With five equally talented musicians, it’s obvious Milo Greene is a BAND. There’s no frontman; there’s no frontwoman; there’s no main vocalist or “face” of the band. Rather, when you say the name Milo Greene, you picture the faces of these five singers, songwriters and crafty multi-instrumentalists.
The success of their 2012 debut self-titled album–noted for its cinematic-pop and moody undertones–has made for a long two-and-a-half years for Milo Greene. They have had songs featured on television shows such as Supernatural and Grey’s Anatomy; they have opened on nationwide tours for acts such as the Civil Wars in 2013 and Bombay Bicycle Club in late 2014; they have made fans across the country and established themselves as a Los Angeles-based band who is capable of reaching nationwide audiences. With their new album Control released just this past Tuesday, the band of UCI alum is headed in a new yet entirely exciting direction.
In a stripped-down and very intimate performance celebrating the release of their album, the band reprised their appearance at Fingerprints Music in Long Beach–a small record store/coffee shop/live performance space–for the third time. They presented a slate of new songs to be heard by anxious, long-time friends and fans; they also played two old-time favorites (“1957″ and “Autumn Tree”). Fans who had pre-ordered their album gained free-entry into this RSVP-only event and had the liberty of personally meeting, chatting and getting CDs, vinyl records and complimentary posters signed by the band.
“The idea of switching genres doesn’t exist anymore,” Robbie Arnett told LA Weekly. “If the songwriting is there, it doesn’t matter if it’s a synth or mandolin, it will be good.”
As opposed to the band’s previous record, which boasted of a darker, more cinematic soundscape well suited for film scores, the new record is lively. They’ve added synthesizers, drum samples and new grooves, constituting to an entirely different sonic landscape. Though, the band has noted that the songwriting is still the same.
Opening with a mellowed-out version of “White Lies” off the new record, drummer Curtis Marrero lightly tapped on his conga drums. Marlana Sheetz took the vocal spotlight as Andrew Heringer, Graham Fink and Robbie Arnett slowly lent their respective voices and instruments.
Just from the opening of this song, long-time listeners felt the familiar vocal pulls; the groove may have been more rhythmically-driven, but the same cinematic voices and contrast of sounds were still there.
As fans slowly raised their hands with questions for the band in between songs throughout the performance, Fink noted that their 50 initial songs weeded down to 13 for the record; Heringer mentioned the shift in genres as having been inspired by the band’s move from the outskirts of the city into the city (the previous was written in a “cabin in the woods,” whereas the new “urban” record was written in their respective spaces around Los Angeles); Sheetz also added that she was personally inspired by rhythm for this record, envisioning drums and beats in her mind to which the “human drummer” Marrero played out as Sheetz wrote lyrics over.
In this respect, whereas the previous record was written primarily with acoustic guitars as the band found ways to implement drums into them, Control is a reversal of that act. They started with drumbeats and structured the rest of their songs around those beats.
Revealing nicknames such as “Margaux” and “Marginga” for Marlana, “Diedra” for Andrew, “Bobert the Cat” for Robbie, “Tron the Machine” for Curtis and Graham who should be called “Graham Nicknameless,” their friendly banter and silly demeanors definitely made for an entertaining night played to a short, intimate thirty-minute set.
The album as a whole is a tight, smartly crafted collection of songs with the vibe of a retro 80s dance-pop soundtrack played to whispering vocals and echoes. More upbeat and “dance-y” (“On The Fence,” “Lie To Me”) than the previous record, it has the “cool” of sunglass-wearing Los Angelenos (“When It’s Done,” “Not Enough”) with the familiar cinematic interludes and dreamlike instrumentals fans are used to (“Lonely Eyes,” which the band performed live on Conan, is one groove-worthy tune).
As practiced musicians with the cinematic ear, their songs are still very detailed and introspective. You get the unique vocal love from four–yes, four–vocalists (you can bet their live performances are a lot of fun), but they’ve taken on a new sonic landscape with vocals that are more clear and upfront; but, they can be played just as well on an acoustic guitar, as their stripped-down Fingerprints performance has proven.
– Rachel Ann Cauilan