Middletown

by July For Kings

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about

Middletown is July For Kings first album in over five years, and has been described by the band as a return to JFK's signature sound, complete with crushing distorted guitars, melodic hooks and vignettes of American midwestern life. Songwriter and lead vocalist Joe Hedges elaborates, "this album is really for the fans. As we have grown in different directions as individuals, July For Kings as an entity retained a power and importance for a lot of people, and this album is a way of respecting that for ourselves and for listeners."

While the album's recording was essentially a Cincinnati-area DIY effort with long-time collaborator Eric Stewart, guitarist/recording engineer John McGuire oversaw the completion and mixing of the record as executive producer, bringing in two Los Angeles-based mixing engineers Michael James (L7, Hole, Jane's Addiction) and Paul Pavao (Breaking Benjamin, Marilyn Manson). John McGuire, a University of Cincinnati Cincinnati Conservatory of Music graduate, also mixed several songs at his own studio J Mac Studios in Cincinnati, and Toledo-based Jeff Harris of Mad Sam Studios mixed one of the album's ballads "Kite", which features original JFK member T Miller on cello.

The carefully balanced post-grunge and pop sensibilities of Middletown, grounded by Hedges' consistently thoughtful and personal lyrics mean the record has more in common with JFK's 2001 MCA debut SWIM than any other July For Kings or Joe Hedges effort. Hedges explains, "the songs were all written over a period of several months so I think they stick together pretty well. We were really deliberate about making a record that was big but could still be sensitive. I've always enjoyed albums that are dynamic, that show a range of human emotions."

The power-pop inspired track six is about Middletown, Ohio, the album's namesake and the high school stomping grounds of Hedges and drummer Dan McQuinn (who also contributed some production to the record). "Middletown is a pretty typical small town. I always liked the connotations of the name, Middle-Town as in middle of America, middle of the road, etc. The city has some economic problems like any other rust belt city, but also is home to some extremely hard-working and generous people." Hedges and McQuinn met in Middletown, OH as kids and "used to watch each other's high school bands perform Tool covers. The song is just about growing up there--playing music, driving cars, attempting to talk to girls".

Other tracks range from aggressive nearly-metal "Climb" and "Back to Life" to acoustic ballads like "Believe Me" and "Tarantula". The album somehow holds together, despite five years of recording, ten studios and a wide range of stories and moods. While the record is guitar-heavy, there are some much appreciated moments of cello, piano and even trumpet to keep listeners engaged while adding some musicality.

Longtime July For Kings fans will undoubtedly relish this effort. This album may also be a gateway for new fans and younger audiences to appreciate the wall-of-guitars sound that reigned before flannel gave way to plaid and earnest Alternative became ironic indie. For those of us who never lost interest in music that was at once powerful and humble, you may now eat your heart out in Middletown--if just for July.

credits

released July 14, 2015

Executive Producer John McGuire
Produced by July For Kings and Eric Stewart
Additional production by John McGuire and Dan McQuinn
All lyrics and music by Joe Hedges, Machines & Dreams (BMI)
Recorded by John McGuire at J-Mac Studios in Cincinnati, OH and by
Eric Stewart at The Stewdio in Middletown, OH
Tracks 1, 6 and 9 mixed by Paul Pavao in Los Angeles, CA
Tracks 2 and 3 mixed by Michael James at IndieProMix in Los Angeles, CA
Track 4 mixed by Jeff Harris at Mad Sam Studios in Toledo, OH
Tracks 5 and 7 mixed by John McGuire at J-Mac Studios in Cincinnati, OH
Tracks 8, 10 and 11 mixed by Michael James at IndieProMix in Los Angeles, CA with additional mixing by John McGuire at J-Mac Studios in Cincinnati, OH
Mastered by Dave Davis of The All Night Party in Cincinnati, OH

Additional recording on tracks 1, 3 and 10 by Eric Stewart at Refraze Recording Studio in Dayton, OH. Additional recording on Tracks 1, 3 and 6 by Eric Stewart at Downtown Recording in Louisville, KY. Additional recording on Track 10 by Ryan Marcotte at Blackwater Sound in Loveland, OH. Additional recording on tracks 2, 4 and 8 by Rob Nadler at Fat Track Studio in Cincinnati, OH. Additional recording by Dan McQuinn at Poolside Sound in Covington, KY.

