Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The first thing that tries to come to mind is a slow-motion montage of crummy, two-toned jalopy cars doing doughnuts in an empty mall parking lot, just laying black rubber onto the concrete beneath lights that are barely breathing, dutiful in their dull light. The cars are making the kinds of sounds that a digesting body makes. They're making sounds that a gleeful kid makes too, spilling the laughs and bedevilments from the open windows, along with the reckless hair and some arms flying off the torqued and spinning steering wheel.
They're unspooled from the kinds of creepy spring weathers that one's never sure if they'll stick around longer than a day or two before they retreat back to the cold temperatures that have taken months to get used to. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson loiters here, where he's likely taking another drag from a cigarette, blowing the gray exhaust out as slowly as he can, letting all of the smoke tickle him inside, kick the darkened tires. He rings as true in that out-of-control/in-control car on a boring night when nothing else worth a damn is going on, on the first days of spring, the last days on earth and in that calming cigarette smoke that he's made such a pivotal part of his life.
He's everything that we're looking for in an indie rock idol. He's got the seedy and destructive past life full of copious amounts of alcohol and drugs that nearly wrecked him and turned him into a stinky, homeless wreck before he was able to legally rent a car. He's got as much of the devil in him as the devil himself. He's a thinker who pins interesting turns into the phrases that are obviously telling you so much about who the young New Yorker is now, but there are still no pointers guiding us to any surefire connections. He's an enigma of wonderfully delicious proportions, just unavoidably puzzling and mysterious with a case in point that he will write a line such as this one - "I don't eat much, mostly skin" - into a sloopy, jaunting cluster of sweet tingeing melodies and bare-naked words about flesh in the wind and looking for a magic wand to help a guy (himself?) try to stay alive. It's looking for reasons and there's a lot of what Robinson does that's asking for reasons.
Those things are the golden coins that will be cherished more than anything. The answers to the whys are such greedy harbingers and they continue to stay elusive and bitchy, keeping to the shadowy there, there, there. It's hard to tell if Robinson thinks that there will be a tomorrow or if that's all just hopes and prayers, if there's not a bloody chance that it will come. And if it does, is there going to be anything to look forward to here? Will it be just like all the other yesterdays or is there going to be something to redeem it from the jaws? He sings, "Is this the sound you hear in the morning," with a scratchy and shaking voice, making a sound that would wake all of the babies and the heavy sleepers and shake them just a little bit, frighten them awake almost. It's that sound - that desperation and neediness - that makes him seem like someone you should help, but will probably make it out okay when the chips have fallen where they will fall.
*Essay originally published April, 2008