Photo: Jayms Ramirez

Mickelson addresses his anger management issues on “Only Grey Matter Boiling in My Head” [BPM Premiere]

Reveling in the success of his 2022 album Known to Be Unknown, San Francisco musician Scott Mickelson isn’t looking to rest on his laurels, opting to focus on writing and recording what’s likely to be a new record later this year. The Grammy-nominated artist blends Americana melodies with punchy post-punk swagger and a lyrical self-deprecation that channels the wit and attitude of Elvis Costello. Having shared the stage with artists like Nick Lowe, Jonathon Richmond, and Steve Forbet, his acerbic melodicism credentials are certainly in order.

And now Mickelson has released a new single called “Only Grey Matter Boiling in My Head”, and it’s likely to find a home on the as-yet-unannounced new album. The track opens with his voice carried aloft by a clattering collection of sounds before mercurial piano lines and a serpentine bassline courtesy of XTC bassist Colin Moulding tumbles us around in its gravity. With hints of Bowie’s eclectic pop eccentricities and The Plimsouls’ rhythmic malleability, the track draws out his innate understanding of genre deconstruction and adaptation. 

‘Only Grey Matter Boiling in My Head’ is a humorous song dealing with anger management issues,” explains Mickelson. “This theme of self depreciation shows up in my lyrics from time to time. I am also extremely honoured that Colin Moulding played bass. We had several chats about the song and he also offered some great production ideas.

This collaboration was fostered by Colin’s son Lee, who introduced his father to Mickelson — and from there, Mickelson sent a rough sketch of the song to Moulding to see if he had any ideas about how best to realize its potential. 

Mickelson continues: “I’d just written ‘Only Grey Matter Boiling in My Head’ and thought it would be a good fit as there are some unusual twists and turns in the song and, to my mind, reminded me of XTC. We recorded the basic tracks, and Lee sent it to Colin. I quickly received his bass track and was pretty blown away by it.

Listen to the track below and check out some of Mickelson’s upcoming UK tour dates.

Tour Dates:

02/14 Marr’s Bar @ 8:00pm – Worcester, United Kingdom
02/15 Flapper @ 8:00pm – Birmingham, United Kingdom
02/16 The Grove Inn @ 8:00pm – Leeds, United Kingdom
02/17 The 13th Note @ 8:00pm – Glasgow, United Kingdom
02/18 Penylan Studios @ 8:00pm – Meifod, United Kingdom
02/22 What’s Cookin’… @ 8:00pm – London, United Kingdom
02/23 Red Arrow Music Club @ 8:00pm – Ramsgate, United Kingdom
02/24 The Chambers @ 8:00pm – Folkestone, United Kingdom
02/25 The Folklore Rooms @ 8:00pm – CREATURE CREATURE UK – Brighton, United Kingdom
02/26 The Victoria @ 7:00pm – Swindon, United Kingdom
06/25 Schtumm Box @ 8:00pm – Box, United Kingdom
06/29 The Acorn @ 8:00pm – Penzance, United Kingdom
07/01 Minety Music Festival 2023 @ 3:00pm – Minety, United Kingdom

Catch up with Mickelson on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.