We’ve got some Chicago love for you this week. We had upstart Mike Musikanto and his badass band in the studio a couple weeks ago on a freezing cold night. It was the kind of night that made you want to punch Mother Nature right in the base of the neck with the side of your fist like Steven Segal used to do. Fortunately my rage was immediately calmed upon entering Shirk’s studio and hearing the smooth sounds of Musikanto.

I’d only had a chance to peruse their MySpace page for a few minutes before the session, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But the guys got things off on the right foot by cracking some pre-game Miller High Lifes (High Lives?) – the champagne of beer always gets things moving.

They came out of the gate strong with “Misty Morning,” a catchy-as-hell tune with some great guitar work, heady lyrics like “She stole my clothes and left me with a heart of desire,” and some absolutely fantastic drum fills by Russ Mallard. “I Ain’t Your Rock” followed and was probably my favorite track of the night. Mike and lead guitarist JJ Evans complement each other extremely well and are both a pleasure to watch play – I particularly liked the guitar interplay about two-thirds of the way through “Take It On Will.” Scott Schaffsma keeps things moving while handling the bass duties, and even drops a little upright bass on the album.

Musikanto solo

After laying down several tracks with the full band, JJ had to take off for another gig, so Mike decided to cozy up behind the microphone with just his acoustic guitar. He sang a couple more songs and showed off his ability to write Americana rockers and slow burning acoustic tunes alike.

Musikanto may be relatively new on the indie music scene, but they’ve got the chops and the songwriting sensibility to be venerable mainstays. They’re a great group of guys who demand perfection from themselves – a quality that’s sure to pay dividends. I strongly recommend their hot-off-the-presses album, Ghost Pain, and I also recommend you give Mother Nature a dropkick to the groin and brave the elements to see them live. They’ve got a show this Friday, January 30th at the Darkroom in Chicago. See their MySpace page for more dates.

In the meantime, check out the live tracks below and some HD footage from the studio, courtesy of our boy Shirk.

Exclusive: Musikanto – I Ain’t Your Rock

Exclusive: Musikanto – Take It On Will

Exclusive: Musikanto – Howl

Exclusive: Musikanto – To See You One More Time

Exclusive: Musikanto – Atomic Walls

Download ’em all as a zip.

Video: Musikanto – To See You One More Time

Musikanto – To See You One More Time from on Vimeo.



Musikanto is the latest alt-country, folk, Americana singer-songwriter to emerge from Chicago in recent years, joining the likes of Joe Pug, Tom Schraeder and His Ego and the now defunct Cracklin Moth. I had to name drop since they’ve all been through the studio to record live sessions.‚  Musikanto was in the studio last week and his session is being mixed by Shirk as we speak.

The debut album Ghost Pain is an addictive twangy rock affair in the same vein as bands like The Old 97’s and Ryan Adams. The album is a solid effort from beginning to end and it’s accessibility will satisfy both the alt-country crowd and the more casual pop-rock aficionados looking for something catchy.‚  He’s releasing it independently, but don’t let that fool you. No corners were cut and this guy can put pen to paper and write great songs that are backed by more than just an acoustic guitar.‚  You’ll hear horns, piano and healthy backing vocals to jazz up his sound.

Formely performing around Chicago with the band Sleeper Car, Musikanto has set out to make a name for himself. Ghost Pain will do just that. Check back next week to hear the Musikanto live session.


Musikanto – Misty Morning

Musikanto – I Ain’t Your Rock

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