Songs for the Human Listener
It wasn’t too long ago — less than 20 years — when a college roommate introduced me to the self-consciously low-fi guitar pop of Beat Happening. For somebody whose only exposure to “non-commercial” rock & roll came in the form of British post-punk acts like The Cure and New Order, hearing the no-budget clanging and monotone delivery of Calvin Johnson and his crew was shocking. The music sounded like it was recorded in somebody’s bathroom; however, there was a charming quality to it all, and the very stripped-down, minimalist tunes had a childlike sense of wonder.
John Mizzoni gives me that same fuzzy feeling. Although he doesn’t take the extremely raw approach of Beat Happening, there is a low-rent vibe to his songs. Whether it’s intentional or not is another matter entirely. Mizzoni certainly sings better than Johnson; hell, he can actually carry a tune. There seem to be traces of a British accent here that separate him from other unsigned American artists strumming an acoustic guitar. Mizzoni isn’t trying to be commercial, but he’s also not aiming to alienate listeners. In fact, he seems blissfully unaware of what would or would not be palatable to radio, as these tracks take on a distinct identity.
The music, for the lack of a better genre stamp, is folk. And really quirky folk, at that. “Don’t Do That” is the closest thing to a traditional single, with its classic country aspirations. Recommended for listeners looking for something sweet and different.
John Mizzoni: webpages.neumann.edu/~mizzonij