Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What we're listening to: The Courage of Others by Midlake

The Courage of Others is the third album by this folk rock quintet from Denton, TX. Their second album, the Trials of Van Occupanther (2006), was one of my favorites from the 00's. It had a sound that was a mixture of seventies folk rock (think: Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young) and Radiohead (lead singer Tim Smith has a Thom Yorke-esque voice).

With their newest album, the band takes on more of an English folk from the sixties sound (think: Fairport Convention). There is also a definite prog rock/ metal influence on the album, especially in the guitar work. The opening of "The Horn" even has hints of Blue Oyster Cult. Flutes make the music sound vaguely medieval, though they stop short of Renaissance Faire.

The mood of the album is bleak and somber. Seemingly about the sometimes difficult relationship between humans and nature, the Courage of Others makes a compelling argument for retreating into the woods.  Though their sound and natural themes are similar to indie darlings like the Fleet Foxes or the Animal Collective, Midlake is a not trendy band.  Their lyrics are earnest and their retro influences aren't particularly hip.  This is music made by bearded, cape-wearing men after all. 

Initially, I was disappointed that this album didn't have as many stand-out tracks as Trials of Van Occupanther, which had the instantly catchy songs "Roscoe" and "Head Home." Though not love at first listen, I find my enjoyment of the record grows each time I listen to it. My favorite tracks include "Core of Nature," "Fortune," and "Rulers, Ruling All Things."

Recommended for fans of : Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper's song "Furr," Jose Gonzalez, Kings of Convenience, Nick Drake, King Crimson.

The Courage of Others (2010):
Find it in the Catalog.

The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006):
Find it in the Catalog.