M.I.J. has been together and playing since 1994. In indie rock terms, that’s at least a couple of generations. Think about it. Back in 1994, CaP’n Jazz were still together and making music, and no one had ever heard of them. Unlike the prolific offspring of CaP’n Jazz, however, the three members of M.I.J. has not been putting out many albums. This is only their third release and their first full-length (also had a four-song EP on Caulfield last year and a single previously). Apparently, the band prefers to spend their time playing and having fun rather than recording and perfecting. Although, all that time playing live and touring has gone pretty far toward perfecting.
Now, for the music itself. M.I.J. plays powerful melodic post-hardcore, but, then, who doesn’t these days. What sets this band apart from, say, every other band is the sheer power of the guitar and drums and the vocals. The vocals are key, because of the very unique, high-pitch quality of singer/guitarist Jeff Hanson (not one of the Hanson brothers). If you have heard Magstatic, and few have, I draw immediate similarities. The vocals are also on a par with Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate at times. Unfortunately, they’re often difficult to understand, but still as lovely.
“Say it in Words” starts off slow and then blasts off, very loud and fast. The drums are the focal point here, crashing and booming. But the lyrics, as on this entire album, make this song. They flow with the rhythm and then break into this so beautiful chorus in a style that I haven’t heard anyone other than Jeremy Enigk pull off, very high-pitched and sweet-passionate. The title track doesn’t let down on the intensity. The vocals draw out so perfectly, it’s beautiful. Again, the drums are the loudest here, but the sonic wave of guitar rock beneath it is the perfect accompaniment. Oh, there’s some great jangly guitar parts here too. The band can slow it down, too, playing more melodic pop like in “Right Downtown.” But don’t get too comfortable, because the song takes off, faster and louder, more power-pop than hardcore but just as intense. There’s even some pretty piano parts. “Sometimes in Sleep” is just so pretty and soft, the vocals almost hushed and accompanied by acoustic guitar. “Then the Last Time Was” is an excellent emo-rock song, powerful and loud, with plenty of “yeahhhh….” thrown in. My guess is this song is the crowd pleaser, and you can catch most of the lyrics here. “Do You Miss” is very slow and chimey to start, but then it builds again. I love the way this band manages to go from the slow, softer pop songs to the loud and intense rock songs all in the same song. This one reminds me a lot of some of the old Mineral stuff that I love so much. “Your Stories” is a good example of how Hanson manages to draw out his vocals, creating such an amazing sound, almost like a fourth instrument in this trio. And it finishes up with “Again Today,” a slower track with some great acoustic and then electric guitar, bringing to mind the sweet pop of Oasis or The Beatles, an interesting finish.
M.I.J. really combines some amazing elements of different styles of music into one that’s all their own. The power and drive of these songs is just amazing. There’s elements of Sunny Day Real Estate, Radiohead, Elliott, and a dozen others, but don’t think M.I.J. copied anything. They’ve been around just as long if not longer than most of these, and their sound is really all their own. This is just some amazing powerful emo-rock, and don’t have me if you hate the term “emo.” It’s passionate stuff, so there!Jeff Marsh
Melodic yet powerful at the same time. The second full-length release from M.I.J. fails to serve a frail moment of weak, generic pop. A harmonious, gentle charm remains throughout Radio Goodnight as the soft-spoken vocals layer throughout an uptempo beat of happy but mature emo. A lot of this sound has been spawned since the 1995 release of the Promise Ring's 30 Degrees Everywhere, but M.I.J. manage to shake off the generic labeling with their own punch of sharp emo pop.
The awaited debut full-length from this long-running Milwaukee trio who come from the same Wisconsin post-punk trip as Cap'n Jazz, Promise Ring, Joan of Arc, and Braid. A solid blend of creative melodies and powerhouse rock delivery driven to expand the possibilities of the genre.
M.I.J. – The Radio Goodnight (1999) VBR