September 9, 2017

Neil Finn, we salute you

The great and good Neil Finn released his latest album, Out Of Silence, last week. It's remarkable for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is the fact it was recorded live as the culmination of a series of four global webcasts. (Go here for a nice feature on the making of the record.)

As is usually the case with Neil's work, it's phenomenal. Gorgeous beyond belief. I could go into more details, but this isn't a record review. This is just a tribute.

"You get to follow Neil Finn!"
Last year, The Mike Benign Compulsion was fortunate enough to share a bill with Neil at Milwaukee Summerfest (thanks again, Scott!). Truth be told, he played right before us, which was beyond strange. He was what's known as an "afternoon headliner:" a smart strategy by festival organizers to get people on the grounds earlier in the day.

For the four of us, watching Neil's performance from backstage was a pretty heady experience. After all, we see ourselves as proud descendants and disciples. Neil's one of our heroes. Not just because of that voice and those songs. Or because of how much we've loved Crowded House since their inception...or how much we dug Split Enz even before that.

Mike B., Mike K., Joe and Paul taking in Neil Finn's Summerfest 2016 set.

Neil's a hero because he consistently and fearlessly reinvents himself and his music. He's written his own blueprint for how to be a songwriter and artist. He seems like a way decent human being, too.

No doubt there's enough Joe, Paul, Mike and Mike in any Mike Benign Compulsion song that by the time it reaches your ears, you don't hear how much we've lovingly taken from Neil Finn. (Though if you listened to one of my home demos of a new song, you'd hear my thievery loud and clear.)

"Who are your influences?" asks the lazy interviewer
During interviews, bands rightfully cringe at the question about their influences. That's because it's generic and lazy: a sign that the interviewer didn't give a shit enough to invest a few minutes ahead of time to come up with something better.

Generic and lazy question notwithstanding, when asked about our influences, Neil's solo work and the wildly underappreciated and supremely terrific Crowded House are always at the top of the list.

And so we salute you, Neil Finn. Thanks for continuing to do what you do, and for continually finding new and inspiring ways to do it.

--Mike B.

September 1, 2017

We opened for The Alarm and awesomeness ensued

Mike Peters, band and crew put on a great show at Shank Hall earlier this week. They also happen to be lovely people who are a delight to work with. Thanks again to Smiley for letting Mike K. use his kit. All in all, it was a true joy to serve as The Alarm's opening act.


(Fun fact: some bands avoid using the term "opening act" when referring to one of their gigs. Apparently it's demeaning. Or, calling themselves an opening act may somehow derail their destined path to international superstardom.)

So yeah, we were the opening act for The Alarm. And awesomeness ensued. For those who were there, thanks for listening and allotting some of your love to The Mike Benign Compulsion. And no doubt you enjoyed The Alarm as much as we did.

For those who weren't there, shame on you. You're horrible, horrible people. And you'll get yours soon enough.

Unless you see The Alarm next year when they're back in the U.S. And see The Mike Benign Compulsion at one of our upcoming shows, listed in the left column of this page.

--Mike B.

August 15, 2017

Next up: Shank Hall with Canadian indie band Current Swell

If you're in the Milwaukee area on Monday, August 21st, you ought to make your way down to Shank Hall, by 8:00 pm.

The band Current Swell forms a last line of defense against book burners.
Or is it the books that have the band Current Swell's backs?
With delight, The Mike Benign Compulsion will serve as crowd fluffers for the venerable Current Swell from Victoria, British Columbia. Here's a little taste of what they do. The band has six albums under their belt, including the new one "When To Talk and When To Listen." Their Shank Hall appearance is part of a series of U.S. dates before the band heads overseas for a  European tour.

For these reasons and others, The Mike Benign Compulsion has come up with a three-point plan for the night:

1. Rock
2. Talk to the gents from Current Swell to understand how their country managed to elect such an awesome (and dreamy) prime minister.
3. Totally stand on guard for them.

That's it. See you soon!

--Mike B.

July 15, 2017

Broken Hearted Toy: "Consistently Well Crafted and Engaging"

The latest review of the "Kid" album comes from Chicago-based Terry Flamm's Broken Hearted Toy blog. Flamm writes:
"Singer-guitarist Benign’s lyrics on these 11 new songs simultaneously leave the listener laughing and a bit worried, while the music is consistently well crafted and engaging."
Find the full review here

June 13, 2017

Powerpopaholic raves: "a highly recommended LP"

Another sweet review of the "Kid" album, this time courtesy of The headline on this post pretty much says it all. And we have to admit, we like what it says!

See the full review here.

May 24, 2017

Absolute Power Pop Weighs in on "Kid" has had the perspicacity to review all four albums by the Mike Benign Compulsion. As for "Kid," @AbPow says this:

"Our favorite Milwaukee power poppers are back again....It's another collection of top-notch Squeeze-meets-Elvis Costello pop."

Read the full review here. And props to us for using "perspicacity" in a sentence. (Not pretentious at all.)

May 16, 2017

It's alive!

Today marks the official release of the band's new album, "Kid." Get yours at iTunes, Amazon or Bandcamp. Hard copies of the CD are available via CD Baby.

Direct links to The Compulsion's "Kid" pages on the above sites are in the left column of this page, just under the thumbnail photo of our album cover.

Thanks to everyone who helped get us to the finish line, including:

Mike Benign, pictured at age 35.
  • Shane Hochstetler
  • Danny Shaffer
  • Damian Strigens
  • Betty Blexrud-Strigens
  • Ed Spangenberg
  • Tyler Traband
  • Brian Wooldridge
  • Mark Hines
  • Hatice Besun
  • Michael Fossenkemper
  • Steve Thornton

And, of course, to the boys in the band: the best compadres (musical or otherwise) a guy could imagine. Cheers to Joe Vent, Michael Koch and Paul Biemann!

--Mike B.