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Thursday, March 25, 2010

What to Do Tonight: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 7:32 AM

In 2008, this long-named Oregon singer-songwriter started a buzz with his self-titled debut album — a glorified demo that combined the R&B atmospherics of TV on the Radio with Elliott Smith’s low-fi basement folk. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson arrived on the scene showcasing a knack for creating unsettling urban elegies that fused deeply personal guitar ballads (about depression, homelessness and life’s general melancholia) with loud garage-rock aesthetics (heavy feedback, powder-keg drums and Robinson’s sad, harrowing croon). On his sophomore record, Summer of Fear, Robinson dials down the static for a set of glossy folk-rock melodies, written over a tough summer where he fought alienation as a growing musician. “Always an Anchor,” “Hard Row” and “Losing 4 Winners” are supposed to be about bad gigs, big relationship breakups and the self-loathing that comes with trying to “make it,” but each song is so beautifully ornamented that it’s hard not to get caught up in the sharp edges of their pop hooks. Once again produced and recorded with the help of TVOTR’s Kyp Malone and Grizzly Bear members Christopher Bear and Chris Taylor, each song on Summer of Fear starts soft but grows with big brass, soaring horns and string arrangements that glisten with optimism. It should be noted that you can rarely understand what Robinson is saying anyway, so it’s easy to fall for the charming atmosphere of these 12 tunes, which could easily be love stories instead of loath stories. Robinson’s sonic cellar-folk sound has really evolved, giving Summer of Fear a warm, diverse magnetism. It should be a welcome change to a thawing Akron landscape at Musica (51 E. Market St., Akron, 330.374.1114). Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers, Suckers and Bethesda open at 8 p.m. Tickets: $10. — Keith Gribbins

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