Fiery rock, flamboyant Americana and understated jazz influences come together to make one of the most interesting releases due out this September in Milquetoast & Co.’s new record, Kashmir the Great. Comprised of five ferociously experimental compositions, Kashmir the Great is an ambitious extended play that doesn’t conform to any conventional standards at all whatsoever - but that said, casual listeners shouldn’t stay away from its tenacious tracklist in favor of pursuing something a bit more stock. For all of its eccentricities, Milquetoast & Co.’s latest release is defined by a humble melodicism that binds its material to an iconic American soundtrack that some critics (myself included) had feared long gone and never to return. It’s a stone-cold classic from a criminally underrated band, and that’s putting it very mildly.
“No Speak So Good” and “Idiot” express more through texture and tonality than they do their enigmatic lyricism, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they’re devoid of poetic substance – quite the contrary, actually. All of the tracks in Kashmir the Great are steeped in an aesthetical duality that extends well beyond the limitations of genre, and even in the EP’s most experimental of moments (i.e. the bold “Lost Coffee” and “Ghosts of the Keynote”), the music never sounds so in love with its own lofty ambitions that it loses touch with an essential structure. This is a surprisingly accessible alternative record in a summer that has been in need of something boasting its striking cosmetics.
“Tell Me More,” “Ghosts of the Keynote” and “Lost Coffee” all have a slightly improvisational feel to their construction, but all three reject the very notion of overindulgence right from the get-go. Milquetoast & Co. designed Kashmir the Great to be as fluid as a live performance would be, and yet their focused attack amidst the grinding gears of “Keynote” sounds almost divinely orchestrated, despite the composition’s rough edges. Whether you’re a hardcore audiophile or merely enjoy something a little outside of the status quo every now and again, I would tell you to get ahold of this extended play on the next possible occasion; it possesses all of the same charms one would discover when browsing mainstream indie recordings without any of the predictability that has become so engrained within the branding in the last few years.
Milquetoast & Co. turn in a brilliant addition to their already intrepid discography of ballads, brute experimentations and supple sonnets in Kashmir the Great, and I think that longtime followers of the band are going to be particularly taken with its unwaveringly progressive stylization. This is an awesome look for the group, and more importantly, a step towards an evolution that was necessary for their continued development as a unit. Though some of the tracks on this extended play might push the sonic envelope past the line of acceptability for purist pop fiends, I get the impression that this was a deliberate intention of Milquetoast & Co., who go out of their way to distinguish themselves as an elite group of songwriters in this latest set of recordings.