Short But Sweet

Hendricks EP
The Middle Men

By John Bohannon

The Louisville music scene has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past couple years. One of the major contributors to this growth would have to be the appearance of the Middle Men. Their rootsy rock has pulled them apart from your average act. Guitarist/vocalist John Whitaker has been gigging for more than 10 years and the guy is only 25 -- that's an impressive feat in itself.

Whitaker looked beyond his solo efforts to form a full ensemble. After the creation of the Middle Men and their first full-length album Three Short Acts, released on Debauchery records (Pine Club, Fire the Saddle), the Middle Men are in full swing. They were even voted the best new rock act, and John Whitaker was voted the best songwriter by LEO newsweekly.

In the beginning they seemed to balance both folk and rock into their tunes, but now it seems like if they are headed more towards the rock 'n' roll. It is quite evident within this new little EP they have released, The Hendricks EP (in which I'm guessing is an ode to guitarist Matthew Hendricks), that these guys know how to rock. But it also shows how talented each player in this band is, and how vital each band member is to the group. It's an ego-less attempt to let everyone in the band have his moment of glory throughout the three songs.

The EP starts off with an adrenaline kick from "Message to the Birthday Boy." The tempo changes often, creating quite a stir of emotions. The hooks that this band creates are unbelievable, and incredibly catchy to say the least. One of the best rock arrangements I've heard in a while, hands down.

The second track was recorded live at Schuba's in Chicago. "To Be or To Has Been" really captures the live feel of the band and the talent they bring to the stage. It kick starts with a groovin' hook and the tune takes on a surf rock feel when Whitaker yells out "You got it all, you got a woman and you're ready to go." No, this isn't a surf band; if anything these mainstream surfer rock acts should bow down to the Middle Men, for someone finally did it with style.

Completely out of context and somehow completely fitting, a classical guitar solo of "barrios - vals, op. 8, ne. 4" makes an appearance. The musicians truly show that they draw influence from all their musical backgrounds by playing this intricate piece on a rock album.

With that said, The Middle Men are achieving great amounts in a rather short period of time. My suggestion is to go see them live around town before these guys break loose, because by the looks of things, that could very well happen.

This EP is available for download on

and their full length "Three Short Acts" can be purchased at ear X-Tacy or at the band's website.