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Mike June

Social Rock

Many songwriters are busily chronicling current events and political strife in the world. Many songs point fingers to politicians and others in power, but singer-songwriter Mike June has his camera fully focused on us. On all of us people making the most of our human lives with human feelings even as the world stage does its best to fill us with angst. Election Day, June’s new EP, focuses both on the ongoing anxieties of our times and on ways of finding solace in others.

Mike June’s “music is what my generation needs, and what older generations need to remember. He sings love songs about the human experience – sometimes his own,” writes William Harries Graham in The Austin Chronicle. “I consider him a storyteller of the revolution,” Graham adds. June’s brand of revolution involves being open about our anxieties and realizing we all share in them. Take the EP’s opening track, “Election Day.” While June could have written a partisan anthem about something on the ballot, he turns instead to the insecurity that binds us. “Election Day” is apolitical, focused instead on the anxiety and conflict that often accompany elections. According to June, the song is an “upbeat rocker about the dread of Election Day, the pointless arguing that takes place, relatives.” He goes on to quote the lyrics: “I’ll make myself coffee but today I’ll skip the news/ Yeah, I quit drinking but today I’ll have a few / It’s Election Day.”

Especially in these times, politics are a fast and powerful way to separate us. June sees the big picture enough to know that we’re all in this together. His songwriting focuses on the unity that is formed even in division—the unity of the struggle. In the EP’s lead single, “Alright,” June acknowledges the humanity that binds us. “It’s a song trying to point out how we all share a certain struggle, regardless of race, country, or religion. It’s also a tip of the hat Kendrick Lamar.” “Alright” has an especially personal inspiration for June, who watched his wife go through a lot of post-election fears. “Watching her go through those emotions made me want to write something reassuring,” he says.

“Alright” is followed up by “Home,” an achingly tender love song. June gently thumbs an acoustic guitar beneath his intimate vocals. He sings of trying to find a place to belong, chronicles leaving New York for Texas where he was a “lost soul,” and eventually finding solace and security after meeting his wife. June’s wife, singer-songwriter Jess Klein, sings background vocals on this song, their two voices so distinct but somehow perfect together.

June adeptly deploys sarcasm when needed in songs like “Election Day” and “How Long.” But June would rather keep his heart on his sleeve than his tongue in his cheek. His music often possesses a refreshing sincerity. On his past five albums and recent single “Alright,” he has displayed a gift for poignancy that never trespasses into sentimentality. The rough edges in June’s voice embody his worldly aches, especially when the instrumentation is sparse. His new song “More Than I Can Take” harnesses June’s emotional and musical acuity to profound affect. “’More Than I Can Take’ is a song about being heartbroken by the hatred and vitriol that we have for each other. It’s especially heartbreaking to me because I’ve travelled all over the world in the past few years and know that most people are beautiful and loving.”

Mike June is, indeed, a storyteller of the revolution. But his revolution isn’t about overthrow or violent protests. He’d much rather we focus on what binds us inside, whether it be fear of the future or the peaceful exhalation of finding shelter in another person. Now that’s revolutionary.

Mike June releases