Midwest Soul Xchange – New American Century
Opening with ‘Set A Course For Common Worlds’, New American Century immediately forges a path ahead that establishes itself clearly and makes its influences known.
From the get go, there are hints of Americana and flashes of classic R.E.M. tones to be found, particularly on the harmonious, drawling vocals. As an opening track, it gives the listener a sense of confidence and puts forward the idea that this is an album that has been carefully planned, with the course ahead very clearly plotted. ‘Roots’ has a darker tone, with a deeper, more melancholic country feel, and chords that lead the melody in some very interesting directions. The strong drums keep a steady beat that creates a real sense of forging ahead on an intentional journey. The guitars on ‘Truth Attention’ add a sparkle to the sound, leading into a more bold tone that leans towards prog rock influences. Underneath the instrumentation, the song structure isn’t that far off some of Pink Floyd’s work, and the music adds a woozy, wondrous feeling to the track that really begins to swirl and spiral at times. The whole album features some really innovative moments – the organ on ‘Revolt of the Guards’ as it begins is almost like a slowed down and soporific version of the one found on the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’, while ‘Occupy the Piper’ creates a darkly ambient vibe. It’s truly an album that takes tones and words to create its own world, and it is a world that the listener is invited in to and offered the opportunity to experience fully. ‘Kings Among Kings’ pulls things back somewhat, allowing the opportunity to play out a back to basics ballad that makes for the idea campfire song, featuring some characterful squeezebox tones and intimate percussion. ‘Sun Dried’ throws something of a curveball, with its electronic smiling synth partnered with the eastern tones of a sitar, all washed down with an earthy distorted guitar and some deep South banjo plucks, while ‘She Flies’ is about as delicate as you can get on the whole album, with a precious sounding guitar. ‘The Return’ serves as a fun placeholder of sorts, not quite an instrumental due to the mantra like repetition of “Fly back home”, leading perfectly into the huge swells of ‘Has Anybody Seen Bob?’, which leans, lurches, swirls and swaggers along. While it’s not the kind of track that would be lifted off the album as a lead single, it is still one that stands out as being particularly memorable, sounding somewhere between Pavement and Fountains of Wayne. New American Century draws to a close with ‘Four Score and Seven To Go’, a particularly atmospheric track to end the album on. It draws together a sense of melancholy and hope, which more or less sums up the whole album. For fans of vocal harmony driven Americana, this is one of the key albums for you to hunt down this year, so don’t let it pass you by without checking it out.
Check out at New American Century http://midwestsoulxchange.com