Mike Johnson

Although Mike Johnson’s CV includes time with Dinosaur Jr., you’d never guess his background after listening to the opening track, the haunting yet lovely “Arise.” Surrounding his lovely, deep baritone voice is a capable band, featuring members of Duster and Built to Spill, which intuits the inherent vibe of his music. Johnson’s mates, particularly bassist Jim Roth and drummer Jason Albertini, show considerable patience and depth, as evidenced on such tracks as “Names” and “Hidden Away.” This, Johnson’s latest, stacks up well against Lambchop’s or even early Tindersticks’ works; it exudes a warmth unlike any of his earlier recordings. Fans of Swans’ Michael Gira or even the depressing Calla will enjoy Johnson’s drone. Like digging into his personal belongings, What Would You Do is as much a telling biography as it is a lasting listening experience. Introspection for misguided youth? You bet.