The fourth studio album from Midwest Hype opens with a strong, smooth horn intro that sets a tone for a strong opener in the track “That’s My New Style.” The flow of this piece is maintained as the eloquent vocalist and song writer George Matthew alludes to a change coming to what some may call the Midwest Hype sound. Hip-hop vocalist Ideal brings to the table a verse reminiscent of a more laid back and refined Eminem.
Once the opening shots have been fired, the follow-up track instantly moves anyone with a pulse to tap their feet in time with the infectious horns and sultry vocals. Title track “The Time” combines an upbeat love song with a perfectly matched funky beat.
“I’m Not the One” manages to do something rarely seen in a song- seamlessly taking the tempo of the album down just a bit, while also increasing the energy. The saxophone throughout, but especially during the solo, is truly inspired and caused this ex-sax player to go find his old instrument and wail away for an afternoon.
During a recent chat with drummer Max Kepler, one of the founding members of Midwest Hype, we discussed the band’s writing process. Generally speaking, George is the primary songwriter and all but finishes a song and then teaches it to the band. However, for standout track Ben’s Kitchen Blues the process was a little different.
“In some instances we find a groove we really like and we will all just get together and play it, then add some lyrics, and maybe tweak the horns a bit. When we wrote [Ben's Kitchen Blues] it just happened very organically.”
Crunchy: the best description for the instrumental track “Upsidedown Zombie Face,” featuring an electronic presence not normally seen with Midwest Hype.
“That was a song where Ben [Morrissey Saxophones, EWI, backup vocals] had just got this EWI, and he was just dying to play it,” Max explains. “So we were like, ‘Lets write an EWI song!’ Initially we all just thought it was silly, but now it is one of my favorite songs to play.”
In the closest thing to a ballad that can be found on this album, “Fade Into the Night” puts George’s vocal range on full display. The track leads nicely into “Generation Why” an uptempo, in-your-face political piece that takes shots at the politicial establishment, our consumer society, and finally the music business itself: “No heart, there is no soul when making money is your goal. Our music is out of control. Its time we take back the music…”
Midwest Hype performing Generation Why? at MojoStock 2011
Ideal kicks the door down with the vocal-only Intro to “Youth Rise”. The harsh attack on the lackadaisical approach the young people of today take towards the government and its missteps is in stark contrast to the mid-tempo- almost melancholy- track. As it evolves, the tone of a lost cause becomes one of hopeful optimism that the moment for change is close at hand.
“Salsa Steve” the closing act of T” is a more upbeat track with- you guessed it- Salsa inspiration. The finisher hopes to inspire an entire generation to get out and “let their light shine.”
Max closes by clarifying that the steadfast Midwest Hype fan may find very few- if any, at all- new tunes on The Time.
“We have some of what I feel are our strongest songs. I tell people this is a record of our closers- songs that we have closed [sets] with for two or three years. I think that any of our fans who have listened to us in the past will have heard a lot of these before and be able to enjoy this record.”
The entire album has a flow that just works. From start to finish, the listener is left completely enthralled as Midwest Hype pivots in a new direction with their studio recordings. The sound takes an around-the-world trip hitting reggae, funk, jazz, electronic, and hip hop, among others. Even better- the album is streaming for free on Sound Cloud.
Be sure to check out Midwest Hype opening for The Burning of Rome and Dirty Heads on April 17th at the Vogue. Tickets are available here. Doors open at 8 pm. Midwest Hype kicks off the music at 9 pm.