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The alternative folk-rock act Midlake was formed in Denton, Texas in 2000 by a group of musicians who had attended the North Texas School of Music together. As their lineup shifted, they moved from a jazz background toward indie rock, as evinced on their debut EP Milkmaid Grand Army. After being taken under the wing of Simon Raymonde's Bella Union, it was with their second full-length release -- 2006's slick but mournful The Trials of Van Occupanther -- that they found their audience. 2010's British folk-rock-inspired The Courage of Others was even more successful -- charting high in six European countries -- but sessions for its follow-up led to the departure of their frontman, Tim Smith. By the time of 2013's Antiphon, guitarist Eric Pulido had stepped into the lead vocal role, and remained there beyond the lengthy hiatus that eventually ended with 2022's For the Sake of Bethel Woods. The band's initial, jazz-focused lineup featured Smith alongside Paul Alexander on bass, Eric Nichelson on guitar, Evan Jacobs on keyboards, and McKenzie Smith on drums. However, by the time of the release of Milkmaid Grand Army, Jacobs had departed, and Pulido and Eric Nichelson were both on board: the pair sharing guitar and keyboard duties. 1,000 copies of the EP were sold solely at Texas gigs, before their signing to Bella Union led to European concerts and the recording of their first full-length album, Bamnan and Slivercork, which was released in July 2004. For their next album, Midlake changed gears and moved away from the psychedelic leanings of their debut toward a more '70s-influenced sound. Released in 2006, The Trials of Van Occupanther featured the same lineup and a sound reminiscent of harmony-rich soft rock bands like America and Laurel Canyon troubadours like Neil Young and Gene Clark. They stopped touring the following year to begin work on The Courage of Others, which arrived in February 2010 to critical and commercial acclaim. In 2011, Midlake joined the ranks of bands like the Flaming Lips, Groove Armada, and Belle & Sebastian by releasing an installment in the mix album series Late Night Tales. That year they headed to Buffalo, Texas and began writing new material for their fourth album. After playing a few live shows in 2012, Tim Smith decided to leave the band to form a new project, Harp. Undeterred by his departure, the remaining members returned to the studio and scrapped two years of work to start from scratch. Pulido was installed on lead vocals and new members Jesse Chandler (piano/flute) and Joey McClellan (guitar) joined the outfit. They wrote and recorded their fourth release, Antiphon, in six months and released it in October 2013. For the remainder of the year and throughout 2014's festival season, the band's revised incarnation carried out extensive tours of Europe and the U.S., also finding time to visit Australia. In the immediate years that followed -- aside from rearing their head for a couple of minor live appearances -- Midlake ground to halt. Away from music, the band collectively opened a bar in Denton and raised families, while Pulido explored his interest in interior design. In 2015, Pulido began to assemble BNQT, a supergroup of sorts, featuring Jason Lytle, Ben Bridwell, Alex Kapranos, and Fran Healy -- not to mention Chandler, McClellan, and Mckenzie Smith as backing musicians. Aping the Traveling Wilburys, their 2017 album was titled Volume 1. Subsequently, in 2019, Pulido released a retro country-rock album, To Each His Own, under the moniker E.B. The Younger before Chandler explored electronics and hauntology as Pneumatic Tubes on 2021's Sunfrost and 2022's A Letter from Treetops. By this time, Midlake had reconvened, a move reportedly inspired by a dream in which Chandler's late father suggested that they do so. October 2021's hazy but urgent "Meanwhile…" ended their hiatus, and in March 2022, the band released their fifth studio album For the Sake of Bethel Woods.
© William Ruhlmann & James Wilkinson /TiVo


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