Mike Park has always been associated with the veritable punk rock genius of the late 90's and early 00's (and, almost more importantly, has broken a few Chicago legends). So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Mike is touring with one of a handful of solo projects that consistently spin on my iTunes playlists.
Europe, grab a beer to cry into and get cozy next to that significant hemp-donning other. Mike Park is coming your way and he's not coming alone; Chris McCaughan's (of Broadways and Lawrence Arms fame) solo project, Sundowner, will be with him, crooning of peace, love and, yeah - there's certain to be a slew of songs about drinking. And they're coming as the Beans and Toast tour.
And why shouldn't the two be friends? Sure, one is very Asian and the other is very white. One typically resides in California and the other is from Chicago. But they're both outspoken politically. And Mike Park's label, Asian Man Records, was instrumental in breaking McCaughan into the seedy underground of melodic punk.
McCaughan was originally with the Broadways - along with current band-mate Brendan Kelly - a socially- and politically-charged explosion of fleeting flavor. Kelly is cited as saying the band broke-up because of "all of us growing out of where we were in our lives when we started the band." The growth must have been incredible, as Dan Hanaway and Rob DePaola formed the darker, mellower Honor System and Kelly and McCaughan created the more successful, party-over-business Lawrence Arms. That's what you call a 'fork in the road.' And all of the above bands had first releases on Asian Man.
Now, McCaughan tends to be mellower than band-mate Kelly (who lives in the infamy of wild drunken antics), so it was only a matter of time before he took some time purifying his emo leanings (let's not downplay McCaughan's own love of the bottle). Sundowner's freshman release, Four One Five Two, delivers on what it promises: an alcohol-soaked journey through the ravings of a poetic madman. Alright, so that's not exactly original, but the music ain't half bad either.
Park's own solo journey followed stints with the Chinkees, Skankin' Pickle and the Bruce Lee Band, bands that failed to make a splash (even signed to his own label). Still, the guy is one of the most influential people in contemporary punk-rock, so let's give him some credit here. His solo project has been something he's done on the side for years and has generally been pretty decent, even not-half-bad on occasions. But I wouldn't listen to his album unless you're entirely ready for a case of the warm fuzzies. Well, as warm and fuzzy as protest songs can be.
Europe, please enjoy this tour. Represent.
*PS Don't get the flu*