The Midlandero triumvirate, Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy and Jess Carson, seem to be led by two primary impulses. There’s a clear, driven mission to broaden the scope of mainstream country music, while simultaneously tipping their vogue cowboy hats to a bygone era of the genre. Paradoxically, part of the unique charm of the Midland trio is that there often seems to be a distinct lack of any mission or ulterior motives. It’s just three cowboys in Austin, Texas jamming out and having a blast together.
The group’s first two studio albums, On the Rocks and Let It Roll, covered a vast amount of sonic territory, but loosely hugged a path between easy-rock and neo-traditional country. The projects spawned a plethora of hits, including the triple-platinum break-out single, ‘Drinkin’ Problem’, a swaggering take on the tear-in-my-beer trope that goes down smoother than a shot of Tennessee Honey.
The release of The Sonic Ranch in 2021 felt to many like Midland’s first steps outside the stylistic white lines they’d kept to on their previous albums. Along with an accompanying documentary, The Sonic Ranch was a collection of early, demo-esque tracks that captured the playful magic of Midland’s inception.
This paved the way for The Last Resort, which arrived in May 2022, following a 2021 EP of the same name. It’s a concept album that provides an audial, escapist retreat into a tainted, heartbroken world of Floridian motels, funfairs and beachside road-trips. Throughout the project, their light-hearted personas shine through without ever eclipsing the poignance of the mood.
The Last Resort solidified Midland’s status as one of the most versatile, polished and listenable country bands of the modern era.
Well, aside from Old Dominion, of course.