Review : Wymond Miles - Under The Pale Moon
Consequence of SoundThe whole affair of Wymond Miles’ debut LP, Under The Pale Moon, feels very clandestine and cloistered away from his work as lead guitarist in the San Francisco sunny-psych band The Fresh & Onlys. The songs don’t clear the clouds; they create them, and boy, do they hang heavy in the air. The solo work of Miles — going back to his mystic, meticulous debut EP, Earth Has Doors — has always been musically disparate from that of The Fresh & Onlys, and on his debut LP, Miles continues to chisel out a personality of his own as a gothic romantic unafraid of crossing the same treacherous emotional bridges that Robert Smith or Television Personalities did in the ’80s.
As opposed to the years that went into Earth Has Doors, Miles penned these songs in just a few short months, amidst a tumult of touring, recording, and coping with the loss of a friend and family members. The compressed emotion of that short period pours out of Miles’ voice, set back in his throat like so many of those post-punk Manchester singers of yesteryear (not since Billie Joe Armstrong has a Californian sounded so British). Miles’ flare for emoting with his croon is perhaps the most charming characteristic of his work, like the little growl on the chorus of “Youth’s Lone Wilderness” or the dramatic noir of “Trapdoors & Ladders” that rightly belongs next to any solid Nick Cave ballad....full text
All MusicThe full-length debut release from the Fresh and Onlys' guitarist following an earlier EP, Under the Pale Moon, finds Wymond Miles coming off a series of personal tragedies, aiming to create a series of songs reflecting a newfound passion and appreciation for life. The result is something that may not always seem squared away with that impulse, but such is mass culture's desire to reduce things simplistically -- Under the Pale Moon is no Up with People-style production, but it isn't meant to be. Instead, the combination of crypto-goth moodiness -- nods to Bauhaus but especially to Will Sergeant's work with Echo & the Bunnymen are omnipresent -- and an older kind of drama, reaching back to Phil Spector's productions and Roy Orbison's mini-operas, recombines throughout on a remarkable series of songs. Something like the sharply titled "You and I Are of the Night," at once dramatic and a little wink to the audience, feels simultaneously like a late-'50s tearjerker and a reworking of that tearjerker by a band like Modern English, wielding a strong kick with deeper roots than expected....full text
CmjThe sound, a reverb-soaked voice over simple, New Wave-y rock progressions, has been done before, and so has the melancholic questioning of life’s importance. Perhaps the most impressive feat here is how Miles is able to package all of these sounds in easily accessible, inventive pop songwriting. Every song is catchy and pleasant, especially “Pale Moon” and “Singing The Ending.” There is also enough variation that things stay captivating. “Run Like The Hunted” is essentially a slowed-down, chilled-out, ’70s metal song, yet the very next track is reminiscent of Beach House without synths. He even delves into country jamming a bit with his noodling on “Bandlands.”
This album is a fairly straightforward expression of Miles’s troubling times. While less in your face than his work with the Fresh And Onlys, the album stands its ground and ends on a powerful note. The last track, “Trapdoors And Ladders,” weaves an extended metaphor, comparing the states of life and death to a house and an attic. While those who have passed are “caught in the attic, looking for trapdoors,” Miles is left “looking for ladders.”...full text
PrefixThis is the year where the dam finally burst for San Francisco's Fresh & Onlys, where the already prolific band's (three full lengths in the past four years, plus one more due later this year, for those keeping score) members finally produced more music than their marquee act could handle. Thus came the inevitable side projects: frontman Tim Cohen emerged with Magic Trick, while clutch guitarist Wymond Miles embarked on a high-minded solo career; his debut EP for Sacred Bones Earth Has Doors dealing in all sorts of esoteric subject matter that addressed several big-picture issues. Then, life went and intervened. A close friend died, along with a few family members, and now we have Under The Pale Moon, a record ostensibly about loss. While this subject would be enough for some artists to build an entire album around, Miles instead has crafted a record that captures the act of pushing through and beyond negative circumstances while setting it to a series of rollicking romps through archetypes of independent-minded rock both present and past....full text
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