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CD Reviews: Midlake

Midlake: Milkmaid Grand Army
August 2002
By: Lorena Gyulai

It is a true saying that there is hidden talent everywhere. Midlake, a Texan quintet is no exception. Formed in the summer of 1999, this group consists of Tim Smith (vocals), Eric Nichelson (guitar/rhodes), Eric Pulido (guitar), Paul Alexander (bass), and McKenzie Smith (drums). This is some of the best music I have heard in a while. Milkmaid Grand Army is recorded in low-fi style, it's edgy, and boasts influences ranging from Doves to Clinic. Seven tracks yielding a spiritual nature and maturity, all narrating stories of lament, God, and love. Strong drums begin the first track, She Removes Her Spiral Hair, as vocalist Tim Smith croons softly.

Drummer McKenzie Smith adds texture, with his fluid and heavy beats. It's poetry meets trip-hop. More impressive still is the playfulness found in every song. Paper Gown begins with an antique sounding piano. "Go ahead and blame me/ and push me down the stairs to the street/ slowly getting up/ my body aches of sunlight inside", Smith sings. Stand out tracks include Excited But Not Enough. Dynamic vocals add the perfect touch to pounding drums and bass. The guitars are simple, and the production is quite impressive. I Lost My Bodyweight In the Forest is showcased as an instrumental, with low-fi keys and harmonizing effects.

Who ever said unpolished couldn't be grand?