Guitars by Joe Hedges and John McGuire
Drums by Dan McQuinn
Bass by Aaron Thomas except track 8 by Drew Phillips
Backing vocals by Dan McQuinn and Joe Hedges
Additional backing vocals on tracks 5, 6 and 11 by John McGuireBacking vocals and additional guitar on track 10 by Aaron Thomas
Cello on track 4 by Travis Wong Miller
Trumpet on track 8 and organ on track 3 by Jason Easter
Piano on track 8 by John McGuire
Loops on track 10 by Dan McQuinn
Additional instrumentation by Eric Stewart, Dan McQuinn and John McGuire
Art direction by Jiemei Lin and Joe Hedges
Cover photo by Joe Hedges
Back cover photo and insert photo by Jiemei Lin
Studio photos by John McGuire

July For Kings is:

Joe Hedges - Vocals, Guitars
John McGuire - Guitar, Backing vocals
Dan McQuinn - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Brian Ives - Bass

Thank you to our families, friends and supporters over the years, especially these people who have made the production of this album possible: Jiemei Lin, Brandon and Holly Marusa, Bob and Carol Ives, Rebecca Hedges, Sean Tracey, Lisa Bone, Doug Howell, Markus Kleiner, Keith Wallace, Kirstin Fallang, Amber McDonough, Kevin Chuck, Peter Weber, Jaden Sempsrott, Jesse Vela, Jon Price, Timothy Henson, Nick Miller, Nicole Brown, Jonathan O’Sullivan, Karen and Geno Stewart, Hannah Farrell, Bryan Russel, Eric Tuffandsam at Moonlight Studios, Catherine Garber, Jason Smithers and Clark Tucker.

This album was resuscitated once by Eric Stewart and again by Aaron Thomas, John McGuire of jmacstudios.com and Michael James at indiepromix.com. Thank you all for your patience and encouragement.

www.julyforkings.com

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July For Kings Cincinnati, Ohio

A rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Track Name: The Void
Follow the river down
into a sea of sound
We could have been two suns
sending out waves like drums
everything we become

space
and shooting stars
time
is all we are

put your pain aside and dive across
there's nothing to fear here fear is loss

don't give me no give me no say
just send me out give me away

peel back the hardened ground
follow the layers down

we could have been two eyes
animals tell no lies
everything good must...

put your pain aside and dive across
there's nothing to fear here fear is loss

don't give me no give me no say
just send me out give me away
don't give me no give me no choice
just send me out into the void


put your pain aside and dive across
there's nothing to fear here fear is loss

don't give me no give me no say
just send me out give me away
don't give me no give me no choice
just send me out into the void
just send me out
just just send me out
don't give me no give me no say
just send me out give me away
don't give me no give me no choice
just send me out into the void
Track Name: Hole in the Universe
i see the colors
they swirl around you
i set a network of stars in your eyes
i'm going back to the place where i found you

i'm gonna make a hole in the universe
so i can be with you here on earth
when the sun comes up i will go
oh, ah

it's like a tunnel
or a hidden wire
even our bodies are made up of waves
i'm going back to the place where i found

i'm gonna make a hole in the universe
so i can be with you here on earth
when the sun comes up i will go
oh, ah
when the light in your closet shines
just reach your hand in and feel for mine
when the sun comes up i will go

i don't like to sleep without you
i don't like to breathe without you
every atom will ricochet and spell your name
i fall on my knees without you
i fall on my knees

i'm gonna make a hole in the universe
so i can be with you here on earth

i'm gonna make a hole in the universe
so i can be with you here on earth
when the sun comes up i will go
oh, ah
when the light in your closet shines
just reach your hand in and feel for mine
when the sun comes up i will go
Track Name: Reeling
sun rays
turning to stars in your hair
at warp speed i'm traveling
always pretending not to care
just another beautiful summer makes the
long days
longer when you're not there

when i stand up
i can stand up with you
then i fall to pieces

when i look into your eyes
i'm reeling
don't leave me hanging on
don't leave me hanging
how can i get to you
like a top spinning around
i just wanna fall down

rain drops
turning to stars on the ground
to nowhere i'm traveling
sidewalks
map out your states and your town
just another interstate trampled
but the whole world
is not enough when you're not around

when i stand up
i can stand up with you
then i fall to pieces

when i look into your eyes
i'm reeling
don't leave me hanging on
don't leave me hanging on
how can i get to you
like a top spinning around
i just wanna fall down

i wanna fall into your almond eyes
let me drown
i wanna fall but can i make you mind
are you coming around
are you coming around
are you coming around
to me

