Blake Miller - Burn Tape (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Blake Miller

Burn Tape (2009)

Exit Stencil

Blake Miller is a young dude with a decent bit of acclaim. When he was 19, he released his debut, Together with Cats, and scored a 7.4 from Pitchfork. Not bad. I don't know if my grade would go that high with this particular album, but he's definitely got some subtle talents.

On Burn Tape, Miller is two years older but manages to resonate with a certain maturity well beyond his ears. Nonetheless, he keeps a youthful earnestness about things, like in the beginning of "In the Danger," where he sounds like Ben Kweller covering Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin before bringing on some somewhat dissonant layers. In the next track, simple handclaps, mid-tempo acoustic strums and wandering, falsetto-ish vocals simultaneously recall a bit of Elliott Smith and whatever Chris Conley was listening to during the In Reverie years.

Burn Tape's willingness to explore simpler, one man / one guitar territory as well as more fuzzily layered compositions keeps those comparisons limited to specific tracks. "When the Sky Turns to Black (The Rain Is All Around)" is a mildly creepy endeavor that might evoke Thom Yorke comparisons. "We Drove Through Winter" is a bustling, quasi-freak-folk number with random items clacked around in the background and plenty of soulful group vocals.

Mostly, Burn Tape is a decent affair, but Miller doesn't fill his songs with enough lushness or elements that would otherwise turn fairly interesting songs into fully mesmerizing affairs. Still, he's got a neat knack for composition and a clean, delicate way of writing occasionally dirty songs (the bluesy "The Ghost of My Soul (My Hands Are Shaking)").

In the Danger