Premiere: Milan McAlevey Shares New Single “You Can Get It” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Premiere: Milan McAlevey Shares New Single “You Can Get It”

New LP Islands of Milans Due September 29th via Fortune Tellers

Aug 19, 2022
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Maine-based singer/songwriter Milan McAlevey has been quietly writing songs for over thirty years, most recently as one-half of the Maine rock outfit, Coke Weed, his band with his then-girlfriend, Nina Donghia. Earlier this year, McAlevey shared his first ever solo release, his lost 2008 debut, Admiral of the State of Maine, an unassuming folk gem, recorded on an old 4-track cassette and produced by Walter Martin of The Walkmen.

Today McAlevey is back with news of his new album, Islands of Milans, out September 29th via Fortune Tellers. Accompanying the announcement, he has also shared a new single, “You Can Get It,” premiering with Under the Radar.

“You Can Get It” is a pastoral and winding effort, gently traced with downtempo acoustic strumming and dreamy guitar lines. Meanwhile, the track also features a gorgeous duet vocal courtesy of Nina Nonghia, McAlevey’s ex-Coke Weed bandmember. Beneath its bucolic sheen though, the track is more longing and melancholic than it appears一“I’ve got the bitch morning blues / Out on the pier, yeah I’ve got good news / Love’s gone underground / You can get it if you’re cool.” The track is not without its glimmers of hope though, and McAlevey’s desolate lyricism and search for beauty in pain mirrors fellow singer/songwriter touchstones like David Berman, conjuring a similar sense of fragile soul-searching yearning.

Speaking on the record’s first single, McAlevey wrote:

“In 2016, my band Coke Weed ended, then Nina and I broke up after 10 years, and I had a significant breakdown. I was in a dark place for a few years and landed in a historically crummy tenement on Congress Street in Portland, ME, where I proceeded to slowly put my life back together. ‘You Can Get It’ is written from a place of abject loneliness, an outsider dreaming and yearning to be accepted back into some kind of mainstream life. Fittingly, the song features Nina’s lovely duet vocal, so in a way it closes one of the circles.”

Check out the song and lyric video below. Islands of Milans is due September 29th via Fortune Tellers.

With regard to this LP, where did you begin? Did you have any set intentions regarding ideas you wanted to get across, sounds you wanted to explore, and more? And is there a general theme that runs throughout?

I really lost the plot for about two years starting in 2016. A huge part of coming back from that and getting healthy was rededicating myself to songwriting and revisiting my roots in folk and country. I worked hard to get ten of my best songs to be copacetic with each other, which involved more editing and rewriting than I’d done in the past.

A general theme is reasons for living and finding beauty in all this suffering. Sometimes I think of my style as “magical absurdism”; there’s a big element of broken-hearted existentialism in the lyrics, which is leavened and illuminated by the music, which is where the magic comes in.

Can you speak on how this record was influenced by the various different life events and experiences you went through while creating it? Did any of those moments provide a key point of reference and ultimately alter the direction of certain aspects of it?

I had a lot of fear around doing my music myself. I had even made a cool solo record in 2008, but I was afraid to put it out. With Islands of Milans, the original plan was for my friend Walt to produce it. We did two sessions at his place in upstate New York, but it became clear that finishing my project was going to take way more time than he had. So I had to confront my significant fears about my music and my idiosyncrasies. Having to do it alone lit a fire under me to finish with something where I could stand with every moment of the music and lyrics. A big part of getting there was teaching myself to mix, which I loved and might just be in my blood as I have an uncle who engineered a lot of big 80s hits.

What made you choose “You Can Get It” as this album’s first single? Is it nostalgic, looking back on this track, noting Nina’s collaboration?

“You Can Get It” was the last song I wrote for the record and I almost would’ve moved on and never finished it if Nina’s vocal takes hadn’t sounded so good. I couldn’t deny the vibe. At this point in the project I was without a drummer, so I played a cajon track and that sounded much better than it should have, it all started to gel and exceed my expectations. There’s not much nostalgia involved, the lyrics look back on a bleak period in my life. When I sat down to mix it, it was immediately our old sound, the way our voices go together, but better. I like to think my powers are growing every day. Nina’s an awesome person, these days she’s a research scientist in Cambridge, I’m glad we get to have a little moment again.


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