by Julia Leiby
It can be difficult to express vulnerability through song, though vocalist Judy Hong does just that, as they croon, “I won’t love you/ make myself untrust you” on the opening track of Middle Part’s self-titled debut EP. The 5-track EP alternates between dark and light tones and heavy and slow rhythms. Middle Part (pre-order here) straddles the line between hardcore punk and noise music, which can be seen on tracks such as ‘Fight Song’, where Hong’s vocals loop until they are distorted and harsh.
Judy Hong and Tristan O’ Shea, from Harrisonburg, Virginia, make up the two-piece, and they switch between playing drums and bass, while Hong mainly sings or shouts the vocals. Though this is Hong’s first band (O’Shea is involved in a post-rock band called Julia Pox), the musicianship is sophisticated, the basslines tight, the twisted vocals dripping with menace and energy. ‘Like Before’ is a halting and sensitive slow jam, as Hong hesitantly sings, “I won’t ask you about it, but maybe you could / walk me home,” a quiet moment on an otherwise fast-paced and nearly frantic record. It’s an impressive debut.
Hong and O’Shea met because O’Shea is the younger brother of one of Hong’s best friends, and they wanted to start a punk band, both noticing that there were few in the Harrisonburg music scene. They came up with four songs to play a show with Hemlines (from DC) and Shuna Sassi (from Harrisonburg) the following month. The EP was recorded and mixed by O’Shea and mastered at Waveland Productions in Harrisonburg. The record will be coming out on tape from Too Far Gone Records (label based in Boston) sometime this month. Middle Part will be embarking on their first mini-tour up north in March, and you can stream the record here or on their bandcamp.