Released May 15th, on Durham's 307 Knox Records, Oh Yell! is not only one of my favorite releases of the year, but one of the best Spring/Summer albums to be released in a long while. Road trip thoughts with star lit dreams, Midtown Dickens' Oh Yell! has been a long time coming.
Midtown Dickens are the lovable, laughable, and musically talented Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register. They play a hybrid brand of "Anti-folk / Naturalismo", that is more about having fun and singing from the heart than anything else. Their man-made tools of choice include banjos, accordions, guitars, and basically anything else that's laying around, but it's their god given gifts, their hands, their hearts, and their vocals that are what really shine.
On their debut, Oh Yell!, Edgerton and Register create songs that we can relate to wrapped in beautifully instrumented packages. They sing about visiting their mothers, love life, jobs, and even eating hot dogs at a Bulls game. But that's life, not just for them but for all of us. And that's what I think I like most about Midtown Dickens...Their real.
The cd features 16 songs, if you include the secret track, and, minus the Christmas material released last December, it seems to be in large part their repertoire. What I like about the lineup on Oh Yell!, and this might not mean much to some of you, but I like seeing the progression of a band. Because they have included not only their newest tracks, but some of the older fan favorites as well. You can definitely tell they have grown as musicians and lyricists, on the new material, it just sounds fuller and more alive, but it's nice to hear songs like AM Dial and Tetris be included here as well. I think it sets up a time line, and this is just me talking here, I could totally be wrong, but I think bands sometimes ignore where they came from and only look forward and I'm really happy that instead of releasing an 8 or 10 track cd like most bands do today, that we get 16 songs, the past and the present, all of pure folk delight.
They may remind some of you with hints of Kimya Dawson, (mentioned here yesterday, and that graced Durham for Midtown Dicken's cd release party), or a stripped down folk version of the nineties girl cuddlecore / punk band, and I use the term punk so loosely and in tongue and cheek it's not even funny, Cub. They take elements of what those two examples have done for music, and whether they are influences or not, take what they have learned and have only improve upon it.
My favorite tracks on the cd are the first three tracks, Eggs and Toast, Guitars and Airplane. They possess a feeling that really encompasses what it is to see MD live. Whether it's the harmony that you fall in love with, the banjos and guitars that make me jealous, or the way Edgerton tells a tale, Midtown Dickens will be your new favorite band and if you listen just right, you can here them crack a smile.
On a youtube clip of the girls performing Tetris, we see them sharing a mic, laughing , and having fun, and I want you to remember that. When they perform, live or on cd, they seem to be one unit. One person, one heart, once voice. A lot is to be said about this, because in a world of a "me" mentality, it's inspiring to see someone who is thinking of "you" first.
Now I keep referring to sweet, and cute, but on a few tracks, including What A Bore, also one of my favorites, we hear something at the center of this sweeten shell that almost resembles, along with the instrumentation, a crashing wave... building it's musical crest as it gets closer and closer to the shore line where it's forced to break by end. A song that stands out in the field like a rock where nothing will grow and this is where I think most people start in life, a barren space and as we stroll further and further away we encounter grass, bushes, trees...life. Man it's a great song!
I know, it kind of seems like I've gone off in a tangent from the "review", take what you will from it, but I think to enjoy listening to any band really, to get the full picture, it's nice for someone to be able to tell you how they feel when hearing the band. You get a real sense, or worth, rather then to churn out clinched lines and.10 cent words. So that's my piece and I figure that's why you read in the first place.
Below are three tracks for you to enjoy and links to acquire. They will be performing at Bull City Head Quarters on June 17th with Kaia Wilson and later in the month on June 23rd with The Future Kings of Nowhere. The local scene here is blossoming more and more every time I look around and Midtown Dickens is near the front leading the pack.
.: What A Bore
.: AM Dial