i look into your eyes
i'm reeling
don't leave me hanging on
don't leave me hanging on
how can i get to you
like a top spinning around
i just wanna fall down

i look into your eyes
i'm reeling
don't leave me hanging on
don't leave me hanging on
how can i get to you
like a top spinning around
i just wanna fall down

i look into your eyes
i'm reeling
don't leave me hanging on
don't leave me hanging on
how can i get to you
like a top spinning around
i just wanna fall down

like a top spinning around
i just wanna fall down
Track Name: Kite
for ten a.m.
i set my clock
crawl into bed
and wait for the day to stop
stop

sleeping alone
again tonight
i search for a trace of you here on this pillow-side
side

the beauty in the world can cut you
for every boy or girl that shut you down
a field the run the rain the bottle
a song was sung i open the throttle and fly

i am a kite
and the strong survive
to sail out on the wind
without a note
i cut the rope
this is not the end

the sun comes through
the window like
the gaze of god
sunny day sky
sky

a key appears
like a lightning night
i search for a trace of you here by this fireside

the beauty in the world can cut you
for every boy or girl that shut you down
a field the run the rain the bottle
a song was sung i open the throttle and fly

i am a kite
and the strong survive
to sail out on the wind
without a note
i cut the rope
this is not the end

it's 2:58 i'm still lying here awake
i can't close my eyes without seeing our fate
i thought i could decide
to shrug and be fine
but our love was licorice not totally sweet
sometimes delicious
then salt like the sea

i am a kite
and the strong survive
to sail out on the wind

i am a kite
and the strong survive
to sail out on the wind
without a note
i cut the rope
this is not the end
this is not the end

i am a kite
and the strong survive
to sail out on the wind
this is not
Track Name: Orchid
lonely orchid
I'm a sphinx and I can fly
Hovering around you
I'm lost until I found you my sprite
I was born will die to taste your taste

i will search for you all night
i'm far away but still alive
in the morning when you wake
you open up and radiate

river fantastic
search for geometric stones
nothing sacred is plastic
in your eyes i find a home
oh

i've changed my pattern
i've changed my pace

i will search for you all night
i'm far away but still alive
in the morning when you wake
you open up and radiate

i keep searching
i keep searching, babe
i keep pointing toward your light

lonely orchid
i'm a sphinx and i can fly

i will search for you all night
i'm far away but still alive
in the morning when you wake
you open up and radiate

i will search for you all night
i'm far away but still alive
in the morning when you wake
you open up and radiate
Track Name: Middletown
i'm on the road i'm going nowhere
there's nothing else that i can do
we light a fire for the girl with red hair
and we walk like we're just passing through

we count the days in Middletown
is there a world we haven't found
the black sky won't keep us down
is there a world we haven't found

we're on the roof she's looking listless
the orange clouds are hanging low
she's in the mood
but will we resist
when the time is right i think you'll know

we count the days in Middletown
is there a world we haven't found
the black sky won't keep us down
is there a world we haven't found

there used to be a store here
a place where we could disappear
hard pack of camel cigarettes
our parents hadn't caught us yet
your dad would work a steel job
go to church and make a deal with god
a song would be our ticket out

we count the days in Middletown
is there a world we haven't found
the black sky won't keep us down
is there a world we haven't found

we count the days in Middletown
is there a world we haven't found
the black sky won't keep us down
is there a world we haven't found

we count the days in Middletown
is there a world we haven't found
is there a world we haven't found
we count the days in Middletown
is there a world in Middletown
we haven't found
we count the days in Middletown
Track Name: Feather
drop the bones and make your stand
if this means life
we pull an answer from the sand
and it's okay if you don't know what you'll become
if we have to fade
we'll fade out in the sun

just pull this string
unraveling kings
we sew our own wings

i trade my lines i trade my time
for cities made of steel
i try and dive while the sea's still alive
keep my head down and pull back on the shovel
new power in my hands
crush it up, crush it up, crush it up
to feed the future

all the goddesses of death are dead
one more time
we pull a feather from her head
like our fathers did we cut your heart away
to place it on the scale
and find out how you're made

string by string
unraveling kings
we sew our own wings

i trade my lines i trade my time
for cities made of steel
i try and dive while the sea's still alive
keep my head down and pull back on the shovel
new power in my hands
crush it up, crush it up, crush it up
to feed the future

beat an ancient drum
tombs and guns
unbury your keys
send the army in
i've got a strong wind
inside of me

