From Riverside to Los Angeles, the dynamic rock artist and singer-songwriter Nico Miles release his sophomore studio album entitled 'Atlas.'
Creating the project while living with his grandparents at the beginning of the pandemic, Nico Miles wanted to use his arsenal to strike change within the climate of rock n' roll. Nico Miles pushes through the album with his emotionally-driven lyricism and melodic instrumentation, giving us a hefty blend of alt-rock, punk, pop-rock, emo, and shoegaze.
Jumping into the album with the intro track, "Intro," this piece starts the album with serenity and heightened emotion. Although it's 44 seconds in length, Nico Miles soaks us in cinematic orchestration to prepare us for the following tunes. With the album's title track, "Atlas," Nico Miles gives us all the energy and life we seek nowadays. Delivering his punchy and energetic vocals for us to sink in, we love the song's anthemic feel that brings us into the album's heart.
Feeling "Exhausted?" Nico Miles drenches our speakers in instrumental pain and emotion while powerfully singing about our cyclical exhaustion, which seems to be a common theme these days. Getting gritty with the next track, "Cataclysm," punchy layered guitars take us into a similar vibe of Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World," but with more of a post-punk and emo feel through Nico Miles' emotional delivery.
Pumping up the party with the next track, "Run For Your Life," this tune takes the cake as the most energetic and fiery song on the project. With upbeat and lively drum patterns and blistering guitars, Nico Miles punches his way through with exciting lyricism to keep us wanting more. Maintaining the energy and tone with the next track, "By Your Design," Nico Miles has our heads banging with the versatile rock instrumentation and his anthemic vocal delivery.
Onto the album's 7th track, "Say Again," right off the bat, we're met with similar melodic punk instrumentation to a prime time Blink 182, but Nico Miles takes this song into more of an introspective feel as he sings of a broken relationship and picking up the pieces. Giving more of a mid-tempo feel through the next piece, "Held Still," Nico Miles sings his emotional lyricism under nostalgic filters that add incredible texture to the album. Not to mention the instrumental switch-ups and transitions, Nico Miles genuinely has us at the edge of our seat with each track.
Slowing it down with the second last piece, "Yearn," we can tell that Nico Miles will deliver the utmost heart and emotion within this piece. Through the fiery yet slightly saddening instrumentation complementing Nico Miles's reflective delivery, he gets us in our feels with his desirous and passionate lyricism.
Hyping us up for the album's outro with the last track, "Cut It Loose," this piece has us aching to hop in a car and take a long trip down the freeway, primarily through the gut-wrenching guitars, stomping drum patterns, and Nico Miles' striking vocal portrayal. Ending the album off with fire, we couldn't have asked for a more thorough and profound project from Nico Miles.
Take yourself on the sonic and lyrical journey of Nico Miles' sophomore studio album, 'Atlas,' as he takes us through various genres, emotions, and approaches to refresh the rock n' roll scene.
Hello Nico, welcome to Buzzmusic, and congratulations on releasing your second studio album, 'Atlas.' Was there a particular theme or concept that you wanted your audience to grasp from the project's entirety?
Thank you! I want my audience to feel and hear their own experiences in the songs. I wrote the lyrics differently than I typically do because I wanted them to be applicable to anyone's personal struggle. The beginning of the pandemic was filled with paranoia and general anxiety about the state of the world. Most people were going through intense personal emotional and financial issues as well with the state of the pandemic. People were dying and losing their jobs and homes. I took my struggles and tried to make them universal for others while trying to empathize with theirs. That's why the front cover is a skeleton holding the earth on its shoulders. There's pressure in having to carry that weight. Themes range from mental health, isolation, loneliness, watching the world self-destruct in multiple ways simultaneously, losing people close to you, ANTI-fascism and misogyny, and overcoming insecurities in your relationships. But my favorite subject and the overall theme of the album is that you can take back control of your life no matter where you're at. You can rebuild and heal whenever you're ready to if you do the work. Do what matters most to you and figure out how to help others do what they want to do as well. Living and thinking for yourself and blocking out all of the noise. This past year brought out the worst of everybody and the best of everybody all at once. There's a lot of work to do to make our world a better place but we're becoming more aware. True change must start from within though.
