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Another Desert, Another Sea

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Album Review

Diversity is the name of the game on this San Diego-based indie legend's third major release — that much is apparent from the bouncy optimism of the release's first track, "Way of the Ocean," which is quite a departure from the dark overtones of their two previous works. In fact, the ocean and its multitudes form a thematic center of sorts for the aptly named Another Desert, Another Sea. "If You Cross," while a straight-ahead rocker the likes of which Three Mile Pilot had heretofore avoided, is also a warning to avoid mythological and/or literal sirens at all costs ("Don't look, don't watch too close/You might see what you want to find/And it ain't the answer to what you had in mind"). Meanwhile, "The Year of No Light," one of many songs that highlight new addition Tobias Nathaniel's piano, reads like a yin-yang exploration of a relationship in fear of drowning ("You can save me from the sea/Where I'll play the devil and you can play the light"). There are two amazing songs featuring the term "wave" in their titles alone — "Eastern Wave" and "Glitter Wave" — both rumbling jams that slow down just enough to kick-start themselves back into sonic overdrive, featuring characters in fear of the various surges that will submerge them in one or another form of imprisonment. Like most of Three Mile Pilot's work, it's very hard to go wrong on Another Desert, Another Sea. While a couple of songs — the more daring but hard-to-hook-onto "Bolivia" and "Kill the Race Horse" — falter under their own ambition, it's only because there are teeth-clenched barnburners like "Ruin" there to reinstall indie rock convention. It's a long, strange trip Three Mile Pilot is taking you on here, and the twin comedown found in the confessional poignance of "Longest Day" and in the otherworldly denouement of the seven-minute (their only long song on the release) finale, "One False Eye," is a one-two punch that might just have you firing the disc back up again. While some fans may feel that Another Desert, Another Sea is more direct than their more esoteric Chief Assassin to the Sinister, its mission was accomplished for Pall A. Jenkins and company, who want each one of their releases to function on its own.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

San Diego's Three Mile Pilot are perhaps best known to the indie rock world at large for supplying key personnel to Touch & Go buzz band the Black Heart Procession. Still, they spent much of the '90s near the forefront of a surprisingly active local indie scene. Three Mile Pilot made their mark with distinctively moody, bass-centered arrangements (in fact, they started out with no guitar at all) and a prog rock aesthetic that often resulted in long, winding, multi-sectioned song structures. Their...
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Another Desert, Another Sea, Three Mile Pilot
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