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Midlake — Antiphon (2013)

 Midlake — Antiphon (2013)

Midlake — Antiphon

Official logo by B.T. Amundssen´s Tais Awards: 7th TA 2014
•  Harmony-laden indie quintet from North Texas with influences from psychedelic pop and soft rock.
•  Recorded at their studio in Denton, the self produced Antiphon came together in six months and was mixed by Tony Hoffer (Belle and Sebastian, M83, Beck). According to Eric Pulido, “Antiphon is the most honest representation of the band as a whole, as opposed to one person’s vision that we were trying to facilitate.”
•  “It’s always through the scope of Midlake,” said Pulido of the new record, “but on Antiphon we wanted to embrace the psychedelia, style and nuance you might hear in bands from yesteryear while also being aware of music influences leading up to and present now. The result was less folk and more rock. Less nostalgic and more progressive. Now the sky’s the limit.”
Formed: 1999 by a group of jazz students at the University of North Texas College of Music, Denton, TX
Location: Denton, Texas, United States
Album release: November 4 (UK)/5th (US), 2013
Record Label: Bella Union/ATO Records, LLC
Duration:     43:40
Tracks:
01 Antiphon     3:17
02 Provider     3:48
03 The Old and the Young     5:37
04 It's Going Down     3:17
05 Vale     4:31
06 Aurora Gone     4:38
07 Ages     4:39
08 This Weight     3:34
09 Corruption     5:18
10 Provider (Reprise)     5:01
2013 Bella Union under exclusive license in North America to ATO Records, LLC
Members:
Ξ  McKenzie Smith — drums
Ξ  Paul Alexander — bass, keyboards
Ξ  Eric Nichelson — guitar
Ξ  Eric Pulido — lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, background vocals
Ξ  Jesse Chandler — piano/flute
Ξ  Joey McClellan — guitar
Past members:
Ξ  Tim Smith
Ξ  Evan Jacobs
Ξ  Jason Upshaw © Shot of  McKenzie Smith @ our studio in Denton, TX
REVIEW
by Edward Clibbens, 21 October 2013; Rating: 7.5/10
Ξ  After hearing about the departure of lead vocalist and songwriter Tim Smith, it goes without saying that some doubts were raised about Midlake deciding to continue without their talisman. Not only did the rest of the band decide to keep going, they also decided to abandon nearly two years worth of recordings and start their fourth record from scratch. Smith’s voice and the harmonies built around it were arguably the centre-piece of the band’s work up to this point and it was tricky to see how they could ever be the same again. Thankfully though, the remaining band members appear to have realised this. On Antiphon, Midlake aren’t trying to be the same again. Their sound has evolved to account for the strengths of the remaining members. At no point does it feel like they’re trying to recreate Tim Smith. Midlake have forged a new identity, forged an updated sound and produced a fantastic record.
Ξ  From the driving bassline introduction of opener ‘Antiphon’, it is evident that the band have moved towards a richer sound; prioritising greater musical ambition over trying to recreate Smith’s vocals. This being said, stepping up to lead vocal duties, guitarist Eric Pulido really stamps his mark on the songs. Although he lacks the haunting folk beauty of Smith, his vocals are deeper with an almost José Gonzalez quality about them. Whereas Smith’s vocals were often the focal point set atop intricate musical backing, Pulido’s suitably complement the more psych-tinged sound that the band have taken on. Obviously it was going to be a big ask for him to match the melodic brilliance of their previous albums. Nevertheless, he puts in a more than admirable account of his own capabilities as a frontman and songwriter, particularly on ‘The Old And The Young’ and ‘It’s Going Down’.
Ξ  Comparisons to the old Midlake aside, Antiphon is a very different and worthy prospect. It is the sound of a band making the music that they want to make, not what they think fans of the band will want. Throughout, there are frantic drum fills, woozy guitars and powering basslines. The songs have a strong groove that you’d find nowhere in their previous works. The tracks all have facets of the delicate folk that we’ve come to know and love, but also much more as they meander between this and a more improvised, jam-led sound. Never is this more present than on instrumental track, ‘Vale’. It comes in with a hazy psychedelic groove, that could almost be on an early Verve record, before dropping into minimal woodwind and folk guitar before steadily growing into a spaced out jam. It perfectly embodies the new identity that Midlake have very successfully adopted.
