I’d been writing on this blog for approximately a week and got an offer to review a free EP. It was awesome. A big kudos to Midnite Theory for allowing me to do a review and sending me the EP. I really appreciate it, you guys are awesome.
I’m gonna put something out there first before I start. I don’t listen to much hip-hop. I don’t mind it, and I hear some really good stuff from time to time, but it isn’t really for me. Luckily, Midnite Theory are more than just hip-hop. Much more. Formed in Westlake, California, Midnite Theory are a melodically minded band that use more instruments than your average hip-hop group to achieve a unique and natural sound. With less emphasis on computer created sounds than other groups, they’re a refreshing look at the whole hip-hop genre. With influences ranging from Bob Dylan, soul and jazz, to rock, hardcore, and indie, Midnite Theory manage to pull off what others would consider an elaborate and complex combination, and they pull it off well. “Never Sleep Till Sunrise” is their new EP, which is out on iTunes now.
1. That’s Love – This track begins with a catchy chord progression and subtle soul-influenced backing vocals, before the rapping comes in. The pulled back initial melody sounds good, before it comes back in full with a second guitar, whose fast riffs overlay on top of it quite nicely. The contrast between the rapping and the traditional singing, both in style and speed, as with most of their songs, creates a nice effect that keeps the vocals interesting and it keeps your attention. “That’s Love” is a strong and catchy opener for the EP, and is a stellar example of their sound and style.
2. Angel on Sunset – This song creates a notable effect with it’s breaks between guitars in what I think is the pre-chorus. This combined with the solid rapping creates an intense section of the song that sounds rhythmically strong. The chorus’ vocals are smooth and create that aforementioned contrasting effect. It’s great to hear some vocals that not only create a contrast, but are brilliant in their own right with their great range and smooth tone changes.
3. Caught Up – This short, catchy song implements some talented guitar rhythms that are accompanied by some simple keyboards. The lyrics are well thought out and contain a certain universality with their themes of love. This is further emphasised through the shared male and female vocal parts, which give the song two perspectives and broaden the immediate audience. This song is short, but it doesn’t need to be any longer. It delivers the emotions without going overboard (and so many bands fall into that trap), and should be commended for it.
4. P.T.S – Heavier guitars and a different style of keyboard playing in this, mixed with the thumpier drums create a different, rhythmically simpler and stronger sound. This helps support the rapping in the verse, and it sounds good. The techno-ish sounds the keyboard creates give off a slightly strange, but not bad sounding vibe. The section with the guitar’s less heavy part and picking also bring out the strongness of the rapping like other songs. This song is different from the other tracks on the EP, but it’s good to have variation and this shows exactly what Midnite Theory can do with their range of influences and talent.
5. Still Green (Piano Song) – The intial guitar melody over the top of the piano sets up the rapping in the introduction, with the plain piano leaving the listener to focus on the well written lyrics and vocals. The simple chords and effects used in the verse, with the backing vocals sound great, before the guitar comes in with another fill. When the drums come in, it builds up a bit but doesn’t lose it’s pace or feeling. This is one of the standout songs on the EP. Not saying the rest of the EP is bad in anyway what-so-ever, no way. But it just really catches you as soon as you hear it and refuses to let go. It’s excellent.
6. Just Met (Love Song) – The guitar in this song is particularly good with it’s melodical progression. I just think it suits the song really well. The lyrics have again (like “Caught Up”) broad themes that apply and can be understood by pretty much everyone. Again the dual vocals and the separate parts sound really good and are definetely a strong point of Midnite Theory. This is hip-hop that isn’t boring and repetitive, like so much else I’ve heard.
7. Something Draws Me To You – Coming in with a cool effect and some simple strumming, an awesome guitar line is introduced and you can’t help but tap your foot along with it. The vocals fit in with it and work together, and the chorus is a simple repetition of the title of the song with some backing vocals. It seems like it loses a bit of pace here, but it picks it up again with the verses and it’s barely noticeable.
8. Gone – Starting off with a another good guitar line, that could easily translate into a song that isn’t hip-hop based, “Gone” builds up to a chorus that maybe could have benefited from a more balanced out part between vocalists to make it seem stronger. The verses sound good, and the bridge gives it a little bit of space for it to tone down and the beat to come through. A good closer for the EP.
Final Impression – Overall, this is an incredibly strong EP from these guys. It’s not the kind of EP made of b-sides and rarities, these tracks could easily appear on a full blown album and not seem out of place. The rapping is strong and the lyrics tell both intricate and simple emotional stories that latch on and keep your attention. The backing vocals and soulful singing sound great, and the juxtaposition with this and the rapping makes the songs more interesting. Using great chord progressions and killer guitar hooks to light sections up, “Never Sleep Till Sunrise” is filled with strong songs from start to finish. The amount of noticable influences in a mere 8 tracks is incredible. I think Midnite Theory are going to be one of those bands to watch, whether you’re a hip-hop fan or not. They’re talented enough to distinguish themselves from their rivals, and if they keep writing songs like this (and even better!), they will go a long way.
Midnite Theory have been kind enough to allow me to put up one of the songs from the EP up for a free download, as a taste of “Never Sleep Till Sunrise”. You can grab a free download of “Something Draws Me To You” by clicking on this link here.
You can also check out some of their other music, and find out more about them at their MySpace page.
If you like what you hear, go and support the band by buying “Never Sleep Till Sunrise” from iTunes. It’s well worth it.