Local indie rock band Mike Pays Heat recently released an EP entitled Headspace, which has some more in-depth songwriting than their last release, consisting of “funky punky jams” as the band so well puts it. The bass is the driving force, while the guitars offer intriguing riffs alongside tight vocal takes. The songwriting is really well done, the transitions are smooth and all the instruments play off of each other in interesting ways while the lyrics discussing the beauty of life, but also tackle crumbling relationships and the BACs related to them.
“In My Head” starts off in an instrumental collage, leading with a spacey riff and forceful drums before intertwining vocal takes on existential topics join in. Steady hi-hat hits and some quirky synth lines work well alongside that abstract riff from the beginning, and then the band takes a moment to relax before plunging into a grand guitar solo conclusion, built up by a piano and a thumping bass.
“Rockadoodledoo” keeps the mood going, seamlessly shifting from soft moments to more expressive ones while keeping the cool guitar riffs and rhythms alive throughout. Their songwriting has taken a turn for the intriguing on this EP, especially on this song where the band places vocals over the instrumentals in carefully chosen spots that reiterate the lyrical meaning. Vocalist Ian Hunter is stuck in an argument that seems to have no end but seems finds some resolve in who the fight is with, “I am blinded by the light screaming quietly out from your eyes / Oh I’m losing myself in the space in between you and I tonight,” and the track ends in a beautiful clatter of heavy guitar and relentless drum fills.
“Out Of My Head” is really when it hits you how great of a voice Hunter has. The introduction into the song is brutally honest, “I called you again, drunk and out of my head / You should’ve been pissed but you came instead,” and his voice rings with a reminiscence of young Death Cab For Cutie while Maddie Sullivan’s added vocals only make the song feel even more endearing. The backing guitar sets the mood for the entire track, and the delicately placed riffs higher on the neck eventually lead into a quickly moving frenzy. As the song progresses Hunter recollect his thoughts, “I spent a lot of nights wishing you would leave my room / but despite my selfish ways you would always assume / the best in me, the best things in all of us / I’m thinking I’ve been thinking the wrong way about love,” and that signature “funky punky” sound comes out boldly in a dancy riff and drum rhythm that stirs up as much excitement as his new positive mindset. Once the band winds down, Hunter ends focusing on a positive note, but the tone in his voice shows that he recognizes how hard this outlook will be to keep up, “And I have to believe that anything other than everything here / Can’t be as good but it’ll all get better every year.”
Mike Pays Heat refer to Headspace as being in their “old stuff” category, so be on the lookout for whats to come.In the meantime, download/stream Headspace here.
Headspace was produced, engineered, and mixed by Ian Farmer of Modern Baseball.