We have been rocking Milk Music's 2010 EP Beyond Living for some time now. Â The six song set, replete with driving rhythms, fuzzed out guitar and wailed vocals, is the perfect afternoon pick me up at the shop. The sound is in your face, but still has that laid back slacker vibe. The music oozes fun and youth. Â Some critics claimed that the band was biting off a bit too much from the sound of the 90's Pacific Northwest scene via Â mid 80's SST Records. It is fair to point out that Milk Music has obvious influences (the band is lovingly referred to in the shop as Husker Jr or Dinosaur Du), however the music contains a sense of vitality and urgency that a band simply going through the motions cannot capture.
On the surface, Milk Music's newest record (and first full length), Cruise Your Illusion, sounds like a band continuing on in the slacker tradition. It's hard for people to take you too seriously if you aren't serious to begin with, right? With this in mind, I was floored on first listen to the album. Adding a fourth member to the group, Milk Music decided not to continue on the well worn path of Wipers influenced rock, but to branch out, challenge themselves and, most importantly, challenge the listener. It is refreshing to hear a band forge ahead, unconcerned with their past and what people expect in the future.
WhereÂ Beyond LivingÂ showed a band set on cruise control,Â Cruise Your Illusion does not settle into one tempo. You have the driving motorik of "No, Nothing, My Shelter," Â juxtaposed with album closer "The Final Scene," Â which slows down to a lazy country twang. After listening to Beyond Living for so long, who would have expected to hear Milk Music write something like "Dogchild"? The 4 minute song begins with a clean arrpegiated riff, with wailed vocal upfront and whistling behind it. The sound is reminiscent of stargazing in big sky country. This feeling is emphasized during the final 3 minutes of the song when multiple guitar tracks noodle (notÂ pejorativeÂ ) along the fretboard as one would while in deepÂ contemplation. This is not to say Milk Music decided to completely slow and settle down. "I've Got a Wild Feeling" and "Runaway" are examples of driving Beyond Living-like gems.
Can we return to "No, Nothing, My Shelter"? My favorite song on the new album perfectly encapsulates the maturation from the Beyond Living EP. The driving rhythm section still leads the attack, but instead of simply adding thick guitar over the growling bass, the band decides to use the guitar as texture.Â UbiquitousÂ throughout the entire track, the guitar swirls above the fray. It is a brilliant use of rock instrumentation in a non-rock method. This is not a simple rock band just looking for sunshine and waves (as much as they would like you to believe), but a group of serious musicians with a wide musical vocabulary.
Hopefully the link above is enough motivation for you to go out and buy this record. Word on the street is that Aquarius Records here in SF has both the CD and vinyl editions in stock. The vinyl version was self-released by the band and was recorded on a 4 track 1/2 inch tape. Just in case you haven't already run out to pick this record up, enjoy an oldie from theÂ Beyond LivingÂ EP below.