Mike Grutka
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Mike Grutka

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States | SELF

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Folk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Quick Review- Mike Grutka"

Who doesn’t need to chill ouit a little? So when the music of Mike Grutka came across my desk I was all too happy to give it a listen. The music is described as rock, pop, alternative, folk. Clearly it leans heavily on the folk part, but doesn’t lull you to sleep.

Grutka’s plaintive vocals pulls you into his world and picks you up and holds you and eases your mind. It’s easily something you can listen to regardless of who you have around. The music is just that pleasant. Well crafted tracks. Produced properly, not overly polished. Just right. - Centricity

"February Sessions"

'Awesome! 5 Stars' - Ed's Mixed Bag Podcast

"Paying Homage to the local folks who jam"

Classically trained violinist Mike Grutka hasn't let textbook study drown his muse. In the multi-instrumentalist's second release, "Reach", Grutka acts as a guide for an enjoyable splurge of rythmic tunes, cranked through the dirty and distorted tubular amp like the great garage anthems of the modern age.

Grutka has the rare ability to blend a world of influences-from subtle Rasta beats to hints of riffs from Zimbabwe influenced guitars-and churn it through the music machine in a way that makes it completely his own. All this and a singing voice that sounds uncannily like Michael Stipe. (3 1/2 stars out of 4) - The Saratogian

"CFOR 99.3FM"

"'Song for the Rain' reminds me of R.E.M. I really like it!" - Laure Volquin--Program Director

"WOCO 107.1FM"

"Song for the Rain" is getting 24 spins. I will give it more spins starting next week. I like a lot of other songs off (Reach) and will be adding 4 or 5 of them to my rotation." - Larry Kaszynski--Music Director

"Review of 'Myself Again'"

Mike Grutka’s album Myself Again has a soft rock feel mixed with a slight throw back to the 70’s classic rock era. The lead singer sounds remarkably like Michael Stipe, the lead singer from REM. The album is creative, enjoyable, and all the songs have an ease to them which makes it a relaxed listen.

Review by: Sally Niezer - WIUX.com

"88.5 WXPN"

Good songs, great voice...And compared to most of what I hear, I actually enjoyed listening, which says a lot these days." - Jim McGuinn- Program Director, Y-Rock on XPN

"Ria review"

Mike Grutka - Ria "Transforms from an eerily REM-like ('Top of the World) and (Denver) to a very electronic (Sunshine) with backing instrumentals sounding like the Eurythmics." Bryan Skowera - 88.1 WESU

"Review of 'Ria'"

"...the music is quite nice. It is fairly simple, but who said music needs to be complex to enjoy it, right? "Ria" harks back to the 90's rock music era with some major pop influence. There are some heavy synths and electronic keys. But it works!! It seems to make good driving music. Every track has forward motion and does not seem too slow.

Sounds like: R.E.M., Talking Heads, The Police, U2, Smashing Pumpkins (maybe just the voice)

Recommended tracks: Top of the World ****, Sunshine ****, The Sea ****, Actress ***

Issac Gaeler 1/20/2010 - KAMP -University of Arizona

"Mike Grutka finds his groove on 'Ria'"

4/5 Stars

The twelve songs on this album, all Grutka originals, range from love songs to rock ballads about ambition to songs that chronicle self-discovery. The songs are radio friendly.

“Goodbye” (is) a simple song that has a heart-tugging melody, superbly delivered by Grutka’s vocal style. The production is restrained, though there is a lot going on for the ear to hear. It is mainly the simplicity of the vocals and the guitar that make the song stand out. Very nicely done. “Actress” is another gem on this album. It’s upbeat, yet with an inner melancholy woven into the lyrics. “Everything” also is another peppy tune with darker undertones. “Same Thing” has a Beatlesque feel while it points to a sort of spinning, non-movement of a life.

