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Modern Life Is War Midnight In America

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01. Useless Generation 02. Screaming At the Moon 03. Stagger Lee 04. Big City Dream 05. Fuck the Sex Pistols 06. Pendulum 07. These Mad Dogs Of Glory 08. Night Shift At the Potato Factory 09. The Motorcycle Boy Reigns 10. Humble Streets 11. Midnight In America
2007 Equal Vision Records
Our score 9

by Cory
9/2/2007

Ronald Reagan famously used the phrase "morning in America" in his 1984 re-election campaign as a metaphor for the economic and social prosperity that the country had enjoyed during his first term as president. Two decades later, America's economy is in the middle of a steady decline, divisively partisan politics have resulted in a semi-permanent impasse between our legislative and executive branches and the country's conservatives seem more concerned with warmongering and abortion rights than a balanced budget. It's not surprising that in the last two decades, art has been forced to adapt to a world without optimism or innocence. What is surprising is how long it took hardcore, a reactionary offshoot of punk that addressed serious social and political issues at its inception, to finally catch up. Modern Life Is War (a name that embodies the pessimism of modern day America) has followed up 2005's phenomenal Witness with the equally powerful Midnight In America. In the album's thirty minutes of post-hardcore inspired hardcore, the band reinvents hardcore as a culturally viable medium, steeped in the great American tradition. They create their own twisted take on the Stagger Lee tale, co-opt Bukowski and echo Ginsberg, bring folk musician Brooks Strause and musical icon J. Robbins into the fold and most importantly create compelling music. Listening to this record for the first time, I could immediately hear that the band had hit the stride they approached on Witness. Where that album strains at points from the band's struggle between staying true to their roots and branching out into new territory, Modern Life Is War seem to have realized that embracing their conflicting influences is the only way to evolve musically. The one thing no great hardcore lyricist of the last decade seems to have taken into consideration that MLIW's Jeffrey Eaton obviously has is that no matter how good your lyrics are, no one's going to catch them all unless you can convince the band to slow it down a bit. I'm not saying every band or every song needs to crawl but some of these songs are as intense as the fastest, heaviest hardcore tracks around by virtue of Eaton's powerful lyrics. J. Robbins seems to have had some good advice for the band in terms of arrangement because as well as Kurt Ballou engineered the band's previous effort, this is their best sounding record to date. There are times, such as on the openly Bukowski-inspired "These Mad Dogs of Glory" when I stepped back and wondered if these guys weren't taking themselves just a bit too seriously but I quickly came to the realization that holding that against these guys was ridiculous. It's not their fault that most of the rest of the hardcore community doesn't concern themselves with legitimate content, quality or even limited attempts at lyrical eloquence. There are good hardcore records and there are great hardcore records and then there's what Modern Life Is War and a few other notables have accomplished in the last few years: musical quality that transcends the limited genre of hardcore. Bottom Line: It's interesting how inspiring and life-affirming great music, art, literature, etc. can be even when its subject matter or tone is steeped in death, depression and disillusionment. Modern Life Is War have stepped beyond the scope of their previous efforts with Midnight In America, and album rooted in the uniquely American tradition of hardcore and folk music and it's distinctive literary concepts. Naysayers will inevitably doubt the possible gravity of a hardcore record but these guys have put together a praiseworthy album that helps put the genre in context with our great musical traditions of the last century. While its general lack of speed might finally turn off early fans that were teetering after 2005's Witness, fans of that album will undoubtedly embrace Midnight In America, an album that will inevitably become a high point in an already impressive catalog.

Comments (47) post new comment
Andy_ 9/2/2007 4:13:20 PM

Good band. I really enjoy the two previous full-lengths. Anxious to pick up a copy of my own and be able to absorb the album.


Kyle_ 9/2/2007 4:13:30 PM

!!!


kbat_ 9/2/2007 4:17:08 PM

meh


BigBabyJesus_ 9/2/2007 4:29:36 PM

Uh... 9? Were we listening to the same album here or?


pukeskywalker_ 9/2/2007 5:04:38 PM

lol at your worldview. the economy is fine


pukeskywalker_ 9/2/2007 5:05:40 PM

hardcore, a reactionary offshoot of punk hardcore, a reactionary offshoot of punk hardcore, a reactionary offshoot of punk hardcore, a reactionary offshoot of punk


daikini_ 9/2/2007 5:25:43 PM

so uh... what does it sound like?


Kevin_ 9/2/2007 5:29:27 PM

Using loose references to Bukowski and Ginsberg doesn't give your shitty reviews and insight any depth you f*ck.


jeff_ 9/2/2007 5:50:12 PM

no way this should have gotten a 9 when witness got an 8. its a 7 at best. a lot of filler tracks in between some great tracks.


anonymous 9/2/2007 6:32:03 PM

A Ronald Reagan reference? Cory, you are officially dogshit


anonymous 9/2/2007 6:45:56 PM

Biggest disappointment of the year.


Fur_Beach_ 9/2/2007 6:57:42 PM

havent heard yet, but Im excited to. f*ck the naysayers this is pretty much the only "hardcore" band that I can tolerate


necro_dog_ 9/2/2007 7:02:08 PM

yeah, 9. i'm pretty sure you give these things unbelievable scores so you can get album of the week. this is wretched.


dustin_ 9/2/2007 7:06:59 PM

Definitely not as good as Witness. A good hardcore album, but a huge step backwards for this band.


