The Midnight Evil's self-titled 2001 debut was a concept album if by "concept" you meant "party" and by "album" you meant "collection of songs" like a fight is a collection of punches. Recorded in Fargo and mastered in Detroit by White Stripes engineer Jim Diamond, The Midnight Evils (Dart Records) was the so-called rock revival epitomized, distorted, and simplified--a gleaming knife through your woofer to cut out any art, doubt, or stray milliseconds of loneliness before the liquor kicked in. I still play this music before Halo of Flies, Kentucky Gag Order, or the Hold Steady whenever some AC/DC fan claims Minnesota can't rock without angst.
Well, I've got some news for you, Evils (it's okay if I call you Evils, I hope). I've been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where I've seen parents make their kids do air guitar to "Dirty Deeds," and rock and roll ain't noise pollution--it's air freshener. Anyone who thinks "Party, Party, Party" is a good idea for a rebel anthem has their first beer confused with their first AA meeting, and eternal youth confused with a lifelong hangover.
That's how I felt about the last album, anyway--the second one, before singer Jonny Evans took off to leave the other guys trading vocals. When album three came in the mail this week, with the aforementioned "Party, Party, Party" track, I have to admit, I heard more "retread," at first. Then I listened to that song again, and--damn, those '50s changes do feel good the third and fourth time. In under two minutes, our egalitarian Evils trade vocals twice, toss in some "Six Pack"-era Black Flag group shouts, then roar into oblivion on the pop-a-wheelie splendiferousness of lead guitarist Stevie Cooper. In one full swoop--captured in Austin, Texas, this time--they equal the debut in spirit if not sound. For the sound, see the live show.
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