Do Not Bypass

Three Short Acts (Debauchery Records)
The Middle Men

By David Lilly

Have you had days when you had to say things you thought you'd never have to say? I feel compelled to make such a statement, which is simply this: I used to think that one Michael Stipe was enough. However, since Middle Men vocalist John Whitaker sounds not unlike Mr. Stipe so much of the time and this CD is, yet not really commercial, I admit I was wrong. Now you're compelled to ask why I said that, right? What are you doing, conducting an investigation? Read right this way. With the help of an endorphin rush, a division of melted G. I. Joes, an inverted garbage can and a willful double bass, I'll try to provide some clarification for you (laughing in my sleeve).

Gee, you gotta like a lyricist who writes stuff like, "North meets south, east meets west/The point of convergence is anyone's guess," right, Wally? With a really good singer singing lines like that and a melody you'll want to have your hands ready for because it's so catchy, doesn't it make you wanna hear more of the album? "Down In It" dives right into the rock-and-roll pool with drums knocking persistently on your speaker doors and lyrics that, well, you gotta hear them. "Wonderful Impressionist" features the album's quirkiest drumming; I bet there's an actual rhythm there, but I haven't found it, though it features more of those neat lyrics like, "A breech in your security is what you need/ But breaking into you is like breaking out of Alcatraz." Does that imagery not give you chills and thrills?

Ladies and gentlemen, The Middle Men rock like the fossil bed, but they realize that everybody needs a breather now and then so they find time and room to play a soft and peaceful tune called "Out of Bounds." Finally, "In time with the grind going in your head/The daily news gives way to the daily bread/The choices you make the mistakes that you take to bed" is all part of "What it Was," a good driving song for the thinking music lover.

At this point, I hope you feel a burning desire or at least a friendly, but assertive nudge to visit

, learn more about this band and hear samples of their work. They're smart, they're good musicians and, doggone it, you just might like them.