Ron_ 9/2/2007 7:30:40 PM

Cory, you are such a gay, and this band is god awful.


xTomWaitsx_ 9/2/2007 7:43:37 PM

Why do you trekkie gays make fun of corey all the time, he probably does more with his life in five minutes then you could do with yours if you lived forever. Go to hell f*cking internet queers.


mefuckyeah_ 9/2/2007 7:52:12 PM

And this is why theres not another revolution, because we have idiots liking...I dont know...whatever


m_ 9/2/2007 7:55:28 PM

how could he not use a Reagan reference? that's what the album title is referring to. your one-liner critiques are f*cking ill-informed and weak, lambgoat.


Nowonmai_ 9/2/2007 8:02:40 PM

It's not their fault that the most of the rest of the hardcore community... nice grammar lol, I spent some of my life debunking a critique. I feel like a waste.


ryan_ 9/2/2007 8:02:47 PM

POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE POST HARDCORE INFLUENCED HARDCORE


brian_ 9/2/2007 8:04:17 PM

wtf cory, you basically wrote a social commentary on hardcore, and united states politics. i dont think you even mentioned once what the f*cking album sounds like, except for saying in the wrap-up that it has a lack of speed. 1/10 review. go chug some boners.


pham_ 9/2/2007 8:26:36 PM

awesome album, one of my favorites this year, but HORRIBLE review. god damn cory


unitedninetythree_ 9/2/2007 9:01:31 PM

this band is an unfunny joke. i like cory, but f*ck this thin sounding album and his blatant fanboy review.


white boy blues_ 9/2/2007 9:34:04 PM

Yeah, I don't get the "post-hardcore influenced hardcore" thing either. An oxymoron from a moron. Anyway, this is definitely the best thing this band has done. f*cks all over Witness and My Love...Easily a 9.


TTU_ 9/2/2007 10:12:38 PM

half the record is good, half is decent at best, definitely a step backwards in my opinion, and i love modern life is war, the songs just lack the intensity, energy and passion of the past, that's my gripe with it. plus the way he did his vocals on it, even though it was a conscious decision, are not to my liking, i prefer the previous efforts style. that is all.


fuck_ 9/2/2007 10:57:20 PM

shit band. shit review. shit label now too.


wardinator_ 9/3/2007 12:34:48 AM

f*cking lifeline records hasnt sent my god damn mother f*cking son of a bitch mother f*cking sucking ass hole LP yet. f*ckers


bensy_ 9/3/2007 3:13:16 AM

dwep band/review/cory


poopman_ 9/3/2007 8:33:07 AM

f*ck this f*cking shitty band


Jesusj0nes_ 9/3/2007 10:29:16 AM

Attention: Cory. The economy is in a decline? No it's not. Ever hear of supply-side? Read some Von Mises, you bastard


shutuptalkintome_ 9/3/2007 11:32:22 AM

Great band! Iowa representing...Lifeline records posted an update about the record on their website. go read it dumbf*cker above.


arty_mcfarty_ 9/3/2007 11:50:02 AM

i like this album and all, but this review says absolutely nothing about how the album sounds.......typical cory review.....lots of verbal masterbation and very little substance......."post hardcore influenced hardcore"???? sounds like something gluck would write


anonymous 9/3/2007 12:31:07 PM

I really like this kid's reviews, but this one was just retarded.


wieders_ 9/3/2007 8:12:04 PM

Cory you pretentious f*ck, just review the album next time


iheartcaca_ 9/4/2007 2:24:48 PM

"fanboy" i thought that word only existed amongst the video game world. haha.


eatshit_ 9/4/2007 2:26:00 PM

only the echoes of my mind.


eatshit_ 9/4/2007 2:26:01 PM

only the echoes of my mind.


anonymous 9/4/2007 3:12:12 PM

cory your a gay and i hope you and this band die on the way to their next show while your sucking all their dcks in their van.


anonymous 9/5/2007 8:46:53 PM

this was a damn good review....minus the fact that it doesn't talk much about how the album sounds. but if you haven't heard modern life is war, you should probably headbutt a wall p.s. - whoever says that the economy is fine.......uh, you're wrong.


sgtslaughter_ 9/6/2007 9:43:15 PM

i guess 6 straight quarters of economic growth = steady decline to this guy...


not stupid_ 9/6/2007 9:45:46 PM

Holy shit. Is this a political blog or a f*cking CD review. Also, "post-hardcore inspired hardcore"??? Shut the f*ck up...you shouldn't review CDs. But you're right about how good the record is...all that other bullshit should be kicked to the curb though.


kill_x_hippies_ 9/7/2007 10:40:53 AM

This might be the most pretentious review I have ever read.


Cock Gobbler_ 9/7/2007 11:15:39 PM

I would suck MLIW dck if i had the opportunity


Ihateyouall_ 9/17/2007 7:08:43 AM

Hey, no one gives a shit what any of you think. So what if you don't like the record or the review. NO ONE f*ckING CARES BUT YOU. Crying about a f*cking review, crying about an album and a band. f*ck, does baby want his bottle also? Either buy it or don't, like it or don't, but keep all your petty bullshit to yourself because no one cares.


Joshua_ 4/2/2008 12:26:34 PM

are you sure you were even listening to this album? it's almost garbage.


Ronald Reagan_ 11/7/2008 11:25:30 AM

why does Jeff Eaton have to rip me off?


Charles Bukowski_ 11/7/2008 11:26:31 AM

yeah, me too!