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Medium High

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Album Review

The 1900s' album from 2007, Cold & Kind, was a finely constructed and richly emotional record that drew from their heroes (Belle & Sebastian, the Left Banke, and the Kinks, to name a few) but added plenty of their own soul and inspiration. As they began pondering a follow-up, it seems the band decided some housecleaning was in order, and the Medium High EP was the result. The disc is a combination stopgap/summing-up that's made up of redone version of songs from Cold & Kind, outtakes, and newly recorded versions of songs the bandmembers wrote in their early days of being together. It's fairly filler-free (the pretty instrumental "Gay Peace" aside) and will keep their fans happy as they wait for new material. Best of all, it makes sense as a record and doesn't sound like a bunch of tossed-together odds and sods. The highlights are the songs they recovered from their past; "Making Love in the Summertime" is a lovely, breezy ode to exactly what the title says, with some of the group's most relaxed and charming vocals to date; "A Will in Firm Fashion" has a nice laid-back, soulful sound and careful arrangement; and "Collections" probably should have been on Cold & Kind — if it had, it would have been one of the best things there, as the lilting melody and quietly propulsive rhythm give the song the feel of a hit record perfect for daytime radio play. Neither of the two songs the band revisits is exactly an improvement over the original, but both are at least interesting: "When I Say Cohen" replaces the bouncy AM pop sound of "When I Say Go" with a haunted, violin-heavy arrangement that highlights the slightly creepy nature of the lyrics, and "A Face I Know" takes the already dreamy, drifting feel of "Supernatural" and gives it a heavy backbeat and fuzzy guitars. Only the gloomy and over-arranged "Age of Metals" fails to satisfy fully, but even the group's lesser songs have enough innate goodness to be worth a listen. As holding patterns or closet cleanings go, Medium High is about as good as a fan of the 1900s could hope for.

Biography

Formed: 2004 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Chicago indie pop outfit the 1900s officially formed in the spring of 2004, but the group's roots date back more than a decade. Singer/guitarist Edward Anderson, guitarist Mike Jasinski, and drummer Tim Minnick first collaborated in high school, playing experimental noise rock under the name Minotaurs of P. Collegiate commitments forced the project to dissolve, but in 2001 Anderson returned to Chicago, signing on with Minnick's current band, roots rockers Forty Piece Choir. His tenure proved brief,...
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Medium High, The 1900s
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