M.H. & His Orchestra

Hey guys! Missed me? I’ve been away at camp all summer and have greatly missed discovering and sharing music with all the amazing readers of Knox Road. So upon my return, I have good news for you, and for me: I found a really special, cool album for us all to listen to.

Unlike The Cinematic Orchestra, The Manchester Orchestra, or the Electric Light Orchestra, M.H. & His Orchestra is actually referring to a real orchestra. On The Throes, M.H. & His Orchestra’s debut full-length, 44 musicians are credited with creating the swirling, ever-changing wall of sound layered behind the unique vocals of “M.H.” (Maxfield Haag).

The vocals are strong – reminiscent of Dent May, Roy Orbison, and Devotchka lead singer Nick Urata – but M.H. is not the main event on this album. His Orchestra is.

The horns pound, the strings swell, and the percussion rolls along, all driving the music with powerful, bombastic force. When listening to the whole album, I couldn’t help but think of Sufjan Steven’s biggest, best songs. This is true orchestral indie rock, since this is a real orchestra at work.

Opening track “Cobblestone” is the song that got me hooked, and the first one I’d recommend. It manages to be experimental, ambitious, and accessible all at once, with a hip-hop drum beat anchoring mariachi horns, clanging cymbals, and a shouty chorus behind M.H.’s quirky singing. Give it a listen, and then keep going with the full album – it doesn’t disappoint.

M.H. & His Orchestra – “Cobblestone” [MP3]

Some songs are string-heavy, others rely on horns, but they all primarily rely on a huge group of talented musicians making very epic, over-the-top music. Even if it may take a while for M.H.’s voice to grow on you (it’s still growing on me), the huge arrangements should be enough to keep you hooked.

Listen to the album on Bandcamp.

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