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The Midwest Soul Xchange’s ‘New American Century’ filled with pure Americana goodness

This Wisconsin-based band sounds a bit like Fleet Foxes, The Avett Brothers

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The Midwest Soul Xchange, on their new record “New American Century,” sets the tone out of the gates with the down-home, white-picket-fence feeling track “Set a Course for Common Worlds.”

Listening to the track I had the image of small town with cozy streets as kids ride their bicycles on one side of the road while the wind rustles the giant oak trees on the other, in front of compact homes dressed up for autumn. In that way it feels very much like an anthem for suburbia nestled in it’s tight lyrics and melody.

The second track, “Roots,” opens up the window on the band even more, with a sound very comparable to Fleet Foxes or, to a lesser degree, the Avett Brothers. It’s the same ballpark as these indie darlings, to be sure, and it comes across as an authentic sound. As the song ends, you can sense pain, pleasure and mystery in the vocalists words.

Ryan Summers, left, and Nate Cherrier are Midwest Soul Xchange.
Ryan Summers, left, and Nate Cherrier are Midwest Soul Xchange.

Another stand-out track, “Has Anybody Seen Bob?” has that quirky Beatles feel to it. It has a rich instrumental texture and sounds like it’s been plucked from a different generation, but without being tacky. I love the trumpet part between the lyrics, especially.

It should come as no surprise to discover that this duo comprised of Nate Cherrier and Ryan Summers hail from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

What is surprising, though, is that these two collaborated thousands of miles away as Cherrier was living in Phoenix throughout much of the recording process as Summers stayed in Wisconsin. In the album notes they state, “Every note and beat was literally an ‘exchange’ of ideas,” it continues. “Now that the work is done ‘New American Century’ sashays comfortably between the pair’s numerous beloved musical genres — while maintaining the identifiable signature and melodic moxie that has already become the act’s calling card in live gigs.”

It’s an impressive sound from just two people, with Cherrier adding percussion and rhythm tracks and Summers adding synthesizers and lead guitar while working as producer and engineer on the entire album. The two share vocalist duties, as well.

While many bands try to capture that “small-town Americana” feel, these two make it feel natural. It’s a solid album with lots of different twists and turns. The song “Occupy the Piper” for instance, starts one way and then opens itself up into an entirely different flavor. It’s probably my favorite track on the album for that reason.

About the only criticism I can think of is that I’m not usually a fan of bands who use incorrect grammar in their names. However, that’s a real nit-picky thing, I realize this, and have no problem admitting it.

If you love smart indie folk, or just good music in general, definitely give these guys a listen. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up to download their entire album for free on their band website.

Editor's Rating

9.5
The Midwest Soul Xchange's "New American Century" does Americana right on an album that has nicely contrasting elements with an expertly produced sound-quality. There's more than a few tracks you find yourself wanting to listen to over and over again.
0 User ratings
9.5

PROS

Songs filled with authentic, small-town Americana with flush vocals, richly textured instrumentals and catchy hooks.

CONS

The fact that the band spells it's name "Xchange" might annoy some uptight grammar Nazis!
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