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Milo Greene

  Milo Greene  
  Chop Shop / Atlantic  
Release Date:
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I personally have a fondness for reverby, echoey, Indie pop with alternating male/female vocalists. Looking back at my favorite records from the last few years, you'd find me talking up bands like The Rosebuds, Headlights, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Dominant Legs. Some of these groups are louder and harder; others are more gentle. But taken as a whole, each of the groups has lush harmonies, tons of melodic hooks, and that inevitable male/female vocal contrast. Apparently, it's a sound that I just can't help but like.

Therefore, it's not surprising that when the debut album of California five-piece Milo Greene hit my desktop, I was immediately captivated. Occupying a space that some folks would try to call "folk rock", the band produces music that has pretty melodies accented by reverby guitars, skittering drums, and layers of harmonies. Some of the songs are slow and eerie whilst others tend to be gently upbeat, but all of the music flows together seamlessly into a smooth whole.

Even though there are 13 songs on this debut records, it's hard to pinpoint any one tune as the best. Still, there are some which I find a tad bit better than the others. As an example, opening track What's the Matter begins with instrumental echoes before a slightly syncopated drum beat comes in. Then the vocal harmonies begin with a chorus of "What's the Matter? What's the Matter with you?". Throughout this song, although there is some gently spacey guitarwork in the background, the drums and harmonies remain the focal point until the end of the tune, where the voices fade out and the instrumentation finally comes to the forefront. At that point, I would promise you that this is a lost track from Headlights' album Wildlife from a couple of years back.

Likewise, Don't Give Up On Me features that same skittery drumwork, although it is enhanced by a bouncy bassline reminiscent of something by Magic Bullets and a more resolute group vocal harmony that recalls Fleetwood Mac in their heyday.

In contrast, tracks like Silent Way and Son my Son feels more folk-like than some of the other songs on the record. I suspect some of this translation is due to the more straight-forward beat and banjo work heard on these tunes. Likewise, they feature more space in the instrumentation itself than the tunes highlighted above. Still, each song had everyone singing and harmonizing (even if the catchy simplicity of the melodies feels like the band is just begging folks to sing along with the group), which just invokes a summery mood.

But as a personal preference, I really like the happiest, most upbeat tunes on the record, like Take a Step, which bops along with a stronger keyboard line and the harmonies down to just a basic male/female contrast. And I'd like to point to 1957 as my favorite song on the record. This one begins with a quick guitar rift and some brushed drumming. Like Take a Step, it eliminates much of the full band harmony to focus on the basic vocals, which are more emphatic and forceful than on other tracks. Additionally, on this song, the guitar acts as another melodic counterpoint to the voice instead of just being an accent piece. It's both pretty and boppy, even as it flows into a more shouted vocal piece towards the end of the son. Nicely done.

Honestly, I have to say I'm really impressed by Milo Greene, especially if you consider that this is a debut record of a fairly young band. This group has clearly focused on the sound they want to produce and have executed cleanly and without error. Additionally, they've managed to make a record that flows nicely from one song to the other without any jarring transitions, which is something older and more prolific groups have yet to figure out. When you add to these characteristics the fact that it's just a type of music I enjoy, I'd have to say this one is rapidly turning into my goto record for the summer of 2012.

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