Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mikhael Paskalev Is All Funk And Jive

People think of Liverpool-based Mikhael Paskalev as a pop artist, but it's alternative rock and country infusions that make for some infectious music. Most of it is dynamic, varied and vivid enough to defy the genre mindset. He just makes interesting music unconfined, non-conforming and surprising.

He doesn't always stick to the same lineup either. Other than his nylon string guitar, Paskalev has performed with a band of five and six, occasionally adding trumpet or something else to lift his songs up. His current lineup includes Billie Van, Jonas Alaska, Jorgen Berg Svela, Fabian Prynn, and Joe Willis.

His newest single to cross the pond is a bold and jarring 50s influenced rocker, with a swooning drop-down tempo, jitterbug-like chorus. Its alternating arrangement between the rock jam and the Latino folk meanderings keeps it moving from the very first strum to the last few vocal hoots.

Jive Babe makes for a compelling follow up for Mikhael Paskalev.

Jive Babe is something of a cross between a celebratory seduction and deadly infatuation with a dangerous but beautiful woman. Paskalev has always felt that the girls who mean trouble can sometimes be twice as intriguing. Like much of his music, it conveys it in the vibe.

The equally lively Tarantino-esque music video has received some criticism from Bulgaria (where it was shot by director Jack Whiteley) for the way it portrays Bulgarians. But that is more imagined than it is fact. Not only is Paskalev part Norwegian and part Bulgarian, but the video is also closely matched to a modernized retread of David Pinner's 1967 Ritual (a.k.a. The Wicker Man and basis for The Burning Man festival), minus the big wicker statue.

In case you were wondering, the song's inspiration doesn't come from Bulgaria or Celtic paganism. Paskalev simply wrote it around the fictional character Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks. Horne had an unhealthy infatuation with the FBI special agent and television series protagonist Dale Cooper. He rebuffs her advances despite being drawn to her.

Most notable is the melody in the song, which Paskalev has said keeps most of what he does away from the top of the charts. Most pop music is catchy. He prefers to set a scene and tell a story, much like folk rock, country, and other inspirations. This single is out in advance of his debut solo album.

Other songs from Paskalev have proven equally stirring. 

Last year, Paskalev had an equally dizzying music video debut related to his single I Spy. Beyond being a good tune, I Spy re-enacted an infamous lip-syncing scene from Risky Business, where Tom Cruise dances in his underwear. The video adds some special effects, with Paskalev mostly moving in real time while everything he disturbs on the set plays out in slow motion.

The folksy doo-wop is a funky throwback with a feel good vibe. Unlike Jive Babe, Paskalev's vocals are somewhat buried under the crowd but the campy, non-comforming composition is clearly his own.

Some of his other singles, like Susie and Hey Joseph (that may or may not be on the album), showcase how he stands up on his own without the backing of his band. He's just as strong, with what most people would consider an amazing ability to blend roots, rock, funk, alt. country, folk, and pop into a nifty little package that is becoming a Paskalev signature.

Jive Babe By Mikhael Paskalev Fires Up 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While a few people have said Paskalev relies on too much gimmick to be sustainable, the real measure will likely come in September with the release of the album. From my perspective, he keeps it fresh and lively and this is clearly turning out to be his year. Jive Babe is addictive and shows even more promise than I Spy did in his ability to turn out rockingly good music.

You can download Jive Babe from iTunes. You can also find Jive Babe on Amazon. The album link will be updated upon its release, but you can learn more about the Norwegian singer on Facebook in the meantime.
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