Album Review: Good Morning Midnight — Both Neither and Both

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Good Morning Midnight is a band unafraid to wear its influences proudly. On Both Neither And Both, the song “Ballerina” has the low-slung slyness of mid-tempo Nirvana, and “Dynamite Head” has a chugging, breakbeat rhythm that recalls Creation bands like Swervedriver and the Boo Radleys. A rock musician undergraduate degree is all about digesting the music of their youth.

To get an advanced degree, one has to find a unique voice, and Charlie Cacciatore is well on the way. “Skipping (Sacred Holy) Stones” oscillates lyrically from the abstract (“A resurrection is a resurrection and this suspended time sandwiched between chaos and chaos”) and the mundane (“Two lights are bound to blink in unison”) before tackling the big questions (“Is there anything beyond? I don’t know!”). The lyrics’ frenetic philosophy is delivered to a beat that sounds like it’s tumbling pell-mell down a mountainside.

There are some surprising rhythmic and harmonic flourishes, and song elements that happen just once. “Quid-Pro-Quo” is a whole rock opera in less than five minutes. It doesn’t answer a question, it asks one: “Was my joy at the expense of another?”

“Angel’s Dirty Knees” seems to be both about wandering around Iowa City, and — the totality of existence? The lack of meaning? “White noise all around me … Sometimes you’ve gotta feel bad to feel anything at all.”

The lyrics may seem top-heavy with philosophy, but they’re set to music with all sorts of rich textures: mellotron flutes, strummed acoustic guitars and found sounds. Charlie and his accomplices find grooves to anchor the listener in the pure stupid pleasure of fuzzed-out rock music even as it lurches between the sublime and everyday confusion.

It’s one thing for a musician to try and fail to make a big statement, and another more interesting thing to make an album about big ideas that are just out of grasp. Both Neither And Both is musically and emotionally satisfying even when the big ideas float away like a kid’s lost balloon.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 256.

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