There’s a feeling of familiarity I have when listening to This Moment in Black History’s debut full length Midwesterncuttalistick. I can’t quite place it. I’d never heard this band before this release, so it’s not triggering some long passed cataloged memory of mine. I haven’t heard any of the other bands these guys have been in, so it couldn’t be that. And they don’t really sound like any of the bands they’ve shared the stage with (YYY’s, the Fall, Liars etc.) After sitting down to contemplate my query over a bag of Doritos and a Dr. Pepper, I’ve concluded that this familiarity comes from TMIBH being an equal sum of their influences, with bits and pieces of each shining through on every song. Take the punk-funk groove of the Minutemen, the post-punk electro work of Wire, the shake your ass hardcore of Nation Ulysses, mix it all together with a healthy shot of Motown soul and top it off with MC5 like socially progressive politics and rock `n’ roll dirtiness, and you get the TMIBH house special. A familiar yet refreshing take on shout-along synth- punk.
Hailing from Cleveland, OH, a city newly appointed as the poorest in the United States, TMIBH make music celebrating the struggle of their working class roots. Though on first listen to Midwesterncuttalistick one may simply lump these guys in with the hordes of suburbanite white boy sass-rockers touring on mom and dad’s dime, upon further investigation and a closer listen to the lyrical content, you find that these guys have a sincerity so lacking in modern day punk. Take the song “Paint Me a Picture,” a short and to-the-point diatribe against political non-participation and how it relates to the attitudes of so-called “artists.” Somehow these guys make a line as cheesy as: “Apathy’s’ not cool with me!” sound refreshing and on point. They even have a bit of an early Descendents vibe going on in this track with the semi-spoken-word verse.
TMIBH is able to pull off switching between different styles of rock `n’ roll seamlessly and effortlessly, all the while sounding authentic. “Progress For Real” sounds like it could have been included on a mixtape with Black Flag and the Adolescents circa ’81. “Double Gemini” easily gives all the faux-garage rock bands found in abundance these days a run for their money. These guys don’t need matching white suits to come off genuine; their music speaks for itself. Psychedelic territory is explored here as well on the song “Tony You Owe Me,” a dirty little ditty that channels equal parts Blue Cheer and the Stone Roses, filtered through punk rock sensibility.
This is a damn fine debut album from these Cleveland noisemakers. I missed them when they came to town a few months ago, but you can bet I’ll be there front and center next time they decide to swing by the west coast.
Nation Of Ulysses – Plays Pretty for Baby
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime