Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006) (1 Viewer)

pete

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4.20 star(s) Rating: 4.20/5 5 Votes
Title: The Trials of Van Occupanther
Artist: Midlake
Released: 2006

Tracks:
1 - Roscoe - 4:49
2 - Bandits - 4:04
3 - Head Home - 5:46
4 - Van Occupanther - 3:16
5 - Young Bride - 4:57
6 - Branches - 5:03
7 - In This Camp - 5:44
8 - We Gathered in Spring - 3:33
9 - It Covers the Hillsides - 3:14
10 - Chasing After Deer - 2:42
11 - You Never Arrived - 1:40

Overview:
In 2006, Van Occupanther was hailed as an instant classic and over the course of the next year proved to be the band’s commercial breakthrough. While their debut, 2004’s Bamnan and Slivercork, had drawn acclaim alongside comparisons to Grandaddy and Radiohead, Midlake looked further afield and deeper within for the follow-up. Suffused with a romantic yearning for the simpler life progress leaves behind, this was a record pitched between 1871, 1971 and somewhere out of time: between Henry David Thoreau and Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, between 1970s Laurel Canyon thinking and a longing for something more mysterious. Rich reserves of wistful melody, dreamy horns, rolling guitars and plaintive pianos reflect its elusive, idiosyncratic narratives: a couple long to be robbed by bandits so they can start anew, an outcast scientist ponders his pariah status, a woman chases a frisky deer, a river leads who knows where yet leaves you little choice but to follow…

Formed in the small town of Denton, with roots in the University of North Texas College of Music, Midlake attracted an early follower in Simon Raymonde, Bella Union Records owner and former Cocteau Twin. Raymonde fell in love with the band, and together they cultivated a relationship built on sharing Midlake’s music with the world. After the band’s debut became a favourite for many critics and fans, Midlake nurtured the desire to accomplish something even more unique. As Tim Smith, singer/songwriter for Midlake, said back then: “Compared to Bamnan and Slivercork, this album uses less keyboards in favour of acoustic guitar, piano, more vocals and electric guitar. The sound is something more related to ’70s folk-rock but not in a gimmicky way, hopefully. I have a great affinity for those bands from the ’70s, the music just seems to move me more. So when writing this album, of course those sounds came out in the music.”

Over 2006, audiences soon realised there was nothing “gimmicky” at work here. Famous admirers included Thom Yorke, Beck, The Flaming Lips, Paul Weller, James Dean Bradfield, St Vincent, actor/skateboarder Jason Lee and The Chemical Brothers; the latter gave Smith the vocal slot on “The Pills Won’t Help You Now”, the sadly stoical highlight from their 2007 album, We Are the Night. After Midlake’s 2006 touring schedule took them to an ever-growing fanbase, the music press awarded Van Occupanther high placings in end-of-year polls. Since then, their influence has perhaps been felt in the breakthrough of many a band or singer at one with the stuff of beards, bucolic yearning and blissful West Coast harmonies, from Fleet Foxes to Band of Horses, The Low Anthem, Jonathan Wilson, Matthew E White and beyond.

Not that Midlake stood still to lap up the praise: a band acutely attuned to nature’s shifts, they embraced change. In 2010, they ventured into darker psych-folk thickets for The Courage of Others and backed John Grant on his lustrously spiky breakthrough album, Queen of Denmark. When Tim Smith departed Midlake afterwards, guitarist/singer Eric Pulido stepped up to the lead vocal role for 2013’s freshly exploratory Antiphon. Since then, Pulido and various Midlake members have embarked on a new musical project with a cast of all-stars, including members of Grandaddy, Franz Ferdinand, Band of Horses and Travis.

All of this serves to reminds us what fertile seeds were sown with The Trials of Van Occupanther: a modern classic, made of vintage craft and timeless magic.
 

prefuse

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I quite like the 30 second samples. I was expecting more of an 60s / 70s English folk rock sound, but its more of an American 60s / 70s folk rock sound. There was a English folk rock band called midwinter so...anyway it sounds good right out the gate. I like the double tracked vocals & harmonies.

They sound a lot like a retro English band I like called The Fernweh.
 
