Friday, October 16, 2009

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - "Summer Of Fear"

Summer of Fear, Miles Anthony Benjamin Robinson’s sophomore album and follow-up to last year’s self-deprecating self-titled debut is out today on Saddle Creek Records. The new album is still just as grim in its worldview, with broad strokes of pain and self-doubt but a glimmer of hope emerges in the clever arrangements and lyrics this time around. With a voice like Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Bryan Ferry on a conference call, Miles captivates with his calculated delivery and phrasing alongside excellent production assistance from Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio.

“Shake a Shot” opens the album with electric piano, a shuffling beat and introduces you to Mile’s unique voice with a half-mumbled melancholic melody. “Always an Anchor” begins with steady acoustic strumming and vintage organ and builds momentum with arena-sized power chords and a driving string arrangement. The mid-tempo first single, “The Sound” is propelled by a 70’s style electric piano riff with swirling atmospherics and flickering electric guitar solos along with Kyp’s signature background vocals. “Hard Row” features aching vocals fueled by resentment with contrasting joyful background vocals that change the mood by the end of the song. “Woke up and wiped the blood from my bloodshot eyes, wondering why I should still stand here and try to try” are the bleak opening lines to “Trap Door” an up-tempo track that channels Tom Petty along with tinny guitars and an anthemic chorus that builds to a cathartic release. The closing line, “Now I know, there’s no bottom below”, offers up the glimmer of hope that this album hangs its hat on. The theme of the record continues on “The 100th of March” with its triumphant horns and “arms-locked” group vocals despite the betrayal depicted in the lyrics. Sharon Van Etten rides shotgun with her calming vocals on “Summer of Fear pt.1” which is a skewed slice of folk-pop. The almost 12 minute long “More than a Mess” is introspective with spoken verses over a haunting funereal march with another healthy dose of skronking horns and flows right into album closer, “Boat” with it’s stomping beat, fluid ambience and ringing guitars.

With as many musical connections as Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson has, he is sure to get plenty of attention but after one listen through Summer of Fear, you will quickly realize he deserves it. This record should land on many year end top ten lists. It is definitely at the top of mine.

Download "The Sound" here:

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