North Lincoln - Midwestern Blood (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

North Lincoln

Midwestern Blood (2009)

No Idea

The new full-length from North Lincoln, Midwestern Blood was recorded in 2007. Various setbacks held back the release until just recently, and the biggest question is: Was it worth the wait? Given that it's one of the better things No Idea's put out in the last couple of years (right up there with East/West, From the Bottom and Glass and Ashes), yeah, probably.

'No Idea Records' has become a somewhat apt adjective when describing a band's sonic attack, and while North Lincoln isn't too terribly far from that, their sound is more Samiam than Hot Water Music. More often than not, their compositions on Midwestern Blood are mid-tempo, driving and and heavily reliant on compelling buildups and huge, sweeping choruses. "Seasons" and "Weight of the World" are both prime examples of this dynamic (the latter featuring some depth-adding trombone courtesy of Buddy Schaub of Less Than Jake / Coffee Project), as are the much longer tracks "Remember," "All This Time" and "Morals."

The band does accelerate the tempo on songs like "No Turning Back," "My Summer Left Indoors" and "Leveling," and the brevity and urgency certainly doesn't come at the price of quality. The gruff chorus in "Leveling" is a nice tension builder, the rolling drums and backup vocals in "Summer" are choice, and "No Turning Back" succeeds at not only being faster, but maintaining energy throughout its 3:31 running time.

The real crown jewel of Midwestern Blood is undoubtedly "Bridge Jumpers." The overall composition is pointedly more visceral and the start-stops sprinkled throughout do a nice job of creating tension and the slower, more deliberate chorus augments the song's dynamic by doing less, which most bands can't even come close to pulling off. The instrumentation is just plain neato, and it's really not alone here: intricacies like the feedback in "Siblings"; the jagged guitar parts in "Leveling" and "Seasons"; and that impressive bassline in "Spy" are all examples of North Lincoln paying attention to what's happening in their songs and not just sloshing them up like a lot of their contemporaries tend to do.

Two years in the making, Midwestern Blood would definitely live up to the hype if there were much surrounding it (maybe there is, I'm not entirely sure). North Lincoln has created an intelligent, cohesive, interesting record and we should all take notice.