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Musikanto is the latest alt-country, folk, Americana singer-songwriter to emerge from Chicago in recent years, joining the likes of Joe Pug, Tom Schraeder and His Ego and the now defunct Cracklin Moth. I had to name drop since they’ve all been through the studio to record live sessions. Musikanto was in the studio last week and his session is being mixed by Shirk as we speak. The debut album Ghost Pain is an addictive twangy rock affair in the same vein as bands like The Old 97’s and Ryan Adams. The album is a solid effort from beginning to end and it’s accessibility will satisfy both the alt-country crowd and the more casual pop-rock aficionados looking for something catchy. He’s releasing it independently, but don’t let that fool you. No corners were cut and this guy can put pen to paper and write great songs that are backed by more than just an acoustic guitar. You’ll hear horns, piano and healthy backing vocals to jazz up his sound. Formely performing around Chicago with the band Sleeper Car, Musikanto has set out to make a name for himself. Ghost Pain will do just that. Check back next week to hear the Musikanto live session....... Hearya 1/2/09 - Hear Ya

"Country Chart"

Musikanto's debut album 'Ghost Pain" is an alt-country and Americana music lover's dream with lush melodies, thought provoking lyrics and breezy, uplifting vocals. Musikanto set out on a solo career after growing up on and Chicago's northside and most recently performed with the Windy City's Sleeper Car. But with "Ghost Pain" it is clearly obvious that Musikanto was born to be a solo act. Musikanto's father enjoyed hard-to-find roots rock and folk music, and this influence shows. But Musikanto's musical style is an interesting amalgamation of the music his father loved combined with elements of soulful British rock, 90s pop/rock and Ryan Adams-style alt-country. This is a powerful and winning combination. The album begins with the melodic "Misty Morning." For someone who has never heard Musikanto, the first song will be a revelation. The artist's name "Musikanto" might indicate the music is soul or R&B. Likewise, the cover suggests the music might be experimental rock - not the best album the Drive-By Truckers never made. That's why a publicity photo of a laid-back Musikanto with his shirt open strumming a cosmetically imperfect guitar is probably a better representation of the man and his music. The second song on "Ghost Pain" is "I Ain't Your Rock" which deserves to be major radio hit. This track illustrates the best elements of Musikanto. You see, Musikanto's music will be eaten up like hot dogs at a Cubs game by the masses, but they lyrics and musicianship can be also be enjoyed, appreciated and disseminated by individuals who are more intense music aficionados. The final song "I Know Something's Going On" is a beautiful ballad. Musikanto wrote every song on "Ghost Pain," and it's clear that this musician knows how to construct a ballad that touches the heartstrings of both men and women - a rare talent. "Atomic Walls" also showcases Musikanto's songwriting skill. But the best track on the album is the haunting "To See You One More Time." The vocal performance is understated and flawless. Plus, the music is stripped bare in a way that highlights the lyrics to maximum effect. One of the best songs on "Ghost Pain" is the upbeat "Howl." Musikanto can rock a concert hall, and this track proves it. "Take It On Will," "Flowers And Stinging Bees," and "I Don't Even Know About It" all have anthem-like qualities and should also be fan favorites. "I'll Hold You Back" is one of Musikanto's most uniquely wonderful songs, and it succeeds mightily. Musikanto's "Ghost Pain" is a towering achievement that is not easily compartmentalized into one or two genres. In these days of overly packaged pop princesses using harmonizers and studio wizardry, it is downright refreshing to bear witness to the debut album of an artist who strips his soul bare and presents it on a platter in such a melodic and compelling way. 1/09

- Country

""Local Folkie You Don't want to miss""

