The Midwestern Charm will always have a place in music. The Milwaukee (by way of Oshkosh) band’s identifiably-angst-ridden output on its 2012 self-titled record helped bring them to local consciousness both here and 80-some miles up Highway41. The forthcoming follow-up—the appropriately-named Growing Pains—finds The Midwestern Charm traversing the same confusing causeway of on-going adjustment to adulthood’s abrupt arrival, but with a considerably better idea of where they’re going this time around.
The 11-song follow-up finds the (accurately self-dubbed) “basement pop” quartet issuing crunchy and loud songs that will simply never go out of style. Opener “Blood Bath” seems like a somehow-functional melding of The Decemberists and George Thorogood, and “Valentine’s Day” plies deconstructed depth to the record by contributing piano-pounding, wavering vocals, and ebow-ed guitars to the mix. “Lush” is a great straightforward rock song about, you guessed it, a lush. Occasionally, the band will venture out of the somber security of the basement and will bound out to the garage for a smoke break—most prominently in “General Drag” and “With A Lime”—where its at its best.
In Growing Pains, The Midwestern Charm follows a familiar recipe, but subtly sprinkles in enough satisfying and, at times, wholly unexpected ingredients to take things markedly beyond the standard issue of a proven-palatable product. Take a sample, and feel free to come back for more. Before it’s released later this summer, Milwaukee Record has Growing Pains in its entirety. The Midwestern Charm will next play (four shows!) at Mile Of Music in Appleton, August 7-9.