When Charles Waring of the Olympia, Washington, breakout garage-rock band Milk Music is reached on the phone, he’s at his cabin by the beach. Standing out in the rain, desperately looking for cell reception and apologetic, he reveals that he’s been relaxing outside the city for a few days with his bandmates—Alex Coxen (vocals and guitar), Dave Harris (bass), and Joe Rutter (drums)—as well as a bunch of other Olympia musicians.
“We stayed up late last night,” the guitarist says, sounding slightly spaced-out. “We drove around listening to Violator really loud.”
This sounds par for the course for Milk Music, which plays fuzzed-out dirt pop inspired by the Pacific Northwest with bits of Neil Young’s mellow side added to the mix. Milk Music is also weirdly classic, offering up what you might call grunge-granola.
Since self-releasing the EP Beyond Living in 2010, Milk Music has been building a growing buzz in both the North American and European indie scenes. The record’s title track was the one to blast when all the punks were drunk at 3 a.m. and cutting up lines. Now, after two years of touring, the group’s much anticipated debut LP, Cruise Your Illusion, drops April 2 on Fat Possum Records.
In a recent Spin article, the band stated that its big goal on Cruise Your Illusion was to turn off the fuzz pedals and just play. What resulted is a clean, melodic throwback record. Songs like “Illegal and Free” and “I’ve Got a Wild Feeling” are still rooted in the garage, while sunny riffs on “Crosstown Wanderer” perk up the vibe. “No, Nothing, My Shelter” and “Lacey’s Secret” see Coxen’s voice ring comfortably against the grain of the crisp guitar work. The singer’s tenor is clean and rehearsed, yet still emotionally distressed.
“The first thing people will notice on this record is Alex’s voice,” Waring says. “It just grabs you. The songs are really exciting. I can hear fear and loss. Alex’s lyrics just grab me. They strike a chord in me.”
Waring says that after this tour, the band plans to move down to California, hopefully living together in the “Joshua Tree desert” to get away “from the pain and the rain” of the Pacific Northwest. All four members have lived in Olympia for over four years and see it as time to move on.
“We want to look out the window and see a cactus,” Waring says. “We just want to live, write a new record, drop acid, shoot a gun at the moon.”