Manchester Orchestra | A Black Mile to the Surface
I still remember hearing my first Manchester Orchestra song. I was 15 and walking my dog Ruby around my neighborhood. It was hot but the leaves were starting to change. "Colly Strings" was the most contemplative song I had experienced at that point in my life. I've been listening to this song for 10 years and I still find it haunting and beautiful. I'm still in love with the dynamics of the song, and the song still contains one of my all-time favorite lyrics: "don't stop calling / you're the reason I love losing sleep"
Black Mile to the Surface is (I'm pretty sure) their sixth album. Being the dummy that I am, I went into listening to this album thinking it would be a jaded-sounding album, or maybe something I could no longer relate to since I've been listening to their music since I was a teen. Wow, I was 110% wrong. This album is one of my favorites right now. I'm noticing that the musicians I grew up with (Kevin Devine, Brandi Carlile, Manchester Orchestra, etc.) are maturing as musicians as I grow up. The emotional and creative depth of this album is inspiring. When I was a teen, all I wanted to write were cute love songs. Now I want something more; I want to write something like this. Black Mile to the Surface feels very dark and bitter to me; and, honestly, as a Clevelander in the middle of winter I'm really digging the vibe.
I find it impressive that Manchester Orchestra has been able to stay true to a relatively consistent sound throughout the course of the band's career. I think about so many bands I listened to as a kid (like Tegan and Sara) whose sound has drifted from guitars to synths. I'm interested in how their style has changed, but I stopped listening when the guitars were replaced. Sometimes I wonder if this change was caused by creative or business interest. Was this a choice by the artist to challenge themselves, or a choice to stay relevant in an ever-changing music scene? But I digress; that's a topic for another blog post...