CD REVIEW: The Midnight Slander - The Long Way Home
by: Cyrus Rhodes
The Midnight Slander
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Rock, R&B, Jam Band, Funky Pop, Jam Band
Sounds Like: INXS, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Deep Blue Something
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Weakness: More Solo Segments, 1 short sided song, Cover Art, Short Sided CD
(CLEVELAND, OH) The Midnight Slander isn't about pushing boundaries, redefining the industry, or reshaping your perception of music. We write music from our hearts and only wish to share it with as many people as we can. We didn't know what would happen when we locked ourselves up for a weekend in a studio, or what we would have in our hands when it was all said and done. We ended up with The Open Road EP, music that can only be described as honest, memorable, and fun. Two years later we have written and recorded a full length release produced at Lava Room Recording and coming out this fall on Spectra Records. Our music brings to light our many influences; from the lyrical storytelling of country, to melodies influenced by pop and rock, to danceable airtight grooves evolving from funk. We've managed to bring together the music, experiences, and stories of three people who only ever wanted to play for anyone who would listen. There is a long and exciting road ahead; where it goes we don’t know. What we do know, is that we want our family, friends, and fans to travel it with us. Band consists of Dave Conner, Mike Gray, Al Rodriguez. Their latest release entitled “The Long Way Home” Was released in 2014 (SPECTRA RECORDS).
The CD takes off nicely with grooving “Shattered “ a slamming, smooth flowing intro piece that serves up slamming Americana rhythm section, well placed Organ accents, meshed against well placed harmonies and soulful vocal delivery from Conner. Track 2 “Runaway” keeps things moving in the right direction with smooth folksy vibe served up against steady flowing rhythm, well placed vocal/guitar tandem painted against a hooky chorus making for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3 “Bright Lights” shifts gears a bit with its methodical intro, with impressive vocal feel and Top Tiered musical syncopation from Conner and company that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. I would classify this music as Americana, Jam Band, Folk, and Alternative Rock with brief touches of R&B, Jam Band, and what I like to call heartfelt Intellectual Singer/Songwriter. That's a pretty long list. Music is not easy to pigeonhole but is reminiscent of classic Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, John Mayer, INXS and Deep Blue Something. Besides the three/four piece standard one can also appreciate much in the way of lush instrumentation with things like impressive rhythm guitar, Piano, Psychedelic Organ, lush harmonies layered everywhere all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Conner - as for his vocal abilities well he’s a great advent. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. I like his power and soul. His voice reminds me of a more American version of (Michael Hutchence (INXS) and every now and then Adam Duritz (Counting Crows). All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board - world class songwriting and instrumentation. This CD from The Midnight Slander delivers 9 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. All engineering aspects (Mixing, Mastering) check out extremely well. CD has crystal clear high end punch and thick low end frequency. The music of The Midnight Slander has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From dynamic “Chords” to my favorite “Love” to invigorating “Open Road” to grooving “Tennessee” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 9 “For You” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
All songs over 3.5 minutes drag you to the finish line, while Track 4 “Ohio” feels like an incomplete statement to me. I wish there were more solo segments throughout the CD. CD cover art is a bit lacking. CD is a bit short with just 9 Tracks. Perhaps 3-4 more tracks are needed to make it a fully loaded release. I’m not a fan of the timing break on Track 7 “Open Road” (3”04 – 3:10).
From start to finish "The Long Way Home" by Midnight Slander by The Midnight Slander is an amazing collection of music. The songwriting – the gold standard, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of this band are rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned no holds barred R&B-Pop-Rock swagger. At the end of the day these cats brings the mojo and is clearly a marquee talent based out of Cleveland. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on them over the years to come.