It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Jordan Michelman, who was a primary songwriter and the superb bassist in the now (and sadly) defunct Patience Please. A few years rest and he’s back with The Mill Kids. Michelman recently released the band’s debut album on Subtle Slope Records. The Mill Kids are uniquely original in that they possess the ingenuity of Elliott Smith, blend in the mopey vocal styling of artists like Conor Oberst and Owen, and top it off with the simple lo-fi genius of Daniel Johnston.
With the lo-fi sound, one would think — and they’d be correct nine out of ten times — that The Mill Kids’ music would be simple and, perhaps, even a hint twee. But it is not; far from it. “Who Falls?” features an oddly complex vocal pattern while other songs dive into intricate, plush melodies. Yet another indication that Mill Kids aren’t your standard DIY band. Lo-fi, yes, The Mill Kids’ near whispered vocals and softly strummed acoustic guitars draw relation to bedroom pop, while the gritty homemade production are fit for the basement.
It all leads to a fitting conclusion: A Zoo Full Of Zebras is a worthy and valiant effort from a tinkering basement bedroom king.
Subtle Slope Records [CD, 2010]
1. $100 Words
2. I’m A Menagerie
3. Who Falls?
4. Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure
5. Stinkin’ Thinkin’
6. Main St.
7. U Can Cry
8. Hypocrite Oath
9. Law Of Rule