The material on Micah P. Hinson’s The Baby & the Satellite EP predates the work from his magnificent 2005 debut, Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress, and was originally recorded on a busted-up four-track back at the turn of the century. The songs were shelved until 2004, when they were juiced-up and rerecorded with the help of JM Lapham from the Earlies (also Hinson’s partner in the Late Cord side project). The original recording of the EP is tacked onto the end of this release and plays out in full on the ninth and closing track. While the newer versions are entirely better, this addition gives a rare look into the skeletal stages of songs — those bare-bones home recordings that are so important to an artist in his development but that rarely see the light of day.
The nascence of Hinson’s artistic voice is apparent on this release, and with good reason: The words and music were all penned when Hinson was a screwed up kid in the waning days of his teens. Hinson’s manufactured maturity is on full display here, the type of hubris that always seems immature in hindsight. We have all struggled with the bravado of youth, the need to prove we are really an adult while ironically undercutting your appearance as such. That grappling is the steady stream coursing through the songs on The Baby and the Satellite, a nice sampling of Hinson’s fledgling talents.
All is dark and still throughout, creaking like an old pew. Hinson is a folk balladeer in an old-school sense, taking the straight and steady approach that eschews pop’s need for a hook. Borrowing from Leonard Cohen’s ability to leave out crescendos, while extracting emotion through nuance and the vagaries of an unfinished voice, Hinson wields a subtle kind of power. Like Cohen, and in stark contrast to many of his contemporaries, Hinson’s emoting stays away from the sickly mawkish and feels grounded in a real pain, not the typical bawling of a once broken heart.
The EP’s best track is “The Leading Guy.” Hinson’s low-range baritone is coupled with a fractured screamo vocal track, resulting in a powerful delivery of already powerful lines: “So the crowd spit him out and they shot him through the sky as they crucified rock ‘n’ roll’s worst leading guy. And he moved on, to god knows where. He moved on; none of us care.” Hinson’s struggle with himself as an artist is apparent in those lines and rings an eerily similar chord to Eric Bachman‘s identity crisis in the Archers of Loaf’s classic “Greatest of All Time”: “They caught and drowned the frontman of the world’s worst rock ‘n’ roll band. He was out of luck, because nobody gave a fuck.”
“The Leading Guy” MP3