There’s Nothin’ Wrong With Being Perfectly Pop: Albums from The Midway State and Jon McLaughlin, Jeronimo’s new single

With this edition, I’m going to talk about the perfectly pop sounds of two albums that could slip under the radar, Paris Or India by The Midway State, and Forever If Ever by Jon McLaughlin.  Both are performers whose records I’ve enjoyed immensely, with Jon’s “Beating My Heart” being my favourite of 2008 and “Never Again” by The Midway State right up there at the end of that year as well.  I’ve also got some comments about talented new singer Jeronimo’s latest release.

Paris Or India by The Midway State

I’ve actually been listening to Paris Or India for the past few months now.  The Toronto-based quartet had me enthralled with the quality of its sophomore release.  I mean the record sounds fantastic, the instrumentation is top notch, and singer Nathan Ferraro’s voice either soars with the songs or anchors them with unique emotion.  What’s taken me so long with this album is that with all of its layers, the songs weren’t latching onto me.  Honestly, there isn’t a song I dislike on this album, it’s interesting and just breezes by.  I think I might have been looking too hard for another “Never Again”, and for some off-the-street grit that comes with much less complex and produced debut records.  Paris Or India is sure a progression for The Midway State… I just didn’t anticipate it.

The first single “Atlantic” is a thoughtful travelogue of sorts, while upcoming single “Fire!” gleams with intensity that come to a perhaps-too-quick end.  The album is sometimes caught up with mysterious, puzzling story songs that you won’t hear on the radio.  They are populated with the best melodies on the record.  Be sure to listen to “Hartley Salter’s Kite” (below) and “St. Paul And The Wolf” for another side of The Midway State that was not heard on the Holes album.  But the best song to me that shows their pop potential is “All Anew” (up above) with its straight-forward lyrics and plush melody.

Paris Or India, despite its elliptical qualities, is well worth the time you spend with it.  It’s hard for me to say where some inspiration is coming from, but I don’t think bands like Coldplay or U2 are off the map, and hey, why not strive for the greatness that those bands have achieved.  Also be sure to check out this hardworking band in concert.

“Hartley Salter’s Kite” by The Midway State

Forever If Ever by Jon McLaughlin

This is actually the Indiana-bred singer/songwriter’s sixth album and his return to the indie market after recording his last two albums for Island Def Jam.  It’s one dreamy pure pop album, in the best sense that a piano player’s record can be.  Think of great piano men like Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby… and when was the last time you heard a good album in that vein.  Again, patience is required with Forever If Ever.  It has its delicate moments but there are others when it can rock out like many of the songs in Jon’s last album OK Now.  But it’s much less lush than that record.  There are simple arrangements for songs whose lyrics deserved to be heard.

But for me the spotlight falls on that piano.  Nowhere is it more showcased than in “Promising Promises” (see Jon play it live a few weeks ago, above).  Down to earth and knowing lyrics meet a beautiful melody… complete with a gorgeous and longer than usual piano solo (it’s just before the 3 minute mark)!  “A Little Too Hard (And A Little Too Fast)” and “Summer Is Over” are both engaging, while  “You Are What I’m Here For” and “My Girl Tonight” (hear it below) are epitomies of class.  It’s a pleasure to hear the last two songs with such love struck and happy themes.  The album closer, the lengthy “These Crazy Times” could be the equivalent of Jon’s version of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty”, and I can’t wait to hear this one in concert.  He gets to showcase the talents of television’s “The Voice” find, young Xenia, on “Maybe It’s Over” as well.

Again, I don’t think you’re likely to hear the songs from Forever If Ever on pop radio along side Rihanna, David Guetta and LMFAO .  The album sounds very slight on the surface but you have to go deeper to appreciate all of its fine qualities.  Be sure to catch Jon on tour this Fall.

“Somebody Who Loves Me” by Jeronimo

The young Dutch singer is back this time with a stunner of a ballad that made my eyes well up the first time I heard it and did it again as I write.  It’s hard to bridge the dance pop focus with softer songs, and not every performer can do it.  Jeronimo has that sincere personality and delivery, without having a big booming voice, to take a song and leave it stuck in your head.  And of course kudos to the songwriters on this one too.  Thanks to Paul at MyFizzyPop for his inimitable good taste in blogging about it first!  Enjoy the story in the video below.

Published in: on October 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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