Nate Cherrier and Ryan Summers have been friends for nearly 20 years, and only recently decided to collaborate. Their musical influences are diverse and eclectic, resulting in a sound which although familiar, is nonetheless unique.
With influences ranging from Michael Jackson to Kula Shaker; Tenacious D to the Beatles; Pink Floyd to the Decemberists, Wisconsin-based duo Midwest Soul Xchange have a story to tell and aren’t afraid to tell it using whatever style they wish.
Each member of the duo brings his own unique talents: Nate on percussion and rhythm, Ryan providing synth, lead guitar, as well as production and engineering. They call themselves the “maestro” and the “master” respectively, which is a nice way to work – in effect neither has more power, more control, than the other – they are a united force. A team. Given that the duo were, during the recording of the album, living in separate parts of the US – Nate was in Phoenix, while Ryan was in Wisconsin – this equality helped a great deal, as every part of the process was a literal exchange of ideas.
‘New American Century’, an 11 track album, is a harmonious meld of various genres. It feels like a concept album, but is it? Some songs feel like commentary on the white colonisation of the Americas, but looking deeper it’s clear it’s more commentary on what’s happened since then. Case in point, ‘Revolt of the Guards’:
Now as we approach the coming harvest
The soil of war grows thin another time
From the ashes of a New American Century
The terror of poverty is now a crime
The standout track on the album would be ‘Roots’. An Americana style song opening with a plucked guitar, the lyrics are are from the viewpoint of nature fighting back, telling their story in the light of human destruction. What happens when the earth loses its circulation? When the insects, who do so much to aid the propagation of crops, are all destroyed because humans feel that things work better with chemicals? It’s a sombre commentary on modern day life. Challenging. “Can’t you see the roots in everything”?
It’s not all doom and gloom. Tenth track ‘Has Anybody Seen Bob’ doffs its hat to The Beatles and Pink Floyd in a humorous ditty about looking for a mysterious character named Bob (and incidentally, his mother Sally), who “still owes me $63.05”.