To write their first batch of tunes, Los Angeles quintet Milo Greene retreated to a cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Like so many indie bands before them, it was an attempt to shuck expected musical directions, an experiment to see what could be created without the modern hindrances of television, the Internet, and the city itself.
The experiment failed.
In escaping from LA, the band proved that you can never truly escape LA. City of Angels contemporaries Dawes semi-famously stated last year that there’s a “special kind of sadness that only comes from time spent in Los Angeles,” and Milo Greene embodies that LA indie sound’s prototypical sadness. It wouldn’t be special, though, if Milo Greene didn’t paint a dusky soundscape as chipper as it is introspective, with breezy instrumentation and gorgeous harmonies in the great tradition of Jackson Browne and mid-career Fleetwood Mac. Voices achingly weave together amidst tumbleweed-ing banjo, mandolin, and twilit guitar licks, asking in “Silent Way”, “When we’re older, can I still come over?” Like any band characterized by Laurel Canyon’s bittersweetness, Milo Greene is perpetually concerned with lost youth and the fault lines of romance.
Whenever I hear Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, I picture someone driving to pick up his date for prom. It is the ’70s, and his tuxedo is wrinkled as he coasts past elm trees. The sun is fading to an orange glow outside. Milo Greene’s music evokes the same images.
They also might fill the void left by another famous LA group, Rilo Kiley. “Don’t You Give Up on Me” recalls the dueling male/female harmonies of Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis, albeit with a more hopeful and innocent bent. Even their name comes from a fictional character created by the band. Milo? Rilo? The torch is passed.
That’s not to say that Milo Greene are rip-off artists by any stretch of the imagination. Their music possesses a greater amount of rusticity than anything on The Execution of All Things or More Adventurous, and it’s hard to picture them delving into the alluring and ultimately addicting coke rock of Under the Blacklight. But give them time. They’re still young, and there’s still plenty of time for further heartbreak.
But for now, Milo Greene is enjoying the summer release of their self-titled debut album, accompanied by a full tour and a much anticipated stop at Lollapalooza. Music fans should swing by the Playstation Stage on Saturday at noon if they prefer a little bit of fog with their sunshine.