Refreshing Milks

PEI foursome Milks and Rectangles are all about concise indie-pop songs and brotherly love.

It's perhaps the most common advice for aspiring musicians: Don't quit your day job. But concerned parents and IPA-saturated hecklers needn't worry; Charlottetown-based indie-pop foursome Milks and Rectangles never wanted to, anyhow. Not when your band includes an alt-weekly freelancer, a veterinarian, an astronomer and a member of the Coast Guard.

"We're a pretty motley crew," says singer Christian Ledwell, with a laugh. "But we're not going for a Village People kind of idea with the band."

And that's a good thing, because we figure that Ledwell's business- casual digs wouldn't fit in with the Villagers' vision. A government worker by day, he's also the younger brother of In-Flight Safety's Daniel Ledwell, who, along with Milks, will be performing at the Halifax Pop Explosion fundraiser on June 4.

He speaks venerably of his older brother, who produced Civic Virtues, the group's debut EP, and is currently handling Jenn Grant's forthcoming album. "Dan taught me guitar, showed me how to play 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings' and 'Wonderwall,'" Ledwell says. "He's given us a huge amount of help, and we were lucky to get him while he was green [as a producer].

"He's still down to earth, though. And I can still beat him at cribbage. I can bring him down."

Bloodlines aside, there's little in common between the Ledwell brothers' musical endeavours. While Christian likely has access to the hardware responsible for In-Flight Safety's pedal-drenched blue-gaze, Milks' influences veer into less classifiable territories.

Led by Ledwell's sleepy vocals and the driving, tom-heavy percussion of drummer Michael Carver, Milks---whose name is a nod to an esoteric Avalanches lyric---has drawn comparisons spanning the modern indie-rock spectrum: here, a pinch of Franz Ferdinand. There, a sprinkle of Los Campesinos. Garnish with a dash of Danks-esque Island jangle.

While Ledwell's read his band's reviews, he's not concerned with the comparisons. Formed at a barn party over a common love of Interpol, he paints the group as a collection of friends with benefits: They're more focused on refining a song than defining a career.

"We don't record songs for the sake of recording it," he says. "A short EP is coherent and gets where the band is at."

Holed up in Carver's basement with cases of liquid creativity, the group recorded its latest EP, Troubleshooters, over the course of a weekend last February. They emerged with four fat-free "concise pop songs" since released as a free, digital download---an astute move, Ledwell points out, as it allows listeners to take a chance on the band, no strings attached.

And it appears the gamble's paid off: In the last year, they've appeared on Take It In, a tribute to Sloan, and have been featured on CBC Radio 2's The Strombo Show.

But Ledwell maintains the band isn't getting ahead of itself. They're planning to release another EP later this year, and will be touring the east coast with Boxer the Horse in August. As for futures, they're looking to secure spots at Pop Montreal and the Pop Explosion.

"We're a slow-grower, we might never get to that full-length," he says. "We don't want to play music to pay your electrical bill. But we all like playing and writing music. And we're going to keep at it for a long time." –

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