The Middle East are a musical collective based in Townsville in Queensland, Australia. Forming in 2005, the group played locally and completed several East Coast tours of mainly Christian festivals throughout Australia. In early 2008 they released an album called The Recordings of The Middle East before splitting up. Eight months after this decision was made, the band reconvened and later re-released an abridged version of the debut album, The Recordings of the Middle East as an EP in May 2009 through Spunk Records (AU). This EP was released in North America on the 27th of October, 2009. Their first full album, I Want That You Are Always Happy was released in Australia and New Zealand on 8 April 2011.
The genre of the band themselves is difficult to specify. Whilst their MySpace profile lists the band as “indie”, elements of folk, pop, post rock, country and ambience can be found throughout their music. Instruments used include guitar— both electricand acoustic, drums, hand percussion, piano, glockenspiel and trumpet. Another distinguishing feature of the band’s music is the use of vocal harmony—in particular close harmony performed at times by several members.
The band have gone on to receive national radio airplay on Triple J and slots on several major Australian festivals such as Splendour in the Grass, the Big Day Out, Big Sound, Homebake, and the Woodford Folk Festival. As well as this, the band have toured with international bands such as British group Doves and have also achieved minor, developing interest in the United States, where The Recordings of The Middle East was released on October 27. Much of the interest surrounding the band can be related back to the blogosphere, with indie blog I Guess I’m Floating introducing the band stateside in May 2009. Thereafter The Middle East had over one hundred blog entries from around the world writing about the band. Recently,Pitchfork Media offered a free download of the song “The Darkest Side” as a part of their weekly Forkcast; describing the song as “a simple, finger-plucked acoustic affair with alternating and harmonizing vocals that lend the hushed track a sense of beleaguered hope”. They also were nominated and won the Triple J 2009 ‘Unearthed’ Award.
In October 2009, it was announced that the band would be opening for US band Grizzly Bear in their Melbourne shows. They were also announced as the support act for one of the band’s Sydney Festival shows. On November 11, 2009, it was announced that the band would be part of the festival Big Day Out, announced as part of the second line up, in East Coast areas.
Their songs “The Darkest Side” and “Blood” came in at number 87 and 64 respectively on the Australian Triple J Hottest 100 in 2009.
Their song ‘Blood’ is also featured in the films Accidents Happen and It’s Kind of a Funny Story as well as an episode of the Australian television comedy-drama series Offspring and a TV commercial for the European bank BNP Paribas.
By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland |@shaynewithMWL| Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC