Mellifluent Mondays: Midlake

March 10, 2008 at 5:15 pm (friends, music, music video, nostalgia)

Seeing as how imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I thought I’d go ahead and make a a series of posts about music after the Sunday Night Serenades of Greg, my internet acquaintance over at A Chronicle of Fables. This series of mine won’t just focus on music I particularly enjoy, though that may often be the case, but also on the strange and unique.

I found out about Midlake randomly on the internet one day back in December. Since then, I must have listened to this particular song upwards of five hundred times. It helps that I’m easily amused by the name of the song.

Roscoe comes from Midlake’s concept album The Trails of Van Occupanther which focuses on the day to day lives of pioneers at the end of the 19th century. This particular song provokes in me a nostalgia for a period in the past I never experienced, which I suppose is quite haunting. Myself, I find that Midlake’s sound falls somewhere between Radiohead and Neil Young. Here’s Head Home which finds Midlake in Fleetwood Mac territory:

But there’s someone I’d like to see
She never mentions a word to me
She reads Leviathan

I think I’ll head home

For me, there’s something inherently attractive about these lines. I mean, a girl ignoring you while she reads Hobbes? What kind of glutton for punishment does this guy have to be to be pining for a woman who reads this type of book? At least he wisely, though with melancholy, goes home and gives up his pursuit.

Midlake’s earlier material is less appealing to me as I find them much to similar to acts such as Radiohead or The Flaming Lips. I guess it’s just difficult to live up to these comparisons and the expectations they bring. To see what I’m talking about you can watch the video for Balloon Maker from Midlake’s first LP, Bamnan and Slivercork:

Interesting piece of trivia: the previous video was directed by My Name is Earl’s Jason Lee.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next week: Moondog.



  1. Greg said,

    These are very cool Mark. I am flattered. Cheers!

  2. truth9 said,

    As I am not really a fan of any of the bands to whom you compare Midlake, they don’t really seem to be my thing.

    I have to be in a very specific mood to enjoy Radiohead, and I think this band would require a similar mood.

    And yes, I have implied in this comment that I am not a fan of Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac or The Flaming Lips.

  3. asfarasthoughtcanreach said,

    Greg: No problem. I’m glad you enjoyed them.

    J: I can’t say I’m surprised, as music is one of those few spheres where our tastes diverge. If you haven’t already, I’d still say give Roscoe a listen. If you have, well, I guess thems the brakes.

  4. Wes said,

    I definitely enjoyed Roscoe over all the others. Head home was a good time too, though. Always love a song that tells a story of some sort, no matter how specific. I have heard it said that excessive specificity in song lyrics creates a gap between the musician and the listener, as they can no longer apply it but I don’t believe that to be so. As seen in Roscoe, it’s all about how it is pulled off that decides how engaging it is, not about how general the concepts are. Your powers of nostalgia are strong, Midlake.

    Oh, and I could do without the last song . . . though the video was mildly interesting 😉

  5. truth9 said,

    I listened to all three, and none of them are bad, per se, they’re just not my thing.

    Not that I have a clue what would even classify as “my thing.” Probably something more upbeat.

  6. asfarasthoughtcanreach said,

    Wes: I thought you’d like it. And I imagine we had similar responses to Balloon Maker, albeit for different reasons.

    J: Alright. I’ll keep that in mind.

  7. Amanda said,

    I dunno, I kinda like them. But it’s driving me crazy because they remind me of another band but I can’t place it. I can just picture myself driving and listening to something similar on the radio but other than that I have no clue…argh Oh and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Balloon Maker before it reminds me of the Beatles.

  8. Jessicq said,

    i am gonna show this to my friend, brother

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