As all music geeks know, keeping up with the sheer amount of music
released these days, even if you try to restrict it to your tastes
(and who wants to do that and miss out on some new treat ?), is a
losing proposition. I've toyed with the idea of getting a 24-hour
fix by piping in music via headphones while I'm asleep - probably
not a good idea to try black metal or grimecore - but, I digress.
This is just a roundabout way of saying that I can't believe I missed
out on The Milk And Honey Band - who've been making music since
1994 - until now.
The band revolves around Robert White, a highly talented musician
who was previously best known for playing guitar and keyboards in
Levitation (who, in turn, were best known for being the band
that ace guitarist Terry Bickers joined after leaving The
House of Love). White started the MAHB as a solo project to let
off some steam from the tumultuous life of being a Levitation member,
and made it a full band after Levitation folded, with the addition
of multi-instrumentalists Richard Yale and Michael Tubb.
This recording comes to you on XTC honcho Andy Partridge's
label, which the band has called home since 2004. Don't expect any
Levitation-style out-there guitar psychedelia here; the MAHB trade
in a pastoral kind of folk / psych / pop that should be right up the
street of folks who dig Shack, The Clientele or maybe
Engineers. Acoustic guitars strum fast and slow while bass
and warm keyboards murmur underneath, perked up by some electric guitar
and drums for the faster stuff. There are beautiful little instrumental
details scattered throughout, like the harp that introduces "Absolutely
Wrong" or the syrupy pedal steel on "No World At All"
and "Cut the Line"
The PR sticker on the CD says that the vocals sound like Wire's
Colin Newman, and I've read reviews that liken White's vocals
to Michael Stipe's, but I can't hear that at all - to me, White
sounds a lot more like Shack's Mick Head, albeit with the Scouse
accent replaced by a gentle South-East England drawl. It's perfect
for the mood of these songs, which draw you in with expert ebb and
flow until the album concludes with the fantastic "Flowers",
one of the very best songs I've heard in quite a while.
Extra points for the CD sleeve' spot-on facsimile of an old Penguin
paperback, with the Ape logo cheekily added where the penguin used
This is perfectly mellow, autumnal music for those fall days when
the sun casts a golden glow and the scent of fallen apples hangs heavy
in the cool air.
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