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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Midlake - The Courage of Others 7/10
For a band as entirely oblivious to the whims of their fans as Midlake, it should come as no surprise that The Courage of Others again redefines the band's sound with barely a nod at what came before. Like their breakthrough record The Trials of Van Occupanther was a near-180 from the psychedelic rock of their debut Bamnam and Slivercork, their latest takes four years of...
Published on February 2, 2010 by Rudolph Klapper

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Midlake
I've been anticipating this album for years. I've been an avid fan since the release of Van
Occupanther. I spent 2008, 2009 and the beginnings of 2010 scrapping for the few photos,articles
and interviews - looking for a mere hint of what The Courage of Others might sound like. If you
are expecting the warm tones, upbeat rhythms and whimsical lyrics, you...
Published on February 15, 2010 by James


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Midlake - The Courage of Others 7/10, February 2, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
For a band as entirely oblivious to the whims of their fans as Midlake, it should come as no surprise that The Courage of Others again redefines the band's sound with barely a nod at what came before. Like their breakthrough record The Trials of Van Occupanther was a near-180 from the psychedelic rock of their debut Bamnam and Slivercork, their latest takes four years of incubating the rustic influences of artists as varied as Nick Drake and Pentangle and turns it into a strangely hypnotic album, one that is as different from what came before as it is likely to differ from whatever follows. It's easy to pin down the foundations that The Courage of Others is built upon, but it's far more difficult to realize whether Midlake has succeeded in distilling their own version of it all.

On the surface there seems plenty to like here for fans of Van Occupanther, but it quickly becomes apparent that the pop heart clearly present in past tunes like that record's "Young Bride" or "Bandits" has been tossed away in favor of a much more focused, much less accessible sound. Singer Tim Smith's distinct vocals run the show here, painting a portrait of past times and reviving the ghosts of `60s-`70s folk-rock with the uncanny ease of a weathered listener, and the band's traditionally countrified sound takes things one step further here. The album art should give anyone a pretty good indication of what's to come: Druidic rituals set to music, the worshipping of nature and living by the land, bucolic guitars weaving languid lines out and about around the omnipresent flutes and mournful, multi-tracked vocals.

It's not something to be taken lightly, and at times the experience can drag as such an utter dedication to a sound can tend to do. Van Occupanther succeeded because of its rich array of sonic textures that still managed to hearken back to an overall sound, a feel for the album that gave it a classic identity. The Courage of Others without a doubt has just such a unique identity, likely even stronger than what came before, but at times this comes at the expense of dragging, as when songs like "Small Mountain" and "Rulers, Ruling All Things" might overwhelm with the dourness of it all.

But it's the wholehearted attention to detail, the relentless pursuit of a tranquil sound meant to transport the listener straight back into the Appalachian woods, this kind of headphones album that makes The Courage of Others a decidedly experimental sort of success. It's uplifting to hear the softly flowing harmonies of a song like "Fortune," the anthemic climax to "Children of the Grounds" or the heartrendingly frank truths on the titular track. Midlake have shown again and again that they are a band not resistant to change but guided by it, always refining and redirecting their sounds as they see fit; after all, this is a band firmly situated in 1972 via 1821. It's the kind of forward thinking that should be praised more often than not, and while they would be advised to cut back on the flutes next go-around, The Courage of Others is a challenging and altogether rewarding experience.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, February 2, 2010
By 
Vinzo "vinzo801@aol.com" (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
Following the brilliant "Trials of Van Occupanther" comes a more diliberate and beautifully understated "Courage of Others". Some have called it 13th Century music for the 21st Century. Perhaps that captures the spirit of the album. Like Van Occupanther, the texture and tone of "Courage" are layered and aurally stunning. The songs are pastoral, timeless and deep. Having seen their live shows, which are great, the beauty of Midlake's carefully layered sounds are sometimes missed and not fully appreciated when listening to their CDs. The vocals throughout Courage continue with very subtle chorused sounds of two, three and more vocals which play on top, around and underneath Tim Smith's voice. The results are gorgeous. Similarly, the playing and musical instrumentation, have the same layered textures of guitar, keyboards and flute, which are tender and warm.

