On his self-titled debut, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson enlists all-star help in friends Chris Taylor and Chris Bear of Grizzly Bear and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio. But he isn't overshadowed by these more accomplished musicians; instead, Robinson has a style and flair all his own. His emotive, at times tormented rock rides on the clamor of discordant guitar jabs, tinny drums, and pained singing.
The album surveys the "party wreckage of my youth," Robinson says. "I think it's the first record I ever made that's 100 percent my voice and as close to honest as I could make something," which helps explain the use of his full name. When Taylor suggested he perform under the name of a one-man band, Robinson "gagged" at the thought of mimicking artists such as Bright Eyes. "I don't like it when other people tell me how to present myself, because I'm trying to do something free of artifice and affectation."
The record opens with "Buriedfed," in which Robinson takes a surreal look at his own funeral. The song begins with a sparse, bare-bones arrangement of mumbled vocals and a quiet guitar, then builds to anthemic proportions as Robinson cries out, "Believe me, I wish that I were dead." The clanging guitars and drums of "Woodfriend" give the track a caustic sound, making Robinson's vocals seem all the more tortured. Robinson's heavy lyrics and anguished blues vocals give the record immediacy and honesty.
In his MySpace artist bio, Robinson is described as having "squandered much of his initial momentum and potential promise in an alcoholic haze." Robinson sees the description as a joke: "That's the last time I tried to write anything biographical," he says. "I was just so sickened by the whole MySpace thing." In his blunt way, he adds, "I've drank a lot of whiskey and I've done a lot of drugs, but I think that is the least interesting and certainly the least unique thing about me and my music."
Robinson just completed the mixing on his second record, produced by Malone, which will be titled Summer of Fear.
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