Mike Felumlee (ex Alkaline Trio/Smoking Popes) has posted two new songs from his split EP on his...
Not a lot of people know this, but Mike Felumlee is famous — really. A mainstay of Chicago’s indie/punk scene, Mike is most known for services rendered as a drummer for two of the area’s top exports, the Alkaline Trio and the Smoking Popes. Like a punk Phil Collins, Felumlee has long since stepped out from behind his kit to captain several endearing pop/rock releases such as 2001’s 64 Hours, a split LP with the Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano, and, most recently, a split LP with Chicago’s Friendly Enemies.
Less raucous but no less rockin’ than recordings of bands where he helmed the drums, Felumlee’s solo efforts fall into the introspective pop tradition of Elliott Smith, Brian Wilson, Posies frontman Ken Stringfellow, and Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil auteur Blake Schwarzenbach. Yes, such high praise is warranted.
So, why is Mike Felumlee not a household name? First of all he is a household name — in his own household and in the homes of umpteen Chicago area hipsters, that is. And secondly, Mike is not a household name because he doesn’t want to be. The unassuming musician prefers the quietitude of suburbia to the smoky smarm and schmooze of the fashion-obsessed, all-surface-and-no-substance rock scene. Like his music, Mike’s primary concerns are with himself, his life, and his artistic vision.
This is not to say that the Felumlee oeuvre is not deserving of canonization. While not exactly bombastic, Mike’s music is the realization of a slow-burning intensity—a sonic rendition of a John Cheever novel or a Mark Rothko painting. With a unique, melodic, and intensely personal style, Felumlee delivers tales of suburban despair through music that is deceivingly tuneful and upbeat.
Mike has achieved what your usual fashion-obsessed rock artiste could never aspire to, creating music of real substance and merit. And in this way, Mike is a real rock star. Someday the world might catch on; but Mike will never be burdened by neediness for the fickle attentions of the mass. Such affirmations are empty and, ultimately, worthless.