MIKE DROHO – The Alleged Euphoric State of Self-Actualization
No one can be happier to see 2006 come to an end than Mike Droho(real name Mike Drohomyreky). The former member of the immensely popular Profits endured a bitter dissolution of that group. He had his spirits lifted as he released his first solo CD after some travail, only to have his truck stolen from that friendly town called Milwaukee along with his favorite guitar, most of his gear, his computer with all of his songs contained therein, his CD collection, best clothes, etc. Sounds like he was living out of his vehicle, which is only partially true because the man tours incessantly and is one of the hardest-working musicians around.
As a band, the Profits weren’t just a chick magnet, they were a chick superconductor, filling huge spaces like the Orpheum Theater with the most elusive demographic of all: the female college student, specifically sorority girls. They made a couple of pretty good pop albums, especially their second album, which was buoyed by Droho’s touching ode to his mother, “Carry the Weight.”
Perhaps Droho’s album is aptly titled, then. Self-actualization refers to the instinctive need of humans to make the most of their unique abilities and to strive to be the best they can be, an aim that may not be attainable as an end in itself. The path to euphoria is littered with setbacks, heartbreak and pain.
Droho is now a solo artist in the absolute sense, performing with a laptop that provides the rhythm tracks. He recorded this album in much the same way, playing nearly all of the other instruments and providing all the vocals. Producer Scott Lamps did the bass and drum sequencing, added some guitar and also a lap-steel part on “Chandelier.” The Alleged Euphoric State… is a strong effort, hinting at what a truly great band the Profits may have become had they not become obsessed with the saccharine as songs like “Sex at Six” implied. No, this album is a complex pop gem, replete with the aforementioned pain and heartbreak with some betrayal and doubt added for good measure. Droho reveals himself here as the pop artiste behind the Profits’ songs as well as an accomplished act in his own right.
Droho’s always been a good guitarist and now he gets to emphasize this fact a bit more. He also gets to layer the instruments and he does this to great effect on the opener, “With You.” He lays down a keen and funky riff on “Resolutions” and “My Own Fool.” But nowhere are his skills more apparent than on the gorgeous finger-picked “A Call to Arms,” which sounds as if it were played into a microcassette recorder.
He’s also got a remarkable sense of lyrical phrasing and efficiency. The opening strains of the leadoff track “With You” are a good indication: “ Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven / The clock is moving but I’m hopelessly reverting back to you / There’s absolutely nothing I can do.”
Throughout the disc he dabbles in several styles. He flirts with soul on “Groove Song,” leans dangerously close to country on “Chandelier” and raps on “Resolutions.” “A Shame” is the pop gem on the album, featuring a beautifully melancholy melody, twelve-string guitar and mandolin. “Never Enough” is a powerful piano ballad.
Any artist who labors at his craft and tours as diligently as Droho does has to have self-belief. It takes more courage than people realize to display yourself in front of others, manifesting personal experiences in the public arena and exposing yourself to scrutiny. The trouble with artists is that there is a constant tug-of-war between courage and self-doubt, a seemingly irresolvable dilemma. Mike Droho may never reach self-actualization, but good music elicits hope, and that’s as much as any person can give in this world.