Review: Michael J Roy – The Bright Side

Four minutes and fourteen seconds of “The End” opens The Bright Side CD from Fox Pass guitarist Michael J. Roy…no, no, no…not the Doors near twelve minute MFSB epic – referring to a Charles Manson delivery of the Philly Sound’s mother/father/sister/brother routine, though in another dimension. Michael punctuates his pop with guitar bursts, leaving Oedipus out of the equation.

Track 2, “Same Old Thing,” brings the jangle back, but dips it into Gene Parsons territory, something Tom Petty made a career out of. Interesting in that Roy’s partner-in-Fox-Pass, Jon Macey, has gone full-out with the Hummingbird Syndicate embracing Sonny Bono/Jack Nitzsche “Needles and Pins” guitar sound. “Impossible Ways,” track 3, could be a modern-day Searchers in fact, with “Mr. Berserk” taking a similar sound down into the dark side. That’s the interesting force at play here, Mr. Roy’s optimism in Fox Pass taking a turn into Lou Reed downer territory with vocal work reflecting the titles, “The End,” “Mr. Berserk,” interestingly finding Reed’s Blue Mask emotions than the “bright side” of life, but an album does give one the opportunity to stretch out.

With over forty-seven minutes of music, we’ll give Mike that latitude. “World Run Wild” shows the Boston area veteran artist his Billy Squier side, the emphasis on hard rock feels like a sequel to “The Stroke” from former Sidewinder Squier’s 1981 Don’t Say No album. Now this critic is referencing lots of musical textures from other artists, but that’s just for the reader to get an idea. Mike Roy is an original and he draws from a bountiful palette to offer something distinctly different from the work that he’s known for, the music of New England area legend Fox Pass. “Point of No Return” at four and a half minutes is Hugo Montenegro meets the Doors and a strong track. “Thin Air” pierces the speakers after the mellow verse while

“Barely There” takes George Harrison’s amazing descending line from Cream’s “Badge” – and a good chunk of side 2 of the Beatles Abbey Road – with a folk/poet’s reading over a most Beatle-esque spirit. While most of the tunes are in the four-minute range, track 10, “A Reason To Live” is the shortest at 2:37, poppy and anthemic, Joan Jett or the late Ben Orr could both have a ball with it.

Once upon a time New Rose Records’ Fan Club imprint put out Sons of the Dolls, an intriguing look at songs from members of the New York Dolls. If one takes the accumulated tracks of the Fox Pass family tree – 12 songs here, the Stompers, the Jon Macey/Steve Gilligan project, Gilligan’s own solo cd’s, Hummingbird Syndicate and more, you are talking over a hundred compositions from a talented set of musicians. A digital boxed set of the future, perhaps. The Bright Side presents more than just a follow-up to the previous Electricity disc, it is also the musical other side of a musician away from the focus of a working band.

Find The Bright Side on
CD Baby
Reverb Nation
Release Date: August 6, 2017
Label: Blue Room Records

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.