3hree Things: Why I Listened To Menomena's New Record 43 Times This Weekend (And Am Not Even Remotely Sick Of It Yet)

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California, being an OC native and, of course, music.

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​I moved from Irvine to back to Orange just over two months ago, and since I've spent a majority of those couple of months traveling around the US and Canada in a bus, I haven't really had much time to enjoy/work the new digs. 

The lady and I decided that once I got back from tour, we'd bear down, get handy, and get the house dialed in for a housewarming party on the final day of July. The catch was that we only had a couple of days to get everything done because of a tight (albeit self-imposed) schedule. That, and the influx of painters, handymen, flooring specialists, and carpet cleaners that came to do work that required reorganization of furniture and "stuff" that left the place looking more like a house you'd see on Hoarders than any place that two reasonable human beings would choose to live in.

In my experience, housecleaning, yardwork, decorating and redecorating, party prepping, coordinating multiple visits from a variety of repairmen, and making frequent (and bank account-siphoning) trips to Costco, Home Depot, Target, et al are steaming heaps of suck in 
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​their own right. When you try cram them all into a three-to-four day span with a deadline looming, it's the stuff that nervous breakdowns and/or panic attacks are made of. "Well, maybe if we just don't sleep...or eat?" To cope with these stresses, some people turn to drugs and booze. Most often, I turn to music (and booze.) 

Portland's Menomena put out their fourth full length, Mines, on July 27th, and in doing so they saved me from being found unconscious, in a heap on my kitchen floor, covered in Costco receipts, cleaning solutions, dust, bleach, paint chips, carpet bunnies, and sweat (that smelled faintly of Sierra Nevada Summerfest.)
I am not shitting you in the slightest when I tell you that I listened to it, in its entirety, 43 times in a matter of three days. 

And I listened to it 43 times because it is my favorite record of 2010. 

It was everywhere. On the living room stereo. On the studio monitors in my office. In the car. 

On the iPod. On repeat. Constantly. And it never got old. (I'm listening to it as I type this. Still not sick of it.) 

​I'm not a huge fan of telling people why they should like something, especially when it's music. I feel like there's no amount of hyperbole and/or flowery sonic descriptors that music critics are prone to use that might make a record resonate with you they way it does with me, so I won't try to do that. Instead, I'll tell you, briefly, why I've listened to this record enough to burn out on it four times over. 

1) I can't pick a favorite track 
The lady and I kept trying to put our fingers on a favorite track and couldn't. It kept changing. One morning, it would be "Dirty Cartoons." That afternoon, it would be "Intil." That night, I'd lean towards "The Insulation" (a bonus track). The next day, it'd be "Tithe." An hour later, she'd pick "Queen Black Acid." Right this second, it's "Bote." I'm sure it'll be something else by the time I'm done with this post. There's no filler. Every track is memorable in it's own right, and you could make a case that the bonus track is as good or better than anything else on the record. That's the recipe for an incredible piece of work. 

2) The production is flawless
I'd recommend your first listen of Mines take place on the home stereo or in the car, but I'd recommend that your second or third listen be on headphones. It takes the experience to another level entirely. There's such beautiful character to the tones, such depth to the layers of arrangements, and such mesmerizing rhythmic structures. It's evident over stereo speakers, but so much more so with headphones. I've found myself going back to listen on headphones multiple times, strictly to focus on the production and the subtleties of the mix. 

3) The method to the madness 
I was unaware of Menomena's untraditional band dynamic until I read this interview at OregonLive.com a couple of days ago. Apparently, the guys share ideas, build these complex arrangements via email using a program called Deeler (created by multi-instrumentalist, Brent Knopf), and self-produced Mines despite living 10 or 15 minutes away from each other. The goal being to "minimize person-to-person contact" and (I'm assuming) avoid face-to-face/fist-to-face battles over creative control. I can't really fathom functioning like that, since it's the polar opposite of how Thrice's creative process seems to work best, but it obviously works for Menomena. It blows my mind that they've created and self-produced something as brilliant as Mines in such a fashion, and makes an already impressive record that much more remarkable and inspiring. 
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