing.

    What’s the best thing about blogging? What’s the worst part?
    The good things heavily outweigh the bad. One of the best things is when a band e-mails you and tells you that they just got signed because a label heard their music on Obscure Sound. This only happened to me a few times, but it felt great to know I was making a difference. Oh, and obviously discovering great new music and sharing it with other people. The only bad thing I can think of is writing an article and looking at the clock two hours later, realizing you should probably be doing homework instead. Time flies for sure.

    What sets your blog apart from other people’s?
    Some blogs just post a bunch of MP3s with no description. I don't do that. If people want to download music without reading about it, they can just go to Soulseek or OiNK. For the people who enjoy reading about what they're listening to, I try and fulfill that.

    What artists or bands do you think have made significant leaps forward this year?
    I find the new album from The Veils to be much more impressive than their debut. Joanna Newsom has really expanded on her talent, while Sean Lennon has actually made an album worth listening to. Also, I'm very surprised that the Pet Shop Boys have released their strongest album in about a decade.

    Pick a post you think is especially cool for someone who's never seen your site.
    This interview I had with Patrick Krief (The Dears) is causing a bit of a stir from the Morrissey fanbase. It's a great interview, though: http://obscuresound.com/?p=365. Also, there's this band of eleven-year-olds who actually wrote a song that is pretty fun, if not funny: http://obscuresound.com/?p=381. Also, Julian Nation can be the next Jens Lekman if he plays his cards right: http://obscuresound.com/?p=376.

    You seem to have a staggering and very diverse knowledge of music. Where do you find out about all of the music you follow?
    Thanks. I never really look for music actually. For some reason, it always comes to me through promos or personal recommendations. If I'm truly desperate (which I never am), I may go on All Music Guide and just randomly browse and look at acclaimed artists that I haven't checked out yet.

    Which contemporary singers have some of your favorite voices?
    Scott Walker. He just has such a great presence. I like prominent singers with strong vocals... Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon. Vocalists like those hit the mark for me.

    What 2006 album has been your biggest disappointment and why?
    The new Beck album puts me to sleep. Also, I was expecting The Strokes album to be at least a bit enjoyable (being a fan of the last two), but I can't get into that album at all. I don't like The Stills' new album as much as their first.

    If you could get any two musicians to record a duet, who would you pick?
    I think Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker would find something hilariously depressing and perverted to write about together. They both have solo albums out this year though, so I can't complain.

    What broken up band would you most like to see get back together?
    The Beatles, but maybe that's unrealistic. Seriously, I would like to see Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson (Suede) continue to write music together. They did so with The Tears' great album last year, but they have apparently gone separate ways again... so, damn.

    What are some of the most memorable things you’ve seen happen at concerts?
    At a Depeche Mode concert this year, Dave Gahan had horrible laryngitis but played the whole show with such emotion, almost looking in pain as he tried to sing. He still sounded great though, as he smiled at a sign that read "Laryngitis my ass!"

    What are some of your favorite song lyrics?
    The Smiths - "I Know It's Over." I may sound commonly pathetic saying I relate to that song, but it's true.

    Which artists who sing in a foreign language are you really excited by?
    I'm a big fan of music from Japan. Pizzicato Five, The B'z, Flipper's Guitar, Shugo Tokumaru, Kagerou, Swinging Popsicle, Hikaru, anything shibuya-kei... I enjoy the diversity. My friend gave me a compilation of African music, which is very interesting as well.

    Which older albums have you rediscovered or just gotten around to discovering recently?
    I was obsessed with XTC over the summer, listening to any album I could get my hands on.

    * MP3:
    "I Know It's Over" - The Smiths from The Queen Is Dead [Buy it]
    * MP3:
    "Divide" - Julian Nation from We Are All Writers [Buy it]
    * MP3:
    "Sometimes" - Mike Mineo [Visit him]

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