WHO ARE THEY?
Hawthorne Heights began life as the Dayton, Ohio-based emo-pop group A Day in the Life in 2001. After some line-up shuffling and a name change, the quintet had signed with 2000's emo powerhouse Victory Records, who released Hawthorne Heights' debut album in 2004.
In hindsight, the band's career reads as a cautionary tale of being passionate, young, and naïve and the pitfalls that come with those attributes. In other words, everything that could have gone wrong for a fledging rock band with stars in its eyes went very wrong. After a honeymoon period with their record label and some impressive early success, Hawthorne Heights was roasted by shady business tactics from Victory and ensuing lawsuits between the two parties, unfortunately capped off by the accidental fatal overdose of guitarist Casey Calvert in 2007. It couldn't have happened to a nicer group of guys (if their public image is to be believed).
But Hawthorne Heights might have escaped footnote-to-a-footnote status had anything about their music been exceptional. It was not to be – singer J.T. Woodruff's lyrics were cliché-ridden and adolescent, Calvert's screamo bark was unintentionally comedic, and the band strict adherence to the emo rulebook of tempo changes, punk-lite guitars, with the occasional metal flourish rendered them faceless and ordinary.
This didn't prevent commercial success from an audience rabid for high-pitched vocals and guyliner in the mid-'00s. Hawthorne Heights' first two albums, The Silence in Black and White (2004) and If Only You Were Lonely (2006) sold at least a million copies between them before the sun set on the band.
The first post-Calvert effort, 2008's Fragile Future, was well-intentioned but forgettable, and each subsequent release from the band strayed farther from their high water mark of generic blandness.
BUY THIS ALBUM
Midwesterners: The Hits, was Victory Records goodbye kiss to Hawthorne Heights, finally free from the label after a prolonged legal battle. Released in 2010, it's misleadingly titled—this band had only two or three hits, which were moderately successful at best. In essence, Midwesterners is a sampler of the band's most listenable tracks from its first three records. Though hooks are few and far between, this should satisfy any casual listener's interest in the very odd phenomena of 2000's emo.
Hawthorne Heights had just two memorable songs: "Ohio is for Lovers" from 2004 and "Saying Sorry" from 2006. Not coincidentally, they were also their most popular songs. "Saying Sorry" is far and away the keeper of the two, toning down the bombast for a pleasant and jangly pop song.