The Milling Gowns
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The Milling Gowns

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Band Alternative Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Diving Bell Shallows #3 in Top Radio Chart"

*3. The Milling Gowns - "Diving Bell Shallows"***

The Noise Top 30 is based on airplay of local CDs on WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO,WTCC, and WZBC playlists. - The Noise, Boston MA - October 2008

"Review - Diving Bell Shallows, 20 August 2008"

"Diving Bell Shallows" has hooks to hang your ears on. The first full-length recording from local band The Milling Gowns reels you in - between the introspective lyrics and the lush arrangements there's food for anyone at this buffet. Images abound, from the biblical Lazarus to a sequence that sounds like the ubiquitous meditation tape. Standout tracks for this reviewer include "Dust for Kissers", "Violet Wrist", "Cape the Pearls", and "Macaw". Play this when you're looking for the next band to hit it big from Boston... - Joann Keesey, WMFO Medford MA

"Show Promo - December 20, 2006"

- "God, we love deep male voices sad music. Tindersticks, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Leonard Cohen, the Magnetic Fields, Nick Cave. Playing in this league is M who sings and writes for the band the Milling Gowns. There's no guitarist in the quartet; pianist Sharon Crumrine is the main instrumentalist. The songs on their debut EP are mostly slow, stately and sad. Gorgeous too. It's not the kind of music people tend to go out to see for a classic "good time." But the rewards are there and sometimes deeper."
- Jim Sullivan -

"Boston music notes: December 15, 2006 - The Milling Gowns"

Singer-songwriter M. originally planned THE MILLING GOWNS as a one-man studio band. Only problem: he didn’t know how to play any instruments. So three musicians were called in, and by April The Milling Gowns were a band. They recorded four songs for Light of the World Shine on Me, an EP due next month. Only wrinkle: there’s no guitarist. “M. loves piano,” says pianist Sharon Crumrine. “I fill in a lot of the sound the guitar would fill.” The Milling Gowns occupy that sad, stately plateau that the Willard Grant Conspiracy and Tindersticks inhabit. “We kind of joke about it,” says Crumrine. “People always talk about the split between his songs and his personality. He’s playful and funny. We’re just drawn to a melancholy sound.” They play the Abbey (with violinist Betty Widerski) December 20. - The Boston Phoenix - Jim Sullivan

"Interview, August 2008"


They're happy. Trust me.

In fact, these days the members of The Milling Gowns might be downright elated. After years of hard work, writing, rewriting, and arranging -- not to mention multiple recording sessions stretched out over many months -- their self-produced CD Diving Bell Shallows is done. And they're celebrating.

The release party for the band's first full-length CD is Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, beginning with a performance by Dan Blakeslee, followed by The Milling Gowns. Just know -- as Milling Gowns' fans are well aware -- that despite the celebratory atmosphere, the music may not inspire anyone to jump up and down with glee.

"Gloom pop minus guitar." Those are the four words down to which drummer Allen Esser has boiled the band's unique sound. Other descriptions have included melancholy, melodramatic, somber, sad and soulful.

Interestingly, the style contradicts their personalities. They laugh and joke like anyone else -- I've witnessed this firsthand. But in making their music, they gravitate toward the sadder, darker side of life.

When it comes to music, "I love the dark stuff," said pianist Sharon Crumrine. She and vocalist M. build the songs around M.'s words and melodies, specifically aiming to create mood and feeling. That task is then passed on to viola player Betty Widerski and Allen, who add their own textures and stylings to the tunes.

The result is something like an organic, or "unplugged" version of alternative bands from 20 to 30 years ago. Listening to M. sing, you can hear the influence of bands like The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen.

"I've always used music as a catharsis. It's how I've channeled a lot of things," M. said. "I can turn something I didn't know what to do with into a song."

OK, so the songs can help you process difficult issues and get them out of your system. But no happy tunes?

"If you have something happy happen, maybe you don't need to get rid of it," M. said with a laugh.

