Mike Krol

In baseball, a strike is a missed opportunity.

Three of them and you're out.

In bowling's hallowed alleys, a strike is the minor miracle of all ten pins falling at once. Back-to-back strikes make a double. Do it a third time and you've got yourself a turkey.

History will decide which sports metaphor to apply to Mike Krol's first two records, I Hate Jazz (2011) and Trust Fund (2013). But as needle meets groove on Turkey—Krol's first record for Merge—there is no ambiguity. A shiny black ball tumbles past the suburban strip malls of a polyestered Wisconsin and veers precariously close to an East Coast gutter before gathering momentum in a physics-defying sprint for the Pacific. California is where the headpin falls—the right velocity, the perfect geometry, the bowler's intent beautifully realized in a noisy moment of awesome destruction.

Mike Krol got his bike stolen and his heart broken. He bailed on graphic-design-as-career. He kept playing drums and guitars, and he kept writing songs about the stuff he hated and the stuff he loved. Leaving Milwaukee for Los Angeles, he took a few years' worth of wrong turns. But when he showed up at a studio in Sacramento in March 2014, he had his affairs in order. Plug the vocal mic into a guitar amp. Plug the guitar into an overheating box of vacuum tubes. Put the computer in the closet. Roll the tape.

Some people thought Mike Krol couldn't do it. Mike Krol was not among them. From the mission manifesto of "Suburban Wasteland" to the alienation and vitriol of "Left Out (ATTN: SoCal Garage Rockers)," Turkey questions the world but does not question itself. It knows what it's after: explanations from a thoughtless thief, a soulless scene, and a dead dog. A certain degree of revenge. The house but not the kids. You. It is sweet melodies sneered, Mountain Dew guitars, VU needles buried in the red. It is a record 30 years in the making, made in four days.

Those who know Mike Krol know that this record was his goal. He risked a great deal for a turkey.

Goal accomplished, the question becomes: what do you call a fourth strike?