This Week's Public Picks: The Midnight Vein

by / Jan. 10, 2018 9am EST

Album: The Midnight Vein by The Midnight Vein

Recommended if you like: The Black Angels, The Beatles, Nirvana

For fans of the projects of Buffalo based musician John Toohill, his latest album, The Midnight Vein, might seem to come out of left field. Toohill has toiled in fuzz rock, grunge, industrial electronic music, and punk, but his latest album, written end to end by Toohill, dips into the realm of 1960s influenced psychedelic rock and indie pop. 

Toohill is pretty ubiquitous in the local scene. His list of projects is long—JOHNS, Alpha Hopper, Radiation Risks, Nigh Slaves, and now the Midnight Vein—and most of the projects are active in one form or another. Once you think he’s settled his focus one project, say Night Slaves, his dark industrial electronic project with David Kane, he turns around and heads out to tour Brazil with Radiation Risks. 

His focus now, however is the Midnight Vein, a purely solo project that at first impression comes off as a throwback 1960s psychedelic rock record, but quickly exposes a depth that hints of 1990s grunge influences, and modern indie pop stylings.

There’s a wild eyedness to most of the songs, and sometimes a clash of tones— sparkling melodies and bright guitar tones are matched with lyrics about death and destruction, hiding an anger simmering under the surface (see “The Awaited”) that’s only made apparent by Toohill’s saturated vocals. Most of the songs consist of acoustic guitars and shimmering percussion made with tambourines and the slap of acoustic guitars, but without drums—establishing a consistency that’s never betrayed throughout its roughly half hour run time.

Highlights include the almost religious album opener “When Palm Readers Lie to Fools,” the flower child anthem “Thieves of Youth and Love,” and “No One But You,” which has a familiar melody snagged from some 1990s grunge rock hit and repurposed as a perfect psych folk sing-a-long. 

The Midnight Vein is available for streaming on Bandcamp, for digital purchase, and for purchase as a cassette tape. A “super special” package includes a cassette tape hand delivered by Toohill, who will “bring a crate of my favorite records, and play you cool songs for an hour or three.”