Summer Blanket – Charm Wrestling

Summer Blanket
Charm Wrestling

In certain extreme cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder, doctors have been known to prescribe an emergency treatment in the form of a therapeutic vacation to a sunnier locale. Consequently, the pending suicide who drags himself into the office hoping for a lifetime prescription to one of those wonder drugs I keep taking so much of – er, I keep hearing so much about, I mean – is instead dispatched to a warmer climate in hopes the trip will alleviate the cloud of depression that has come to plague him. Basically the doctor is saying “Look, I have no idea how to help you, okay?” For these so-called medical “professionals,” I have a suggestion. Put down your prospectus of overvalued stocks, wipe that smug expression from your face, and reacquaint yourself with the Hippocratic Oath, all the while listening to Charm Wrestling from South Florida’s Summer Blanket. That sojourn in Margaritaville may work for your average parrothead, but it’s done bugger all for Summer Blanket’s Keith Michaud.
Lest I give the impression that the boys in the Blanket are a bunch of bad-time Charlies plying a one-note samba of doom and gloom, it really isn’t so. But romance seems to have left some deep scars that the band (essentially Michaud and some friends) exorcises with a clutch of solidly written songs, free from any of the quirks of post-this or -that rock and with the heavy mood of regret tempered by bittersweet melodies and Michaud’s strong, scratchy voice. Behind him, the band plays tastefully, if at all, while he ruefully delivers lines like “you are special and I am an eggshell in your hands.” The thin line between illuminating introspection and self-pity is navigated successfully, giving the ache in these songs an authenticity that can only benefit the already strong writing. Charm Wrestling is short, though – 10 songs, one a remix, one just over a minute, and another that will unfortunately remind the listener of the Sesame Street theme (“The Story of Our Lives”). Now matter how the knife is twisted at the end of the lyric, this song still sits incongruously among its neighbors.
That’s okay, because some of the neighbors include the bare lament of “Progress/Progression” and the slow drama of “A Girl Named Regret.” Whatever ills have befallen him in his love life, Michaud gallantly accepts the blame and channels his guilt through self depictions like “a walking document of failure,” “sad little boy with stars in his eyes,” or proclaiming himself “harmless…I could only ever hurt myself.” Take it easy on yourself, Keith! Besides, chicks get tired of that stuff.
I admire the guy’s honesty, though. He sounds like it really troubles him that he’s come up short, at least by his own yardstick. Even on the breezy, radio-ready “This is Not a Competition,” the discontent is evident. Thankfully, so is a nice melody that doesn’t betray the dark emotion, nor overplay it. And after perusing his weblog, it’s nice to see he’s not all apologies; kinda prickly actually. Stay unsatisfied my friend, it works for you.