Friday, June 23, 2023

The Midnight Callers - Rattled Humming Heart

When Jem Records president Marty Scott reached out to press and radio to urge us to listen to The Midnight Callers' new long player Rattled Humming Heart, I knew the album was going to be something special. Jem already has some of the best publicity and promotion in the world of independent music. Scott didn't need to make a statement to the press. But he did anyway because he felt that strongly about this release. He said this was the best second album he'd released in seven years. And let me tell you: he wasn't blowing smoke. 

The Midnight Callers released an acclaimed debut album titled Red Letter Glow on Jem in the fall of 2020. It was an unfortunate time to release a debut record, but the reviews were stellar. The follow-up Rattled Humming Heart builds on the promise of Red Letter Glow and then some. It's rare for a band's sophomore album to blow away its debut, but Rattled Humming Heart is one of those cases. Red Letter Glow showcased the band's impressive vocal and songwriting talents. But on Rattled Humming Heart, The Midnight Callers fully realize their musical identity: a fresh, modern take on classic power pop. Band members Chris Paine (rhythm guitar/vocals), Martin Stubbs (vocals/lead guitar), Julien Budrino (vocals/drums), and Marley Myrianthopoulos (vocals/bass) set out to craft an album that would capture their love not only for some of the greatest musical acts of the past 50 years but also for their hometown of New York City. Across these 11 tracks, the band openly emulates some of the most legendary bands of the power pop genre and also tips the cap to the heyday of glam rock. "Baby Let Me Be" sounds like the best Raspberries song in five decades. "Closer" could pass for a deep cut gem by The Knack. "Maggie" gives me Big Star goosebumps without coming off like a copy. "Girl on the Run" sounds like Shoes and Dwight Twilley jamming at Tom Petty's house. But while all this power pop classicism clearly inspires The Midnight Callers, it never limits them. "New York Tramp" manages to combine the influence of The Strokes and Cheap Trick in a wonderfully surprisingly and fully contemporary way. "Step!" marries a T. Rex groove to booty-shaking rock and roll. "What Goes Around" adds a modern sheen to Who-like power chords and harmonies. "Without Ya" is the power pop anthem that Queen might have written. 

In collaboration with producer Kurt Reil, The Midnight Callers have crafted an extraordinary sophomore album. Rattled Humming Heart is a love letter to New York and to rock and roll itself. The band members have taken their talents for writing hook-laden tunes and singing exquisite harmonies and leaned more deeply than ever into their love for '70s pop and rock. What results is a genuinely modern rock album that will delight fans of vintage power pop. When we talk about how rock and roll will never die, it's because of bands like this!

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