MPMF Preview: The Musical Miracles of Milagres

How do you feel about emotional rollercoasters in your headphones? Music that helps you feel, but only enough to have no idea exactly what is is that you’re feeling? In a way, Milagres (which means “wonderful events attributed to supernatural powers) fits that profile: they’re perfect for strolling into a field full of daisies and sunflowers with a knife in hand, not sure whether you’re there to celebrate the beauty of life around you or to cast it all aside and find empty rampage in your next breath. They’re an intricate balance of proverbial rock championed by the likes of Panda Bear with the curious mixings that ring deep in RJD2, with a touch of ambient dramatics similar to what makes Air so deliciously weird and consumable. 

Milagres conceived itself in 2010 out of the musical womb of Brooklyn, and was signed to the Kill Rock Stars music label in 2011. With Kyle Wilson on lead vocals and guitar, Fraser McCulloch on bass, Paul Payabyab on drums and Chris Brazee on keys, Milagres released their first full album, Glowing Mouth, in 2011. The title track, Glowing Mouth, is a refreshing step into a falsetto swoon with long, drawn compositions that drip ripe of Gorillaz influence woven with Björk-like harmonies that paint a beautiful feeling of floating like a butterfly through the entire song. The success of Glowing Mouth sent the group back to the studio, coming out with their second album, Violent Light, in February of 2014, a decidedly more intricate album that found influence in Wilson’s childhood journeys to the caves, valleys and mesa burial grounds of the Pueblo Indians in northern New Mexico.

The album’s lead track, Perennial Bulb, begins with an echoing silence that bleeds into an Animal Collective-esque swirling of ambient grooves, dropping like a heartbeat into powerful resonations that brings you to a cold, dark basement of reverberating bass similar to the dredge of Radiohead’s Lotus Flower. The product is a rock-and-roll that feels like a Phantogram jam on an opium drag, leaving us mellow and vulnerable for the coming crooning of the Terrifying Sea that carries us further from the shore in the next track. The vocals of this one beg comparison to Arcade Fire with a touch of Ween during their Shinola years, as an honest, composed ballad about grappling with one’s intrinsic worth versus what they see in the looking glass-self of their other, wanting to be that person instead of what they see in themselves.

We’re flung for yet another loop running into the third song on the album, Jeweled Cave, an upbeat nod to late 80’s rock ballads (Tears for Fears, anyone?) that are making an electrosynth resurgence through firestorm acts like Chromeo and Holy Ghost!. This song is a peek back at a distant past ripe with closeted history, an anthem to that moment of reverie we find ourselves in when reminiscing about the days of old. Milagres carries the power of this song into the fourth track, The Black Table, a steady but somber-feeling tale about love delivered with vocal dramatics similar to David Bowie.

Altogether, the first four songs of Violent Light are one of the most diverse album intros I’ve heard since St. Vincent’s recent self-title, St. Vincent. It’s an emotional charade between experimental rock vibes with macabre tunes that would be an ideal setting for sitting in a dark corner under a solo lightbulb taking drags off a spent cigarette filter as we contemplate where the colors of life have gone. My advice is to grab a canned beer, find your corner at The Drinkery and sip in the perplexities of Milagres at Midpoint on Saturday night at 12:15a. You’ll leave with the memory of either an amazing concert, or that point in your life where you found that everything just wasn’t right anymore. 

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Explore MidPoint Music Festival

Head into the city this weekend to experience MidPoint Music Festival: Cincinnati's three-day indie festival. MPMF greets us this Thu-Fri-Sat for the 13th time in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati. This is one of the most exciting events in the city for indie rock fans (and us). MPMF has a...