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Now Hear This: Weakened at the Asylum - Midwest Soul XChange

Rating: ***

Midwest Sould Xchange describe their upcoming release "Weakened at the Asylum" as a rock opera of sorts.

I dug Tommy so I know what rock opera's are all about. But from reading the one-sheet on these guys, it looks like they are actually a couple of folksters. I'm confused. Folk music as a rock opera? What in the world have I gotten myself into with this review? Damn you, Johnny!

Ok. Also, it should be noted that proceeds from the digital purchase will go to Flint water-related charities/funds. That's really cool. So even if this album sucks, at least you know the proceeds have gone to a good cause.

I'm gonna see if this sucks now.

Listen to "The Loser Illusion" on Soundcloud here:

The beginning track "Overture: The Story Unfolds" sounds like a rad classic rock opening to a you-guessed-it, a rock opera. I dug it and thought it really set the tone well for the next track that immediately begins with a description of how the story starts. That's helpful. "Fifteen Parts" underwhelmed me. It sounds like the soundtrack to a spy film. "Simple" picks up the pace a bit. More than anything, it's just a catchier song than the opener. "The Loser Illusion" is next and it's the lead single. This one is the strongest track of the early going. It sounds like Matthew Sweet. I love that. "Dear Sarah" is a catchy tune that moves the story along well. "Molehill Mountain" has a bluegrass feel and it's actually a really good change of pace. Vocally it sounds like XO-era Elliott Smith which is always a good thing. This actually could be an Elliott Smith tune. "Strangely Exciting" is another strong tune and this record has really hit its stride after what I'd consider a pretty slow start. "Name Like a Symbol" is interesting and clever and not something I'd usually enjoy, but I like it. "The Stand" sounds a bit like Steely Dan if Matthew Sweet was the singer. Another good track to lead us into the finale. "Trilogy" is an epic track coming in over 7 minutes. There's a ton of time changes and it really adds to making the album sound complete.

This album is rad. I was skeptical after the first couple of tracks but it really does settle into a cohesive concept album. It has more than enough pop appeal to keep you engaged and singing along. I think you're gonna like it.


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