Milo Greene has come a long way since a year ago, when they were being misnamed “The Milo Greene Band” on bills for local festivals. Since then, they've toured with The Civil Wars and have been playing pretty much constantly, somehow finding time to record their first album. The eponymous record, released this week, has been a long time coming — but worth the wait for anybody who's seen them live. If nothing else, the quality of the record ensures that people will take better care in getting their name right.
It really wouldn't be fair to judge the bandmates of Milo Greene by
traditional standards; on-stage, they trade instruments and places with
each other, spreading the idea of the frontman pretty evenly between
themselves. The quintet's moniker, too, falsely connotes a frontman —
Milo Greene isn't a band member, but rather a fictional booking agent
from past bands. Similarly non-standard, Milo Greene's vocal
arrangements vary between four of the five.
Robbie Arnett, Marlana Sheetz, Andrew Heringer and Graham Fink share lead vocal duties, guitars, bass and banjo on the self-titled record. (Curtis Marrero,
the band's drummer, is the only member dedicated to his instrument,
though he does well in tying together his four bandmates' variety of
An obvious pitfall of Milo Greene's brand of
sparkling, heavy-handed harmonies is that when nothing
is a background vocal, everything is pushed to the foreground. So while voice is used
prolifically and provides glittering, beautiful harmonies, these
harmonies at times can make distinguishing a clear lead a bit difficult. But much like Grizzly Bear's Yellow House or various other conceptual albums, Milo Greene
succeeds in creating a mystifying vocal experience rather than a
traditional lead vocal track. So while a tune like “Wooden Antlers”
probably won't stand alone like the spritely acoustic rhythms and summer energy of “1957,” each of these smaller tracks
help create a cohesive album rather than a thrown-together set of
recordings. The curt “Orpheus,” “Moddison” and “Polaroid” aren't going
to make the same lasting impression as Fink's understated vocal rattle in “Cutty
Love,” but they help simultaneously tie together the album while keeping
the harmonies from blending into one continuously drifting folk song.