June 29, 2010

Review: Blake Mills - Break Mirrors

Blake Mills' career is sort of mind-boggling. He's toured with Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses, and Cass McCombs; recorded as a session musician with Julian Casablancas, Weezer, and Kid Rock; and was a founding member of the band Simon Dawes (now Dawes). Yet Mills is just a mere 23 years-old. That age is even more shocking after listening to Mills' debut record, Break Mirrors, set for release on July 6th. To call it a strong, thoughtful and wholly original debut would be an understatement. It's one of the year's best and most complete albums, easily holding its own alongside more veteran folk and roots rock albums like Josh Ritter's So Runs The World Away and Phophorescent's Here's To Taking It Easy.

At just 9 songs, Break Mirrors is certainly a short record, but its also absurdly consistent and detailed. From the airy background of quietly-plucked guitars in slow opener "Cheers" to the experimental echoed-bass drum and wall-of-guitars soundscape in "Under The Underground," Mills never simply settles for telling a straight lyrics-and-guitar story. The talented session player and Youtube-praised shredder has too much talent at his disposal to fit into the traditional singer/songwriter mold, with many of the songs on Break Mirrors instead veering into more exploratory territory, complicating themselves into fully-articulated and dynamic compositions. No song hits that mark more than "Winter Song," from its contemplative first minute-and-a-half to the drum-kicking-in chorus and eventual chill-eliciting burst of overlapping male/female harmony. Mills' lyrics and voice—a compliment of wordy insights and injustices with a gravelly, achey tone—find a perfect world to exist in here amongst layers of fluttering and singing guitars and beautifully-produced drumming. I'll say that again, the drumming on this record— reminiscent of the Beatles and Dr. Dog with its use of delay and echo—is expertly performed and remarkably satisfying. I wouldn't be surprised if Break Mirrors is my favorite record of 2010. It's just that good.

Stream: Blake Mills - "Hey Lover" (from Break Mirrors)
Stream: Blake Mills - "Winter Song" (from Break Mirrors)

Blake Mills - "Hey Lover" (Daytrotter session)
Blake Mills - "The Woman Knows (Demo)" (from Live From Shanghai EP)

Blake Mills

7 comments:

  1. You're so right on about Winter Song... it's the best on the record.

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  2. Pretty damn good! Gotta check this out s'more.

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  3. a staggeringly good record... sad that I just happened upon it by way of Dawes research. People should have been shouting about this record from the rooftops last year... better late than never. I can't wait to hear more from him!!!

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  4. For what its worth, i did shout from my own small rooftop, as it was my #1 record of 2010 (check the sidebar on the right). Still hoping someone re-releases it on vinyl. All i've got right now is a cassette tape I bought for $1.

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  5. yes you did! and props to you indeed... it's a stunner. I'm not familiar w/ the Simon Dawes output (I will be soon) but I'm floored by the two full lengths from the two former bandmates... excited to see what they do next. Keep up the good work! (I hope to put out an album worth talking about sometime this year!)

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  6. Looking for lyrics from Break Mirrors. Can't quite make out some of the lines. What a great debut album.

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  7. Looking for lyrics from Break Mirrors. Can't quite make out some of the lines. What a great debut album.

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