WASHINGTON, February, 8, 2012 —The longer Midnight Hike keeps at this thing called rock, their narrative becomes that much more interesting. At first glance, the band seemed like something of a lark. It was a group of mid- to late-30 year-olds living in the greater Washington DC area that decided to get together to form a rock band. Each member had had varying musical success earlier in their lives. But as life sometimes happens, they left all of it behind. Fast-forward a decade or so later and the six members of Midnight Hike eventually found enough common ground to form a band.
Something like this could’ve easily just been a nostalgia trip for these six guys, one in which they simply play around to recapture some of the spark they had when they were younger playing in bands. But the recent release of Shoot the Moon – their first full length album and second release total – shows that Midnight Hike is a band that’s serious about turning this gig into more than just some sort of vanity project. It defines them as a group of musicians who are serious about their craft and refuse to be burdened by the distance of time.
There’s an interesting through line with most of Midnight Hike’s music: they really have no modern touches to their music at all. The closest they got during their first release was in the vocal quality of lead singer Eric Schmid, who had a bit of an early ‘90s grunge tinge to his vocals. But that seems to have modulated slightly on Shoot the Moon, and today he seems to be going for a more expansive ‘70s feel.
This helps explain somewhat the defining characteristic of the album too, not necessarily the vocals, but rather what Schmid’s vocal shift represents for Midnight Hike. If you take each individual member of the band’s timeline back to when they were last serious about playing music, it would put them right at the beginning of the ‘90s when grunge ruled the popular music scene. Yet, that sort of musical taste isn’t found anywhere on the album.
What this album demonstrates instead is a definite love for ‘70s arena rock. Midnight Hike has toured with the likes of Cheap Trick and Blue Oyster Cult, and those kinds of influences are very much at the heart of the band’s sound, along with a healthy dose of jam band aesthetics thrown for good measure. Instead of trying to recreate the scene they found themselves in when they were younger, they’re appropriating the music they would’ve listened to while growing up—music that would have formed their first ideals about what it was and how it should be played.
The natural thing for them to have done would be to try and modernize that ‘70s classic rock sound to relate to a younger audience. But that approach could have too easily come off as forced. Nor does it feel like something Midnight Hike would ever have wanted to attempt. They have enough components to update the sound, but instead they chose to settle into a nice groove throughout the entire album, especially any time keyboardist Kent Marcoux is featured.
This might seem like it dates the band a little. But then, none of them were really embroiled in the ‘70s music to begin with. What Shoot the Moon comes off as instead is a group of guys trying to capture the sound they remember from their formative years. This album is for listeners who grew up slightly out of step with pop music and enjoyed whatever ‘70s rock records they could get their hands on.