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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

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In Music

"(Linneman's) feels like an extension of my house," says Mangione. "I always look forward to a show there."

Taking a moment with Mike Mangione

Born in Illinois, and now residing in Milwaukee, Mike Mangione is quickly becoming a familiar name throughout the city's growing music scene. Bringing an organically subtle, yet expressive sound, Mangione has drawn comparisons to such songwriting heavyweights as Ryan Adams and Elliott Smith.

In the past three years, Mangione has averaged 150 shows per year, performing in countless venues and festivals including SXSW and Milwaukee's own Summerfest. Needless to say, Mike Mangione has been putting in more than his fair share of work, and has a large mass of live experience. His previous album, "There And Back," charted as high as No.16 on the CMJ countdown, proving his following has grown to respectable lengths.

Now touring behind his new opus "Tenebrae," Mangione feels ready to spread that following to even greater amounts with much-deserved confidence in the album. "Tenebrae" is a classic-sounding piece full of beautifully arranged acoustics and Mangione's vocals can be heart-breakingly delicate at times, comparable to how James Blunt only wishes he could sound. Standout tracks include "It's Me Not You," and "The Killing Floor," which can be heard free of charge on his page.

Mangione brings his experienced singer-songwriter style to Linneman's on Oct. 13, and is not to be missed. We caught up with Mangione in the middle of his extensive tour to ask him how he feels about his impressive comparisons, tour experiences, and performing in his current hometown of Milwaukee.

OMC: How do you feel about being compared to artists such as Elliott Smith, Ryan Adams and Ray LaMontagne? Which comparison do you feel is most accurate, if any?

MM: Those guys are fantastic, real players. I initially feel honored because I really respect those individuals so much. I can't say that I hear it 100 percent, but that doesn't mean anything. Every artist hears themselves differently than they actually sound. I like how these guys sound a lot so I am happy with that. I do think that all of us are drawing from the same well so to speak. So that is probably the commonality that can be heard.

OMC: Your last album, "There and Back," received some really great praise from critics. What is your ultimate goal with your "Tenebrae," and how do you think it fares in comparison to your previous record?

MM: My goal with "Tenebrae" was to create a vibe or consistent tone for the listener to engage in for the length of the album. I wanted the album to have a feel -- a destination to take the listener. I wanted to invite someone inside, show them around the place and then send them on their way. If they liked what they saw inside they know where to find it and can always come back. I wanted to make an album in the classic sense, complete and uniform, the sum greater than its parts.

I am very happy with what we came up with and think we were successful. One reason for this tone/vibe of the album I think is how we decided to record it. We recorded most of the album live with very little overdubs. This was very different from my last "There and Back."

"There and Back" is a nice album but all the instrumentation was recorded by my brother Tom and I and, as a result, a little one dimensional.

Also, because we played all the instruments there were too many overdubs making it a little too polished for my taste. Too many overdubs can sound a little too unbelievable and really hard to replicate on stage. "Tenebrae" on the other hand, was recorded with my band pretty much on the spot live. The result is that "Tenebrae" feels more natural and breathes.

Also, because we did it this way it is consistent with our live performances. If you come see us perform and pick up a CD, you are going to get what you just saw. The last difference I believe is simply my brother and I write a little better now. We understand songwriting a little more, are more intentional with our movements. That has just come with time and honesty, I think, and I am very thankful for it. Maybe a little scarred too. The album is more mature I think.

OMC: You've said that you've been out on the road a lot. Has your tour taken you to any crazy places lately? Got any good road stories for us?

MM: We are on the road all the time, maybe a little too much according to my wife. Our trips are pretty tame, we all get along very well and enjoy each other's company so much. The group is pretty eclectic, ranging from Patrick Hoctor and Kristina Priceman, who are still looking up to legal age, to my bass man John Collins who has been on the Chicago scene for 1,520 years. So we are entertained enough just by the random things we talk about and the different experiences we draw from. We have definitely had our share of places we won't return and I will not reveal any of those names. With that said, we are returning to one of our favorite spots, Linneman's, and we always look forward to this show.

OMC: You play Milwaukee on Oct. 13, at Linneman's Inn. How do you like playing here?

MM: I love Linneman's, and I love Jim Linneman. The place has a great room and fantastic sound. It is one of the best sounding rooms in the city, hands down. Jim really cares about music and it shows so much. I think his deep love for music is what distinguishes him from the majority of the venues we play at. We have gotten so comfortable there it is great; it feels like an extension of my house. I always look forward to a show there.


Pak Kyungsook | Oct. 23, 2007 at 9:42 a.m. (report)

Yes, he is outstanding. No lie.

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Racilla.Killah | Oct. 17, 2007 at 10:01 a.m. (report)

Haven't listened to this dude yet Anybody here like him?

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