As far as influences go, Milk Music plays by the book. Two parts punk rock cantankerousness and one part guitar rock fanaticism, the Olympia slack rockers fit the profile of a Washington act lock and key. But the band has always forcefully pushed back against the Neil Young and grunge comparisons that tend to get hurled its way by critics.
They haven’t minced words about a distaste for being painted in such broad strokes, but Cruise Your Illusion, Milk Music’s debut full-length, validates the music literati trying to tuck them away in their dingy musical corner. From the lean, scrappy production value to the grandiose guitar solos and Alex Coxen’s wobbling, vocal delivery a la Grant Hart, the record has the messy fingerprints of indie rock’s cherished first wave smeared all over it. It’s there in the Neil Young-leaning intro “Caged Dogs Run Wild”, the sloppy, bombastic volume of tracks like “Cruising With God” and “No, Nothing, My Shelter”, and the cow-punkish lean of “I’ve Got a Wild Feeling”, which channels the carefree sounds of the Meat Puppets.
If we’re to put stock in Coxen’s words, then Cruise Your Illusion is the mark of a band that’s become what it most fears. But in an era where today’s indie rock comes a little overpolished at times, the record’s crude throwback to those old, insurgent guitar rock sounds is almost soothing in its grit. With inspiration this rewarding, Milk Music doesn’t need to shy away from its influences, even if it wears them proud on its sleeve.
Essential Tracks: ”No, Nothing, My Shelter”, “I’ve Got a Wild Feeling”