Ξ  Only on ‘Aurora Gone’ do we get anything that you could imagine hearing on one of their first three records. The most stripped back song on the record, it provides a lovely interlude and a firm reminder that this is still a Midlake record. The new songs either side of it aren’t an abandonment of their classic sound, but a development upon the foundations that were already in place. ‘Provider’ best maps this development, demonstrating the importance for the band to retain the musical heart of what makes Midlake, Midlake.
Ξ  On Antiphon it feels almost as if the band have finally been set free to express themselves as musicians and not serve as the backing band to a particularly talented frontman. Recorded in just six months, you really get the sense that they thoroughly enjoyed making this record. Though far from cheery, it’s a joy to listen to from start to finish.
Ξ  It has to be said that the latter half of the record doesn’t quite mach the former, there’s still not a bad track present. Though ‘The Weight’ is a tad dull, the psychedelic outro and haunting vocals of ‘Ages’ further purveys the band’s greater sense of sonic expression. ‘Corruption’ however, veers back towards the more familiar sound of their previous work but is a decent song nonetheless. Whilst it may sound a bit lightweight in comparison to the tracks around it, the harmonies are suitably delightful. Closer ‘Provider Reprise’ is a nicely orchestrated finish, but it would’ve been preferable to hear them close the record in the same vein that they started it. The best moments on Antiphon are where the band take the approach of a rock band, not a folk band.
Ξ  On Antiphon, Midlake are a band out to make a point. The point is that Midlake weren’t just the vehicle for Tim Smith’s musical vision, but a collection of musicians, talented in their own right, who are more than capable of putting together a well written, ambitious and coherent album. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Antiphon is as good as anything they’ve previously released. Point proven. Fortaken: http://thefourohfive.com/
Artist Biography by William Ruhlmann
Ξ  Milkmaid Grand Army The lo-fi rock quintet Midlake were formed in Denton, Texas, in 2000 by a group of musicians who had attended the North Texas School of Music together: Paul Alexander (bass, keyboards), Eric Nichelson (keyboards, guitar), Eric Pulido (guitar, keyboards, background vocals), Tim Smith (vocals, keyboards, guitar), and Mckenzie Smith (drums). They issued their own EP, Milkmaid Grand Army, in 2001, and sold 1,000 copies at their Texas gigs. They attracted the attention of Simon Raymonde, who signed them to his Bella Union label in the U.K., leading to European concerts and the recording of their first full-length album, Bamnan and Slivercork, which was released in July 2004. For their next album, Midlake changed gears and moved away from the psychedelic leanings of their debut toward a more '70s-influenced sound. Released in 2006, The Trials of Van Occupanther featured the same lineup and a sound reminiscent of harmony-rich soft rock bands like America and Laurel Canyon troubadours like Neil Young and Gene Clark. The band stopped touring the following year to begin work on a new album. The resulting LP, The Courage of Others, arrived in February 2010.
Ξ  Late Night Tales: In 2011 Midlake joined the ranks of bands like The Flaming Lips, Groove Armada, and Belle & Sebastian by releasing an installment of Late Night Tales, a series of mix albums from the independent record label of the same name, which asks artists to “compile an album of their favorite music that inspired them to make music their profession.” That year they headed to Buffalo, Texas and began writing new material for their fourth album. After playing a few live shows in 2012, lead singer and songwriter Smith decided to leave the band and formed a new project, Harp. Undeterred by his departure, the remaining members returned to the studio and scrapped two years of work to start from scratch. Pulido was installed on lead vocals and new members Jesse Chandler (piano/flute) and Joey McClellan (guitar) joined the outfit. They wrote and recorded their fourth release, Antiphon, in six months and it was set for release in 2013.
Website: http://www.midlake.net/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/midlake
Facebook 1: https://www.facebook.com/midlakeband
Facebook 2: https://www.facebook.com/midlake?filter=2
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/music/Midlake
Gen director: Bill Silva Management | midlake@billsilva.net
Bella Union: http://bellaunion.com/
ATO Records: http://atorecords.com/
Notes:
