Mike Viola has a new album coming out in early December but we can’t wait for that. What with a spooky seasonal event nearly upon us, how can we not draw attention to Viola’s wonderfully creepy melodic side. Now I’m taking some liberties here but it seems to me that Viola has a thing for monsters, particularly the biting kind. And he was a Candy Butcher, after all. As such, I’m assembling a few Viola tracks into a completely unsanctioned EP I’m calling Creepster (nicely rhymes with T Rex’s “Jeepster”).
Just look at the evidence. Viola’s new album might bear the angelic-sounding title Godmuffin but the advance single features him as a vampire lurking around California swimming pools and abandoned streets. “Drug Rug” is a slow burn earm-worm, it sneaks up and lashes out with a subtle killer hook in the chorus. Speaking of creepy, another track from the new album is just called “Creeper,” a loving tribute to his late friend Adam Schlesinger. Then there’s “Bitten and Cursed,” a single he put out in 2018. Here the protagonist has a ‘bed like a hearse’ but ‘doesn’t sleep’ because ‘tonight I’m changing’ with ‘blood on my shirt’. Not hard to paint a picture here. Even the b-side, the wonderfully guitar-ringing “It Does a Number on My Brain,” sounds pretty spooky. Then casting back to Viola’s most recent prior album The American Egypt there’s a song about “Bat Girl Panties.” No, I don’t really know what it’s about but it mentions bats and Halloween so it’s in.
I came to Mike Viola’s work through Lurch, his 2007 poprock tour de force. I loved the McCartney-esque turns on “Stawberry Blonde” and especially the hooky “So Much Better.” Since then Viola has embarked on a series of musical adventures that have taken him a bit far from that 1960s melody-drenched sound. However, as the evidence from my rogue Viola EP Creepster demonstrates, the hookster is definitely back in town. Can’t wait for the new album!