|Manchester Orchestra||A Black Mile To The Surface|
Manchester Orchestra — A Black Mile To The Surface •→√•→ EDITORS’ NOTES: “After a grueling, months~long recording marathon, it’s no wonder Manchester’s fifth album is filled with allusions to mining and cave~ins. But despite the somber theme, A Black Mile to the Surface is packed with bright guitars and soaring harmonies. Once again, Andy Hull’s voice commands respect — it’s as imposing on a heartfelt gospel opener (“The Maze”) as a violent, distorted thrasher (“Lead, SD”). Despite its exhausting creation, the album’s imbued with an energy as rare as the gold its characters seek.”
•→√•→ A stunning return to form. A Black Mile To The Surface feels like the emotional gusto of I’m Like A Virgin Losing a Child filtered through the sleek, bombastic production of Simple Math. It’s neither as powerful as the former nor as catchy as the latter, but it feels perfectly settled into its own identity. On the heels of Cope, this will catch a lot of people off guard.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Album release: 28 July 2017
Recording Location: Echo Mountain Recording, Elmwood West, Favorite Gentlemen Studios, The Village Studios
Record Label: Caroline International (P&D)/Loma Vista Recordings
01. The Maze 2:58
02. The Gold 4:33
03. The Moth 4:36
04. Lead, SD 4:54
05. The Allen 5:29
06. The Sunshine 1:57
07. The Grocery 5:12
08. The Wolf 4:27
09. The Mistake 3:55
10. The Parts 4:13
11. The Silence 6:59
℗ 2017 Loma Vista Recordings. Distributed by Concord Music Group, Inc. © Robert McDowell. Photo credit: Owen Sweeney.... Frank White Photo Agency.
•→ Paul Blakemore Mastering
•→ John Congleton Additional Production
•→ The Daniels Package Design, Photography
•→ Mike Dempsey Package Design, Photography
•→ Jim Georgeson Assistant Engineer
•→ Dan Hannon Additional Production
•→ Andy Hull Composer, Group Member, Guitar, Producer, Vocals
•→ Manchester Orchestra Composer
•→ Brian Manley Layout, Package Design
•→ Catherine Marks Engineer, Mixing, Producer
•→ Robert McDowell Engineer, Group Member, Guitar, Keyboards, Producer, Vocals (Background)
•→ Clay Miller Assistant Engineer
•→ Todd Netter Product Manager
•→ Andy Prince Bass, Group Member
•→ Tim Very Drums, Group Member
•→ India Watne A&R
•→ Ryan Whalley A&R
•→ Jonathan Wilson Additional Production
By Dave Beech / 25 JULY 2017, 14:09 BST / Score: 9
•→√•→ Anyone with even a passing interest in Manchester Orchestra can tell you that their disposition isn’t the sunniest. That doesn’t mean to say they’re a band who thrive on miserabilia however, merely that they understand exercising their demons through the medium of music is just as cathartic for their fans as it for themselves.
•→√•→ It’s just as well then that while A Black Mile to the Surface certainly feels like one of the band’s most expansive, and ultimately uplifting, records, it still harbours the undercurrent of darkness and unease that’s an inherent part of Manchester Orchestra. And with tracks like “The Sunshine” blossoming with an understated optimism, the record’s afforded an emotional balance unseen on previous albums, suggesting a further evolution for a band who refuse to rest on their laurels.
•→√•→ Such is their inability to settle in to a groove, that A Black Mile to the Surface is the product of the band’s writing and recording process being turned completely on its head, purposefully pushing themselves to second guess each decision in a bid to create “an album in a ‘non~Manchester’ way”. As a result, the record feels far more cinematic than anything they’ve released before; the influence of singer/guitarist Andy Hull and co~writer/multi~instrumentalist Robert McDowell’s work on 2016 Sundance film Swiss Army Man evident in the hypnotic ebb and flow of “The Mistake”, or in the finger~picked throb of “The Moth”.
•→√•→ Such a grandiose aesthetic is helped here through the production efforts of John Congleton (Explosions In the Sky) and Catherine Marks (The Killers); the two establishing an equilibrium between the elaborate soundscapes of the former, and the bombast of the latter. Rather than fall in to self~indulgence however, A Black Mile to the Surface feels richly nuanced, offering up something new on every repeat listen.
•→√•→ And you will want to play it again. Probably as soon as you’ve heard it the first time. From the emotive resplendence of opening track “The Maze”, a subtly building opener that gently coaxes listeners in, to the tribal thump of the seven~minute epic “The Silence” that plays the record out, every aspect of A Black Mile to the Surface is ambitious and rarely, if ever, does it falter. And though they’ve certainly succeeded in their goal of making an album in a ‘non~Manchester’ way, it fits perfectly in their Manchester Orchestra canon as a stunning evolution of a band who aren’t afraid to test themselves. •→√•→ https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/ © Manchester Orchestra, Cumberland Caverns
By Adam Feibel, Published Jul 26, 2017 / Score: 9
•→√•→ Manchester Orchestra reach new heights on fifth album A Black Mile to the Surface, a powerful, cinematic experience that goes above and beyond what the Atlanta~based band have done before. The group follows up the loud, grimy and grungy Cope with a far more pensive and picturesque endeavour that builds more on their third record, 2011’s Simple Math, as well as Cope’s acoustic twin sister, Hope — but taken to extraordinary new places.
•→√•→ With songs that are crisp, emotive and hymn~like, Black Mile can prompt admiring comparisons to Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket; it’s also probably the closest thing to the little~known yet incredible Clean Head by Oceana, an EP that never got the proper followup it deserved.
•→√•→ Manchester Orchestra wear influences from their friends Kevin Devine, O Brother and The Dear Hunter on their sleeves, not to mention big~name alt~rock figures like Radiohead, Wilco and Alabama Shakes. Lead singer Andy Hull and guitarist Robert McDowell’s experience with the soundtrack for the 2016 film Swiss Army Man, meanwhile, surely paved the way for Black Mile’s cinematic feel.
•→√•→ The choral beauty of “The Maze” makes for a gripping opener, and “The Gold” seals the deal with gorgeous songwriting, composition and arrangement. Each song is made up of layer upon layer of sounds, textures and echoes that are piled on and stripped away with ease. The band plays to groovy polyrhythms on “The Moth,” finds an uneasy balance of melodic dissonance on “Lead, SD” and wraps you up in a dreamlike atmosphere on “The Alien.”
•→√•→ Black Mile reaches its peak with “The Grocery,” slowly rising from calm verses before cresting and crashing like waves in the choruses up until its final epic crescendo. Meanwhile, “The Parts” makes fabulous use of empty space, with Hull sounding like he’s quietly baring his soul from within a giant cavern.
•→√•→ What may be most laudable here is Black Mile’s sonic story arc — a story about love, marriage, fatherhood and life’s constant way onward — complete with an introduction, rising action, climax and falling action that finally wind down to a conclusive, satisfying end.
•→√•→ For a band as consistent in the alt~rock realm as Manchester Orchestra, a reinvention like this can be a gamble. There’s no song on Black Mile like “Wolves at Night” or “April Fool,” the kind of high~energy howler fit for an EA Sports game, but their efforts have paid off with an artistic triumph, the kind worth regarding as a creative masterwork among their collection. •→√•→ http://exclaim.ca/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ManchesterOrch © Andy Hull. Splendour Grass Festival, Day 1
|Manchester Orchestra||A Black Mile To The Surface|