i trade my lines i trade my time
for cities made of steel
i try and dive while the sea's still alive
keep my head down and pull back on the trigger
new power in my hands
i'm gonna crush it up, crush it up, crush it up

i trade my lines i trade my time
for cities made of steel
i try and dive while the sea's still alive
keep my head down and pull back on the shovel
new power in my hands
i'm gonna crush it up, crush it up, crush it up
yeah
i'm gonna crush it up, crush it up, crush it up
to feed the future
Track Name: Believe Me
I could be a sound wave
sailing slowly cross your lips
on the ocean of your breath
i could float like this

there's gonna be a lot of times
when the world just wants to fight you
i'd like to make it easier
but you've got to let me stand beside you
stand beside you

oh you, you're the only one for me

when you're leaning off the edge
and you don't know if you need me
i'm gonna love you more
i'm gonna make you see me
when you say you wanna fall
i'll set 'ya down easy
gonna wrap my arms around you
until i get you to believe me
to believe me

what do i have to do
to make you understand me
the more you let me love you
the better i am

oh you, you're the only one for me

when you're leaning off the edge
and you don't know if you need me
i'm gonna love you more
i'm gonna make you see me
when you say you wanna fall
i'll set 'ya down easy
gonna wrap my arms around you
until i get you to believe me
to believe me
you're the only one for me, for me

i won't give up on you babe
i won't give up on you now
i won't give up on you babe
i won't give up on you now
i won't give up on you

you, you're the only one for me
you, you're the only one for me
you, you're the only one for me
you, you're the only one for me
you're the only one
Track Name: Climb
i'm waiting in the dark
for eagles taking flight
the morning will be here soon
and we can reunite

i'm tired
i'm tired of trying
of trying

how high
how high must i climb
you can X-ray
my heart and my mind
if you find a secret keep it
every word was true
i'd tear my eyes out but there's
there's nothing good enough for you
how high
how high must i climb

legions that were sent
they crumbled at my feet
you're a factory of malcontent
and i'm a trophy you don't need

i'm tired
i'm tired of caring
of caring

how high
how high must i climb
you can X-ray
my heart and my mind
if you find a secret keep it
every word was true
i'd tear my eyes out but there's
there's nothing good enough for you
how high
how high must i climb

yeah

how high
how high must i climb

how high
how high must i climb
you can X-ray
my heart and my mind
if you find a secret keep it
every word was true
i'd tear my eyes out but there's
there's nothing good enough for you
how high
how high must i climb
Track Name: Back to Life
if we're not made of what we do
how can we be made real
this sandy shoreline
is no place to feel
memories and fingerprints
a spark is not a flame
get out your knife and make a better game

this much i know
we've come to far to fall
this much i find
inside you when i call

get back to life
get back to life
this place nearly tore you apart
you've lingered on
for far too long
bleeding from cellophane hearts
put the key in and make it run
don't break here before you've won
get back to life
get back to life

powerless and withering
branches become nerves
they wrap around you tightly
turning lines to curves
make any offer i can play
a sound is not a song
there's no stakes in living
unless you don't belong

this much i know
you're in too far to fall
this much i find
inside you when i call

get back to life
get back to life
this place nearly tore you apart
you've lingered on
for far too long
bleeding from cellophane hearts
put the key in and make it run
don't break here before you've won
get back to life
get back to life

get back to life
get back to life
this place nearly tore you apart
you've lingered on
for far too long
bleeding from cellophane hearts
put the key in and make it run
don't break here before you've won
get back to life
get back to life
bleeding from cellophane hearts

put the key in and make it run
this place nearly tore you apart
you've lingered on for far too long
bleeding from cellophane hearts
put the key in and make it run
don't break here before you've won
get back to life
get back to life
there's something to win tonight
get back to life
get back to life
Track Name: Tarantula
tarantula
on a Texas playground
in your hand was gentle

Panama
the bright white sand and the ocean
we get so sentimental

ooh
ooh
ooh
ooh

golden frogs
we caught in the jungle's edges
just before extinction

we moved away
and we lived on air-force bases
saw the runway blinking

it grows in waves like sea foam
life was crammed in our heads

ooh
the stories we tell
ooh
like god cast a spell
ooh
on your magic life
ooh
and this is what it feels like

from 405
to 411
you see the sky
you see the sun
it's you and i

tarantula
on a Texas playground
what is transcendental

ooh
like god cast a spell
ooh
on your magic life
ooh
and this is what it feels like

ooh
like god cast a spell
ooh
on your magic life
ooh
and this is what it feels like