A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Too many bands are dying

Filed Under: Random Thought, Wicked Good Music
Written by Brendan
Friday August 5, 2011

Figuratively speaking of course.  But seriously, this is getting worrisome.  I’m still upset about the loss of Drink Up Buttercup (RIP May 2011), Wolf Parade (RIP 2010) and Port O’Brien (RIP 2010), and now I’m mourning another.   The Middle East announced via Facebook earlier this week that they were ceasing to be:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,

writing to inform you that we’re ceasing. i’m not sure if we’ll make more music later on or not.

we don’t feel like playing anymore for a whole lot of reasons that i won’t list here and i’m afraid if we continued any longer it would just be a moneygrab. i’d rather go hungry. thank you to all those who came to shows.

we had fun.

t.s elliot wrote ‘you are the music while the music lasts’, but he also wrote that confusing little book about cats so don’t put too much stock in his quotes.

i’m very tired. until next time.

sincerely yours,

the middle east.

Yeah, that’s the same Middle East that recently released I Want That You Are Always Happy, my favorite album of the year to date.  While I do have to give them credit for going out on their own terms, I’m also selfishly pissed that I’m not going to see them perform live.  They were definitely on the top of my must-see list, and it really sucks to be adding them to the list of lost bands so soon.

To celebrate their work while mourning their loss, here’s The Middle East’s “Jesus Came To My Birthday Party:”

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wet your whistle: The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy

Filed Under: Album Reviews, Wicked Good Music
Written by Brendan
Saturday June 11, 2011

The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always HappyIf you hadn’t already gathered, I listen to a lot of music. I listen all day long – generally 6-8 hours a day. I buy 2-3 new albums every week. I’m a glutton for music. So it’s with no lack of consideration when I call an album the best thing I’ve heard all year. With their upcoming release I Want That You Are Always Happy, Australian band The Middle East has earned that honor and then some.

While the overall vibe of the album is bleak, haunting and sparse, it would be a grievous mistake to try and put this album into a single genre of music or even try to boil down the overall vibe into a series of adjectives. Its breadth is nearly as breathtaking as its depth, each carefully placed note just as important as the spaces in between. The absence of sound in many of the songs creates as much presence as the guitar, piano, saxophone, banjo, harmonica or any other instrument or vocal.

The abstract background noises on several of the songs remind me of CocoRosie’s 2004 album La Maison de Mon Reve. In fact, the comparison definitely doesn’t stop there – the ethereal nature of both albums leaves me wandering, mesmerized, searching for an unattainable reality. There is also a Paul Simon influence that appears on a couple of songs, but in truth, the sound that The Middle East creates is all their own, almost incomparable.

It’s only slightly ironic that I mostly feel like crying when I hear this album — one thing is for sure, The Middle East wasn’t talking to their audience when they named this record.

There are also a couple of downright rocking, gut-punching tunes on the album. “Jesus Came To My Birthday Party,” a guitar drenched, tambourine smashing bliss-out is probably the best song I’ve heard all year, and the raucous, saxophone laced “Mount Morgan End” proves The Middle East to be unpigeonholeable. I might have just trademarked a word…

So with that in mind, knowing that no one song could possibly represent what this album has to offer, I do want to share one single with you, “Hunger Song.” It’s by no means my favorite, but because I know I can share it with you legally, I’ve included it here to wet your whistle, as it were.

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If you’ve made it this far into my gushing review, the only thing I have left to tell you is that you must buy this album. It comes out on July 12.

Extra special thanks goes to Patrick at Missing Piece Group for bringing this album to my attention, and for looking beyond the BS-laden “exclusive release” nature of so many modern buzz bands. I can’t possibly do this album justice, but I appreciate your willingness to let me try.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.