See? The guy's funny.

Alfred Hitchcock liked making scary movies. Rodney Dangerfield liked making comedies. And whether you call their songs gloomy, melancholy or sad -- it's what The Milling Gowns like doing.

"We do this because we want to and because we need to," Betty said.

Allen agreed.

"You need to please yourself. That's the bottom line," he said.
- Jeff Haynes -

"Review (French) - Diving Bell Shallows, 29 August 2008"

Echappée musicale entre le lyrique, le baroque, une école buissonnière avec Chopin qui se serait mis au rock-symphonique en rencontrant Joy Division et les Pixies, voilà les Milling gowns.
J'aime ce groupe de Boston. Il transforme le dramatique en beauté absolue, le grave en réconfort.

M est un auteur-compositeur de perles intemporelles. M est un auteur-compositeur qui grave dans le marbre, qui sertit ses mélodies de diamants bruts: Sharon Crumrine au piano depuis 2005. Cette année là, les deux artistes se rencontrent et travaillent les arrangements des premières chansons. Le batteur Allen Esser se joint à eux et la talentueuse Betty Widerski entre en scène avec son archet pour intégrer la formation. Les Milling Gowns sortiront leur premier ep en janvier 2007, Light of the World Shine on Me.

Leur album dont la sortie est prévue le 13 Septembre 2008 Diving Bell Shallows est le premier album, assurément un disque cousu d'or que je classe comme objet d'art. Le violoncelle et la harpe sur la voix newwave de M, les orchestrations en osmose avec les cordes du piano créent un disque-entité, un disque à thème désormais devenu rareté. Il est hors norme et appelle l'attention, tant par l'intonation grave et si belle de M que par les notes de piano que Sharon sème avec beaucoup de dextérité. M et Sharon sont de grands compositeurs et arrangeurs. L'ambiance quoi qu'il en soit, d'une noire mélancolie tend vers l'émotionnel. Victor Hugo disait "la mélancolie, c'est le bonheur d'être triste".

Certains titres sont extrémement pop-rock comme Bird in the Ice où M est indétronable, charismatique. Pinch & Bust est une balade pop ornée de rythmiques, de basse où la touche de Sharon vient swinguer gaiement. Stars' Nest en fin d'écoute annonce avec la trompette une déclaration d'amour sur une instrumentation alternative. M déclame avec poésie "You leave and all the stars fall down, the forest clear without a sound, the rivers and the seas run black, what can i say to bring you back."

Le violon de Betty Widerski est majestueux tout au long des titres. M, Sharon, Allen et Betty sont en plus des personnes charmantes, drôles, distribuant de la bonne humeur à tous ceux qui les connaissent. La musique des Milling Gowns les représente bien, touchante et vivante.
- marie-agnès -

"Press Preview - CD Release - September 2008"

Sad, elegant, elegaic: The Milling Gowns Celebrate Their New CD at the Lily Pad

The Milling Gowns have no objection to the phrase "gloom pop" to describe what it is that they do. They're certainly not a rock band in the conventional sense in that the main instrumentation is piano, viola, bass and drums. The violist is Betty Widerski and pianist is Sharon Crumrine. M is the singer; Allen Esser is on drums. They've got a record release party for "Diving Bell Shallows" Saturday Sept. 13th at The Lily Pad. On the CD, the Milling Gowns employ a full string section, oboe, lever harp, french horn, and choir. On the 13th, the band has reserved the Lily Pad for the entire evening. Doors are at 8:45pm, with a $10 requested donation. The opening performer will be local singer/songwriter Dan Blakeslee, who also guested on "Diving Bell Shallows." Then The Milling Gowns will take the stage. The Lily Pad's 7-foot Kawai grand piano will allow Crumrine to fully realize the songs' elegant keyboard parts, and guest string players and vocalists will recreate their studio parts live.

