The Middle East review and giveaway


Lately I’ve been listening to this wonderful band called The Middle East, thanks to the discovery by my friend, Martin. He introduced our office to them and we’ve all been listening via Pandora since about November. When I left for Kansas over Christmas break, I finally downloaded the full EP and really gave it full attention during my travels.

It’s hard to describe the band… they’re slightly poppy, more so folkish, somewhat atmospheric, uplifting yet sad. As you listen, you’re going to want to cry… partly for the lyrics, mostly because you can see the scene playing out in your head like a tragic movie. Suddenly trumpets kick in and you’re instantly optimistic once again. It’s really amazing, actually.

“The Darkest Side” starts with an intricately finger-picked guitar followed by brilliantly solumn vocals. The song sound like it’s fifty years old – but you know that can’t be true when it mentions ‘SimCity’. I know it sounds odd, but it completely works. Download it via Pitchfork for free and have a listen.

“Lonely” plays and it pretty much takes you where you think it would… but then “Blood” is the next track and you’re all spritely again. Even though it’s still a completely heavy song, it’s strangely comforting (This is the one where the trumpets help). The song and accompanying video are equally breath-taking. Even another free download!

Needless to say, I really fell in love with this record. Once that happened – I knew I had to get it on vinyl to REALLY obsess over it. Once I found a place that had stock, I bought two – one for me and one for you! To fully share this great album, I thought it would be fun to have a little giveaway (and with free shipping anywhere in the world).

One easy way to enter – just comment here and tell me your latest favorite album. Make sure you include a correct email address so I can contact the winner. While you’re waiting to win, you can buy the EP digitally from the band for $5 (You might as well, as the vinyl doesn’t come with a free download). Good luck, and thanks for entering! P.S. forgot to say… deadline to enter will be Feb 10.

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59 Responses to “The Middle East review and giveaway”

  1. Jonas says:

    A best of compilation from my country fellas Koop. A fantastic nu-jazz album.âce_(Best_of_Koop_1997–2007)

    Also thanks for the tip the music tip for The Middle East, just my taste.



  2. Emily says:

    Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz!

  3. rebecca says:

    My recent favorite album- Girl Talk “All Day”

    It’s FUN!

    Thanks for the recommendation, love it.

  4. Adam says:

    Strangely appealing first album from these young musicians, well worth a listen too, enhance your knowledge of across the pond! and also I have to recommend All Day by Girl Talk, great multimashup extravaganza!


  5. kenzie says:

    My favorite album right now after a little break is arcade fire the suburbs. I just can’t resist track 15.

  6. Alan says:

    I am re-falling in love with the Talking Heads “More Songs About Buildings and Food.” I pulled it out of the archives a couple weeks ago and have had it on constant rotation since. It’s amazing how an album that came out over thirty years ago can sound so fresh.

    Glad to see more music recommendations. The Mighty Clouds are frequently heard on my record player- brightens especially cold and wet winter evenings on the west side of Portland.

    • MMP says:

      Good call on the Talking Heads… I’ve been bolstering my vinyl collection with some old standards lately… need to keep them on my list.

  7. Marc says:

    Young Man – Boy EP, favorite artist of 2010. Looking forward to hearing a full LP from him…and checking out Middle East.

  8. Lauren says:

    Am loving my sweet friend Kate Lynne Logan’s new EP Love You Still. So chill.

  9. Dusty says:

    Dark Dark Dark – Wild Go

    These guys have the same kind of pop/folk/sad sound you’re describing, with a silver lining of Eastern European gypsy accordion. I promise you will like this band from the first song.

  10. james blake.

    thanks for this, i’ve been listening all day!

  11. Dusty says:

    I just thought of another great one –

    The Inner Banks – The Inner Banks

    Self-titled atmospheric-pop goodness. Think Pinback or Zero 7. Give the first song at least a few minutes, see if it grows on you.

  12. Delta Spirit – History From Below
    I’m going to check out The Middle East. Thanks!

  13. bruns says:

    yes!!! downloading the ep as we speak. i love going through these comments to see what other people are digging; keep it coming, guys!

    right now i am a bit obsessed with telekinesis’ parallel seismic conspiracies ep. check it: also, npr just posted a song from their upcoming album. i expect rad things!

  14. MMP says:

    Yeah, this is great… everyone is serving up cool things for me to check out!

  15. Gahh, love The Middle East. Stumbled on them a couple of years ago, so glad they’re finally getting some recognition!

