I’ve known Mikey Frazier for years; when I first had the idea to form a community of musicians called the Fish Pond back in late 2010, it was while em-ceeing a battle of the bands at Sherando High School, Stephens City, Virginia. Mikey’s band, Random Holiday, together with Kyle Grim, Noah Mullinax, and Jake White, was one of the most memorable acts, producing an unpolished brand of pop punk which was brilliant in high-energy performance and content, but a bit less than in tune back in those days.
However the lads worked hard, went through some lineup changes, improved their live sound, and wrote a couple of really solid recordings in debut EP “A New Hope”, and full length coming of age effort “Space to Grow”. The band perfected their live act and toured every chance they could get.
After parting amicably in early 2015, Mikey is now releasing his first solo effort, “Virginia Son”, on own-label, Geneva Records.
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“Bones” is the lead-out single from the new EP. Having been a fan of his songwriting and vocal for years, it’s a crowd-pleaser from the first few bars, and I’m really happy about it. Mikey has a hell of a legacy to follow, with some extremely powerful pop-punk writing over the years. It’s fun, bouncy, the guitars are rockin’, and I’m already feeling a little evolution in his music; it’s almost Dropkick Murphys with it’s Irish-American punk feel. It takes nothing away from the pedal-to-the-metal energy he always had:
“I got so damn careless, I went and crashed my car
Distracted myself from my fragile heart;
I couldn’t stand my reflection, I cut my hair
and I swore I’d never go back there
Swore I’d never go back there;
I’ve been feeling so cold, shaking through my bones”
It sets up a high expectation for the rest of the album. “Keep Us Free” maintains the bouncy pop-punk-rock theme, and is memorable for the excellent melodic chord progression in the chorus.
“War on Love” is punchy and shows an interesting pattern in his writing; namely Mikey’s technique of writing these formulaic songs which allow for verse/ chorus/ verse/ chorus/ bridge and solo, and especially the vocal breakdown (i.e. few or no instruments) to introduce a massive last chorus; he does this in almost every song, and it shows educated and mature writing which delivers a very pleasing result to the listener. It works to make the tracks more dynamic, shows off his voice, and also gives you the raw melody of the chorus to cement it even further in your head.
“Never gonna go,
Never gonna go,
Bury me, leave me alone”
“Sunflower” starts acoustically, a tiny bit Mumford and Sons. The only song I’ve heard Mike record acoustically before was “Walk Before You Run” – which I love, by the way. This is altogether different use of acoustic guitar – nice stomping bass, crashing rock guitar brought in for another powerful number. The banjo solo makes this song unique, and makes me smile.
Mikey has chosen to cap the album off with the title track, “Virginia Son”, which at four minutes is the longest song on the album. It’s different, stands out, and I’m glad he left it until last. It’s the first of the five for which I memorized the tag line immediately. I guess it’s close to home as I consider myself something of a Virginia son despite my English origins.
“All we have are these open hearts,
and the beauty of Virginia, she’s been cold from the start;
So carry me back to where we stand,
and the shadow of the valley is the same across the land
And I can’t find home”
Without a doubt this is magnificent, the anthem of the five, and I can see arenas-full getting behind this one as a set closer.
I’ve been a fan of the genre, but also of Mike and Random Holiday from the start, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is my favorite pop-punk and rock album of 2015 so far. Five extremely strong songs, the only thing which will make this tough for Mikey is that he’s pretty much written five hits here, so how the heck is he going to pick the singles from it?
Head out to buy this effort on 8/11/2015, and make sure you support Mikey and Geneva Records. This guy has lived it from the ground up, and is about to reap some well deserved results from this debut solo effort.
One world, one family, one musical heartbeat.
David Mark Smith
Founder, Global Musicians Fish Pond