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Midlake - Bamnan And Slivercork CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.21 | 14 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Although the indie folk with progressive touches band MIDLAKE from Denton, TX was formed back in 1999 by a group of jazz students at the University of North Texas College of Music, they slowly but surely turned their love of funk jazz fusion influenced primarily by Herbie Hancock to a more indie rock / folk sound. The band leader Tim Smith who originally started out on sax become obsessed by prog folk and space pop from the likes of Jethro Tull, Radiohead, Björk and Grandaddy and after releasing their debut EP "Milkmaid Grand Army," they finally released their debut album BAMNAN AND SLIVERCORK in 2004. Right from the start MIDLAKE displayed a rather unique take on the indie pop / folk world with a touch of progressiveness that crept in more and more on each subsequent release.

BAMNAN AND SLIVERCORK, a title of mysterious meaning borrows heavily from a 90s Radiohead sort of acoustic mopeyness laced with all kinds of electronic embellishments. The songs are primarily structured in the world of folk with lots of acoustic guitar but the bass and drums are prominent as well. There are also extra touches of flute, bassoon and piano. Every so often electric guitar makes a presence as well. While Tim Smith may do a good Thom Yorke mimic on vocals on the debut, the album comes across with a less surreal and more pop focused rhythmic drive that has a touch of "Sgt Pepper's" era Beatles coming to mind with lyrical contents more in line with Grandaddy's "Software Slump" which bemoans the age of technological domination.

One of the major flaws of BAMNAN AND SLIVERCORK is the fact that early on in the 21st century they chose to record a folk album in lo-fi which has given this album a black eye in the larger canon of the band. Personally i don't find this to be justified as it isn't as dreadful as the term can imply. True that a much lusher production could have suited the style they were pursuing with BAMNAN AND SLIVERCORK but in the end isn't an impediment to the full enjoyment of a series of great tracks that have just the right balance between indie pop, indie rock, indie folk and neo-psychedelia. The progressive touches that become more apparent on future albums are a little scarce on this one but still the unconventional approach to their songwriting does come off as a tad eccentric.

This is hardly the type of album that will appeal to many prog folk aficionados but for those who are heavily steeped in indie rock acts bizarre off-kilter musical antics will find this extremely palatable as it runs the gamut from 60s album influences such as "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys to more recent act's such as the indie folk charm of Neutral Milk Hotel. Ultimately upon first listen, BAMNAN AND SLIVERCORK will most remind of the "Hail To The Thief" phase of Radiohead with the same musical quirks that can often throw a band into the clone category but nonetheless despite the blatant influences on this debut album, MIDLAKE hold their own quite well. While the band hadn't quite found their true sound yet that they could call their own this debut album is quite the fun little listen and in many ways i prefer this one to the ones that come later because it's a playful bouncy little album that isn't trying to hard too impress.

3.5 stars but rounded UP ↑ cuz it ain't gettin' nuff' ♥ in these here parts

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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