Seeing as you began working on the album 'Atlas' at the beginning of the pandemic, were you able to work with any other creators? Or did you take on the entire lyrical/instrumental process solo?
I write, compose and record all of the music independently at first. I began the album right before the pandemic started at my old apartment and my girlfriend's old bedroom. Through temporary separation from my girlfriend at the beginning of the pandemic and my roommate's health being jeopardized those first few weeks the lockdown started I ended up back in my hometown Riverside, CA on my grandparent's couch. All I had were some clothes, my laptop, an interface, and my guitar. I had no money and there was nowhere to record due to Covid so I set up a makeshift studio in my grandparent's garage to finish vocals and guitars. As for the contributions of my bandmates Giovanni James and Irving Saldana, we all set up a joint google drive and upload files individually. Gio would record extra guitar and Irving recorded bass before everything was sent back to Gio for the mixing process. Once the record was done, I could leave my town and reunite with my girlfriend. Recording took place from March-June 2020 and the mix took place over that summer.
You've mentioned that 'Atlas' is packed with a compilation of weekly releases. Do these singles share similar themes? How did you create your track-listing, so the songs flow cohesively into the next?
I love the idea of a full-length album. A true listening experience from front to back is my favorite way of listening to an artist but I understand that people are typically just listening to one of the singles an artist has, maybe passively in a playlist. So I wanted to satisfy my needs as an artist while still keeping in mind most people only listening to the first song on a project from an unknown artist and that's it. So if I released one song at a time and let the music breathe a week at a time it gave each song an opportunity to have its moment but still be compiled into an LP at the end of the releases. I came up with the tracklisting first to see what the story arch was musically and lyrically as an LP and I let them release like that in order. I looked at it like a show that came out with a new episode for that season weekly. Releases took place every Friday from October 23 to December 18th, 2020.
Do you have a favorite song off of your album 'Atlas,' and could you explain why you're drawn to it?
I do feel strongly about each song on the album. I've noticed people are really drawn to 'Exhausted' but if I had to choose a favorite song it would probably be 'Say Again.' I think it's a powerful melody and it's the dramatic Ramones tempo song I've always wanted to write. It's about watching someone you care for lose themselves and habitually self-destruct. But the pain in knowing you can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves can feel insurmountable. You can only hope they're okay from afar, especially if communication has been cut off. I've experienced that a few times and I like the way the song articulates that.
You've mentioned that you aim to create a fresh and safe space for everyone to enjoy rock n' roll. How does your music reflect this statement?
My music not only addresses the fact that there's a current issue with welcoming everyone to rock n roll but that you can do something about it. By being who you are and eliminating toxicity. Not being afraid to call out something you know to just be wrong. This music is supposed to belong to everyone and you'd think that would be more universally known given that the genre was invented by black musicians. That got lost somewhere along the way and now there's a lack of identity entirely aside from nostalgia. Being half Black and half Italian and growing up playing rock music in the Inland Empire, I've felt pretty alienated from most rooms I've played or stood in enjoying music. I've watched the way the scene around my genre has turned into people trying to redo what they think the culture was like decades ago, pay to play destroying the independent live market, scumbag behavior in venues particularly how men were treating women and a general feeling of segregation in guitar music. So many things have to change for rock n roll to be relevant again. But it starts with it feeling exciting again. This can only happen if everyone's invited to the party and there are fresh ideas being championed. Otherwise, this will fade into obscurity and everyone will talk about the good old days more than we already do. All walks of life have to be in the conversation and women not only need to be respected as artists but compensated as much as the men are. I would love to use any kind of platform to dive into this further and start the dialogue that is the shift in the tide. Right now there are so many talented people with no platform because there's nothing to facilitate black and brown kids playing guitars. More curation, more exposure, and more influence on the youth can help change this.