Review: Michigan Rex's "Cities to Burn" EP
It is impossible to find two nicer, cooler, down-to-earth and totally pleasant bandmates in all of Boston than Natalie Huizenga and Dylan Hanwright, freshmen at Berklee School of Music in Boston and co-founders of Michigan Rex, a band that blends elements of electronica, indie rock, and pop into one unique sound. In their EP "Cities to Burn," released in late 2010, Michigan Rex assemble five original songs, as well as two unexpected covers, into one collection that highlights their knack for creating killer songs with only a computer and a microphone. Hanwright, a native of the indie and hardcore rock haven of the Seattle-area, and Huizenga, a veteran of the rich musical scene of Oak Park, IL, deftly synthesize their respective knowledge, talents, and experience into the unified feel of their EP. The music on "Cities to Burn" is an authoritative declaration of the band's creative direction, and features an even higher level of talent than that usually expected from students at Berklee College of Music. Although the musical collaboration between Hanwright and Huizenga originated from email exchanges between the members, with Hanwright sending Huizenga backing tracks and Huizenga emailing her vocals back to Hanwright, the two were able to bring the disparate pieces of their music together into cohesive and irresistible songs. Their move to Boston together has only further solidified their musical and personal unity, which hopefully shall continue to grow with future releases.
Perhaps the best example of Michigan Rex's talent for using their diverse array of talents to create brilliant musical strokes is displayed in their electronic take on Alexi Murdoch's "All of My Days." Hanwright creates a rich musical atmosphere that relies on an entire arsenal of synth noises, while Huizenga's voice dreamily weaves in and out through the piece with the perfect amount of reverb, and the mood of their cover rises and falls in understated swells. Michigan Rex's ability to seamlessly transform Murdoch's acoustic track into an electronica version that feels just as natural as the original is representative of the rest of their EP, in which Hanwright and Huizenga blend aspects of electronic and indie musical stylings together until they coalesce into a collection of 7 strikingly splendid songs.
What makes the EP so great is that although Hanwright and Huizenga's influences are apparent, it is almost impossible to describe who exactly the finished product sounds like. Traditional rock instrumentation fits in perfectly alongside atmospheric electro grooves, all of which augment Huizenga's powerful vocals. From the meandering lines of "Cities" to the driving beats of "Another Ocean," Michigan Rex supplies 25.9 minutes of music that thoroughly blurs the line between electronic music and traditional veins of alternative rock.
Now based in Boston, and featuring a full band line-up with additional musicians Drew Krasner, Dalton Harts, and Nick Koechel, Michigan Rex has continued to expand its musical horizon since releasing "Cities to Burn." Hopefully they continue to grow as a band with more gigs and recordings, but it is clear that the "Cities to Burn" EP lays an incredibly solid foundation for the future of the band.
OVERALL RATING: Mike's Pastries; Kevin Spacey.
Michigan Rex's EP "Cities to Burn" is available for download HERE!