Alone At 3AM – Midwest Mess
Release Date: May 8 2012
Record Label: Suburban Home Records
On Midwest Mess, Alone At 3AM walk the line between indie rock and alt-country. The result is a record that’s equal parts drinking a handle of cheap whisky at home after a breakup and drinking the entire bar in celebration. Equal time spent expressing working class disappointment and delivering a healthy dose of stubborn optimism. When vocalist Max Fender states “Everything I sing about I’ve done” on “Weekends at the Cape” it’s just as much a mission statement for Alone At 3AM as it is a lyric in a song.
Speaking of whisky, the album begins with “Another Round,” complete with a chorus that lives up to the alcohol inspired title while also sounding reminiscent of the more driven tracks released by Whiskeytown, the band that featured Ryan Adams prior to his solo efforts. In fact, the songwriting on the entire album benefits from sharing the tendency of early Ryan Adams lyrics of being simple and straightforward. The lyrics are delivered with emotion and they’re always expressive, but Alone At 3AM never allow abstractness to fog the confessional honesty that dominates Midwest Mess.
Accordingly, Midwest Mess is a record that is unabashedly grounded in the real world. There’s no frills to be found here, just refreshingly well crafted songs about real people and places. “I’m tired of all the small town politics” is another lyric that aptly describes Alone At 3AM. The band manages to go heavy on emotion without crossing the median into the over-dramatic. Even the songs about failed romances and broken promises focus on the story telling rather than trying to force a moment of poignancy.
This is the album that would have been written if there was a band in between the demise of Uncle Tupelo and the creation of Wilco. Country tinged songs that an indie rock aficionado won’t cringe at. Midwest Mess is an honest rock record that keeps your attention whether Alone At 3AM is slowing it down or speeding things up. If there is still a spot in your record collection reserved for such a thing then this might be the perfect fit.