I think that some who are looking for another "Roscoe" or "Young Bride" might be dissappointed that there are no instant grabbers on "Courage", but let "Children of the Ground", "Acts of Man", "Winter Dies" or "Rulers Ruling All Things" play a couple of times and you will realize the breadth of this outstanding album. Simply stated, this is a beautiful, graceful work that, with repeated listenings will stand the test of time. Outstanding!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sounds the same, huh? That's the point, February 9, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
My experience of Midlake is almost the opposite of some reviewers. I was blown away by Van Occupanther and was looking for more of the same. I got the bands earlier releases and couldn't stand them - this was the same band?! Thought I was over Midlake. Then I read a review of The Courage Of Others and decided to give it a spin. It met and then exceeded my expectations! My son listens to a lot of different stuff and he too was hooked on Van Occupanther. He said because it was one of the few albums that created a consistent mood throughout. When he was in a certain mood, it was a fav album to turn to. This collection of songs fulfills the vision of V.O. even further. I'm pretty sure that was the point, and what they were striving for. If you don't get it, you just don't.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Midlake, February 15, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
I've been anticipating this album for years. I've been an avid fan since the release of Van
Occupanther. I spent 2008, 2009 and the beginnings of 2010 scrapping for the few photos,articles
and interviews - looking for a mere hint of what The Courage of Others might sound like. If you
are expecting the warm tones, upbeat rhythms and whimsical lyrics, you will inevitably be let down.

In Midlake's defense, they mentioned in a few articles that they were aiming for a darker feel.
However, instead of that desired "darker feel", the music comes across as lackadaisical - while
listening to the album the first time through, I didn't feel much of anything.

The recording quality is very similar to Van Occupanther. The Courage of Others has the same retro,
classical feel with the tight, compressed drums - but the album is slower, darker and simpler. The
album is less experimental with fewer solos/instrumentals (which is what attracted me to them in the
first place).

As long as long as I've waited, and as much attention as its been given, I feel let down. I say it's
worthy of 2 1/2 or 3 stars, but not much more. I miss the retro grooves such as "Bandits" and "Roscoe".
It makes me wonder if Midlake will every get back to that same sound - I sure do miss it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing follow up from an amazing band., February 5, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
I was eagerly anticipating the release of this album, as I was a huge fan of all of Midlake's previous records/EP's. As I listened to the first song on the album "Acts of Man" I started to get excited because it was well written, produced, heavily textured...then the next song came on and the next and I started to notice a pattern. This album almost comes off souding like one long song. It may be a striking, dark, emotional song, but the album still lacks the variety of previous works. The interesting changes within songs that made Van Occupather and Banman so interesting to listen to are not here either. This is not a "Bad" record by any means, but it was definitely a bit of a let down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The courage to make your own music, February 9, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
Midlake made the album that they wanted to make. In many ways this could be seen as career suicide. Just as their fan base is growing, and they are gaining some national attention, they make The Courage of Others. This is not an album meant to launch them into another tax bracket. But, this is a great personal album with a different kind of power, not seen often in today's alternative music scene.
I wholly admire them for this. Because it shows why they are making music, and that this same integrity may be found in it as well.

The Courage of others,in my opinion is a better album than the previous two. Each album quite a bit different from each other. I believe they get better each time. On this one, they seem more assured and seasoned. Tim Smith has found his voice. On this recording he doesn't sound like anyone else to me (not Neil Young nor Thom Yorke). This makes me happy.

This is a slow album that is best listened to as one piece. Every song is very similar in feel and tone. Its the kind of album that, the more you listen, the more it grows on you. It is at times sad, esoteric and ernest. There is something going on with this album that hits you at the subconscious level. This, I think, is the album's strong point. There's a primal tranquility and a purity that seeps in as you listen. The song Fortune seems to me almost religious. The closer you listen and the more you yield, the more this album gets into you. I love this album. Take the time and I think you might agree.