"Local Folkie You Won't Want To Miss" As a musician born, raised and residing in Chicago, Mike Musikanto delivers sound that retains the essence of a Windy City winter - bleak, bitter and so harsh it stings. You might remember this folk-Americana singer / songwriter from the former quintet Sleeper Car. But this past year he’s been making a name for himself, performing in his self-named band, Musikanto, and promoting his debut album, Ghost Pain. Along with focusing on playing specifically for his Chicago audience, he’s been hard at work coming up with fresh material and, as he says, “constantly writing and always trying to challenge myself with new sounds and styles.” You can catch some of his new songs as well as favorites from his album this Friday when he performs at the Beat Kitchen’s Holiday Party. Ghost Pain never quite got the attention it deserved, maybe because Musikanto released the record independently. But don’t let the lack of a label fool you - this album is no basement botch-up. Musikanto proves he can write personal yet relatable lyrics that’ll rip your heart strings right out. He backs up his powerful, passionate vocals with a jangly acoustic guitar and light piano and horns. The album starts out with “Misty Morning” and “I Ain’t Your Rock,” twangy, high-energy tracks that lean more toward the country side of Americana. But the album eases into a calmer, folkier rhythm with beautiful ballads like “To See You One More Time.” It closes with “Atomic Walls” and “I Know Something’s Going On,” two brooding, romantic tracks that will leave you in a fulfilling sort of melancholy. Aside from Ghost Pain, a large part of his set will be new, more piano-focused material. Musikanto says he’s been playing more piano this year, giving his music a different sensibility. He says, “Playing on a different instrument has helped bring me to another place emotionally and has helped me grow as a songwriter.” With special mentions by both the Red Eye and Metromix, this show is sure to give his musical career a little boost. He’ll be releasing a few new singles this winter and plans on another full-length album in June 2010. With raw talent and serious dedication, it’s pretty clear Musikanto’s on his way to becoming a big name in folk. But when he does, Chicago can rest assured that he’s one artist who won’t forget his local roots....The Chicagoist

- The Chicagoist


"Musikanto will roll in from President-elect Barack Obama's old stomping ground Chicago. Musikanto has a twangy, country-influenced rock style that will be stuck in your head for days" Vox Magazine (vol. 10 issue 44) - Vox Magazine

"The Onion"

[ February 9, 2007 ]
“Depending on which song Sleeper Car starts its set with, it may appear to be a country act, a folk group, or a band of blues revivalists. Eventually, the Chicago group will sound like all and none of those things, exhibiting the range and skill of a traditional-leaning jam band compacted into concise, fluid songs that don’t rely on clichés.”
- Madison City Editor of The Onion, Scott Gordon - The Onion

"WGN Television"

"eclectic and original; an enjoyable musical journey" Jeff Hoover WGN Producer - WGN

"Illinois Entertainer ("Shy Me" review"

Illinois Entertainer - Best Of Around Hear 2006
"Pick any Sleeper Car track and you will be rewarded with a richly textured sonic tapestry of shimmering melodies bursting with intricately arranged instrumentation. Delicate brushes of violin, tingling pedal steel, jangly acoustic guitar, and gorgeous, yearning vocal harmonies blend into a genuinely intoxicating sound. If I could only listen to one song this month, the title track from Shy Me would be it."

- Illinois Entertainer

"Cleveland Scene"

Cleveland Scene
"Exposed Roots" By Michael Gallucci

Chicago’s Sleeper Car bends alt-country expectations on its second album, Love & Anxiety. The fiddles and pedal steel add twang, but the band’s real forte is its commitment to a folk-rock tradition that stretches all the way back to the ’60s. All five guys, plant roots in a songbook that nods to Dylan, the Byrds, and, by extension, Woody Guthrie. That’s not to say they sound anything at all like any of them, but Sleeper Car’s Americana aesthetic paints a timeless portrait of wide-open spaces and endless highways. - Cleveland Scene

"Wonka Vision"

Wonka Vision

Chicago’s Sleeper Car focuses on some of the Old West-style, with their horseshoe fonts and yellowed grainy photos. This isn’t exactly gun-slinging music, but more salt of the earth. Sleeper Car features guitar picks of The Byrds with gutsy rock similar to Memphis’ Lucero. Vocalist Michael Musikanto's passionate whines highlight this folk-Americana hybrid, especially on “Lay It Down.” The song profiles a heavy violin melody with a rambunctious beat and the verses are narrative in nature... [By: Josh Spilker] - Wonka Vision