  16. Miss Moss says:

    my favourite at the moment is the decemberists / the king is dead. i was lucky enough to be online last night when they were having their first live performance of the album on npr. it made me kind of sad because i know i’ll probably never get to see them live, not unless they come to south africa (by some miracle.)

    speaking of vinyl, i just unearthed my dad’s record player and seventies wooden speakers since i moved into a new (bigger) place. time to get a collection going.

    happy first giveaway day!

    • MMP says:

      I need to get that! They were signing records in town a couple days ago, but the line was crazy long, so I decided to wait. Congrats on the player and old, cool, warm 70s speakers!

  17. I’m currently wearing the needle thin with Summer Camp’s Youth, particularly their song Round the Moon. I’m also really loving Dirty Beaches Badlands.

  18. rick says:

    great find, it’s love at first listen (downloading now!). my favorite album at the moment is bonobo, black sands.

  19. Hayley says:

    In my pre-baby days I would always buy copies of my favorite albums on vinyl- it never felt like I really “had” the album otherwise. I am way out of touch with new music so right now I am listening to Helium’s The Dirt of Luck, Melanie Photograph: Double Exposure [Rhino compilation with unreleased songs- so amazing!] and most recent would be IRM by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Cheers!

  20. Martin Linde says:

    Matt, I told you already… but I think the ‘Trust – EP’ by the Generationals is a contender for the next big thing… the tune ‘Say for certain’ should be a hit already.

  21. thisismycat says:

    I would recommend Tennis – Cape Dory. It’s not released yet but it’s out there… in cyberspace somewhere. Really beautiful pop songs.

  22. Evan says:

    My favorite album at the moment is Badlands by Dirty Beaches. I leave it on in the background for hours while I’m working.

  23. Chris says:

    The Tallest Man on Earth – Shallow Grave
    Timber Timbre – Any of the 3 albums he has out (Cedar Shakes, Medicinals, or self-titled)

    Excited to check out the others!

  24. Carlos says:

    my favorite current album is dye it blonde by smith westerns. it’s amazing!

  25. Gina says:

    My favorite new album is Fields by Junip, it’s so good!

  26. Kristy says:

    The Cure, WIsh. Best album ever…..

  27. Sally says:

    I’ve been going back…to Kate Bush’s The Sensual World – I can’t believe how ahead of her time she was – still amazingly relevant today as it was back then. To have it on vinyl…now that would be another thing altogether.

  28. Sid says:

    I’m going to check that band out based just on your description of the music. Having the vinyl would be sweet though :)
    Lately I’ve been loving Mumford & Sons. The new Adele single (don’t think the album is out yet) is also amazing.

  29. Prowler says:

    My favorite record for the last month or so is Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier by Sun Airway. Great band out of Philadelphia. Check them out…

  30. david renó says:

    my last favorite bands

    edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros
    man man


  31. Ben says:

    james vincent mcmorrow – early in the morning.

    honestly, very little people have heard of this artist – but, everyone should.
    this album is the best album of the last 12 months. no joke.

  32. >svensson says:

    Lots of nice recommendations so far, there are obviously quite a few records to check out. And ‘The Middle East’ are a really good find, yay! thanks for that!

    My favorite at the moment is still ‘Owen – New Leaves’ , although it’s from 2009. plus: ‘Good Friends with Bad Habits’ is a fantastic video.

  33. Tisha says:

    My local favorite these days is Fierce Bad Rabbit. They’re a strange kinda mix, too, but probably more upbeat overall.

  34. Katie says:

    Either Tennis Cape Dory or Pomplamoose A Tribute to the Masters….I can’t right now.

    P.S. Great work, making me swoon.

  35. Graham says:

    A Ass Pocket Full of Whiskey by RL Burnside (with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion)

    Its probably the most innovative blues album i’ve ever listened but still feels just as real as his earlier recordings, and the lyrics tell some great stories.

  36. Mari says:

    My favorite album is the self titled record by Deyarmond Edison. I discovered Deyarmond Edison right around the time of Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago”, perhaps a little bit afterwards because I fell in love with Justin Vernon’s music and wanted to know more about him which lead me to his previous band, Deyarmond Edison. I can listen to this album straight through on repeat. It makes me think of winter and cabins, cold weather and the person you love and fills my heart with such strong feelings. It’s feel is sad or melancholy and loneliness. At least that’s the feeling I get when I listen to this album. I have a tendency to listen to sad moody music, I just love it! It’s a beautiful record and if you (as well as other commenters who read this) have not heard of the band or this record, you should give it a listen!