Ria starts slow but hits its stride in the middle. …the album works, mostly because it creates a mood that is infectious. It will be interesting to see what Mike Grutka does with his next album, which is waiting in the wings for release.
- Janie Franz

"Dan MacIntosh Review of 'Ria'"

Mike Grutka
Review by: Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Singer/songwriter Mike Grutka is hell bent on never sticking to any one musical style. He hops – chameleon-like – from genre to genre, like an impatient driver flipping around the radio dial while stuck in morning traffic.

The best Grutka is one that digs old R.E.M. recordings, and even older Byrds discs. “Denver (Spinning Around)” is one such winning guitar jangle fest that brings to mind those days back when Michael Stipe mumbled his lyrics and nobody cared. The song’s lyric talks about seeking meaning in travel. While name-dropping big city names all over the States, Grutka mentions at one point: “Walking out will set you free/When I finally left the path they’d shown me.” This last line, in particular, suggests that true happiness is only discovered when one sets out to make his or her own path. “Come With Me” comes off a little like a nice Byrds-y ballad. Its lyric also suggests there is power in motion. “Take me by the hand, come away,” Grutka pleads. Grutka uses a similar lyrical device during “The Sea” where he suggests, “Take my hand and life is sweet”.

“Everything” appears to have stolen the melody for the Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin”. But this song, which tries to convince a girl that everything in her life is leading her to him, has a bit of a musical hall shuffle going for it, with sweet, almost barbershop, harmonies. In other words, outside of the melody, this ain’t no Pet Shop Boy track.

This album’s title shows up in its last song, called “Lifetime (Ria)”, which is the quietist track on the record. Like a lot of the other songs on this CD, its lyric is deeply philosophical. It’s hard to tell if Grutka is praising God, a girl, or some other unnamed or vaguely described benefactor. He sings: “The gifts you bring tonight/Make me whole again/Whispers in the wind/My own”. It’s the sort of song that closes proceedings by reassuring listeners that Grutka has found some sort of personal peace. It also suggests that this is not a peace discovered by everyone. “See all the people in the night/Who say they’d like to know it.”

Grutka... surrounds himself with complimentary production that allows his voice to nicely fit in, rather treat it like a vocal showcase. Ria is a good pop album, for lack of a better term. There are cases where Grutka inputs rock elements, such as a Neil Young-ish electric guitar solo at one point. But these elements are always in service of the songs, and never cases for Grutka to get all crazy and rock out. It’s readily apparent that Grutka enjoys experimenting. Far too often, artists get in the studio with rigid visions, and output equally rigid recordings. However, if Grutka wants any advice on the one primary style to stick with, the jaunty pop of “Denver (Spinning Around)” is so enjoyable, another 11 songs nearly like it wouldn’t at all be a bad thing. It’s the sort of song that sounds like a hit. It’s also the kind of song you’d likely turn up loud if you heard it on the radio. And because it’s lyric is primarily about travel, it’s almost the perfect road song.

Mike Grutka has a lot of fine music in him. One has to wonder what else he has up his sleeve. Ria may get a little too adventurous for its own good at times, but since Mike Grutka is such a skilled songwriter, he’s able to hold it altogether. This is one musical career to keep an eye on.

- Dan MacIntosh

""It Factor""

"It" Factor
Ria by Mike Grutka?Review by: Zack Daggy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

There are few artists out there anymore that transcend. The type of artists that used to take you away from the mundane of the everyday, and deliver you into spaces of passion, emotion and soul. With the harmonies of their voice and the magic behind their music they wouldn’t just create songs; they created worlds. Mike Grutka has created such a world, and it’s called Ria.

Denver (Spinning Around) – Deserves to be the one that makes Mike Grutka a household name. It’s not a song of breakout moments, but it doesn’t need them. With catchy hooks that sink in deep and a rhythm similar to R.E.M.’s hit “Shiny Happy People,” this song has single written all over it.

The Sea – In essence this track feels like a progression of “Come With Me.” The guitar is simply amazing. It's orchestral by nature but has a pop/rock flair. It should be noted that throughout this album the instrumentals consistently deliver rich soundscapes that effortlessly establish the mood of each song, though with this song in particular the music is simply mind-blowing. It reaches far beyond the ear and touches the soul.