- Jim Sullivan -

"UK Review - Diving Bell Shallows, 26 Oct 2008"

With its gothic, watery cover art and a suitably vague and dreamy title, the main surprise about the Milling Gowns’ first album is that they’re not signed to 4AD Records yet. Certainly their music is a throwback to the times of This Mortal Coil records; with piano, viola and percussion providing the foundation for eleven laments.

Led by the lugubrious baritone of “M”, the opening track ‘The Bird In The Ice’ is quite beautiful; doleful and bruised like The National but given a classical elegance by the twin backing of Betty Widerski’s viola and Sharon Crumrine’s piano. ‘Cape The Pearls’ begins in sedate, stately fashion before building up in to a grand, almost euphoric, choral finale (well, as euphoric as one can get with M’s deeper than deep vocals for company). Although the rest of the album can’t quite match this brilliant opening salvo, further investigation reveals tear-jerking harmonies (’Macaw’, ‘Airedales’), controlled tension (’Violet Wrist’, ‘Bathing The Dead’) and poetic lyrics.

Judging by their press shots, I don’t think it’s too presumptious to say that The Milling Gowns are one of the more mature acts on the Massachusetts alternative scene but with this comes a lot of experience that has clearly been put to good use. Furthermore, ‘Diving Bell Shallows’ may cast a dark shadow but within this apparently sad chamber pop is an abundance of warmth allied to the twin gifts of songwriting and arrangement. - Leonard's Lair


"Wednesday, Wrens and Locke Road" composed for the soundtrack of DVD "Colors In Motion", March 2009

"Fist Wings Following" - single on "Sky So Grey" compilation, Jan 2009

"Abraham Lincoln (new wave version)" and "Macaw" on "Salon Nouveau Local Music Sampler - Vol. II" compilation, October 2008

"Diving Bell Shallows" (11-song CD), Sept 2008 self-released

"Beyond The Yard", an audiovisual Cambridge MA walking tour (Selected music segments used on the soundtrack) by Untravel Media 2008

"Light Of The World Shine On Me" (4-song EP), 2007 self-released

"Abraham Lincoln" - single on "Copper Press #27: I'm The Damn Paterfamilias!", 2006 Copper Press



The Milling Gowns are doing a New England tour with the Australian Band "The Boy Who Spoke Clouds" in early July.

"Diving Bell Shallows" has charted in the top 20 for local airplay for 4 months after its September 2008 release! (source: The Noise Top 30 Local (Boston) Radio Airplay chart)

What reviewers are saying about "Diving Bell Shallows":

"between the introspective lyrics and the lush arrangements there's food for anyone at this buffet. "

"The piano and string arrangements sound lush yet feel spare and sublime. "

"[TMG] presenteren ons gloom pop, wars van alle trends en tendensen wordt hier bijna klassiek gemusiceerd om tot een naakt, doch intens, warm geheel te komen dat ofwel oeverloos op de zenuwen werkt ofwel al uw aandacht in zich opzuigt."


Singer-songwriter M. invited pianist Sharon Crumrine to work with him in late 2005. They fleshed out his arrangements, brought in a drummer and bass, and by April 2006 The Milling Gowns were a band. They recorded four songs for their EP "Light of the World Shine on Me".

The Milling Gowns occupy that sad, stately plateau that the Willard Grant Conspiracy and Tindersticks inhabit. "We kind of joke about it," says Sharon. "People always talk about the split between M.'s songs and his personality. He's playful and funny. We're just drawn to a melancholy sound."

In late 2006 M. and Sharon met violist Betty Widerski. At first her membership in several other bands limited her involvement to an auxiliary role, but by Fall 2007 she decided she had to make room to commit to The Milling Gowns as a full member.

The band spent the winter and spring of 2008 recording their first full-length CD, "Diving Bell Shallows", which enhances the band's orchestral sound with guest singers and instrumentalists, including harp, oboe, cello, and more. Towards the end of that recording cycle they recruited Allen Esser to be the band's drummer, later added bassist Dave Stoops.