Album of the Year
Charles McVey, Animal, Impure Records
There were several great releases this year by local bands. Lawrence's Left on Northwood unleashed a monster at the beginning of the year with Gut Check Personality; veteran Topeka rockers Backlash finally unveiled their self-titled magnum opus, a fist in the air rock-on statement that was hard to ignore; and then, of course, there's Kick Kick, whose Powerplay was a flawless power pop masterpiece that still hasn't left our office stereo. But, despite the quality of those releases and several others, one album just kept kicking around our heads here at The Point, Charles McVey's gutsy, passionate, and thought provoking Animal.
It is dificult to single out one reason why Animal was chosen. It is a very listenable album of piano driven college rock that sways from the intimate to the furious with ease. Anchored by his longtime, outstanding rhythm section of Max Paley (bass) and Erik Kessinger (whose drumming is a real bright spot), McVey comfortably excercises his well-honed (and underappreciated) talents as a songwriter. It's the most focused he's ever been, and his gruff, sexy voice hovers over the recording like the angel of some broke down old time blues singer. The production, as well, is remarkable - nearly everything about this album, even the saxophone (Dan Kozak) is perfectly executed.
But Animal is more than a pop album. On the surface it is a deeply personal exploration of one mans sexual identity in relationship to his faith, and his decision to relinquish his faith because of it's hypocrisy. It is an incredibly bold statement about religion and humanity that few artists (local or otherwise) would have the balls to make. But it is more than that. Throughout the album, McVey asks questions we all should be asking, demands answers that we all should demand of our authority figures, and makes decisions we should make based on the (lack of) response received. At heart, Animal is not the personal album it was billed as, but a defiant social statement that cuts to the heart of the state of modern man. It's an album of disconnect, confusion, and, ultimately, the enlightenment that comes from the realization that all of the authority thrust on us, be it spiritual, governmental, social, or parental, does not equal love. And that nothing is more important than love. Nothing. Congratulations Mr McVey, you've made one for the ages, and made a few lives better. - Marshall Stacks
Contact Charles through his Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/charlessmcvey