Actress – With sweet music box melodies, you can't help but smile while listening to this track. Mike Grutka is a master of setting mood, especially uplifting ones. This track just proves that. It’s a song of innocence, charm and nostalgia.

Lifetime (Ria) – There is definitely an early 90’s vibe to this track. Again, it's very much in the vein of The Verve. It's a simple moody song that unlike "Sleep Of Dreams" has an "it factor." It's that vibe that transcends a song from being just another track and makes it an experiences. This track and many others off of Ria transcend.

- Zack Daggy -- The Mothpod

"Mike Grutka's 'Ria'"

Saratoga Springs singer-songwriter Mike Grutka describes his sound as “acoustic-based funky modern roots rock ‘n roll,” which sure as hell covers a lot of bases, but does manage to narrow down the scope of things at least a bit.
Grutka’s got some serious talent – Yes, this is a one-man project – he wrote the tunes, played and sang everything, recorded the album, produced it and snapped the photos for the album cover artwork as well.
It’s an admirable ambition to present your unique artistic vision – whether it’s music, film, canvas, whatever – without diluting it with creative compromise by bringing collaborators into the picture. And Grutka comes pretty damn close to pulling it off with this disc.
“Denver (Spinning Around),” is my fave track on the album. It’s a great song. Grutka sings in a keening monotone that immediately recalls Michael Stipe and REM. The song is chockfull of ear-grabbing guitar riffs, swelling keyboards and an appropriately propulsive bassline. It’s got everything
Elsewhere on the album, Grutka’s got the right stuff. There’s a baroque (synth) string arrangement on “Sunshine” that pops right off the disc. I love the over-lapping vocal lines that he employs throughout the album. He coaxes out a great variety of sounds on the album, too – from the Crowded House-like bounce ‘n’ twinkle of “Actress” to the rubbery bass thump of “Standing Beside Me” to the crystalline keyboard tinkle of “Come With Me.”
Best of all, he’s got the songs. Smart tunes with the requisite Beatles-pop roots, to be sure, but he stretches out beyond the usual pop protocol – especially on the majestic “Goodbye” – without abandoning accessibility.
Ultimately, “Ria” is admirable. The songs, the arrangements and the vision are all there. I can’t wait to hear what he does next. - Greg Haymes

"February Blooms"

Saratoga Springs singer-songwriter Mike Grutka has been a fixture on the Capital Region music scene for some years now, but he’s been keeping a low profile on the live calendar since releasing his fourth album, Ria, last October. That all changes this Friday when Grutka...rolls out another new disc. February Sessions, written and recorded for this year’s RPM challenge, which finds the one-man band in a loose, live mode (Out of Time-era R.E.M. and the Gin Blossoms come to mind) in comparison to Ria’s electronica textures. - John Brodeur: Metroland

"Mike Grutka's 'February Sessions'"

On his previous album, “Ria” (which was officially released just a couple of months ago), Saratoga Springs singer-songwriter Mike Grutka did it all himself – singing, songwriting, playing all the instruments, producing, etc. – and he very nearly pulled it off.

This time around, he did the same thing, except that he brought in drummer Will Railton on two-thirds of the tunes. It was a smart move that makes all the difference on this batch of 11 impressive original songs. No question about it, this is Grutka’s best work yet.

Titled “February Sessions,” the album was written and recorded during February, 2010, as part of the annual RPM Challenge in which bands and musicians attempt to create an album’s worth of music from scratch during the shortest month of the year.

The lone exception to the RPM Challenge restrictions is the album’s closing track, “Lullabye,” which was recorded live at WEXT-FM. Sonically, it’s a different animal, but it neatly wraps up the album on a softer, sweeter note.

Michael Stipe and R.E.M. remain Grutka’s most obvious influences – especially on the opening, shimmering swirl of “Circle” – but he doesn’t wear them on his sleeve as much as he did with “Ria.”

