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Artist: Michael Gutierrez-May

Album: Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun

Reviewer: Nick DeRiso

Performing alone, or with only the sparest of accompaniment, Michael Gutierrez-May is able to fully convey his offbeat world view. There are plenty of laughs along the way.

Recorded live at the Catbird Café at the New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and at the Pilgrim Sands Motel in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun ends up as a one-man showcase of knee-slapping jokes, wise-cracking observations about the world around us and some very weird intersections with animals and food.

In between, Gutierrez-May recommends new music from Dar Williams, retells the story of his start in music, enthuses about Trader Joe’s candies. On one track, he even brings up a group of bemused audience members to sing back up, but only after walking them through the chorus first. That’s how blissfully loose these recordings are, almost like a family gathering on the back porch.

The opening “Spider Man on Shutter Island,” which Gutierrez-May aptly describes as “a cross between crime fighting and an insane asylum,” underscores the joys to come – from the happy-go-lucky guitar work to the even happier-go-luckier word play. 

Gutierrez-May’s off-beat sense of humor is perhaps best heard on “Disneyland in Therapy,” a dystopian fable in which all of the characters are starting to feel the strain of constant happiness, turning to drugs and then on each other. There are macabre chuckles to be had with “The Dead Leprechaun,” a classic Celtic death ballad. There’s a song about the burning desire to nosh on dark-chocolate peanut butter cups for breakfast.

Then there’s “I Hate Geese,” in which Gutierrez-May sings the praises of ducks, and of squirrels, and of swans. Even rats, because they’re “like a squirrel, with a haircut.” And pigeons, “proud little birds. … They’re dirty but they don’t know any better.” But geese? Well, that’s another story. “Filthy, disgusting, obnoxious!,” Gutierrez-May sings, before shouting “geese!, geese!, geese!, geese!” like an angry mantra – but not too angry. Meanwhile, “You Can’t Take My Carrot,” which includes those vocalists plucked from the crowd, turns his passion for a certain orange veggie into a rousing, if decidedly shambolic singalong. “I want my carrot to stay in my desk,” Gutierrez-May sings through a series of chuckles. “with my squeeze ball, and my staples, and my swizzle stick and my refrigerator magnets – and all the rest of the stuff you keep in your desk.”

Gutierrez-May wrote the music and lyrics on Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun, with the exception of three songs: “I Hate Geese” features music from Christopher B. White; “The Ballad of Dum Dum” includes music from Laree Cisco; and “You Can Catch More Flies” has lyrics composed by Mari Koslowski.

Now, don’t get the idea that it’s all done for laughs here. “Where are the Blue Ridge Mountains?,” about a friend who literally couldn’t see the mountains for the hills, is presented with a striking sense of child-like wonder: “The mountains,” Gutierrez-May sings, “tuck you in.” By the song’s end, the question’s answer has become abundantly clear: The Blue Ridge Mountains are “everywhere.” Later, he unfurls a quiet rumination on the life of an every-day Rhode Islander on “The Ballad Dum Dum.”

But, more often, you’ll find Gutierrez-May singing with a faux seriousness on the issue of manners, and then panting and howling like a randy canine, as during the medley of “You Can Catch More Flies” and “Dogs of Omaha.”

“Good Night Sex” is a randy tale about someone who needs a new place for lovemaking, after having already worn out their welcome at the drive in. With “A Puerto Rican on the Moon,” Gutierrez-May imagines the food and festivities that one half of his family tree might bring to the arid moonscape’s monotony.

Finally, there’s “Groucho,” a harmonica-driven bonus track that bemoans the fact that comedian Groucho Marx isn’t the subject of more songs. Then something occurs to him: “Is it because he couldn’t sing?” Gutierrez-May finally surmises, to laughs all around.

There could be no more perfect ending for Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun.

