Add One More To The Great Lakes – Midlake And The Courage Of Others

I was at my daughter’s school on a parent’s panel when a guy, whose name I am blanking on, mentioned this band.  Good call… you!

Midlake – The Courage of Others

This is a gorgeous record.  What I find especially odd and funny is that my mind immediately screamed Jethro Tull as I listened.  That melding of classical and folk… with flutes and sounds from troubadours in the Renaissance…

So why is that funny, you ask?  Because I cannot listen to Jethro Tull.  I don’t know why… or what happened in a previous life, but whenever I hear them I get an uneasy feeling… literally a skin crawling, peculiar and uncomfortable sensation.  It’s not like I don’t appreciate their music, I do… I can sometimes get through “Aqualung” when it comes on the radio, but not much else.  It is really strange.  I have a similar reaction driving through this specific part of Jersey that was near the nursing home my great-grandmother lived in for years… So odd…

Interesting journey for this band… These guys were jazz musicians… jazz students who were influenced by the funk of Herbie Hancock.  Then clearly they found rock… rock and Tull and Radiohead.

Tim Smith (vocals, guitar and keyboards) says:

“We don’t want to get called a Radiohead rip-off band. I think Radiohead is a lot closer to my natural tendencies as a songwriter than a band like, um, Jethro Tull. I listen to way more Jethro Tull than I do Radiohead these days, but I could write 10 Radiohead songs before I could write one Jethro Tull song. I want to sound more like Jethro Tull, but I just can’t. That’s a big struggle.”
So many lush tracks here… “Fortune”… oh man… My favorite behind “Core of Nature”.

“Their debut full-length album, 2004’s Bamnan and Slivercork, was recorded at home in Denton, Texas and mastered at Abbey Road Studios. It showed a move in the direction of lo-fi psychedelic electronica, embracing influences such as Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips.

I know The Flaming Lips but nothing about Grandaddy… on the list now!

“The album even caught the ear of skateboarder-turned-actor Jason Lee, who produced and directed the music video for the song “Balloon Maker”, and who continues to support and promote the band.

In 2006, they released The Trials of Van Occupanther.  “The album was a venture into classic-rock revivalism, with a sound reminiscent of Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac.”  You can hear that especially on the tracks “Bandits” and “You Never Arrived”.

This is their third full-length album and came out in 2010.

I also love that they co-produced, engineered and played on John Grant’s Queen of Denmark.  I have no idea how I found that record… It was random, a suggestion on eMusic, I think… but I absolutely love it.  It is a must listen, too… Seriously.  It’s about his struggles with drugs and alcohol and opening up about being gay, and one of the great music magazines, Brittain’s Mojo, chose it as Best Album of 2010.

Talent finds and supports talent… and great music travels in the same circles…

So let’s all take a dip in the Midlake!


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