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Mike Keneally — The Thing That Knowledge Can't Eat
(Bandcamp Exowax EX-2416, 2023, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-04-01

The Thing That Knowledge Can't Eat Cover art

Scambot 2 (2016) was Mike Keneally’s last solo album, but he’s been far from idle in the years between that and The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat. Marco Minnemann, Panzerballett, Notopia, Mastodon, Ben Levin, Steve Vai, Devin Townsend, Bryan Beller, Android Trio, Ryo Okumoto, and MFTJ are among the artists he’s worked with in the intervening years. But given the quality of his previous solo albums, this Thing is a welcome return. Several of the tracks feature Keneally on all of the instruments and vocals, but he does get some help here and there on drums (Eric Slick, Nick D’Virgilio, Ted Morton, Tobias Ralph, Malcolm Mortimore), extra guitar (Steve Vai, Peter Tiehuis), and bass (Pete Griffin, Bryan Beller), and more. But anyone familiar with Keneally’s work knows that he’s an outstanding guitarist and keyboard player on his own, as well as being an excellent singer. On this album he manages to cover a wide range of styles while maintaining a coherent flow, bringing the same quirky compositional sensibility to bear on whatever flavor he tackles. “Logos” almost sounds like it could be a song from a very well-written musical, with just piano, bass, and a number of vocal parts singing about a variety of contemporary issues. “Both Sides of the Street” is a clever and concise rock song, and “Mercury in Second Grade” is a lovely tune built around acoustic guitars. There are two songs that came out of an engineering workshop at Sweetwater Sound and feature a Griffin / D’Virgilio rhythm section. One is a rocking instrumental with a guest spot from Vai, and the other is a lovely song backed by keys and guitars. Yet another side of Keneally’s talent is displayed on “Ack,” a tune that was written in conjunction with his collaboration with Metropole Orkest many years ago and features an ensemble pulled from the Orkest proper. It’s a jazzy romp with wild guitar, violin, trumpet, trombone, and saxes. Add in a couple of tunes that lean a little more towards progressive rock, and you have a superb set of nine tracks, and one of the year’s best albums so far. Keneally is a treasure, and The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat is a fine addition to his catalog.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Mike Keneally, Nick D'Virgilio (NDV), Bryan Beller

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