 

Review by Nick DeRiso, 4 out of 5 stars

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Artist: Michael Gutierrez-May
Album: Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun 
Reviewer: Annie Reuter
Involved in folk and acoustic music for 30 years, it’s taken awhile for Michael Gutierrez-May to embrace performing live. Having written songs since he was 16, it wasn’t until recently that Gutierrez-May jumped back into the limelight with his latest Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun. Described as “live recorded funny songs,” that is exactly what the 14-track LP entails. 
“I’m kind of unpredictable but hopefully entertaining,” Michael Gutierrez-May says at the start of his live concert album. And he isn’t kidding. Compiled of quirky tracks and even more intriguing onstage banter, the singer grabs the listener’s attention.
“The first song I’m starting off with I would describe as a mixture of crime fighting and insane asylums,” he continues. Called “Spider Man On Shutter Island,” delicate strums of the acoustic guitar introduce the song before Gutierrez-May’s raspy vocals enter. Singing about the film Shutter Island and name dropping Leonardo DiCaprio, the track is an introduction of what’s to come.
Throughout the album Gutierrez-May’s stripped down, personal approach of telling the tale behind each of his songs entices. Additionally, listeners get the more personal aspect of a live show with the occasional incorrect chord played and forgotten lyrics. 
Next track, “Where Are the Blue Ridge Mountains,” was inspired by a friend looking for the Blue Ridge Mountains. Alone on acoustic guitar, his wavering vocals tell the tale among nervous laughter.  
“I Hate Geese” establishes a deeper and more tormented sound for Gutierrez-May. After describing a plethora of animals in vivid detail for over two minutes, 30 seconds is left on the track. With rapid and angst ridden guitar features he gets to the heart of the song. “Here it comes,” he warns listeners. “I hate geese!” he sings with passion and striking crescendo. 
Throughout the album the listener gets the feeling she’s sitting at Gutierrez-May’s live show. In between introducing each track he reveals that his first open mic was while studying at Cook College at Rutgers University. Soon after he started an open mic night at a local restaurant which helped inspire him to write more satirical songs. This is where “Disneyland’s In Therapy” came from. 
The track details a saddened Disneyland where all the cartoon characters are coping with depression and substance abuse. Mickey Mouse feels distressed; Donald Duck is acting real depressed; Pluto is in the dog house and Cinderella is blue. But the worst of them all is Goofy who is “shooting up and they don’t know what to do.” The quirky lyrics intrigue the listener and with the biggest applause on the LP, this is no question Gutierrez-May’s most captivating track.
The somber storyline continues with “The Dead Leprechaun.”  A solemn tale of a leprechaun being hit by a bolt of lightning, Gutierrez-May’s tongue in cheek lyric is questionable. “Is there anything sadder than a fried leprechaun?” he sings with nervous laughter mid-track.
A gripping storyteller, many of the songs make the listener want to pay attention to find out what happens by the song’s end. As a result, some tracks are better than others. “The Ballad of Dum Dum” is a disjointed song with too many characters to follow along. Over four minutes long, the track drags to a close.  
The remainder of the album includes the ode to Trader Joes candy, “Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups” as well as mellow tracks “You Can Catch More Flies” and “A Puerto Rican On the Moon” alongside the dog friendly “Dogs of Omaha” complete with barks and panting.  
Audience participation on “You Can’t Take My Carrot” helps invigorate the album before bonus track “Groucho” closes the well named release Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun. Overall an enjoyable release, Gutierrez-May’s quirky storylines and awkward onstage banter intrigue.  
Review by: Annie Reuter

Artist: Michael Gutierrez-May

Album: Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun

Reviewer: Annie Reuter

Involved in folk and acoustic music for 30 years, it’s taken awhile for Michael Gutierrez-May to embrace performing live. Having written songs since he was 16, it wasn’t until recently that Gutierrez-May jumped back into the limelight with his latest Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun. Described as “live recorded funny songs,” that is exactly what the 14-track LP entails. “I’m kind of unpredictable but hopefully entertaining,” Michael Gutierrez-May says at the start of his live concert album. And he isn’t kidding.

Compiled of quirky tracks and even more intriguing onstage banter, the singer grabs the listener’s attention.“The first song I’m starting off with I would describe as a mixture of crime fighting and insane asylums,” he continues. Called “Spider Man On Shutter Island,” delicate strums of the acoustic guitar introduce the song before Gutierrez-May’s raspy vocals enter. Singing about the film Shutter Island and name dropping Leonardo DiCaprio, the track is an introduction of what’s to come.Throughout the album Gutierrez-May’s stripped down, personal approach of telling the tale behind each of his songs entices. Additionally, listeners get the more personal aspect of a live show with the occasional incorrect chord played and forgotten lyrics.

