Philadelphia’s Milton and the Devils Party makes power-pop for thinking people. This is not surprising considering the band was founded by two English professors, Daniel Robinson and Mark Graybill. But don’t get your dictionaries out just yet.
The Philadelphia-based quartet has rock roots, loves great pop songs and they know how to write them. As Jonathan Takiff of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, “Their lyrics have an edge, but the spirit of [the] songs…is more sarcastic punk than high-falutin poetics. And the band’s propulsive, power pop music offers the sweet and sour whiff of an Elvis Costello or R.E.M. anthem.”
Musically weaned on 80s alternative pop, such as The Smiths and The Church, singer-songwriter-bassist Robinson and lead guitarist Graybill formed Milton and the Devils Party when they both ended up at Widener University, just outside of Philadelphia.
The two enlisted guitarist Pat Manley, whose heavier guitar-rock influences have added considerable crunch to the band’s sound. “We joke that we’re ‘a literary band with rock-n-roll pretensions,’” Robinson says, “but anyone who sees us live knows we’re a real rock band.”
The band’s combination of power-pop with a literary sensibility mightily impressed Mick Chorba, president of the New Jersey indie label FDR (Face Down Records). Finding their music to be “wickedly smart and super catchy,” Chorba signed the band within days of hearing them. “The first time I heard Milton,” he says, “I knew it was something special—power pop at its best! I’m so excited to add a band of such high caliber to the FDR roster.”
The band’s record-label debut What Is All This Sweet Work Worth? is a smart but accessible pop record that sounds at first like a collection of singles but that rewards further listening with layers of complexity and emotional depth.
As Doug Wallen of Philadelphia Weekly writes, “What Is All This Sweet Work Worth? finds... Robinson charmingly channeling the bee-stung sincerity of Elvis Costello and Matthew Sweet.”
With its new drummer, Bob Falgie, the band performs regularly in the Philadelphia and New York City areas and will hit other cities here and abroad in support of What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?