"Lay It Down" is the first track on Sleeper Car's "Love & Anxiety," and the use of strings during this track imbues the track with a folksy sound not far removed with that put out by a Banhart. However, Sleeper Car takes a different tack during "I Won't Break Down". During this track, the band unites the aforementioned folk style with an early country / bluegrass hybrd that, when all parts are taken together, result in a very current and contemporary sound. The second track on the disc is "I Won't Break Down" and it gives the spotlight to the instrumentation. Where it was a strong but not central part of "Lay It Down", the renewed focus on the instrumentation during "I Won't Break Down" shows that all parts of Sleeper Car are equally strong. The intense focus that this twangy, looking-back band is why they will be named alongside acts like Lucero and the Avett Brothers in the months to come. The six tracks on this EP constitute slightly over twenty minutes of music, ensuring that listeners will be clamoring for more just as soon as "Follow" closes up shop. The linkage of a softly-sang set of vocals with the strings and traditional arrangements of Sleeper Car are one of the distinguishing factors for the band. I know that I will be looking forward to hearing more of them in the months to come. - Neufutur

"Metro Spirit"

Metro Spirit

AUGUSTA, GA. - The band Sleeper Car reminds me of the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band. This culmination of steel guitar and fiddle with acoustic style and impressive lyrics on "Love and Anxiety" is almost like folk music — but with more of a rock 'n' roll sound. You can imagine hearing this band on the contemporary soft rock channels on your radio and playing on the late night shows or in rotation on VH1 and MTV.

The song "I Won't Break Down" has a very folk rock acoustic sound with good 12-string playing at the beginning of this song. The guitar has a muddy tone that fits the tune perfectly. Though the music here seems to lean towards folk rock, you can still hear elements of classic rock bands in these songs. In additon, the lyrics in each piece of music are clear and fit the track being played.

"Hold Me Now" starts out acoustically and seems to have a snare drum played with brushes and violin accompaniment along with steel guitar in the background. The piano on this track reminds me of a 10CC song. The melody of the tune creates a new contemporary folksy sound that is radio-friendly.

"Caliper Eyes" has a really laid back sound with the steel guitar and organ setting the mood. A violin solo toward the middle adds a nice touch to round it off. The more I listen to this particular song, the more it develops into possibly my favorite track on "Love and Anxiety." It's very radio-friendly and well structured with compelling lyrics.

- Metro Spirit

"Anti Music"

Sleeper Car is a five-piece band steeped in roots music. Michael Musikantow's vocals are
somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. The vocals combine well with the pedal steel and fiddle
to give each song a rich texture of sound. Some great harmony vocals appear on "Anti-
Climactic Girl" and "Caliber Eyes."
At twenty-two minutes, this six-song EP gives a great taste of the band. Sure, I wish it were
longer, but the band goes all out, bringing in five guests (vocalists and musicians) to help out on
this well-crafted album. I don't know what else to say about this other than that I am really
looking forward to a full-length release from this band. - Anti Music

"Skope Magazine"

Skope Magazine
Sleeper Car breathes old-world classicism into the neo-folk revival sound with Love and Anxiety.
Romantic violin touches and a glistening pedal steel add to an already gorgeous musical
environment. They incorporate elements of Americana, rock, and country while maintaining a
modernity that shies from any of those classifications.
These are the kind of honest performers who don’t try too hard. They resist the urge to reach
beyond their range. There’s a Dylan-like restraint to Mike Musikantow’s voice that accentuates
the conflict between prudence and uncertainty that also appears to be a popular songwriting
topic for the front man.
Sleeper Car is cut from a musical cloth awash with a truly unusual quality we can only vaguely
recognize as sincerity. It’s beautiful.
Review can be found at - Skope Magazine


"Ghost Pain" Released 01/01/09

"I aint your rock" featured on xrt Chicago, several College Radio stations. Spot on Grey's Anatomy

"To See You One More Time" Featured on xrt Chicago, several college radio stations



Musikanto is the spinoff of the series, Sleeper Car. After touring with the Chicago quintet for 3 + years, Musikanto has established himself as a prolific singer/songwriter. Born Mike Musikanto on Chicago's Northside in 1983 (but performing under only his last name), he grew up listening to his fathers obscure folk and roots rock records like Fraser and Debolt and Jerry Hahn. With a propensity towards heartbreaking ballads and melodic melodrama, Musikanto's songs have the bite of a Chicago winter. Celebrating elements of orchestral music, country and jazz, Musikanto manages to maintain the continuity of the American Folk tradition with undoubted ease. Musikanto tends to offer a different perspective through well crafted arrangements and compositions on “Ghost Pain”. With the lyrical weight of artists like Van Morrison and Elliott Smith, Musikanto's narratives rattle the core of the human spirit.