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