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I’m excited for this week’s pick. I started out lukewarm on this band but after seeing them live I’m all in. My girlfriend found them months before I did and tried to offer me a seat on the bandwagon but for whatever reason, call it my inexplicable stubbornness, I declined. Example 8 billion of an instance where my life could have been so much better so much earlier if I had just listened to her from the beginning. Well, better late than never, and I’m so glad I wised up and came around to this week’s dope music you’ve probably heard but I haven’t: Midland
Midland is a trio out of Dripping Springs, Texas. A quick glance at their Wikipedia page places their formation in 2013, though the band themselves alludes to earlier performances, acknowledging an identity as The Louisiana Gator Boys, prior to changing their band name to Midland, a moniker inspired by Dwight Yoakam’s song, “Fair to Midland.” Their style is listed as “neotraditionalist” country. I have no idea what that means. I prefer the way lead singer Mark Wystrach describes the group in a commentary provided with their BMR special release album. He portrays the band’s songs as “late 80’s George Strait.” That’s a great description. Just like late 80’s George was bridging the gap between traditional Western swing and honky tonk, Midland bridges late 80’s George Strait lyricism with twenty-first century production.
Midland’s debut album, “On The Rocks,” contains a journey’s worth of repeats and replays that tell stories of love made, love lost, and the struggles of making a hand on the road of music. The album’s three singles, “Drinking Problem,” “Burn Out,” and “Make A Little,” are perfect embodiments of the various styles Midland blends. “Burn Out,” is decidedly Texas Country, sounding both lyrically and musically as if it came off a Cody Johnson or Randy Rogers album, while “Drinking Problem,” may well have been George Strait’s 300th number one single if Midland hadn’t claimed it first. Other, deeper cuts, like “Check Cashin’ Country” and “Electric Rodeo” solidify the band’s alt status, standing them apart from the bro, pop, whatever the current main trends are called.
Midland may only be one album deep in the game, but they sound and perform as if they’re celebrating their twenty-year anniversary. Maybe it’s because they ooze talent. Cameron Duddy comes a well accomplished musician, already the proud owner of a VMA for his directorial work on Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out Of Heaven.” It could also be their self-assurance in their sound. The album, and, the artists themselves, don’t chase trends or spins, letting their identity wave like leaves in the wind. They just play, and damn well I might add. If you get the opportunity check them out live. They’re a blast, and they’re undoubtedly dope music you’ve probably heard but I haven’t.