|Tonight The Midway (Still) Shines|
|Written by Craggy|
|Sunday, 25 March 2012 05:00|
Recently I got a hold of an album from 2010 titled 'Note To Self' by a band called Midway Still. I could have easily gone through the rest of my life never having heard this band, although they have been around since the '90s and in their day had quite a level of success on the rock scene. It's good to be reminded that there are always new things to discover, or even old things to newly uncover. Some bands disappear completely, but some seemingly disappear and then come back again, with a renewed vigour and an understanding of exactly what it is they want to do.
My discovery of them was a bit of welcome luck. We were scheduled to play a show at the Hoxton Underbelly one night in 2011, and prior to the show I did the usual thing of looking up the bands that we would be playing with. The names of two of the groups escape me now, but the name Midway Still caught my attention, not least because they were most obviously a "headliner" rather than just the unlucky band that gets the final slot - the poisoned chalice of gigging.
I had a quick look at the website of this punk-pop band and saw that they'd recently been playing with Snuff, but also that they'd actually been around in the 1990s and with more than a little exposure back then. It appeared that they would be right up my street, and I was a little surprised I'd never at least heard the name, and more surprised that my band mates - who dig this stuff too - had also never heard them.
Having formed in 1990, they carried a sound that was representative of that decade, and sat well with bands such as Therapy?. Watching them on that night in Hoxton they turned in an excellent set, and I was hooked from that moment. That the guys turned out not to be wankers and let us use their gear was a much-cherished added bonus, as playing with a "headliner" can often be quite the opposite experience. Although, to be fair, that's not just headliners.
On the back of that show I picked up a copy of 'Note To Self'. Kicking off with the raucous, dark anthem 'It Ain't Right', the album is not merely some return to the glory-days of '90s punk-pop, but is a glorious romp of geared up rock 'n' roll, taking what was great from the scene and coating it with a refreshing energy. It noisily occupies a space somewhere between Soul Asylum and Therapy?, exploiting a great sense of melody to accent hard-hitting tunes much like the B-Movie Heroes were doing not so long ago. Punk-pop delights such as the album's superb title song and the rousing 'It's Your Life' are far better than anything than the mush the Goo Goo Dolls are churning out these days.
The album works as a whole, with every song on the record sounding exciting and commanding its own presence. This may be due to the fact that their third and last record prior to this was released in the mid-90s, so they've had plenty of time to assemble the right songs for the job!
Retrospectively, I decided to dig up some more of the past on Midway Still. Already in their early days they'd made it in to Melody Maker, and were quickly snapped up by Fire Records' subsidiary, Roughneck, which lead to touring extensively with bands like Therapy?, Mega City Four, Snuff, and Leatherface. Their song 'I Won't Try' was NME single-of-the-week, they recorded a John Peel Session and supported Nirvana on the first date of their UK tour of 'Nevermind'. Shortly following this they released their debut album, 'Dial Square', in 1992. Alas, things started to fall apart soon after their second album, 'Life's Too Short', in 1993, when their drummer departed and Britpop moved in on the scene.
However, luckily for me and their already dedicated followers, and whoever else discovers this band now, they reformed tentatively in 2000 and started putting in the odd live performance. Notably, they played with Carter USM and The Senseless Things in 2007, where they were invited to play the "4 for Wiz" show after the tragic death of the Mega City Four singer.
This sparked their return in full in 2010, and the release of 'Note To Self'.
And it seems that the magic is continuing to work. Now, set to release a new album in 2012 through their own label Bitter and Twisted Records, Midway Still are back in full swing and the world of music is a lot better for it. Catch them on tour later this year.
To pick up your copy of 'Note To Self' - CLICK HERE