I have a dream. Not an amazing, awe-inspiring philanthropical
dream like the good Doctor King had
Mine is simpler, less
all encompassing. I dream that someday Tom Petty will write
songs that are still just as good, but much, much darker. That
someday Tom Petty will sing without that whiny, nasally voice.
That someday I can stand to listen to more than two Tom Petty
songs at once. Well, as silly as all this may seem, there is no
need to have this dream anymore. Milton Mapes is here with
their second release, Westernaire, and it fulfills these
criteria to a tee, and goes so far beyond where the likes of Tom
Petty ever dreamed of going. Did Tom Petty ever think of involving
the high lonesome sound of real country into his music? I think
Greg Vanderpool and Roberto Sanchez formed Milton
Mapes (named after Vanderpool's grandfather) back in 1999, and
recorded an amazing debut album, 2001's The State Line.
What The State Line had going for it was solid songs and
Nashville style clean production. It was an amazing listen, and
kept me waiting for more. Finally I was rewarded when Westernaire
arrived in my mailbox (God bless the good people who sent it to
me). These songs are full of depth and feeling like country songs
of old, yet are full of the sonic characteristics found in the
very best of modern alt-country music. Westernaire would
sit very nicely on the shelf next to any Son Volt, Richard
Buckner, or Wilco record.
The album kicks off with "Great Unknown", a dark and
dirgy track, filled with hard, droning acoustic guitars and pounding,
Indian rhythm tom-toms. The vast empty landscapes of Texas and
the southwest United States have obviously played a large part
in the imagery that Vanderpool incorporates into his music, and
in the overall mood he evokes. There are wailing Dylan-esque
harmonicas (Maybe You're Not
) that sit neatly beside songs
that have the sonic depth of some of Neil Young's best
work (Some To Reap). "A Thousand Songs About California"
is proof that Milton Mapes don't just make great music, but also
write intelligent, introspective lyrics. "I may not make
it past Arizona/ That may be far enough to find what I need/ I've
heard a thousand songs about California/ They say that's where
anyone can realize their dreams
" I think that if Ernest
Hemingway had been a musician, this would have been the kind
of sings he would have written; complex, yet intrinsically easy
for almost everyone to understand. There is so much that this
music directly relates to, while maintaining it's own distinctive
sound and musical integrity. There is nothing placed here solely
for commercial success- such a thing doesn't seem to matter much
when you've got this yearning darkness to get out of your soul.
Now I guess I have a new dream. It's a dream where Uncle Tupelo
gets back together and goes on tour and plays great music, and
Milton Mapes gets to tour around with them and introduce everyone
to their own unique and amazing sound. Maybe Neil Young would
swing by and play a song or two.
1. Great Unknown
2. Maybe You're here, Maybe You're Not
3. Some To Reap
4. The Only Sound That Matters
5. A Thousand Songs About California
7. Everyone Around
8. Palo Duro
9. This Kind Of Danger
11. The Sad Lines
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