The bouncy “La La Song” melds power pop with a ’70s country-rock feel. “She Said” is a nostalgic but optimistic ballad about loss, fueled by a gentle hip-hop shuffle beat. Chugging rhythms, close vocal harmonies and some deep twang guitar riffs keep “This Is” rolling down the track.

Not as polished as “Ria,” “February Sessions” is looser. It has a much stronger live vibe, which of course is difficult to grab onto when you’re working in a studio all by yourself. But Grutka nails it nicely here. - Greg Haymes: nippertown.com

"WEXT on 'Ria'"

"Mike's new album, "Ria" is striking out in a new and bold direction." - www.exit977.org

"Review of 'Reach'"

...the passionate Mike Grutka recalls...the brightest songwriting superstars of the 70s." - Tim Estrada-Artrocker Magazine


February Sessions 2010
Myself Again--2006
Stay Awhile-2002



Acoustic based funky modern roots rock-n-roll

Live the life you’re meant to live.

That’s the overarching sentiment of Mike Grutka’s fifth album, February Sessions. “After my mom died [in 2004], the last two records have been more hopeful,” says Grutka. “She was really young when she died. And there’s something in me that’s like, ‘You’ve got to do this now. No one else is going to do it for you.’

That bit of self-realization has Grutka set to release his second album in less than a year. February Sessions comes quickly on the heels of last October’s Ria, and finds the Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based performer broadcasting an inspirational message over a sound he calls “acoustic based funky modern roots rock-n-roll.” Well-established in his home region and having already scored airplay at more than 400 radio stations across the U.S. and Canada, Mike Grutka is sure to reach his widest audience yet with February Sessions.

Made as part of the RPM Challenge (an online event that asks artists to compose and record a full album during the shortest month of the year), February Sessions serves as a kind of complement to its predecessor in that the overall vibe is looser, more live than the painstakingly produced Ria—something not easily accomplished by one guy in a home studio. Figuring he would simply finish some of the many Ria leftovers, Grutka ended up writing nine entirely new songs for February Sessions, and completing two others. If a performance was good Grutka stuck with it, rather than obsess over every note; the few vocal parts he attempted to re-record were scratched in favor of original takes.

At the album’s emotional center are “She Said” and “Find Your Home,” two songs that find Grutka dealing with the loss of his mother in directly personal terms. This reflective tone serves as counterpoint to the rest of the disc: The hopeful energy that manifested itself in Ria’s generally upbeat tones thoroughly pervades February Sessions. From the Beach Boys harmonies of “La La Song” to the huge chorus hook of “How the Story Ends,” much of February Sessions maintains an easygoing, acoustic-flavored feel.

Ria (“air,” backwards) is what Grutka proudly calls his “big pop record.” With three albums already to his name, he’d already proven himself a talented writer and performer—this was his chance to introduce some new sounds into the mix and concentrate on shorter, more focused songs . (“I got way too in my own head about it,” he says of the three-years-in-the-making album. “It took forever to finish.”) Narrowed down from roughly 80, the 12 songs that made the cut find playful blasts of electronica swirling together with Grutka’s melodious, acoustic-based pop-rock. But Ria is undeniably a showcase for his voice: Many of the album’s songs are constructed around expansive, layered vocal arrangements, particularly the lush “Standing Beside Me,” the British Invasion head-bopper “Everything,” and the single “Denver (Spinning Around).” The latter’s chiming electric guitars and breezy flow recall vintage R.E.M., as does Grutka’s disarming tenor, oftentimes a dead ringer for Michael Stipe.

Grutka is currently planning a solo tour to support his two new releases, but intends to keep up the quickened recording pace—“I’ve decided to release albums on the Beatles’ schedule,” he half-jokes—because life, as we all know, is fragile. “People can never steal you from you.” As he sings in the closing lines of February Sessions highlight “Escape”: “It’s your heart/ It’s your life/ It’s your soul/ Sing it out now!”

Mike Grutka will sing his life for you if you care to listen. And when you hear his music, you’ll sing too.