Saint Paul

                  Endless Mike and the Beagle Club          Saint Paul          A-F Records      

Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s Endless Mike and the Beagle Club are a sort of a Punk Rock orchestra. The music is strung along by singer/songwriter sensibilities but, barring a few moments of intimacy, it is full of raucous, fun, inspired collectivist rock. The band is led by Mike Miller, who performs both solo and with a group of up to sixteen members at times. This is my first experience with the band and to say that I have been floored by this album would be an understatement.

What moves me the most about this album is the simple fact that its deeply emotional without all the sadness that usually accompanies such things. Most of this album is upbeat and riotous, not entirely unlike Dropkick Murphy’s more recent material. Mike Miller’s lyrical focus is always sharp though, tackling the doldrums of work, being more than people think you can be, and remembering your connection to lost things. He seems to do a lot of this through a deeply passionate spiritual lens that causes for plenty of introspection when you dig deep.

There really isn’t a stinker on here but my favorite moment is probably “Try to See Your Life As a Whole.” The song sort of bounces along with the acoustic guitar and the vocal leading the way. Some slightly off key background vocals color it as does the dynamic horn section. Miller sings of his experiences trying to figure out who he is as he explores all of the things that make his existence unique. The Rockabilly swagger of “St. Saul” both fun and powerful as Miller declares Saul of Tarsus the man that put “the holy in the Holy Land,” adding a Gospel choir of sorts into the mix to reinforce the point. The more intimate, piano led “Monitor” is soul-stirring to say the least. The common man lyrics are absolutely beautiful because it’s the real life that most of us have felt, or are feeling right now. It’s about finding beauty in the hustle and bustle of life and revisiting those moments that center your soul.

I picked this album for review because of the band’s ridiculous name, but don’t be fooled by the fun name because St. Paul is absolutely the real deal. This is one of my favorite releases of 2016 so far. Not only is it brilliant musically, it speaks to me where I am at. That’s what great albums do.  If you enjoy Suffering and the Hideous Thieves, Dropkick Murphys, Ben Folds Five, They Might Be Giants, or Old Man Markley then you certainly owe it to yourself to check this out.                        


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