Mike Dillon, Band of Outsiders (Royal Potato Family)

Mike Dillon, Band of Outsiders, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, May 2014

The music of Mike Dillon combines many sources, yet comes out sounding unto itself. This latest report from the mind of Mike moves all over the map.

Overall, it is punk rock as played by great instrumentalists, with the lead voices being Dillon’s mallet instruments and Carly Myers’ trombone. It is most reminiscent of the Minutemen with its commitment to all styles and ability to play them and of the Dead Kennedys in its attitude and phrasing.

In songs like “Hand of God” and the police-state protest “Homeland Insecurity,” Dillon sounds like a raspy Jello Biafra. Even the satire of “7 AM at the Jazzfest” has a Dead Kennedys attitude. There is an anger to Dillon’s vocals that is barely controlled sometimes and righteously declaiming and furious at others.

As a counterweight, the sound of the instruments themselves and the way they work together gives the record a jazzy, Zappa-esque tone. Dillon’s compositions have their unconventional structures.

They can start and end abruptly or smoothly and switch parts according to their own internal logic. However, the band plays them with a precision that gives them an element of surprise. Sometimes the listener feels like they have fallen off a cliff, but that effect always serves the song and its subject. It is great to hear a band not holding back and going all out on a record.

Ultimately, in the best of ways this record is hardcore while still being musical. It could be the wildest record you hear all year long, and that is a supreme compliment.