I wouldn’t say there’s much of a process for how this whole daily writing thing goes. For the most part, I wing it. But in preparation for each day’s album, at the very least I Google and Last.fm search the band and the album.
Today, I hit a serious Internet K-hole with The Middle East. And it wasn’t easy, either, considering the band’s name is so common.
This is another of the albums that I’m overwhelmed to write about because of its crazy emotional impact on me. I Want That You Are Always Happy is the only full-length album released by the Queensland, Australia-based band. It’s a beautiful and haunting record, one that is a significant departure from their EP.
The group also released a split EP with another Australian band called Sleeping in Trains… and that’s it. That’s the worst thing about The Middle East. There isn’t a track they put out amongst their releases that didn’t have some type of redeeming value, and then they were just… gone.
That story alone is about as heartbreaking as this album. And since I’m only going to get to talk about them once this whole year, I’ll include a few songs.
First, from their EP The Recordings of the Middle East, this is “Beleirand” –
I had to look up what “Beleirand” is myself, and it comes from the Tolkien universe. Ergo, I’m not going to talk about it further than to acknowledge that it’s Lord of the Rings country.
Next is a song I found literally today. This unofficial video is a fan-made submission for an unreleased track called “Western” –
So those two tracks should give some frame of reference as to what type of goodness the band is capable of crafting.
Which, if you actually listened to both of those, you’ll know that, stylistically, they’re all over the place: bouncing amongst folk/western, post-rock and experimental ambient.
It makes for a rich and fascinating listening experience. Listeners will be excited to find that some of the tracks are long (“Deep Water” from this album and “Tsietsi” from the EP both exceed 10 minutes), extending that experience. Despite this length, I don’t happen to find that any of the tracks drag.
Lyrics on both albums tend to reach into the spiritual realm, though I wouldn’t classify the band as religious. The lead (only?) single from the full length, “Jesus Came to My Birthday Party,” is a fun, lively track with lush harmonies and riotous guitar-work. Neat. “Months,” “Dan’s Silverleaf” and “Hunger Song” all share in this same upbeat, breathless folk style.
I suppose that is a subplot in tthis group’s story – the tale of a band with a lot going on that never really got worked out. I Want That You Are Always Happy begin melancholy, and at times quite sad with the slow-burning “Black Death 1349” and “My Grandma Was Pearl Hall.” I suppose the group wanted to dispel any lingering mournfulness before launching into songs that are downright danceable.
I never got to see them live, partially because it’s expensive for an up-and-coming Australian band to get their footing here in the states. I wish I had gotten the chance, because I Want That You Are Always Happy never ceases in giving me chills.
From their only full-length album, this is The Middle East’s “Black Death 1349” –
Standout tracks: “Jesus Came to My Birthday Party” and “Months” – and for an instrumental, “Sydney to Newcastle” is gorgeous.
Weakest track: No.
RIYL: Indie folk with some post-rock influences. Bon Iver, maybe? I’m having a tough time drawing a good comparison.
I Want That You Are Always Happy – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-want-that-you-are-always/id446006007
The Recordings of the Middle East – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/recordings-middle-east-ep/id332945707