Backtracks: Alone at 3AM – Midwest Mess

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Occasionally an album comes along that has that fire, that smoldering spark your soul requires. For me, Midwest Mess by Alone at 3AM is one of those albums.

Part of the Suburban Home Records stable, Alone at 3AM’s attitude is one derived from years in our nation’s rust belt. Unlike fellow southwestern Ohio brethren, Alone at 3AM could be easily mistaken for a band geographically associated with the southern half of the United States on first listen.

I don’t like to compare bands but in this case there is justification: five members, one being female and providing harmony. Trembly guitar. Songs about family and domestic strife. I can’t think of a band that is closer kin to Glossary than Alone at 3AM.

Alone at 3AM pull no punches or admit to being more than they are. On “Burn the Town” singer Max Fender modestly admits, “All the good songs have been sung.”

Midwest Mess contains the requisite amount of separation, loathing and pain as evidenced in “A Change is Coming”:

When I got home
You said “we need to talk”
Hung my head
This is how it starts

Starting and ending with these lines, no resolution is offered. None is required as you know how the story ends. Therein lies the beauty of Alone at 3AM’s songs: familiar and comfortable yet wholly their own.

I won’t say Midwest Mess is a happy record, but the band offers a glimmer of hope while at the same time calling bullshit on “Tell Me Your Lies”:

People change
Don’t you know they never stay
Love just goes
It will not don’t you know
Oh, don’t I know

Catharsis is the name of the game on Midwest Mess. Redemption and the healing power of music, in all its forms, is evident on “Walk Away”:

If the Lord takes him tonight
Point my amp up towards the sky
Rock him home a sweet song tonight
Rock him home tonight

With its punkish vibe, “Wolf in the Woods,” is a perfect summation of the band’s sound and the truth held in the 10 vignettes on Midwest Mess.

I don’t need this now
Don’t want to know
How it turns out

Alone at 3AM is clearly a band comfortable with their place in the world. They have made an indelible mark in mine.

Stream Midwest Mess and download “Weekends at the Cape” below.

“Weekends at the Cape”

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