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GO

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Roscoe - now there’s an opening track.
An absolute cracker of a tune.

i played that on repeat that whole year it came out. I love this album.
So much so that I played it the fuck out..but I'll give it a spin for old times sake later

Its easily the best album yet on Album Club
 

rettucs

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Saw these at the Electric Picnic around this time, I think. Imagine this in a horrid echo filled tent.
I thought they played EP the once and that was after 'The Courage of Others'? Was a great gig but the songs from that album didn't grab you in the same way as this one.

They played the Village just after this album came out. It was half-empty and was on the night before Sufjan Stevens played 2 nights touring his Illinoise album. Music will never reach those heights again.

Actually, that reminds me that I bought 2 CD singles at that gig and got them signed. Completely forgot about those.

I think I got to see them 5 times in total, once without Smith. Then the 2 Erics from the band played a show in the Workman's playing some Midlake songs, amongst other stuff.

This is one of my favourite albums of all time, and though I rarely listen to it these days, it always will be. I put it on the other morning, just after the Tim Burgess listening party and it still sounds great. It has an ambience about it that evokes imagery of simpler times, in rural America (for me anyway).

The lads were commenting that it was pretty much all recorded live (ish) in someone's living room. They were all still working jobs and the band was very much a part-time thing. That's incredible to think of now.

It was a crying shame when Tim Smith left the band. He always seemed somewhat of an accidental star and I don't think the relative fame sat well with him. He's had a couple of other projects since, but nothing really took any kind of foothold. He did guest vocals on a relatively unknown Chemical Brothers track.

The others have done interesting things since then too. The Midlake album without Smith wasn't that bad. There was BNQT and EB The Younger, all decent.

They're also responsible for John Grant, but lets not hold that against them.

This album though. Perfection.

10/5
 

rettucs

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Have never listened to Midlake before.

Mad how the garage rock revival got derided for being derivative but this 70s FM radio homage stuff was given a free pass.
just did some research to see if it was given a free pass


seems not. Not wanky enough for pitchfork
 

Lili Marlene

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just did some research to see if it was given a free pass


seems not. Not wanky enough for pitchfork
Pre-Condé Nast Pitchfork took no prisoners. I can tell already this album isn't for me but it sounds very lush and pretty. The mean part of me says it sounds like advertising music, the less mean says it could be used very effectively for atmosphere in films.

le scores:

1588328670919.png
 

7 - No tomorrow

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I definitely feel like Roscoe is an outlier for them- a top track - I never got what people liked about this record
Seemed dull as fuck to me
Saw them at a packed gig at the Village (I think) and everyone lost their minds for Roscoe and went back to dour appreciative nodding for the entire rest of the gig - so I don't think I'm imagining it


Got invited by a very pretty woman to their Vicar St gig, wouldn't have gone without the free ticket or the prettiness, and John Grant was supporting - never heard of him
Went right to the merch table after his opening set and bought QoD - I was not the only one



This record is like Pet Sounds for me - insofar as everyone gushes about it, tells you it's a classic and all you hear is wallpaper

I will give it another listen today. Like anyone gives a good goddamn what I think about it anyways.
 

rettucs

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I definitely feel like Roscoe is an outlier for them- a top track - I never got what people liked about this record
Seemed dull as fuck to me
Saw them at a packed gig at the Village (I think) and everyone lost their minds for Roscoe and went back to dour appreciative nodding for the entire rest of the gig - so I don't think I'm imagining it


Got invited by a very pretty woman to their Vicar St gig, wouldn't have gone without the free ticket or the prettiness, and John Grant was supporting - never heard of him
Went right to the merch table after his opening set and bought QoD - I was not the only one



This record is like Pet Sounds for me - insofar as everyone gushes about it, tells you it's a classic and all you hear is wallpaper

I will give it another listen today. Like anyone gives a good goddamn what I think about it anyways.
John Grant was dreadful that night. Got a mental block with him that I still haven't gotten past.

I remember that Village gig differently. I was up near the front and it was fairly sparse up there. Dreadful venue though. Once you were back past the door you were nearly better off staying at home.
 

7 - No tomorrow

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I remember that Village gig differently. I was up near the front and it was fairly sparse up there. Dreadful venue though. Once you were back past the door you were nearly better off staying at home.
Godawful

Was the jacks behind the stage?
So you had this constant stream of people pushing past all the time
Could ruin your whole night that place.
 
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