Bring the Water 7” EP
“Young Love” b/w “Keep Your Love” 7”
The Half Rats
“For the Sake of Love” b/w “The Girl” 7”
Midwest Beat are in the lead off spot. Baseball wisdom says put the best hitter third in the line up. Pop fans know better: best goes first, and the Midwest Beat have to be one of the best bands on the planet right now. They bring together three of my favorite elements: pure pop hooks, punk rock energy and country twang (the third isn’t so evident but I swear it’s there in spirit and it enhances the EP). Now to the specifics. Whenever I hear guitars jangle like this I think of the Byrds but the Sunset Strip bands of the late 60s always buried the drums (or at least their producers did), they were felt more than heard. That’s where Midwest Beat update the sounds of old. The snare is front and center, ride cymbal too, washing over the whole mix. The result: these guys are faster and looser than their predecessors (but not careless and sloppy). Couple all of the above with spot-on backing vocals (they know just when and how to “ooh” and “aah”) and the Midwest Beat deliver another terrific EP.
Bare Wires: Your mom would hear this record and storm into the living room wagging her finger, all fired about because you’ve got her Who albums out—again—and this time you didn’t clean the needle and she can tell because poor Roger’s vocals are all distorted. Kids these days! Then your older brother gives you grief because he thinks you snagged his Cheap Trick records again. And you think to yourself that mom’s comparison is more apt. Meanwhile, I live in some fantasy world where parents know the Who and siblings know Cheap Trick. I’ll work out those issues. You check out this single. It’s a corker. (And if you want to play up the Cheap Trick angle some more, check out the cover art. Cool dude on the front, leaning against his motorcycle. Nerdy, vulnerable guy on the back. Only it’s the same guy. First take: arms crossed, confident, Robin Zander. Second take: hair in his face, fingers tangled up, Rick Nielsen. We are all, each one of us, both cover boy/front man and geek. At least as far as image is concerned.)
Half Rats: Early Beatles. Kaisers. Neatbeats. It’s Mersey, baby, and it’s done in right fine fashion here. Ugly Things readers will take issues with the broad strokes I’m using—hey, mate, you got your fab in my gear!—but hopefully the gist is conveyed. I say "inspired by" you might say "derivative."
-- Mike Faloon