Menomena – Mines
Last week while in Nashville to see the Black Keys (more on that later), I stopped by Grimey’s – definitely check this place out next time you’re in Nashville – and snagged the new album Mines by Menomena. I’ve been listening to it since. Mines is the fourth album from the Portland based trio. Menomena may be only three guys, but they employ a wide variety of instruments and have a unique songwriting process that creates broad compositions. Take the jump for a quick review and some tracks to preview.
Menomena use a software program called the Digital Looping Recorder, or “Deeler”, when writing songs. Deeler was programmed by band-member Brent Knopf (you can’t call anyone “lead” anything in the band as they all sing and swap instruments regularly). Band-member Danny Seim explains the process: “First, we set the tempo of the click, which is played through a pair of headphones. We then take turns passing a single mic around the room. One of us will hold the mic in front of an instrument, while another one of us will lay down a short improvised riff over the click track. We usually start with the drums. Once the drums begin looping, we throw on some bass, piano, guitar, bells, sax, or whatever other sort of noisemaker happens to be in the room. Deeler keeps the process democratic, which is the only way we can operate.”
Relying on the Deeler process a bit less on this album than on previous efforts, Menomena have created a splendid album in Mines, kicking off with “Queen Black Acid”, a thin song that fills in nicely by the end before the rocking “TAOS” hits on all cylinders, reminiscent of an old Kings of Leon song (you know, before they became too popular to be cool anymore). “Dirty Cartoons” revels with it’s “Go home/Go home” chorus. They break out the saxophone and guitar slides for “BOTE” and “Lunchmeat” waits a minute before what sounds like a ukulele leads the listener into the louder portion of the tune. The patient and funky “Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy” is a true work of art which shows off that cut-and-paste songwriting process, with different licks from different instruments popping up here and there highlighted by the scraps of piano sprinkled throughout. Don’t miss that one, nor the sinister “Five Little Rooms”. The tracks all fit together excellently, resulting in a densely packed hour that never gets boring and never stays in one place too long. Mines has definitely won this blogger over as one of the better releases this year.
1. “Queen Black Acid”
4. “Dirty Cartoons”
8. “Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such a Big Boy”
9. “Five Little Rooms”
10. “Sleeping Beauty”
Menomena will be performing at Cat’s Cradle October 7th.