Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
For some reason and no good one, there's a sense that the rivers are running dry in the songs of Omaha's Midwest Dilemma. We're stuck out in the middle of a flat land that's nothing but a cracked ground below us. All of the cattle are out there in the crunchy, brownish-green fields panting, with their rib bones protruding some from the other side of their hide. The good lord's not made himself known to any of the fields for weeks and weeks as everything's been cooking and the leaves of the corn stalks are curling at their edges, quickly dying, silently crying out just for a sip. The farmers are cursing the pathetic weather men and women, who can't help what their maps and radars are telling them is coming - or not coming.
Everyone's handcuffed and there's a bleeding cry coming off the porch and out of the dirt, a scream or a low-volume, high-pitched sound of sighing or air escaping. Justin Lamoureux, the lead singer for this rural-sounding ensemble, crafts a mood of dreams held of places elsewhere, but still there's no movement toward the highways to get away. There's a shuffling of feet, a hemming and hawing, but no action to escape from the situations that are the source of that feeling of entrapment.
The people in Midwest Dilemma songs seem to be of these cities and places that were once so fundamentally isolated from anywhere cultural, but are now much more than peripherally connected to everywhere in the world. They still wrestle with the jabs in the pits of their stomaches to get out of there, to go experience something, but more than ever before, there's a thought that this could be it. There might not be much else out there that's going to surprise them too much. Lamoureux sings, "They know the secret/But the cancer has not killed them yet/They cancer has not killed us yet," and it's almost as if it's his way of admitting that nothing here's as bad as it was previously believed to be. Some of these people are let down by this, but there would be no pleasing them anyhow.