Ξ  In February 2010 the band released The Courage of Others, which garnered generally good reviews, notably "album of the month" in Mojo. The album had a slower pace and denser musical arrangements inspired by British prog-folk acts like Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and The Incredible String Band.
Ξ  In a 2010 interview with Reverb Magazine, Tim Smith told editor Nick Milligan:
Ξ  "I'm never satisfied with what we do, so when Occupanther came out I had changes I wanted to make. But what I disliked about the album is probably totally different than what other people might see as a problem. I might be totally focused on my voice. But I think we get a little better as we get older. We're listening to more music and getting more confident with who we are as musicians and as a band. It's a natural progression to get to The Courage Of Others. Although it did take a long time and that's due to my influences and falling in love with a different style of music to what we came from." — Tim Smith
Ξ  Smith also said in the Reverb Magazine interview that his favourite song from The Courage Of Others was 'Small Mountain':
Ξ  "I think my favourite is 'Small Mountain'. Though it seems that when we've played it live, it's the weakest one — people seem to not connect with it. They'd probably rather talk to their friend than listen to it, but people don't really have the album yet. Maybe in time people will start to like that song more. It was written about when I was in college and my parents lived on the top of this hill. I'd spend time up there and wait tables at my dad's restaurant. It was just a good time for me, so it was nice to have a song that I can relate to it. I like the melody also, so that's probably my favourite." — Tim Smith
Ξ  Of The Courage Of Others, Tim Smith also said:
Ξ  "The title track was written as a B-side for Van Occupanther so that was really old, and we never used it. We wanted to hold on to it for the next album. 'Children of the Grounds' we started playing towards the end of our touring for Van Occupanther, because I'd written that around that time and we thought we'd throw it in [the set] to see how it did. But the rest of the material was written while we were recording. There was also a lot of material that was thrown away, because I realised [the ideas] weren't good enough." — Tim Smith
Discography:
Albums:
•  Bamnan and Slivercork (Released: Jul 06, 2004)
•  The Trials of Van Occupanther (Released: Jul 25, 2006)
•  The Courage of Others (Released: Feb 02, 2010) No. 18 UK, No. 61 AUS, No. 94 US, No. 96 GER
•  Antiphon (Expected Release: Nov 05, 2013)
Singles and EPs:
•  Milkmaid Grand Army (EP) (Released: Nov 2001)
•  Balloon Maker (EP) (Released: Jul 05, 2005)
•  Oak & Julian (iTunes-only EP) (2007)
•  Acts Of Man (12" single) (Dec 2009)
•  Fortune (EP) (Released: Sep 21, 2010)
Other:
•  Late Night Tales: Midlake (Released: Mar 28, 2011) (compilation album compiled by Midlake featuring their cover of Black Sabbath's "Am I Going Insane").
2011 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Night Time Stories Ltd
Photo: Shot of McKenzie @ our studio in Denton, TX
________________________________________________________________
TOUR 2013/2014: 
Upcoming | Local  | Dates:
Oct 25 Knocknarea Arena — Sligo Live, Sligo, Ireland 
Oct 27 Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, Netherlands 
Oct 28 FLECHE D'OR Paris, France 
Oct 30 Lido Berlin, Germany 
Oct 31 Botanique — Rotonde Brussels, Belgium (sold out)
Nov 02 Airwaves   Reykjavik, Iceland 
Nov 05 Brighton Music Hall Allston, MA
Nov 06 Mercury Lounge New York, NY 
Nov 09 Rock and Roll Hotel Washington, DC 
Nov 10 Johnny Brenda's Philadelphia, PA 
Nov 11 Local 506  Chapel Hill, NC 
Nov 12 The EARL Atlanta, GA 
Nov 13 The End  Nashville, TN 
Nov 15 American Airlines Center Dallas, TX 
Nov 16 Chesapeake Energy Arena Oklahoma City, OK 
Feb 20 The Ritz Manchester, United Kingdom
Feb 21 Wulfrun Hall Wolverhampton, United Kingdom 
Feb 22 O2 ABC Glasgow, United Kingdom 
Feb 23 Vicar St Dublin, Ireland 
Feb 25 Anson Rooms Bristol, United Kingdom  
Feb 26 O2 Shepherds Bush Empire  London, United Kingdom 
Mar 02 AB Flex Brussels, Belgium 
Mar 05 Gloria Cologne, Germany 
Mar 06 LES DOCKS Lausanne, Switzerland  
Mar 07 Komplex Klub Zürich, Switzerland  
Mar 08 Tunnel Milan, Italy 
Mar 09 Freiheiz Munich, Germany 
Mar 12 Uebel & Gefährlich   Hamburg, Germany  
Mar 13 Voxhall Aarhus, Denmark  
Mar 14 Pumpehuset Copenhagen, Denmark  
Mar 15 ROCKEFELLER Oslo, Norway 
Mar 16 Berns Stockholm, Sweden 
Mar 18 The Circus Helsinki, Finland 
Mar 21 Pustervik   Gothenburg, Sweden © MIDLAKE at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, CA on September 21st, 2013

Midlake — Antiphon (2013)

 

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