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Animal Hospital - Animal Hospital

Released on Mister Records

Few experiences induce more stress in the family pet than a trip to the veterinarian or animal hospital. For those who have (or had) pets, you’ve probably had the experience of your pet becoming a seething mass of anxiety prior to the trip to the vet. In lieu of a canine (or feline) quaalude or sedative, musician Kevin Micka (aka "Animal Hospital") offers an auditory solution in his self-titled debut album Animal Hospital.

This is not to say that Micka’s brand of music will only appeal to pets. While this may be the primary audience, Micka’s got a sound that will appeal to species a bit higher up the evolutionary chain as well..pet owners, specifically. In all seriousness, Micka is a gifted musician and Animal Hospital provides an eclectic (and often satisfying) listening experience that is a pretty solid beginning.

How can you not enjoy an album with wonderful track names like "Killer Gnome" (you can’t help envisioning a malevolent lawn gnome running amok while listening to this one), "Paralarva", and "Below The Ocean"? Nearly devoid of lyrics, you’re left to your own devices to create meaning/substance from the track titles and accompanying sounds.

Micka kicks things off with the aforementioned "Killer Gnome" and despite the imagery it may evoke, the track itself is far from malevolent. Rather it is a leisurely, wandering track simply constructed from Micka’s guitar strumming, deliberate drumming, and some electronic equipment. It’s the kind of track you’d expect to see showing up in the soundtrack of an independent film that delves into the darker, murkier side of life. This is not to say it’s a depressing track, just one that suggests a certain uncertainty.

There is a tone and feel to many (if not all) of the tracks in Animal Hospital that is reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s classic Endtroducing. Micka unquestionably has a very different sound and sensibility, but the tone and mood is similarly dark, moody, and evocative. For those with an aversion to music that is absent of lyrics, moody and atmospheric, Animal Hospital provides little solace but for those who can appreciate something a bit more crepuscular, Micka’s constructed something pretty solid in this album.

If there’s one shortcoming to Animal Hospital it is the sometimes striking similarity from one track to the next. It would be nice if each track had its own distinct identity, but that isn’t necessarily the case. But, each track is thoughtfully constructed and well orchestrated resulting in a debut album that is more than worth listening to.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars