Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reviews:: Your Midway Host Our Cities Could Grow

I'm willing to give anything Phil Jimenez touches the benefit of the doubt. Phil has turned dials for Easy Anthems, Beat Radio, the Diggs and Evan Duby, and he's very good at combining elements and textures without ever loosing the honest, simplicity of an arrangement. So when Nich wrote me saying he was friends with those artists, and Phil had helped produce his record, I was intrigued.

Your Midway Host's debut record - Our Cities Could Grow - is an interesting listen for a lot of reasons. Now, I'd be remiss to not mention the vocal similarities between Nich and Ryan Adams (Josephine sounds like it could be an unearthed Adams track), which is unfortunate as cynics might say that the only thing more over saturated than Adam's own output is young musicians trying the same shtick. Well, I agree with that, but despite the obvious comparisons, I think Nich is working hard to establish his own sound.

Just look at Red Shirt. On first pass, you might be fooled into thinking this is just another roots track, complete with fiddle, banjo and guitar noodles. But those boundaries are very confining and Nich pushes them whenever he can. Instead of a slow saunter along the dusty path, the song picks up the tempo, uses some big choruses and the song takes on a more pop feel and that's why this album has got several plays from me this week.

Instead of a pop artist trying to play hip country tunes, Nich actually goes the complete opposite route. His tracks use the instrumentation of a country artist - fiddle, lap steel, banjo - but he's more concerned with melody and that gives the record enough variation to keep you listening. The record uses peaks and valleys nicely to break up your emotions and energy level.

The nice keyboard sound that fills out Seville helps freshen up the mix and when the textures and harmonies show up, it all comes together. No instrument dominates any other, and the mix is a nice collection of familiar sounds that just work. Instead of over analyzing this record, I choose to simply enjoy it. The slinky back room sounds of Oh Mama Please, the perfect simplicity of Oak Tree (banjo, lap steel and beautiful vocal harmonies), the swirling, chaotic outro on Greener Now, the slow build of Call Me Out, and the chime filled soaring melody and funky bridge of John's Song; these are little windows into the potential of this artist.
MP3:: oak tree
MP3:: Seville

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Posted at 12:18 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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