Sonntag, 30. Juni 2013

'Hostage, hostage, I swear, it's gonna hold you hostage' .... Reasons why to be fascinated by Midnight Hour's sound

It’s said the core of every composition are the lyrics. It’s them to appeal to the listener and to make them relate to the story told. And the one who’s telling the story, who’s puting all his heart and soul into painting a vivid and haunting picture with the words  spoken, better said sung, is the vocalist. He is  the band’s front man for a reason -  most likely he’s the one who has composed and ellaborated the lyrics therefore the song’s message and deeper meaning, he’s the one to reach out to the listener’s heart with the words his inspired and receptive mind, lastly his very own heart have originated.

The instrumental parts on the other hand breathe life into a song, let the listener find melodies to linger on his mind, melodies to move along to as the lyrics move him inside. The sound of the instruments back  the vocals, strengthen, stress and amplify them - at times they even outshine the vocals. The moments they do, it shows each and every band member has his value, the right to be in the band as he contributes to the music created, as he helps to let the sounds evolve and unfold. 

Inspiring and profound lyrics affect

There’s no need to deny it: the lyrics of Midnight Hour’s songs are mostly love-centred. They depict the band’s view on nowadays relationships and their fundamental characteristics (‘Modern Love’) - exposing the critical voice of the californian rock quintet. They tell about falling for someone without compromise and describe the captivating, almost addictive nature of love (‘Hostage’), they tell about developing (physical) affection (‘How Easy I Fall Apart’) and also about facing adversities in a relationship, still finding reasons worth to adhere to it (‘Jealous Girl’). Yet it’s not all about love. In fact Midnight Hour’s compositions also examine deeper, more personal themes. ‘Running Away’ is based on what Bradley experienced whilst growing up, it’s about keeping the distance to those one loves for reasons which have made it impossible to stay and argue about problems in a decent manner.  ‘Aftermath’ deals with granting and craving for second chances. The lyrical content ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ refers to, is that people need to accept that everything is limited in time, that letting go is eventually nothing but a natural process and personal progress. With ‘Bad FeelingMidnight Hour give an intimate insight into their growth as a band and affinity to each other - brought about by their once imminent breakdown. ‘I Don’t Break Easily’ seems to pick up on this difficult time, the moment the band has been at the edge of giving up, and represents the renewal of hope and the determination not to back down at every reverse that might occur. Becoming Who We Are’ likewise speaks of Midnight Hour’s history, their awareness that hard times still lie ahead of them but that there are also brighter days to come, challenges they will grow with (‘This is just the start and it’s gonna get harder ..’). Moreover it expresses their self-declared effort to continue making music that matters to them (hopefully to the listener as well) and declares their quest for leaving a lasting impression on people’s minds and at people’s hearts, with the music they create (‘We’re counting on each other, yeah, we’re gonna make it last’). On the other hand  they don’t force anything with their songs: Midnight Hour stay true to their music and appreciate those who listen to and who grow fond of it, but don’t worry about those who don’t , like the lyrics of ‘All That We Imagined’ state (‘I don’t care about my judges, they were never happy anyway’).  As you can see, there’s a varied range of themes Midnight Hour make use of.

Acoustic sets - the prime example for Midnight Hour’s musical aptitude

I’ve mentioned it before, the stories which epitomize the essence of a song,  are told by the band’s vocalist. And Bradly Lodge lives up to this endeavor, his vocal performance is consistently emotional, passionate and vigorous, which lastly causes the listener's full attention and true affection for the music presented, for the stories to unfold.

The strong point of the band’s performance lies defintely within their acoustic sets: there is something sensitive in Brad’s voice that casts a spell on those who listen, it is a sincere and authentic presentation as he bares his soul out to the listener and thereby makes him sympathise. Brad gives an insight into what he might has experienced, what the band as whole might has faced, and since it appears as if he feels every word, truly believes in  every word he sings one won’t be able to elude the music’s message and meaning.

Let it either be Tim on banjo/acoustic guitar or Dan on shakers, the light still pointed and acute sound of the instruments, support the mellow yet strong, evocative yet emphatic and emotive vocals of Brad.

