The beauty of Midland’s debut album On the Rocks is that it could have been made when Gram Parsons formed the Flying Burrito Brothers in the early ’70s, or when Gary Stewart released his 1975 debut album Out of Hand & Brand New or when George Strait broke out with Strait Country in 1981.
Honky-tonk country music by Midland’s Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy and Mark Wystrach sounds that timeless.
Going into recording On the Rocks their main goal was to make a cohesive collection inspired by the journey that brought them to where they are today.
“[We wanted] to make a complete album,” Wystrach said during Midland’s CMT.com interview. “I feel like, especially in country music, people don’t seem to do that … they’re just trying to piece together singles. We were writing an album that is autobiographical. This character that is the star of this album is a collective version of the three of us. And it’s very much told from the first person perspective of what it’s like to be in this band.”
Fans will enjoy getting lost in their lyrics about loving, leaving, rambling and drinking. Carson’s solo write, “Check Cashin’ Country,” proves they’re not motivated by money. The driving “Somewhere in the Wind,” co-written with Rhett Akins and Josh Osborne, is their tip of the hat to Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever.” They drown their sorrows in neverending last call drinks in their breakout hit “Drinkin’ Problem,” and then they chase their buzz with a Rocky Mountain high in “Altitude Adjustment.”
In an exclusive first listen of their upbeat breakup anthem “At Least You Cried,” the band sings of moving on without shedding a tear after getting dumped by someone who wasn’t worth the time. Colorful mariachi horns blow as they sing their catchy “Na na na’s.”
Part of how Midland committed to their distinctive sound is staying true to the belief that music is bigger than the artist who creates it.
“Music can’t be your mistress,” Wystrach said. “It’s got to be your wife, your girlfriend, your dog … It’s got to be everything. You’ve got to give everything to it. Otherwise, it won’t be timeless, and people aren’t going to care about it.”
Midland will join the CMT on Tour Presents Jon Pardi’s Lucky Tonight Tour with Runaway June starting Oct. 12 in Birmingham, Alabama. They start Little Big Town’s the Breakers Tour with Kacey Musgraves on Feb. 8 in Oklahoma City.