The Middle East were [sad face] an indie/folk band from Australia who bit the dust shortly after taking flight. Co-led by singer/songwriters Jordan Ireland and Rohin Jones, they created some of the most heart-breaking, soothing, and emotionally drawing songs I’ve ever heard. Backed by an army of upwards of 8 talented touring musicians, they boasted an in-studio and live dynamic rarely achieved by acts in the indie world. Spanning snow-flake fragile finger picking acoustics with whispered melodies, to crashing, brawny orchestral climaxes with ear-piercing screaming convictions, The Middle East takes the listener for one hell of a ride. The band was unfortunately fraught with conflict, much of which was centered around differences in philosophical beliefs regarding becoming commercially-successful, as well as songwriting directional disagreement between Ireland and Jones. Indeed, their goodbye in 2011 was the finale to a short-lived comeback from hiatus just one year prior. Kind of like getting back together with that old lover, where the only thing that’s truly changed is the length of your hair.
In 2008, The Middle East released an LP entitled “The Recordings of the Middle East”, which is one of the more enjoyable and under-appreciated indie albums I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. 3 of the 8 tracks are in my top 25 most played list in iTunes, a prestigious and coveted honour granted only to the very best music has to offer. They re-released it the next year as an EP sans the last 3 tracks, but I have no idea why because it’s all amazing. The follow-up, 2011’s “I Want That You Are Always Happy” was apparently written after scrapping almost an entire album’s worth of recorded material, and it sounds about as much. Roughly half the tracks are worth a damn, a few of which are solid pieces, but as a whole it’s a quivering mass cowering in the shadows of their monstrous debut. A quick sweep online reveals that most critics disagree with me on that, but it’s all he-said-she-said anyways so take a crack at it and see what you think for yourself.
Favourite track: The Darkest Side (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXaczP4-VTE)… they’ll make a believer of you yet.