Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Midwest Blue

October 27, 2003

This band, Midwest Blue, comes out of Chicago. On first glance, it would be simple to pass them off as just another pop-punk nuisance. But while that may be the immediate impression, if you listen on, you will find that MWB is really a roots-emo band.

“Remembering to Forget” opens up with four pop-punk songs. I heard them and groaned, because they were average punk songs, and I didn’t think I was going to be able to stand another album of mediocre punk music. Even worse, they stretched the songs out really long. I was about to condemn this as junk until track 5 (“Ignorance”) rolled around. It did a complete 180, pulling out a hardcore riff as an intro, and fleshing out the song as an emo/hardcore punk song. “Ignorance” is the best song of the genre I’ve heard since Anberlin’s “Readyfuels”, due to the great riffs and good vocals. Yet, saying it’s the vocals doesn’t say it all, because the vocals and the lyrics act as one entity. The vocals on “Ignorance” work perfectly, swooping high to be emotional and dropping low to be gritty and harsh. On the rest of the songs, they’re somewhere in the middle, having a nice, full tone that’s easy on the ears, but not especially amazing. Also average are the lyrics. Much better than a pop-punk band’s, they’re normal emo fodder, slightly confusing but not too much so. But when the lyrics are paired with the vocals, they become as emotional and moving as any emo band could ever hope for. The angst and confusion that went into their creation comes right back out to the listener, and it is fantastic. With that as a permanent overtone, the rest of this album is a semi-dark yet hopeful mix comprised of acoustic guitar, piano, strings, and slow, contemplative rock. It creates a very restrained feel to the album, and it works beautifully. Highlights include the semi-punk emo-ness of “Sunday Face”, and the 8-minute masterpiece of a closer, “Berlin”.

This album is so diverse that it borders on too diverse. If they had not written the first four songs, this would be my favorite album right now.  Tracks 5-11 are beautiful, complex, creative, and have a feel that not many other bands capture. It’s not depression, it’s just deep, contemplating thought. You should get this album, even if you don’t like punk. It’s not really punk anyway. They just want you to think that.




Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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