Live performances - holding you hostage and carrying you away

The live performance of Midnight Hour with the sound of the full band echoing however makes its very own mark . The instrumental arrangement is dominant, creates moments of intensity and thrill and determines the rhythm and progress of each song’s staging. There’s a vibrant, dynamic, suspense-packed atmosphere built up - the interaction of instruments is thrusting and thereby convincing. It takes an eccentric and powerful voice to break through the sonorous and forceful sound of drums, bass and guitar. Fortunately Brad’s vocals are energetic and strong enough to be heard. His attitude on stage is in some respect pretentious - but Brad has every right to act this way, he pushes himself to his limits, his vocal reach is above notable (sharp, high pitched sound and orotund moments are combined) and the audience can’t help but notice he makes an effort - in a dramatic and moving manner-, an effort that is rewarded and applauded. This and the well arranged, intense instrumental backing is what makes Midnight Hour’s live performances well worth watching. When you do, you might also be able to catch Tim’s striking and phenomenally executed guitar soli or his gentle but melodious backing vocals.

Musical moments mesmerize 

Honestly, I’ve listened to every single song of them so often by now and have found, yet still find moments to cherish. There are these remarkable elements within a song, may it be in lyrics, may it be in arrangement and sound, which enchant me on every occassion, which make me look forward in anticipation whilst listening. It’s up to you to find aspects to admire in respect to their music, but these are the ones I can’t escape from.

The epic instrumental intro of When Love Collides’ for instance - drum and guitar sound blend perfectly, rouse and immediately draw the listener into the song. I always picture the sea and emerging waves whilst listening to the intro, and in fact the listener is taken by some natural force whilst indulging into the song’s haunting melody, making it hard not to fall for it. Brad’s pronounciation and vocal performance when the chorus sounds, is in my book, also absolutely winsome and charismatic.

The beautiful piano melody, the vulnerability and pure emotion that lies within Brad’s vocals on this track, thoroughly memerize. It’s the lyrics of ‘Running Away’ though which have casted a spell on me. There has been a lyrically alteration once - to make the song easier to sing along to (as if one could ever compare to the class of Brad’s voice), still it was this one line, accompanied by Brad’s deeply moving timbre that charmed me the very first time I listened to ‘Running Away’ on ‘Ghost Whisperer’: ‘And try, and try to understand me, try to understand what I say, when I say I can’t stay…’

At times it doesn’t even take words to impress, it can be a melody or - as in this case - a simple but infectious sound. When Brad launches into a charismatic and rousing vocal murmur - as heard on the acoustic version ofAftermath’, probably not as a component of the initial song structure, rather as a spontaneous, atmospheric addition to it - the song has definitely reached its evocative peek (in order to reconstruct what I'm talking about, you need to listen to the acoustic album version of 'Aftermath'. Purchase the acoustic album here)

Once more it’s the intro of a song which left a lasting impression on me: when the band peforms ‘Jealous Girl’ live, as an acoustic set, there is this haunting vocal prelude that creates a tense atmosphere. The listener is captivated by the setting of the story that is going to be told and as the song’s instrumental part is extended - the concept of jealousy is hovering over the entire composition - the vocals represent the dealing with the compulsive attitude of one lover: they shine through the instrumental arrangement, are dominant and embody the inevitable feeling of communal spirit, on contrast they also portray the delicate and problematic situation both lovers face. Mastery in set up and both thematic and musical execution.

I could possible go on for hours talking about these little moments that mesmerize and that each song of Midnight Hour bears. But I won’t as I want you to explore and encounter them yourself. Take your time, indulge into the melodies,  whisper along to the lyrics and raise your voice once you’ve found them.

In conclusion one can state that Midnight Hour’s sound is compelling. The music depends on the sensitive and strong vocal perfomance of the band’s lead singer and also on the harmonious and charming instrumental interaction of the band that grants every member moments to shine. The moment for you to start listening to Midnight Hour’s music, to intensify your involvement, has come. It’s now.  Listen and learn about Midnight Hour’s genuine and heartfelt approach to music, their soulful and memorable excution of compositions, the depth and involvement in the stories they tell. You will eventually find authenticity, honesty, commitment and ingenuity within their music - and that’s, to be honest, something rare to find these days, especially considering that every up and coming musician struggles with achieving a balance between fitting the mold - to sell his music, literally - and standing out due to a significant setup of songs. 

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