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Midlake
Bamnan And Slivercork
Bella Union Records
www.midlake.net


Permit me a quick moment to digress… When I opened an envelope that had the new release Bamnan and Slivercork from Denton, TX's Midlake, it made my day. I rushed to the stereo and popped in the cd, and fell back onto the couch awash in the sounds of one of my favorite young bands. It was a magical moment, one which I will not soon forget. I waited eagerly for "Kingfish Pies" to play, and I was well rewarded with a remarkable version. This song has most certainly become one of my favorite songs of all time; it sticks in the mind, running joyous circles around the maypole of one's cerebral playground.

I first heard Midlake at South By Southwest two years ago, and have been a big fan since; even going so far as to steal some demos on a disc that my younger brother had received from the band. It was just two songs, "Kingfish Pies" and "Balloon Maker" in a raw and fresh form. I am more than happy to report that the versions of these amazing songs that appear on the final record are far superior to the demos, not only in sound, but in overall vibe and aural bliss.

For the uninitiated, Midlake are a little rock group from Denton, TX. They create songs that are all at once highly reminiscent of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Simon Raymonde's various work, the Beatles, and Roky Erickson's 13th Floor Elevators. The songs reflect psychedelia in a childlike pure form, there is very little to distract from the joy of the music. The lyrics are equally amazing - both literate and engaging, while maintaining a purity and delight seldom found in popular music.

The album opens with "They Cannot Let It Expand", which would seem to be a physics experiment gone awry. The brilliant melodies cascade dreamily over the wash of synthesizers and the repetitive lyrics, driving home their very own distinct beauty. "Balloon Maker" is full of Beatles-esque tones and rhythms. But few things compare to the magical camel-back ride of "Kingfish Pies", with its madly stuttering drumbeat, lilting flutes, and absurd story of the kingfish pie factory. True story, I assure you. The tears of breaking up find a place in "I Guess I'll Take Care", although it is handled in a rather fresh and hazy-speculative fashion. "I guess I'll take care/ of my heart and brain and hair/ with a soda for the ride/seems to help me all the time/leaving there from you/ I want you all the time, you want me too." I could lovingly give you a play by play of each of these songs, but I'll reserve that for another time.

I cannot possibly say enough about the beauty and originality of the music that Midlake has delivered on its debut full length. I can only gently remind you to go find the record, and assure you it will become one of your favorite daily listens. It's just that good.

-David DeVoe

Track listing:

1. They Cannot Let It Expand
2. Balloon Maker
3. Kingfish Pies
4. I Guess I'll Take Care
5. Some Of Them Were Superstitious
6. The Reprimand
7. The Jungler
8. He Tried To Escape
9. Mopper's Medley
10. No One Knew Where We Were
11. Anabel
12. Mr. Amateur


 

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Mike Doughty



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