If you've watched any MTV2 lately, you know that today's landscape is littered with many, many YM-worthy punk poppers. While most are fourth-rate Green Day and Blink-182 knockoffs, an occasional act shows up to the party with more than just a six-pack of Bud Light and a new tattoo. With their clean, chugging guitar rhythms, three-headed lead vocal attack and surprisingly substantive lyrics (for a band of their genre), Midtown is one band that breaks away from the pack with their second full-length release, Living Well Is the Best Revenge.

Formed four years ago by four freshman at New Jersey's Rutgers University, Midtown is Rob Hitt (drums), Tyler Rann (guitar), Gabe Saporta (bass) and Heath Saraceno. The last three trade off on lead vocals -- sometimes in the same song. And most of Saporta's words are free of irony, innuendo and self-pity. Imagine that!

There's good energy to tracks like "Become What You Hate," "Still Trying" and "Perfect," while "Like a Movie" (the band's first single and video) and "A Faulty Foundation" dip toes into more pop and rock waters, respectively. However, the band's self-mythologizing about its not-too-distant-or-difficult "struggling days" on "In the Songs" is, well, laughable.

Still, there's more meat to Midtown than the publicity photo or sound snippet might indicate -- just don't make that analogy to these strident vegetarians and animal rights activists.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero