The Trials of Van Occupanther | Bella Union
By CAITLIN CURRAN  |  February 6, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
This foursome from Denton, Texas, met while studying jazz at the University of North Texas, but they went off in a totally different direction as Midlake. Their sophomore disc, a concept album that envisions life through the eyes of a late-19th-century settler named Van Occupanther, takes its musical cues from the folk-rock ’70s, with strong hints of Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac. Over a foundation of contemplative vocal harmonies, piano, and a mix of acoustic and electric guitars, singer Tim Smith pays homage to roofs that don’t leak and the simple comforts of village life. On “Roscoe,” he reveals, “Whenever I was a child I wondered what if my name had changed into something more productive like Roscoe.” As the story unfolds, Occupanther befriends a group of bandits who have raided his village, and he reflects philosophically on nature in the gentle “Chasing Deer,” a tune with an outlook Thoreau and Emerson would appreciate. Midlake were signed by former Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde, and actor Jason Lee directed a dark video for the single “Balloon Maker.” Both have helped raise the profile of this low-key band. But the warmth and the easy familiarity enable The Trials of Van Occupanther to stand on its own, just as the band do.

Midlake + St. Vincent + Dylan In The Movies | Middle East upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | February 10 | 617.864.EAST
Related: Midlake | The Courage Of Others, Little drummer boys, Loose Ends, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Cocteau Twins, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac,  More more >
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