Next track, “Where Are the Blue Ridge Mountains,” was inspired by a friend looking for the Blue Ridge Mountains. Alone on acoustic guitar, his wavering vocals tell the tale among nervous laughter.  “I Hate Geese” establishes a deeper and more tormented sound for Gutierrez-May. After describing a plethora of animals in vivid detail for over two minutes, 30 seconds is left on the track. With rapid and angst ridden guitar features he gets to the heart of the song. “Here it comes,” he warns listeners. “I hate geese!” he sings with passion and striking crescendo.

Throughout the album the listener gets the feeling she’s sitting at Gutierrez-May’s live show. Just before introducing his fourth song on the album, Michael reveals that his first open mic was while studying at Cook College at Rutgers University. Soon after he started an open mic night at a local restaurant with two friends in New Brunswick which lasted for three years. Michael moved to Boston in 1980 and started first a music series and then a folk music coffeehouse. which helped inspire him to write more satirical songs.

This is where “Disneyland’s In Therapy” came from. The track details a saddened Disneyland where all the cartoon characters are coping with depression and substance abuse. Mickey Mouse feels distressed; Donald Duck is acting real depressed; Pluto is in the dog house and Cinderella is blue. But the worst of them all is Goofy who is “shooting up and they don’t know what to do.” The quirky lyrics intrigue the listener and with the biggest applause on the LP, this is no question Gutierrez-May’s most captivating track.

The somber storyline continues with “The Dead Leprechaun.”  A solemn tale of a leprechaun being hit by a bolt of lightning, Gutierrez-May’s tongue in cheek lyric is questionable. “Is there anything sadder than a fried leprechaun?” he sings with nervous laughter mid-track.

A gripping storyteller, many of the songs make the listener want to pay attention to find out what happens by the song’s end. As a result, some tracks are better than others. “The Ballad of Dum Dum” is a disjointed song with too many characters to follow along. Over four minutes long, the track drags to a close.

The remainder of the album includes the ode to Trader Joes candy, “Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups” as well as mellow tracks “You Can Catch More Flies” and “A Puerto Rican On the Moon” alongside the dog friendly “Dogs of Omaha” complete with barks and panting.  Audience participation on “You Can’t Take My Carrot” helps invigorate the album before bonus track “Groucho” closes the well named release Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun. Overall an enjoyable release, Gutierrez-May’s quirky storylines and awkward onstage banter intrigue.  

Review by: Annie Reuter

reviewyou.com

A Raw and Talented Repetoire
author: Matthew Forss
                            
Artist: Michael Gutierrez-May Album: Fifty Miles Away Review by Matthew Forss As a singer/songwriter from Massachusetts, Michael showcases his versatile folk talents and writing abilities on his first release of five songs on Fifty Miles Away. Michael’s slightly humorous, quirky, and catchy little songs illustrate the poignant personality and creator of simple ballads and meaningful pieces of aural art. “Fifty Miles Away” is a folksy love song that opens with a simple, acoustic guitar rhythm that is rather earthy in feel and tone. Michael’s gruff voice is relatively light and wavering in the same way Paul Simon or Arlo Guthrie would vocalize. The only instrument of choice is the acoustic guitar, which sounds very raw and natural without any percussion accompaniment or electrified guitar sounds indicative of folk-rock. After a few measures, Deborah Linden’s vocal ‘oohs’ follow backup accompaniment along with the melody. Deborah also sings a few of the lines near the end of the song, but not without adding in a few more ‘oohs.’ All in all, the song is a poignant love ditty with relatively rudimentary instrumentation and vocal arrangements. “The Albino and The Transvestite” is the most unusual song on the album, which is based primarily on the title and lyrics. The folksy rhythm is a little faster than other songs, but Michael’s characteristic voice is still present. The acoustic guitar is joined by piano and background vocals by Stephen Martin, Collette O’Connor, and Nancy Rost. The comedic lyrics are somewhat reminiscent of Stephen Lynch in a more light-hearted manner. However, comparisons to another comedic guitar hero, Rob Paravonian, are more pronounced. At any rate, the three-minute song is the longest song on the album, but that does not diminish its vocal, melodic, and instrumental power. The sauntering guitar and slowly-played harmonica signal the start of “Groucho,” a clear ode to the famous Groucho Marx. The addition of Stephen Martin and Collette O’Connor provide a more rounded ensemble sound. Michael’s comical lyrics about why nobody has written a song about Groucho make the song worthwhile. Collette’s background vocals play off of Michael’s vocals. The end of the song is a bit cluttered with vocals and instruments at different pitches, but it does not last long. “Tea and Aspirin” is a short song under two-minutes in length that describes the feelings of tolerating illness. Michael’s acoustic guitar frolics along in a spritely rhythm that offsets the glum lyrical outlook and Jacqui Carnall’s soaring background vocals. The background ‘oohs’ tend to be used efficiently and appropriately throughout the other songs, but the repetition becomes monotonous after repeated listens. Still, the song is a funny, catchy, and worthy composition for chilling out and staving off a cold or flu. “Gabrielle” opens with a folksy, acoustic guitar rhythm without additional instrumentation or vocals. However, background vocals and violin accompaniment provide a somewhat lighthearted display amidst a rather somber lyrical demonstration about riots, politics, and love. Deborah Linden and Robyn MacKenzie provide vocal and violin accompaniment that is very good. This is the most musical piece with a longer violin outro with guitar. Michael is an introspective singer, songwriter, and guitarist that successfully creates musical pieces with a raw and talented repertoire. The low-key arrangements, rough and quivering vocals, and short song lengths provide an interesting listening experience typical of Appalachian mining songs, Americana folk tunes, and comedic displays without a Southern (or New England) accent. However, the only qualm would be the short album length of only twelve minutes and some repetitious, background vocal lines that can only be considered slight missteps. Review by Matthew Forss Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

