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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2005
I bought this Midlake album on the strength of hearing Balloon Maker on the brilliant radio show, Rocket Science
All the songs are of the Grandaddy mould but not exactly similar. There is the same cleverness of lyrics and the vocals do sound very much like Jason Lyttle but that is not a bad thing, I have four Grandaddy albums but this is still very much a welcome addition to my collection. Balloon Maker is a brilliant track, but the songs are consistently good throughout, I also thought I heard a touch of some stuff that sounded a bit like David Byrne's solo work. In general, it's a top album.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2007
I bought this album after falling in love with the second one and it was a bit of a surprise on first hearing it how different it is from it's succesor. Once this initial shock subsided though I fell in love with this one too. There are similarities to Grandaddy and maybe that was why the second album took a new direction, but this album is far better than The Software Slump.

There are plenty of highlights but for me 'Moppers Medley' about the caretaker who shows the health & safety inspector around the apartment block in which he works to see the air-vents & electrical outlets, whilst they secretly hold a torch for each other, and the absolutely barking 'Kingfish Pies' are very loveable songs.

Packed full of great stories, good tunes and musical inventivity this is a great - if only distantly related - companion to Van Occupanther.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2004
Another band I heard from thanks to the Bella Union CD sampler "Beneath the Surface vol.1" (essential purchase!!!), and though all songs on it are very good, Midlake's "Some of them were superstitious" closes it in a dreamy melancholy & gorgeous way.
The one thing Midlake might suffer from is a name that wouldn't necessarily drag you into their music at first, which can only be a shame when this album is such an amazing debut, and for a debut it's very impressive indeed!
For the first few spins of the disk, it seemed hard to shake off comparisons with Grandaddy (which is not such a bad thing), mainly because Tim Smith's voice expresses vulnerability & simplicity reminescent of "Under the Western Freeway", sometimes even Tom York-like, while carrying beautiful melodies.
But it's only a matter of time to get used to what this band from Denton, Texas, really has to offer. Their music ranges from qwerky lo-fi to psychedelia ballads, but putting labels & names on it just isn't fair: what is so unique about Midlake is their ability to create a universe that mixes fantasy & childlike dreams similar to icelandic Mum's.
"Kingfish pies" or "balloon maker" both share great imaginative lyrics & catchy melodies (like most of the album actually) and the layers of flutes, pianos, organs, guitars & also electronica only help create a wonderful place where you will want to escape to with them many many times. Truly original. Excellent!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2007
I'm glad I bought my copy of The Trials of Van Ocupanther ahead of Bamnan and Silvercork as I fell in love instantly with 'the trials..' but had to work very hard to love Bamnan - had I heard it first I would have binned it after a couple of listens and forgot Midlake existed. . . but eventually the tunes on this disc get inside you and . . . I'm in love.

Unlike other reviewers I'm not familiar with the sound of Grandaddy and so can't make comparisons, but then Bamnan and Silvercork sounds like nothing else I know, but curiously I wouldn't say this recording has a unique sound to it. Listen hard and be rewarded.
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Like others I came to this album after hearing The Trials of Von Occupanther and The Courage of Others. It is much sparser than either of those. It's very much a lo-fi production and almost an experimentalist approach that drops somewhere around Mercury Rev territory.

Certainly not a bad album, but one where the band seem to be trying to find their way. There are hints of the atmospheric, tuneful songs to follow but it's all a little too low key to be memorable.
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on 1 May 2013
Very different from Occupanther in style, but nevertheless a great collection of quirky, melodic tunes. Very similar in feel to Grandaddy's Sophtware Slump with lots of synth and fuzz. Like this a lot, probably a bit more than Occupanther right now. Definitely recommend buying if you like either Midlake or Grandaddy.
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on 12 March 2014
Midlake's first album shows that they were a class act from the very start. If you like well crafted songs by proper musicians you should check this out.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 July 2004
I first picked up on Bella Union's newest signings Midlake after watching a video on MTV2 for "Kingfish Pies", a wistful indie track. After staggering across this album at a cheap price in my local indie store, I picked it up. What I got was more or less what I expected: an album of wistful indie pop songs ideal for a summer's day.
The first thing to notice about Midlake are the vocals courtesy of Tim Smith. The main thing about the voice of this man is that it's hard to tell whether he's actually singing them or just speaking them (much like Grandaddy or The Flaming Lips). This in itself adds a different (very fragile) feel to the music, and without this Midlake wouldn't be half as special as they are. Lyrically, it doesn't get much more bizarre. There are songs on this CD about outlawing balloons, kingfish pies and someone trying (and failing) to escape in a hotair balloon. Serious business this ain't.
The album starts off with 'They Cannot Let It Expand', where the title line is repeated over and over again over the top of keyboards and a drum machine effect. This is a nice enough way to start, not greatly special though as it's the same thing over and over. Things don't really start to pick up until the second track 'Balloon Maker', where the sound is a lot more 'full' (more instruments, samples etc) and the chorus is very catchy. Incidentally - this is also where I first noticed how many instruments are present on this album, from trumpet to flute to xylophone. Next up is 'Kingfish Pies' which I was expecting to be the standout track, but it fits in really well. So far so good, but there are occasions when the mood takes a turn for the miserable, where the songs go from charming to a little too depressing ("I Guess I'll Take Care", especially - a love song sung in such a depressed emotionless tone of voice that it sounds more like b-side material), but as we go through the tracks, the main problem with this album is it tends to go at the same pace all the way through, and at first listen it is hard to tell what defines the tracks. Indeed, if you had to identify the slower or faster songs on this album, theres really not a lot to separate them. Luckily though, most of these songs grow on you in time and it bears repeated listens (even if you do just have it on in the background).
Ultimately if you like things upbeat and serious then this album isn't for you, but on the whole 'Bamnan and Slivercork' is recommended largely for fans of light indie, in the same vein as stuff like Belle and Sebastian and Hefner. If you like the single 'Kingfish Pies', you should find the rest of the album quite pleasant. If you haven't heard them then with a lo-fi sound akin to early Grandaddy (especially vocally), Guided By Voices and other 90s underground US heroes, then if you like any of the above bands you should give this lot a chance. While Grandaddy are still together, Midlake will never be kings of geeky indie, but it will be interesting to see what these 5 people do in the future.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2010
The change of style from this to Tales of Van Occupanther is striking. But this is a very good album that takes a few listens. if you like The eels then you will like this. Persevere...its worth it
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on 25 January 2015
great album
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Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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The Courage Of Others by Midlake (Audio CD - 2010)

The Trials Of Van Occupanther
The Trials Of Van Occupanther by Midlake (Audio CD - 2009)

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