After only a few short months Mike Dennis is back! The Junction 29 EP is the follow up to Mike’s Junction 19 EP, released earlier this year.
Whereas the first EP dealt with Mike’s love of Bristol; this one turns his attention to another place close to his heart – Cardiff. The opening title track fittingly begins with some celebratory soundbites. At the end of Junction 19 there was a tribute to the Full Moon; a venue important to Mike that had closed its doors. Happily a campaign to keep the venue alive was successful, and this track is a celebration of everything Mike loves about Cardiff. I’m not as familiar with the city as I am with Bristol, but this track paints a vivid picture, replete with a gorgeous violin hook in the chorus.
Neat Rice Soup once again features the tones of Amy D, and is a quirky track set to a funky backbeat. I can see this song being very popular at Mike’s live shows, it seems tailor made for dancing. In my review of Mike’s previous release I compared him to Mike Skinner; but whereas The Streets’ brand of British parochialism is languid and sardonic, Mike Dennis has an infectious rapid fire energy that is much more fun to listen to.
Third track G.O.Y.P.A.D stands for Get Off Your Phone And Drive and sees Mike fully in the grip of aural road rage; using his biting wit instead of his fists to rage against fuckwits who drive dangerously. Its a tongue in cheek track that nonetheless makes some very salient observations.
The fourth track here might not only be the best track on this release but probably, in my opinion, the finest thing Mike has written. On his feature length album Smiles & Cries Mike had a song called Stuff, which was also a single. It was another slice of witty, danceable rap in Mike’s inimitable style and featured a memorable hook in the chorus. When I saw Mike play it live at his album launch everyone was up dancing. This track is called Bluff and features Berenice and Zadio. It is the companion track to Stuff but good lord it couldn’t be any different.
This is Mike laying his soul bare; a laid back personal track that deals with lost love and what could have been. There is some serious pathos here; with Mike imagining what it might be like if he’d had kids with an ex-partner. You get the sense from the track that this might have once been something that could have been in Mike’s future, but the decision was made to not go down that path. I have been in a similar situation myself; but in my case I had the child and had to compromise my music career. The parallel between Mike’s experiences and my own make this for me easily the best track here. More like this please, Mike!
Track 5 is My Digital Girlfriend and coming in straight after Bluff I couldn’t quite get into it as much as maybe I would have if it was in a different place on the record. That’s not to say its a bad track; talk of dating in a post-Tinder world is underpinned perfectly by beeps and whirs that thematically cement the song.
The EP wraps up with a poignant monologue framed by gorgeous strings. I Want Everything is once again a track I can most definitely relate to and is both honest and inspiring. I absolutely feel that, like Eminem, Mike Dennis is absolutely at his best when talking honestly about his hopes, dreams and regrets. His more amusing tracks are brilliantly written and most definitely have their place in his repertoire; but its the more raw and emotional fare that will draw new fans in and most importantly, keep them coming back for more.
Junction 29 is the perfect companion to Junction 19. Taken together a a whole (which they should be) they comprise another solid gold collection from Mike Dennis. Go catch him at his next live show!
Junction 29 EP is released on November 7th 2017.