Record Review: On Stranger Times, Milagro Saints' Folk-Rock Gets Mad | Record Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Record Review: On Stranger Times, Milagro Saints' Folk-Rock Gets Mad 


Anger is an energy, sang John Lydon, and some righteous fury seems to have jolted Milagro Saints on the Raleigh band's eighth LP, Stranger Times. The record barrels open with "Shadow Man," which inveighs against rapacious fracking companies on personal terms and heaps ire on those who live to exploit the earth.

For a band that often occupies a musical space somewhere between jam-band comfort and folk-rock taste, the song deploys a welcome sense of urgency. A similarly righteous anger—married to a Bo Diddley beat and riveting slide work—animates a fiery cover of Woody Guthrie's "Deportee," written about a 1948 plane crash that killed mostly Mexican migrant workers. With all this talk of walls, the take is all the more powerful.

Milagro Saints formed in 1995, the same year Americana became an established radio format, and moved to North Carolina in time to catch the region's alt-country boomlet. As the genre has expanded, the band has steadily mined its growing permutations. Early works skewed toward the reverent, while more recent fare added baroque Band-style instrumentation and even straightforward pop. Stranger Times builds on this mastery of diverse styles accrued over years, the palette trending toward the grittier end of Americana.

It's not all gloom. The burnished vocals of romantic shuffle "Heart Painted Red" sounds uncannily like the once-lost legend Rodriguez and his clean Cali pop, lifted by a lilt borrowed from vintage Van Morrison. The blues stomp "Rail Rider" roars with passion, although it sounds as if the lyrics were added only to suit the mood. "Another Country," or what the band terms "cosmic Americana," keys on lovely glints of steel and phased mandolin. With a suitably tipsy groove, the New Orleans tribute "Ruby Moon" ends the LP with an excessive build—righteous energy spent, hair suitably let down, lolling in the fecund source of American musical tradition.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Record Review

Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Love it! All the songs are beautiful!

by Jon Champion on Record Review: The Return of The Veldt, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation, Is Great (Record Review)

This release will be available Friday December 4th here:

Thanks! …

by Scott Phillips on Review: The electronic excellence of GNØER's Tethers Down (Record Review)

You should have let Currin write this. One of the best singers on earth and these were your observations? sounds …

by Remo on Record review: Jeanne Jolly's A Place to Run (Record Review)


© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation