Reviews Of ‘Midnight Blooming’

Released in 1996

mbcd

-courtesy of Jim Santo’s Demo Universe

Evidently concerned that I hear his music under the correct circumstances, Jeremy sent this, his sixth self-released cassette, with a mood-setting kit: a torn brown lace shawl (which I have dutifully draped over my shoulder), a white veil (now across my face), incense (stinking up the room), candles in a brass candlestick (flickering across his lyric sheet) and a cruddy old green bath mat (under my bare feet). I am such a good sport! Now prepared, I delve into Midnight Blooming. Setting aside the mediocre quality of the recording, this tape has many admirable qualities. Sort of a cross between Vince Clarke and Ani Difranco, Gloff combines the fervor of folk with the lush romanticism of Euro-pop in emotionally raw, plainly autobiographical songs. Whether confused (“Transparent Sincerity”), angry (“Black And Blue,” an anti-gay-bashing song) or hurt (“Look At Mother”), he’s always honest and often very effective. Someone should take this boy into a studio and see what happens.

-fan review submitted by SAracatheriNE

I met Jeremy during the tumultous time when this album was being released. This album is rather bitter (What? Jeremy, bitter?) (just kidding 😉 but also very moving. This album is an obvious transitory period of Jeremy’s life- in “Transparent Sincerity” he proclaims, “I’m gonna take some time and love myself for a little while …” The emphasis in the album is definitely the lyrics, which can’t be ignored whether they’re completely in your face or creeping up behind and taking over. Songs like “Viola Dancing”, “Look at Mother” and “Liar” will send chills up your spine. Collectively, all the songs on this album will just grab you by the the throat and kick your ass.

-fan review submitted by Steve B.

Monday, March 8. Just got back into town after two weeks away. Flipping though the huge pile of mail that’s accumulated in my absence. Finally finding the package I was searching for, eagerly ripping it open – inside Midnight Blooming, the follow-up to Jeremy Gloff’s stunning Below The Velvet album. Outside in the wintry afternoon, I get into my car and pop in the tape as I’m off to run some errands. The tape rolls and I hear…the mellow strains of a keyboard, a drum machine, almost R&B like rhythms – where was the near folk-punk sound I had so loved as I drove down the thruway with Below The Velvet blaring? Wait, there’s Jeremy’s voice…so I listen further. This is definitely Jeremy, but different – the often harsh sounds and quick strumming of the last record replaced by slower, keyboard-driven mood pieces, the caustic (but honest) one-liners and anthems of Below The Velvet replaced by more pensive meditation on topic increasingly personal. But after all these years I probably should know better than to place and expectations on the creative mind of Jeremy Gloff. So I listen as I drive around the city, increasingly loathe to turn off the ignition and stop the tape with each stop I make.

“Laydown (Remix)” – Not my favorite JG song upon first hearing it, but it’s since grown on me somewhat. A lot of the keyboard parts sound rather cheesy, but there’s a pretty good song somewhere under there. It’s too bad the vocals are mixed so low, they’re probably the strongest part of the song.

“Look At Mother” – Now this is more like it! The indie-rocker in me doesn’t quite care for the keyboards all that much, but a good song is a good song (and this is quite the song). Plus, when that incredible chorus comes in all my qualms about the music vanish anyway. Nice lyrics (as usual). The backing vocals by Pam Gontha are also a great addition to the song.

“Drive” – Another song that didn’t make much of an impression on first listen, though I don’t know why as I’ve quickly come to like it a lot. The shift from the jerky rhythms of the verse to the mad strums of the chorus really works well, both musically and in conveying the emotions expressed in the words. In retrospect, it’s probably one of the weaker songs on the album, but that really says more about the quality of the rest of the record than any shortcoming of this song.

“Black and Blue” – Even with the keyboards this one sounds like it snuck in off of Below The Velvet (particularly in the words), so naturally I really dig it. When it swells up into the chorus like that I get chills down my spine (in a good way, that is). Plus, there’s a lot of small touches that really add to the song – the martial drum beats, the pounding sounds after the line “when we are punched,” the final chant of “We shall overcome.” Amen. It really sickens me that Jeremy shound have to write a song like this in this day and age.

“Two Choices” – Absolutely gorgeous, musically and lyrically. I don’t think anymore needs to be said, the song speaks for itself.

“Sweet Jane” – Well this one starts out pretty promisingly, then the vocals come in. Those co-lead vocals (courtesy of Sadie Jay) really ruin the song for me, not that there was much substance there to begin with. Fairly boring musically, rather dull lyrically, even Jeremy’s vocals sound a bit careless on this one.

“39 Days” – I sometimes wonder if Jeremy purposely put a weak song prior to this, knowing the listener would just be fast-forwarding past in haste to get to this song. Anyway…um…I don’t know how I can even put this into words…it’s almost hymn-like in its simplicity…heartwrenchingly beautiful…the song just floors me in its soulfullness. Thanks you for bringing such beauty into this often harsh world.

“Viola Dancing” – Vaguely medieval-sounding, I remember Jeremy telling me of this “goth boy” back in September of ’96. When Jeremy reaches the chorus I can picture him swirling and dancing, bathed in the heavenly lights of the keyboard. Not my favorite song on the album, but not bad.

“Transparent Sincerity” – Sultry and slinky, ummm…and there’s that chorus, absolutely stunning. There is so much I like about this song – the music, the verse melody, that chorus, the backing vocals, the percussion, the lyrics, the way Jeremy just lets go vocally at the end, that great last verse, the scattered piano notes and bass that close the song…just perfect.

“Liar” – Jeremy goes hip-hop, rap included! Now in a just world, this song would be blasting from every car stereo and blaring from every nightclub’s massive sound system, instead of fighting its way through the static of my cheap, semi-broken stereo in my apartment in this small, nowhere city. Also, in my opinion, The Joker’s presence here works much better than on Heavy Machinery’s “Issues Of Sincerity (Remix).”

“Midnight Blooming” – Shockingly, there’s an almost early eighties postpunk feel to this one. Musically it vaguely reminds me of, of all things, the Cure, Joy Division’s “The Eternal,” really early New Order, etc. Nice.

“Leaving” & “Permafrost” – Probably my favorite songs on the album as well as two of the best things Jeremy has ever done, in all respects – music, lyrics, vocals, performance. Amazing.

“Laydown” – Why the remix was necessary I really don’t understand – the original blows away its remade twin. Slow, bass-heavy throbbing funk with a killer vocal performance, we all know what to throw in the tape deck the next time we’ve got that special lady or fella over.

Midnight Blooming is yet another step forward in the evolution of Jeremy Gloff’s musical journey. While it may be lacking some of the energy of the anthemic Below The Velvet, and may not have as many songs that hit me as strongly as that album’s best traks, I think Midnight Blooming might just be the more consistent record. By any standards, it was one of the best, and most real albums released in 1996.