"Heigh Ho"—Blake Mills Goes to Work

Though he's but thirty years old, guitarist, record producer, studio session and touring band member Blake Mills has had already had a dizzying career. He's toured with Jenny Lewis and Band of Horses and Lucinda Williams. He's done session work for Norah Jones, Weezer, The Avett Brothers and Andrew Bird among many others and he produced Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color for which he received a producer of the year, non-classical, Grammy nomination.

On this album, released two years ago, Mills breaks free from sideman status to produce and perform a startlingly original album that you are guaranteed to love first play and be stunned every play by its originality, ingenuity, good humor and stunning sound, recorded at Ocean Way.

On this album Mills takes a basic country music construction and by twisting, shaking and rolling it, creates a sprawling yet tightly compacted, crunchy, mind blowing sound that's both familiar and refreshingly original. If you think you've heard it all, but in variations, you will change your mind when you listen to this.

Blake loves sound, loves manipulating it in the studio and does so here on every track, producing surprises around every musical corner. The music shimmers, crunches and slides through four 180 gram sides that will keep you smiling and delighted throughout.

He's got onboard Fiona Apple, Benmont Tench, the drummer Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes (Mills was an original member of Simon Dawes, the precursor to Dawes), Don Was, Jim Keltner and many other "name" musicians but Blake is no sideman here. He's the star.

While this album was released two years ago, it's still ahead of its time and because it is not categorizable, it's slipped through many publicity and promotional channels. I don't know where it would be get airplay, but it definitely should on your turntable.

If you really need to "slot" this album, think of Ry Cooder and Van Dyke Parks on acid. Okay? It's nicely gatefold packaged with a color booklet and well-pressed too at QRP. Most highly recommended!

Music Direct Buy It Now

Here's Joe Harley's "The Joe Zone" video:

jblackhall's picture

The Audioquest YouTube channel highlighted this album a few weeks ago in a new series about albums and craft beer. I checked it out then and should pick it up on vinyl.

You might also consider checking out the new Mills-produced Dawes album that dropped this month, which is really great (and a complete divergence from their earlier work). I was expecting not to like it due to the change in sound, but it completely knocked my socks off. They are seriously talented musicians, and by adding funk beats and more complex arrangements, the new album takes their band to a new level.

Also, the first two Dawes albums were recorded to tape, and in my mind some of the best modern music around, especially Nothing Is Wrong. Worth checking out on vinyl if you haven't.

JEB-42's picture

I believe it is pressed by Quality Records Pressing is it not?

Just ordered it. Thanks for the tip!

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I read an interview with Eric Clapton fairly recently and he said that Blake Mills was one of his favourite guitarists.

James, Dublin, Ireland

Joe Harley's picture