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Blake Miller

Together With Cats

(Exit Stencil Recordings; US: 14 Nov 2006)

Although the press release wants you to believe that Blake Miller falls in line with Devendra Banhart and Grizzly Bear, you’d be hard pressed not to find someone like Ralph Stanley deep in the mix. That is, for one song anyway. The mountain-tinged country oozing out of “Sinners” is what seals this song’s deal. After that, sure, the Banhart comparison is quite just during “International”, a barebones tune that could have been created in 1967 or 1968. “Summer She’s Hiding” is another tender, heartstrings-tugging number that has Miller reaching and achieving those precious high notes. The musician also hits paydirt with the tender, lovable “Swing Set” that sounds like it was recorded in one take in the wee hours of the morning but could easily put you to sleep with its fantastic lullaby feeling. Perhaps what doesn’t come through is that Miller is only 19 years old, but these songs sound way beyond his limited years, particularly on the somewhat bouncy “In Our Own Places”. Although most of the songs are around two minutes and change, Miller places a great amount of creativity in each, especially with the sweet “Your Own Tree” that could mistaken for a Ron Sexsmith cover. The lone miscue is “Mr. Green” which has little direction and relies on the percussion to drive the song home. Miller’s warble is best evident on “Rain And Sunrise” that recalls Ricky Nelson or Tom Brosseau.

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Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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