Downy Mildew

Mincing Steps

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Though they were already known as an intelligent band with a sense of atmosphere, Downy Mildew added several layers of sophistication for Mincing Steps. The lyrics are still poetic but more focused, and Jenny Homer belts the songs out in a more assured and expressive way than on the group's previous efforts. Charlie Baldonado wove a compelling mix of acoustic and electric guitars to back Homer, and his vocals blended with hers in an appealingly rough way that is at times reminiscent of John Doe and Exene Cervenka in a mellower setting. The increased vocal competence was matched by subtle improvements throughout the band. John Hofer was a more propulsive drummer than his predecessor, and the extra punch is evident on the faster pieces. Finally, though Salvador Garza only plays on three cuts, his violin and cello add further depth and atmosphere to the mix. The engineering by veteran producer Earle Mankey may have something to do with the splendid sound throughout the album, which highlights the band's appealingly eccentric sound. Downy Mildew sounded more confident here than ever before, and Mincing Steps stands as a high point in the band's career.

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