In Colm Toibin's book Mothers and Sons, there is a story called "Famous Blue Raincoat" in which a son finds his mother's band's old records, which she'd not listened to for years because of deep rifts with her fellow members. The band, based in Ireland, is described as being Pentangle-like, interwoven harmonies and rainy day melodies, the quintessential folk band of the mossy nation. Though the terrain in Australia is quite different than than Ireland's ubiquitous dew, we think of The Middle East as possibly being the modern equivalent of the fictional group. With seven members—two of whom are probably brothers, with the telling last name "Ireland"—they've got enough types of potentially complex relationships for future interpersonal turmoil. We're not excited to predict ill will, but the kind of deeply intimate quietness in the EP's standout, opening track "The Darkest Side" forecasts heartfelt turmoil. Other songs are peppier, more layered, but "Darkest Side" is striking in its austerity. "Blood," which has a nice animated video, maybe a stronger song, replete with literal bells and whistles (or, at least, people whistling), is a stronger representative of the group's dynamics, but it's less painful. And we all know being memorable doesn't come with ease. But with the song's late brass and choral bombast, you know, whatever future awaits, they're at least having fun. If you like the EP, which you can listen to below, they've made it available to download for one dollar and we recommend that deal.
December 03, 2009