Mike Bloom
King of Circles


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
June 11th, 2011 | 38 replies | 4,874 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mike Bloom's debut is a solid if not spectacular addition to your indie-pop collection, and all indications are that he possesses the skill to deliver again in the future.

The modern indie scene has become something of a mess. We have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of noodling acoustic guitarists who seem to all sound exactly alike. Half the challenge nowadays is just finding a way to make yourself stand out amongst the sea of musicians all striving for the same thing. As artists continue to find new ways to accomplish this, the pool of available ideas seems to dwindle to the point where creating a concept that is worth running with is a daunting task within itself. For someone like Mike Bloom, the Los Angeles singer-songwriter and member of Julian Casablanca’s touring band, the challenge of getting noticed is just another real and very difficult aspect of life in the music industry. With his debut, King of Circles, Bloom has created a work worthy of mention, even if it isn’t groundbreaking enough to call for immediate attention from fans across the entire genre.

His work is commendable primarily because his music sounds so damn authentic. It is polished enough to sound great on record, but it still has something of a live sensation that makes it feel like you are sitting at the fireplace, listening and watching him perform through the glow of the jumping sparks and flames. This presence is accomplished mainly through the display of his acoustic skills at the forefront of the music. His talent on the guitar is undeniable, and he has a real knack for picking and strumming his way into a soothing rhythm. That is the highlight of this album, and thankfully, he doesn’t shy away from the challenge of impressing us with his technical prowess, twelve out of twelve songs. Album opener ‘Til It’s Over’ is a good example of what to expect from Bloom, as his expertly displayed and deceivingly complex acoustic picking creates an atmosphere while giving the bass and strings just enough room to shine. Sometimes, it is refreshing to hear an artist who doesn’t always have to compensate for a lack of raw skill. Mike Bloom was born with “it”, and even on his debut, he comes out firing on all cylinders.

Another enjoyable aspect of Bloom’s debut is his perfectly pitched vocals. Oftentimes in indie and folk music you find two brands of vocalists: ones who just let it fly and end up sounding scratchy, pitchy, and abrasive (although this can also be one of the most charming aspects of a work, provided the musical components are solid enough to make the “human” side endearing as opposed to irritating), and ones who sound so polished that the music loses all of its authenticity. Bloom is closer to the latter, but he wisely avoids the common pitfalls of overproduction, just like he stays within his range and overall realm of ability. You don’t hear him belching out high pitched falsetto to try to sound like the next Justin Vernon; in general he just delivers a solid, mistake-free vocal performance that is completely natural and fits in with the simple, acoustic-driven music he creates. ‘Floataway Sinner’ is perhaps the best illustration of this, with a restrained tempo that allows his voice to take the spotlight. He certainly doesn’t disappoint, knowing when to whisper, when to preach, and when to turn it up a notch and really make the listener take notice. This is what allows us to feel what he is trying to convey with his words, especially when the emotions run so high that the lyrics don’t do it justice. As with his impressively consistent guitar work, Mike Bloom’s vocals are excellent throughout - and one would be hard-pressed to find any qualms with the way that he stands and delivers quality song after quality song.

If there is a criticism to be made with King of Circles, it is that Bloom doesn’t really take advantage of the instrumental diversity at his disposal. The drumming and bass is sparse throughout, and other than the occasional string, he doesn’t really add anything of significance to the album’s sonic palette. As a result, a lot of the songs, while solid on their own, start to blend together as you make your way through the record. Thus, in a sense, Bloom is getting in his own way by taking songs that could all be more distinguishable and failing to add a little extra something to spice them up…a violin, maracas, a harp, a pan flute…anything really. For the most part, each song relies on Bloom’s guitar and voice, which fine because he delivers at such a high level. However, unless he has an arsenal overflowing with fresh chords and melodies, he may need to expand his toolkit in the future to avoid becoming stagnant.

As a whole, King of Circles is an exceptional debut from an artist that is definitely worth keeping an eye on. This album obviously isn’t the pinnacle of Bloom’s career, but since it is great in its own right, that just means we have even more to look forward to. Bloom has succeeded in separating himself from the pack, which, as we already know, can be half the battle. From here, he just needs to make sure that he doesn’t take any steps backwards. But judging from King of Circles, it seems wise to bet that he’ll be just fine.



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user ratings (1)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty chill album, lots of heartfelt ballads. Worth a glance.

stream:
http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/18



Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2011



10249 Comments


heartfelt ballads, the best kind

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah you might like this

but i wouldn't stake my rec'ing reputation on it

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


Great review, Sowing. This is the quintessential kind of review that you always seem to bust out ever so often; it really makes me want to write my own as well haha. Also - agree so hard with the first line. Too many damn guitar noodlers lol.

Pos mate.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Irving, greatly appreciated! And yeah I was just describing how so many of these indie-pop/indie-folk artists sound so similar...I mean it is no better or worse than in any other genre I suppose, but it just seems like lately I have had trouble finding anything unique.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


but it just seems like lately I have had trouble finding anything unique.

This. THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

I wish Armistice would hurry up and just fucking release a full-length album.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


PS - You're gonna be Staff in two days if you keep reviewing albums at this rate. I remember a time when I was only 50 albums behind you in total review count.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

in two days exactly? haha

nah, i'm not first in line for promotions (not that I know anything)...but im pretty sure adam, eric, deviant, and kyle all deserve it more.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


Ffs just become Staff so I can have your Contrib spot already! ;)

Are promotions coming soon or something? You make it sound like another session is just around the corner haha.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no i doubt it, from what i understand they do it on a needs basis so until they decide to clean house at the staff level, bump up some contribs, and add some new contribs, i don't think anything will change

but like i said, i know nothing

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


Just become Staff by the day after tomorrow so that you can put in a kind word for me to become Contrib and we can stop speculating about Sputnik politics =) =) =)

Now, where is Xenophanes. This thread is one user short of becoming a nostalgic holding hands session.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

on another note, you mentioned armistice so i have to ask

are they actually coming out with a new full length that you've heard of?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


Nope =( I was just randomly throwing their name out there. They haven't updated their Facebook page since March, and have been pretty silent on all other fronts. I might be uber-cynical here, but I have a feeling that their excellent work on that EP was a one-off thing =(

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah i could see that too

look at this way, now they'll always be perfect

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


With lines like that it's a wonder Taylor Swift hasn't asked you out on a date yet. WAKE UP AMERICAN GIRLS!!

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Taylor Swift and every other girl. Poor Sowing hasn't been on a date in months...

Anyway, this is getting way off topic...I mean this is supposed to be about Mike Bloom not Taylor Swift or my lack of a love life.

(mind reverts back to Taylor Swift immediately)

So do you think she looks better in the music video for 'Story of Us' or 'Our Song'? I think those are my 2 favorites.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


For you SS, I got through both videos. I preferred her in "Story of Us". Would fap to that thing anyday.

With your permission, of course.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's fine by me Irving, her body is for all of us to enjoy watching

Just leave all the heavy touching to me

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



7136 Comments


Dammit don't make me LOL like that in the middle of the night. I think I woke half the block up.

Xeno doesn't know what he's missing here =)

PS - Have you seen him lately?

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i have never seen him

but if you mean on sputnik then yeah he is on here like all the time



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