Review: Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface

Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface

Before recording anything for Manchester Orchestra’s fifth album, Andy Hull aimed to deconstruct what the band was. “My challenge was whatever you’re instinctively going to want to play on the record, try and not do that,” Hull explained to UPROXX earlier this summer, “try and do the opposite of that thing.” Obviously, there isn’t anything like a simple “how-to” guide on achieving such a goal, so the band worked with multiple producers at various studios to create a record that could cement their legacy as one of this era’s great rock bands. And after a year full of obsessive detail, second guessing, and a grueling recording process, Manchester Orchestra emerged with A Black Mile To The Surface, their most majestic and challenging record yet.

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Review: Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface

Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on June 9th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Why hello there.

Ever since the album showed up in my inbox, this has been probably the most requested “first listen” blog yet. I was waiting until the embargo ended to talk and write about this one in more detail, and with the announcement and single release today … I figured I might as well just kick this one out right now! The album is out in about a month and a half, so it’s not super early, and this will also allow me to come back to this thread in the next month and add new thoughts as I continue to listen and grow with this album.

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Review: Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

”I remember seeing the Blood Brothers play at the Masquerade and it scaring me to my core. I’d never heard of them. I just went with a friend, and then shortly after that I realized that I want that power. I wanted that power just to shock people with sound.” – Andy Hull

The first time I ever met Andy Hull, we connected a bit on a love for The Blood Brothers. Not a band you would expect the frontman and lyricist of Manchester Orchestra to have a heart for, but in reality, Hull has quite a musical archive of influence, even telling me how he likes turning fans onto new bands or ones they may never have heard of. Aside from his admiration as a music fan, the above pulled quote also speaks volumes in a quest to be not only challenged, but have the audacity to simply “put up or shut up.” With 2009’s Mean Everything to Nothing, the band saw a sophomore incline of sorts: two radio singles and a well-received album that personally landed in my lap at one of the biggest changes in my life thus far. On the most personal of levels, the band’s second release was the perfect soundtrack to leaving college and moving away as Deja Entendu was the score when entering it.

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Review: Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing

Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing

Quick note to the rest of the albums coming out this year: The bar has just been set.

Over the years there have been a select group of artists that have become so well respected within our community that they have reached almost hallowed ground. Their recordings are considered by some as the pinnacle achievement of what our little music scene can create. These bands top many “all time favorite” lists – and even years later their influence and replayablity dominate the eardrums. I’d like to present to you the next candidate for admission: Manchester Orchestra.

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