    P.S. Thanks so much for writing about this band! It sounds like something I would like!

  37. ax says:

    i’ve got to recommend franklin for short’s “dark cloud.”. they opened for kings of convenience last year, and positively killed it. the rousing rendition of “you can call me al” by both bands probably had a lot to do with it.

    Here’s my favorite track..

  38. Bia Silveira says:

    My most recent favorite: Nathaniel Rateliff, “In memory of loss”, which I came to know through Luke @ Shut the folk up! (thanks Luke!)
    On melancholy: My formative teenage years were spent listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpinks and Radiohead; what else could you expect?!
    Love the work and love the blog. Wish I could afford your stuff + shipping, but the currency conversion is a killer unfortunately. (I live in Brazil)
    PS: so glad I never got rid of my LP player ;-)

  39. Matt says:

    Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs….not a new album, but I recently rediscovered my love for them. Hope you enjoy!

  40. Tams says:

    I love this idea of sharing music.
    My favourites right now are Gene Clark’s White Light. Great album that I had never heard before a friend recommended. If you like the Byrds you will like this.
    Also the new Destroyer record Kaputt is excellent. I have loved every album of his and find he is one of the only contemporary artists that changes every record but can still say true to his intention if that makes any sense. His Rubies record is amazing as well.

  41. Jason says:

    My favorite album is Tournament of Hearts by Constantines. Its all around amazing rock with a bit of folk and punk influences, plus its Canadian!

  42. Josh says:

    Fate by Dr. Dog. It sounds akin to some Beatles or Beach Boys records…in a modern sort of way.

  43. Marek says:

    Laura Marling’s ‘I Speak Because I Can.’ This British 20 year old is definitely wise beyond her age.

  44. My favorite LP at the moment is the new Soft Moon self-titled. Thanks for the tip for the Middle East… my husband and I have a record store and we’ll try to find the album for the shop so we can spread the word. Peace, love and music…

  45. David says:

    Favorite album at the moment is Kills by j.j., a Swedish mixtape heavily influenced by American hip hop and R&B but done with Swedish grace and romanticism.

  46. Jonas Ståhl says:

    How about more Swedish music. This is Head’s debut album 0001 is pure magic. Also when I listen to The Middle East I get Melpo Mene vibes, with is a good thing.

  47. Ståhl says:

    The Amazing – Self Titled & Brothers of End – The End

  48. Erica says:

    My favorite album has been “Reunion Tour” by The Weakerthans for a few years now. Great songs with insightful and personal lyrics.

  49. Jennifer says:

    Sharon Van Etten — Epic

  50. Christina says:

    Tallest Man on Earth’s new EP, Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird. I love his earlier albums, Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt, and just can’t get enough of him.

    My favorite way to hear new music? 89.3 The Current from Minnesota Public Radio. You can stream it online. I’m not sure there’s a better radio station, anywhere.

  51. vieve says:

    yes! i loved this at first listen, thank you!

    i totally cannot get enough of arcade fire – ‘the suburbs’ at the moment.
    also (an oldie), morphine – in spite of me.
    aannd black river bluesman & bad mood hudson – chicken in the watch (not an album but a song). if you feel like it, go check out the video on youtube…he plays a really rad lowebow.

  52. casey says:

    I love the Middle East song, Blood. I even put it on a mix for my blog earlier this week. I haven’t heard the rest of the EP yet, so I would be a great person to win this!
    Latest album I’m listening to, welp the Strokes have a new one that I’m excited to hear. I’m also really loving Mountain Man, Made the Harbor
    PS. that cover is a piece of art in itself.

  53. lou says:

    ok. so this is my first time on your site. ventured here by way of via a link from my girlfriend… and what a fine find, good stuff all around.

    I must say first that i don’t believe in favourites and second that this recommendation is about a year late but i think its one of the best bands i heard in all of 2010 so give it a listen if you havent already.

    edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros

  54. kiki says:

    have you heard Dolorean? one of my favorite local bands. i like their ‘violence in the snowy fields’ album the best…
    or Low. one of my all time favorites. Start with Drums and Guns.
    or TimberTimbre…ok. i’ll stop now :)

  55. MMP says:

    Ok, it’s midnight and I’ve drawn a winner – Derek Henderson. Congrats!

    A random number was chosen using, out of the total number of all valid comments. Duplicate comments and my replies weren’t included in the drawing. Thanks everyone for entering!

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