It is probably fair to say that much of the material on albums by Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s Endless Mike and the Beagle Club have been pretty personal so far. That seems to be the way that frontman Mike Miller more often than not approaches the penning of a song. And when it comes to songs of substance and musical merit, the band’s new album on Pittsburgh-based independent label A-F Records, St. Paul, is just that.
While the ten tracks on St. Paul stay true to Endless Mike and the Beagle Club’s roots, this album, which was produced by Chris “#2” Barker of Anti-Flag, finds the band’s music somewhat more refined, with a few unexpected excursions into previously untouched genres. This last is not surprising, however, since the band is known for blending punk, indie rock, folk, and other styles throughout the course of albums and live shows.
As far as the lyrical content, Mike explains it like this:
The big theme of the record is to explore sense of self and identity – what happens when we lose ourselves to an idea that’s bigger than ourselves. And more specifically – if we take that away, is there anything left of us?
The album starts of very strong with “Intro to Philosophy.” The title track gives us a side of Endless Mike and the Beagle Club we have not heard before, as it is a metaphor conveyed in part by a slightly countryesque and lively old-school spiritual arrangement. “The Road to Unmasking,” with acoustic singer/songwriter to punk song transition, is more or less what fans have come to expect and love of this band over the years. “Winter in Westmont” is an alternative rock piece carried forward by clever keys, guitar chords, bass notes, and catchy drumming, and it slows down a little after the halfway mark to place emphasis on the statement, “I would rather be a Kerouac than a Salinger,” which easily appeals to those of us who are suckers for literary references. “Streetcar” is a somber offering with sparkling notes picked on the guitar, a hearty bass part, and a deep, resounding tom beat accentuated by cymbal use. And “Try to See Your Life as a Whole,” musically, stands at a fork in the road between indie rock and punk, not quite knowing which direction to go because it wants to travel both, and it somehow benefits from this state of indecision. St. Paul has its share of standouts, and these are definitely some of them.
Endless Mike and the Beagle Club’s St. Paul, which was released on March 4th, 2016, is available in vinyl and digital formats from A-F Records.