It used to be that music simply existed to tell stories within the mindsets and moods that their creators were experiencing at the time. Good music was able to capture those emotions and evoke them in their listeners.
For unknown reasons, somewhere along the line music got more complicated. Lyrics needed to be more passionate. Sound needed to be louder. Rhythms needed to be fancier. Production values needed to be gaudier. In this world, it’s still refreshing to hear music sans the needlessly over-the-top melodies or simulated sentiments.
The Midway State might actually be the epitome of classic pop rock. Leading with his lyricisms and piano-playing, Nathan Ferraro serves as frontman for the Canadian quartet. Originally from the greater Collingwood, Ontario area, Ferraro eventually moved to Toronto with his band mates (Daenen Bramberger — drums, Mike Wise — guitar, and Mike Kirsh — bass).
The four of them struggled just like any other band, and Ferraro recalls (press release) that they “stayed in an apartment for $75 a month each. There were four of us in bunk beds in one room, but we knew it was where we had to be to move forward.”
The many years they spent playing together and touring wherever they could kept them very grounded, and it’s not surprising those sensibilities can be found in their music. The opening “Never Again” blends the calm and manic parts of any relationship in one succinct, somewhat 80s alternative pop rock tune. The music only gets more retro, especially with the Ben Folds-like pseudo-ballad “Change For You” and the Alphaville-like ballad “Nobody Understands.”
Ferraro attributes much of the band’s no-nonsense approach to the artists he grew up listening to: “Carole King is my all-time favorite. Growing up, I listened to everything from Cat Stevens and Dire Straits to Neil Young and Peter Gabriel. Whatever gets me, it has nothing to do with genres and everything to do with the songs.”
Much of the band’s full-length debut Holes can be looked at in a standalone manner. So much is put into every song that each song sounds anthemic in nature, from the sorrowful ballad “Can’t Stop Waking Up To You” to the bare-bones, almost a cappella title track. For The Midway State, it’s the only way they’ve ever known to play.