Miracle Legion: The Backyard EP (1984)
Miracle Legion were one of the many great jangly-guitar bands to grow up in R.E.M.'s long mid-80s college radio shadow. Over time, however, Mark Mulcahey introduced increasingly melancholic and haunting strains to the music, perhaps a bit of his New England winter responding to the Athens sunshine, offering a unique voice. There are many gems to be found in both the band's work (including 2016's fine post-reunion album) and Mulcahey's solo output, though the darker, more poetic aspects of the music may offer fewer obvious entry points once you get past the early stuff.
Their 1984 debut EP was a pretty remarkable start, if only for the title track, one of my favorite songs to this day, an absolute heartstring-puller look-back at idyllic youth. Between a killer guitar riff and remarkably affecting lyrics, it's just devastating.
That was an awful lot to live up to, but there are other nice tracks on the record, most of which maintain a similar mid-tempo vibe as the title track. "The Heart Is Attached" in particular is both lovely and rousing, but it's all quite winning.
If you're not familiar with the song, give it a spin, then stick around for the rest of the EP. And while you're at it, give a listen to their first full-length, 1987's Surprise Surprise Surprise, which kicks off with a one-two punch ("Mr. Mingo" and the wonderful "All For The Best") that rivals anything else from the era.
Here's a live take on "The Backyard" (ironically produced by "Social Distance Films," so there must be something like fate going on here).