In 2011 my mind was drawn and plucked apart by super group/string band extraordinaire MilkDrive. Their first studio album elevated southern string and fiddle from accompanying sound to supreme instrumentation.
Confidently releasing their follow up to Road From Home, Brian Beken, Noah Jeffries, Dennis Ludiker, and Matt Mefford continue to amaze with Waves. The ten track jazz-grass album takes what I discovered last year and impressively amazes yet again.
If there was stock in MilkDrive, I’m buying. From conceptual masterpiece to utterly brilliant delivery MilkDrive is one of the most unique and important bands of our time. Their already lengthy list of accomplishments account for some of the best stringed talent to be collected, but their repeated ability to craft originally exquisite tracks stands out.
Sure, we can continue to classify them as Country/Folk, but that’s about as accurate as calling Gary Busey level minded. While they are instrumentally obligated to be thrown into that genre (I can’t remember the last banjo hip-hop album I heard) their wingspan is far too large for just simply Country/Folk.
Waves leans heavily on the instrumental prowess of MilkDrive with occasional vocal gems. I can’t say I’m going to complain. With all due respect to the vocals, this is an instrumental enthusiast’s dream. Tracks like “Gargamel’s Cat” and “Tom’s Ranch,” the latter splattered with flamenco influence, create an enticing, hypnotic ballad of an album as a whole; going as far as even covering “Dear Prudence.” The quartet from Austin have taken their sound, which I already held in high regard, and continue to amaze.
Beautifully orchestrated with masterful precision, all while keeping it appetizing to the passer-by, is a formula I’ve come to expect from MilkDrive and one they deliver with surprising ease. Beken, Jeffries, Ludiker and Mefford take what would be complicated to most of us, toss in some challenging peaks and well-timed lows, make it look easy and still have a smile on their face. I couldn’t begin to compose such a well-balanced album, but I sure as hell enjoy it.