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Never Too Late
author: Melissa Nastasi

It’s never too late to start your musical career, and Michael Gutierrez-May is living proof of that.  An up and coming singer-songwriter from South Weymouth, Massachusetts, Michael has been involved in the music scene for the past 30 years as a coffeehouse manager, concert organizer, and now his new found love for writing songs and performing them to the masses. Just releasing his newest effort titled Fifty Miles Away, the EP highlights five songs that were recorded in the dead of winter 2011.  What came out of said winter is a ray of sunshine and warmth.

 

Opening the album is the title track “Fifty Miles Away,” a quirky little love song that is unconventional and certainly catchy. Gutierrez-May, picks his guitar gracefully as his soft voice fills the track. Surprisingly, when the female harmonies come into play, the track gets more interesting and vibrant. This is a stellar way to open the record up and there will be more stunning times to come in the process.

 

“Gabrielle,” will first strike you as a tad bit Mountain Goats in sound, which is a flattering comparison by all means. Michael is not only a great musician but he is also an amazing lyricist. This is something you will discover right out of the gates. The stories that are told on this album, are touching and intriguing.  “Gabrielle,” is filled with blissful harmonies, a slight violin, and enchanting tones. Ironically, a perfect track to listen to in a coffee house.

 

“Tea and Aspirin,” is a charming song about feeling under the weather.  It may seem like a weird topic, but the peculiar track that clocks in under two minutes, will be perfect for those days you are feeling under the weather or down. The tiny melody whisks the listener away on a musical journey that they will not soon forget.

 

Heading into the song “Groucho,” which is undeniably about the late, great comedian, Groucho Marx, will strike you as a bit off beat and out of the normal, but nothing is really ordinary on this album. The lyrics become slightly corny, but they are certainly heartfelt. And really, how many people have written a song about Groucho? Not many.

 

Closing the EP is “The Albino and The Transvestite,” which comes across as more Antifolk (think The Moldy Peaches and early Regina Spektor), then folk, which is definitely not a bad thing. Even if this is an offbeat topic for a track, it somehow works on this album, where anything and everything is fair game. The story is beyond interesting and will require more than one listen, that’s for sure.

 

Michael Gutierrez-May has released an exceptional piece of work that will certainly be making the rounds amongst indie and folk circles alike.  He may only be getting his musical career off the ground, but it is already flying high. Fifty Miles Away is the perfect album for any day of the week. In short, it’s timeless.

 

 

Review by Melissa Nastasi

Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)

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Quirky, sweet wit...Michael Gutierrez-May performed a stellar opening set.

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Michael, your CD is brilliant!

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Warm, sincere and entertaining- sometimes ironic, always interesting, Michael Gutierrez-May will join us Thursday February 5, 2015.

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