I know that some people will not care for this album very much. Some of the fans will feel let down. But some will enjoy it more and see that it is indeed a stronger album all around - and far more rewarding.
Cheers to you in the second group of fans. I hope you are exited as I am to see where they go next.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As though some awful and fragile balance could fail., March 5, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
As much as I like "The Courage of Others," I still feel like the band could have infused more energy and passion into this recording. On most songs, I keep waiting for a solo or break in tempo that either never comes or that is just a bit less of a payoff than is warranted. That said, Midlake has created a dense, layered recording that commands attention, a quiet room, and time to just listen.

The band's pantheistic worldscape seems alive, both both wonderful and dreadful at the same time, as though some awful and fragile balance could fail. In balance, it seems Midlake has tried to recapture the essence of the early English folk rock movement represented by iconic bands such as Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, the Albion Country Band, and Pentangle but focused on the darker spectrum of theme and music from that time, creating a recording as dreary as a foggy, rainy morning somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. That unrelenting gloom does wear down the soul eventually.

Some of these songs have more force and resonance in the band's live performance, but now this CD mostly sits slotted on a shelf, like the 10th man on a 12-person basketball squad.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Midlake Delivers Again, March 10, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
The Courage Of Others is a worthy follow-up to The Trials of Van Occupanther, the latter being quirkier in nature. The 70s influences are still clear, but the songs are more polished, richer, and more complex. Lyrically, it is more brooding, with references to a lost way of life more congruent with nature and the mourning for the destruction that erodes the possibility of a return that way of life. When Smith sings in Acts of Man, "oh, let them go on, on with their own hidden ways" you feel the plea, yet it never comes across as corny. Smith sings at another point on the album, "all I want is to be left to my own ways," and you feel how simple that should be, yet how out of reach it is. Midlake's vocal harmonies, which were strong on Van Occupanther, are even better here, buoyed by beautiful arrangements and rich texture. Courage...does have one or two slightly dull, murky spots, which Van Occupanther's variety helped it avoid, so it falls short of five stars for me, but all in all this is a gorgeous album. Midlake's talent is evident, and they are certainly one of the better bands to surface in recent years.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, I love this even more than "Van Occupanther", February 8, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
Listening to "The Courage of Others" the first time, I actually got just a little bit weepy about midway through. Granted, I was on my way to my parents' 60th anniversary dinner and may have already been in a weepy mood. But, still--this is one gorgeous album that connected with me on an emotional level.

I'm a fan of late '60s British folk rock, and this reminds me very much of Fairport Convention's "Unhalfbricking" and "What We Did on Our Holidays."

If I'd never heard of Midake and someone gave me a copy of the new album and said Joe Boyd had produced it in 1968, I'd probably believe them. Sandy Denny could do a killer cover of the the first track, "Acts of Man." If, you know, she weren't dead.

I realize many are complaining it's too "samey" sounding, a criticism I understand but don't agree with. To me, the album ebbs and flows in a very organic way, like it's one long extended piece. Yeah, I get why some would find that frustrating, but I never find "Courage" boring. I've listened to the whole thing about five times so far, and I'm totally knocked out by it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it a 2nd listen..., February 2, 2010
This review is from: Courage of Others (Audio CD)
You have to give this a second listen. As a self-obsessed fan of their Trials of Van... album, i will admit that i got bored after the 4th song or so, questioning myself "is this it??" But, upon a second and third listen, i think you will find that, like many other reviews have already stated, this is a much more focused, dark and grandiose sound. It isn't as poppy as Trials, but it is heartbreakingly beautiful. I love this album just as much as Trials, but in a very different way. It has taken me away to mountainous woods, and stowed me away in a log cabin..
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Courage of Others
Courage of Others by Midlake (Audio CD - 2010)
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