I can’t think of a better way -- at least right now I can’t think of one -- to start a morning than sipping drinks at a cozy coffee shop, near a window that looks onto Lake Michigan and talking music with a guy whose my age and I feel like I should have met years ago.

Sitting across the table from me was Charlie Williams, a local musician who’s just released an indie-pop album and is trying to get some pub and gigs in the Chicago area. His band is Mira Mira. Their tagline is this:
“Coming from a conservatory background can be dangerous in the world of pop music, but ‘post-classical’ pianist and Mira Mira frontman Charlie Williams doesn’t so much hide his training as render it transparent; writing songs that draw on fancy footwork when necessary, but leaving musical space often enough that one doesn’t get the sense of being at a recital.”
Fancy footwork is a good way of putting it. When Charlie sent me a copy of the album and I listened to it for the first time I thought it was -- interesting and different? But I’ve listened to it a few more times since then and can now say it’s definitely growing on me …

Drawing from influences that include Wilco, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields and, of course, the Beatles, Williams’ album is raw, indie pop in its truest form. It’s plinky piano, guitars and light vocals with subtle, cool doses of chamber, electronic, trance and classical mixed in.

It’s all in the album’s title, ‘Midnight For You,’ says Charlie.
“It’s sort of a nightime thing. There’s the mindset that you get if you’re staying up talking with somebody until 3 in the morning. Your mind works different, you share secrets, you feel like everything is cosmically important and you feel this connectiveness to people.”

It’s background music, he says and then adds, “It isn’t the album that you put on before you go out to a club, to get you like stoked up for the club.”

And about the vocals?
“I’m not trying to be like ‘American Idol.’ I’m not trying to be like ‘Listen to me sing!’ (he half sings in an operatic voice.) It’s like I’m a real person singing. It was a great experience going into the studio and it was definitely a decision not to process the heck out of the voice. It was like ‘OK, we could Britney Spears it up, but I don’t want to do that. I want to sound like me.’”

And for that I’m thankful.

And I guess what I’m trying to say is check out this album and give it a listen -- more than once.

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