Miller Carr & The Shalants - Passage Through Wilderness Vol. 2 CD
The sound of Miller Carr's debut album (self-titled, on Isota Records) was once described in “what if” terms. As in, what if Tom Waits was born in Kingston, moved to Detroit to record a Smokey Robinson-produced album with the Velvet Underground as his backing band.
Where Miller’s first album condensed these varied influences, his latest (and first to be billed alongside his squirrelly, innovative band The Shalants) spreads them out and gives them space. Dark, dub-influenced, lyrically dense epics (“Monk and The Middle Child”); perfect playful slices of 60’s AM radio pop (“Hey La”); urgent propulsive pleas (“When It Comes Down...”); and a slippery, original surf song (“Katsu”) all share space on this modern masterpiece.
The album’s title, Passage Through Wilderness (part 2 of the Wilderness trilogy), not only speaks to the mania and wonder of the album’s concept, but also nods to the years Miller spent growing up in the idyllic, alpine wilderness of Northern California’s Shasta County. It’s a shot of his own journeys and experiences blown up movie size. The dreamy foggy soundtrack to a long-lost Terrence Malick film.
The band’s predilection for vintage instruments and self-recorded analog sounds recalls the bold sonic adventures of The Walkmen or Liars, while the songwriting’s mesh of Bob Dylan’s wide-eyed young diatribes and Todd Rundgren’s blue-eyed soul is securely in sync with fellow travelers such as Cass McCombs and Richard Swift.
1. Monk and the Middle Child
3. When It Comes
4. Rock My Boat
6. Phanta Sea
8. The Deserter
10. Crow and the Quail
11. Near Passarine