In the Studio: Midwest Skies

Summer is the time of year when your listening library may become less introspective and moody (The Decemberists carry that name for a reason), and perhaps it is the time for something better suited to a high-volume car stereo and open windows.

Midwest Skies is here to oblige. The band's previous EP, Glory Days, was the quintessential summer album — littered with power chords tucked into major key pop-punk songs. The band has been working with producer Mike Cervantes of Foxboro Recording Studios in Grand Rapids to complete a second EP, Ghosts of 46th, which is intended to be a more streamlined production than Glory Days.

"This new album is a night-and-day difference from Glory Days," said vocalist James Johnson. "I guess with the first one, it felt like we had an identity crisis — we had a blend of pop-punk and indie rock. With this one, we have some heavier Anberlin-type stuff, but still some of that MXPX-style pop-punk. It's a lot more cohesive and flows together a lot better."

Working with Cervantes as a producer helped the band flesh out its sound. From the first day the members entered the studio, they had a sync of ideals with the producer in order to create something identifiably Midwest Skies.

"We really didn't want to hide anything from Mike," said Drummer Ryan Yikmoff. "We told him going into it that we wanted this album to stand up to national-level bands. It might sound a little cocky, but we want to shoot for the stars with our music.

Upon beginning work with the band, Cervantes immediately had a feel for the band's style.

"It's my job to understand what the band wants from their recordings, sometimes even better than they might," Cervantes said. "Writing songs with the band is part of what I love about this job — it's like I get to be a member of the band without actually being a part of it."

"He never accepts anything less than our best," Yikmoff added. "It's part of what sets this album apart from anything we've ever done before.

If things go according to plan, Midwest Skies should drop Ghosts of 46th sometime in late June, after coming off a tour with Chicago-based Late in the Playoffs. Glory Days is available on iTunes.