At least around Unfair Park HQ, a mere mention of the word "Midlake" can spawn a fairly heated debate: On one side are those who dig the Denton band's lush brand of soft-rock; on the other are thems who think the band nothing more than a soggy loaf of Bread. One thing's fo' sho': Midlake's a pretty decent live band -- especially at this late date, as it finds new ways of keeping its older songs interesting for both the audience and itself. (The songs are considerably more expansive now -- they're big and beautiful.) And as proof we offer this link to a very nicely recorded September 27 show at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle, which includes "The Pills Won't Help You Now," written with the Chemical Brothers.
And while we're pimping these fine recordings, here are two other end-o'-the-week recommendations. Stereogum's making available, completely gratis, a 15th-anniversary tribute to R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People. Among the artists featured are Blitzen Trapper, the Shout Out Louds, Dr. Dog, the Meat Puppets and Rogue Wave. And the album comes complete with liner notes, from each participating band and Mike Mills, and an essay by Fluxblog's Matthew Pepetua.
Also a worthy addition to the weekend playlist is The Alternate Bookends, featuring different versions of songs found on Simon & Garfunkel's 1968 release. Because any version of "America" is a good version, especially this one. And, hey, it's kinda local, right, Mr. Brickell? --Robert Wilonsky
Update: Also just stumbled across some newly posted pristine Johnny Cash live tracks recorded in Austin on December 8, 1994, in support of American Recordings. And you really should grab this cover: the Foo Fighters performing "Band on the Run." Then play it loud.