Friday, August 27, 2010

Mike Hart Keeping It Real

It's a beautiful August afternoon today as I sit down to write a new article for all you reading out there. As the breeze rustles the leaves outside in a mildly poetic way, I flip on the Myspace of today's story, and nothing says Friday night like this music.
Many of you guys probably know Mike Hart as the former lead singer of So Contagious (fka Seven Story Fall), who've been featured and mentioned here a number of times. Now I could sit here and speculate until the end of time why Hart has embarked now on a solo career, but to be honest, that's between him and So Contagious. Besides, this is a music site, not some tabloid, and precisely one of the reasons I started New Rock News 43 in the first place. I was so tired (as I'm sure you all are too) of publications like Rolling Stone and Spin coming off as tabloids with a music flavor, rather than real in-depth music news magazines. If you're looking for something like that, look someplace else, maybe the Enquirer or the Globe. But if you're here for some new stuff to listen to, read on.
Hart is my focus today because of his newly released summer EP, We Keep It Real. Debuting just four days ago on Monday, August 23, We Keep It Real is a bit of a departure for Hart in terms of sound as he opts to stray a bit from his comfort zone in pop-punk and experiment with a more electronic-pop sound with dance rhythms that even exude an R&B flavor.
For those of you who aren't familiar with him, Mike Hart is an extremely talented vocalist and musician from here in Atlanta, Georgia. Singing on some of So Contagious's most well-known tracks like "The Getaway" and their rendition of Akon's "Right Now (Na Na Na)," Hart demonstrates a vocal talent that bleeds all the way over from pop-punk to dance and emo-punk. Now however, he's pushing his talents even farther as songs like "Telling Me No" and "This Is War" explore a more unique dance-pop background.
In fact, this brings me to the first track from We Keep It Real that blows me away. Released a few weeks ago as a teaser single for the upcoming EP, "This Is War" showcases not only some of the best examples of Hart's unique, smooth vocal style, but also his musicianship as he contributes to this track catchy synthes and rhythmic drum-tracks. Normally dance-punk is a hard genre for me to really appreciate, but Hart's use of pop-punk-ish lyrics mixed with an electro-pop sound gives this track a oddball flavor that makes me unable to turn my head away from it. A great dance song, and one that nods a bit to other electro-pop acts like Breathe Electric and Owl City, "This Is War" is definitely one of the best tracks on Hart's new EP, and it's no wonder why he released this one as the teaser.
"Lights Camera Action," another dance-punk track which features a guest appearance by DJ Vault, shines a knowing light once again on Hart as a clever writer and phenomenal singer. I love Hart's synthe progressions in this one, and his rhymes and clever phasing demonstrate his mastery over an ability to write as well as sing and perform. "Lights Camera Action," though, also benefits from a rhythm and beat the are, in every sense of the word, infectious. If you're looking for a track to play at a party or something to chill out to in the car with the top down on a beautiful afternoon, this one is a favorite in that category.
The last couple tracks from the EP I can't keep myself from writing a few tidbits about are "My Kryptonite" and "Secret Lover." Partnering with Atlanta producer and musician Nikolai Prange to set down a driving, synthe-ridden rhythm, Hart's composition "My Kryptonite" strikes a more romantic tone than I've heard in the previous tracks. With this, "My Kryptonite" is immediately set aside as the track the boasts some of the best rhythms and piano on the EP, as well as the one with the romantic nature under the surface. "Secret Lover" contrasts perfectly with this, leaning more towards a sort of forbidden/dangerous undertone that makes me think of sneaking out at night to see your girl or guy. These songs are brilliant compositions, and We Keep It Real most certainly benefits from their inclusion.
For those of you out there who have seen Mike Hart live, you all know this guy can definitely get a concert floor going. I myself have had this particular pleasure, and it's no overstatement that when he starts singing, he's got you jumping and all your energy going. It's no surprise to me, then, why it seems to me that Hart finds himself so at ease with dance-pop compositions. His punk attitude and ethic mix well with his smooth and polished vocals and synthes to produce a must-hear EP. Coming across as a brash collection of catchy, clever and energetic songs, We Keep It Real is definitely on my must-hear list for you guys this week. Make your way over to his Myspace and have a listen for yourself. Hart's talent puts something like the popularity of Justin Bieber to shame (and his cover of Bieber's "Baby" is, in my opinion, way better than the original). Once word gets out about him, Hart's gonna rise far and fast: of that I am sure. There are no ifs, ands, or buts with this guy; success is inevitable, period.

Sounds Like: Breathe Electric, Owl City, Phoenix

Key Tracks from We Keep It Real: "This Is War," "My Kryptonite," "Lights Camera Action," "Secret Lover"

Check out Mike Hart more at: and

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