Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Milk Thistle
Beauty Bar, 3/30

Milk Thistle has two pretty charismatic, loud singers. You can hear the words they're saying even when the band is going at full power. That puts them two up on many locals. They also have some plus songs. They're not conventionally structured but they're rehearsed and the members of the band are on the same page. At their best moments, both guitars and bass chip away with layered rhythms while the drummer steers confidently. Their sound is quite current, well-defined, and they've left themselves room to move around in it. They have double-time grooves and ballad feels to break from their midtempo comfort zone.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend you go see them... yet. I think I like their songs and I definitely like their singers, but picking out the original qualities of their music requires superhuman effort at this point. That's because the band doesn't really have the slightest idea how to set up their equipment to play outside of the confines of their practice space. Popping bass on their first song had me on the verge of walking out. Only close visual examination proved that their guitar players were in fact working distinct, separate parts, because as far as sound went it was an unpleasant buzzing wave of nasty indistinct midrange. Their drummer plays tom-heavy, and pretty well, but he got drowned out in the mess. For their bassist I have a useful (stolen) piece of advice: there's no money above the fifth fret. Treble-kicking bass is fine -- if it's not just driving into a three-way pileup with two mid-heavy guitars.

When you play with two rhythm guitarists, like Milk Thistle, you have to find a way to differentiate the sounds of the two. Similar guitars, similar settings, similar amps and you're going to step all over each other. If you strain, you can make out the excellent ideas these guys are developing, but you have to be really inclined to give them a chance.

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