Martin Cohen spent nearly 10 years playing bass for Manchester alt-rockers Nine Black Alps before heading out on his own in 2011, taking on the moniker Milk Maid for his solo project. His second album with Fat Cat Records, Mostly No, is a disc-ful of psych-tinged rock stompers recorded in glorious lo-fi, Cohen making use of every fuzzy layer he can manage. Released less than a year after Milk Maid’s debut, Yucca, this batch of tunes is fun, loose, and wild, though it can drag in places in its brief 32 minutes.
Usually, the quicker the pace of the songs on Mostly No, the better. While slow burners like “Stir So Slow” feature soft, smoky vocals and a charming guitar riff in the chorus, its lazy loll doesn’t readily distinguish itself from the tracks that surround it, using much the same tone and feel, just slowed to a crawl. The fact that the vocals are often buried to a degree that hides the lyrical content isn’t so much of a trouble when the song is a head rush, but when it’s a lumberer, the mind wanders too far from the moment, as on the nondescript, screechy “Drag to Find”. Two exceptions to the “slow is bad” rule are “Your Neck Around Mine”, a sweet ballad that swirls and churns in its medium pace, and “Old Trick”, which changes things up with its airy composition.
It’s no surprise that a tune called “Summertime” would provide a winner for a band that fits into the vein of blurry, distorted, broken surf rock bands of recent summers. The song’s spacy distortion, ripples of feedback, and constant rush of drums make for one of the brighter moments on the disc, the sun glaring from the speakers along with Cohen’s easygoing delivery of the vocals. The equally chunky “Do Right” makes use of a tried-and-true surf riff, crescendoing vocals, and a skipping drumbeat, before being obliterated by feedback. There are many excellent, surfy noise rock albums that eclipse Mostly No, but Cohen’s laid-back vocals and howling guitar are enough to merit at least a listen.
Essential Tracks: “Summertime”