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May 16 • Southgate House

By Brian Baker · May 10th, 2010 · Sound Advice
The music media has loudly and deservedly trumpeted the incredible accomplishments of The Shins and The New Pornographers in sustaining impressive streaks of quality across consecutive albums (the first three for The Shins and the first five for the Pornographers). Perhaps less noticed among their similarly toned Indie Rock peer group, Midlake put together an equally brilliant string of releases (a trio of excellent EPs, their wonderful 2004 debut full-length Bamnan and Silvercork and their astonishing 2006 sophomore album, The Trials of Van Occupanther) before unleashing this year’s The Courage of Others, a solid candidate for “album of the year” honors.

The Denton, Tex., quintet formed just over a decade ago as a group of University of North Texas Jazz students with Indie Rock inclinations.

After a couple of lineup changes, Midlake home-recorded their 2004 debut album, which displayed influences like Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips and made a fan out of actor Jason Lee, who directed the music video for “Balloon Maker” and who continues to beat the drum for his new favorite band.

Nearly two years later, Midlake followed up with Van Occupanther, a brilliant evocation of Rock classicism bound together with an irresistibly energetic form of Indie Rock. But clearly The Courage of Others stands as Midlake’s greatest achievement to date, a swirling homage to British Folk and Prog that somehow finds the commonalities between The Beatles and Radiohead, The Strawbs and Rufus Wainwright and Jethro Tull and Grandaddy. But Midlake’s talent lies well beyond mere hero worship; the band exhibits an uncanny ability to craft a singularly fresh sound out of their decades-old inspirations and in the process has created a potent catalog that deserves to be considered among the best of the new millennium’s first decade.

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