A.M. Mills – Angel Eyes

Moving from Washington State back to Pennsylvania after almost 2 decades was a transition that was jarring in many ways. Add in the stress of moving cross country during the worst pandemic in 100 years, you can imagine that I turned to music for solace. One of the finest records that has been on repeat has been Angel Eyes by A.M. Mills (disclosure: I played trombone with band founder Drew Mills throughout middle school). The album gave me a sense of nostalgia – sounds that wouldn’t sound out of place on a David Lynch soundtrack as filtered through a Philadelphia sensibility. Basically, where I was in life when this album came out. Uncanny.

A.M. Mills is headed up by Drew Mills – those in the know might know him from the bands Aspera and Blood Feathers. This new project is a different animal from those bands – the indie rock aesthetic has given way to full retro crooning with a surf rock twang. The inspiration for the project came from a trip Mills took to San Francisco in the mid 10’s that helped align the past with the future. And so was born A.M. Mills – the band’s name an ode to Drew’s birth name of Andrew Micah Mills. The band is rounded out by Patrick Marsceill (drums), Tracy Stanton (bass), and Joshua Cicetti (guitar). Fortunately, the backstory lives up to the end result – Angel Eyes is a masterful debut that resonates on an emotional level.

The album kicks off with Runnin’ and sets the tone – a mid-tempo tune imbued with a 50’s sensibility. The longing in Mills’ voice is palpable. Sunday Shoes follows and strengthens the notion that this album is special – it is an even stronger cut. The guitars wouldn’t sound out of place in a scene from Twin Peaks. “When your voice is shattered / An’ nothing else matters / Take me with you when you go.” Haunting. The title track is a 50’s styled ballad that is the epitome of perfection. Ain’t Life Grand was released as a single prior to the album but fits well with the flow of tracks. It has a lumbering pace that fits well with the crooning vocals. Some Dances Last comes off as the dark parts in a Lynch film. I don’t think my reference is overdone – this is 50’s mysterious balladry done right. Chris Isaak comes to mind – before you say he isn’t cool; just remember he was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. I rest my case. Sorrow in the Mirror ends the album on a high note – crooning, surf guitars, 50’s vibes. In fact, it can serve as an encapsulation of everything that makes the A.M. Mills project such a strong entity. I’m looking forward to what comes next.

You can purchase the album here and follow the band on the social network here. This album comes highly recommended – I keep finding things to love after repeated listens.

Verdict: Brilliant debut

For Fans of: David Lynch, Chris Isaak, Frank Sinatra, The Chromatics, The Smiths

Tracklist:

  1. Runnin’
  2. Sunday Shoes
  3. Angel Eyes
  4. Spaghetti with Loretta
  5. Tiny Cell
  6. Lean On
  7. Ain’t Life Grand
  8. I Wonder If I Care As Much
  9. Some Dances Last
  10. Off to Bed Alone
  11. Sorrow in the Mirror

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