Menomena “Mines” CD review

also posted on domaincleveland.net a great sight for music, movie, art, food, news. remember I am just a schmuck who likes writing a lot and these are just my random opinions. so take them at face value, and don’t take it too seriously if you don’t agree with everything i say…but feel free to email me and tell me i am wrong :)

Artist: Menomena

Album: Mines

Released: 07/2010

A solid album that will turn on many new fans and leave other fans scratching their heads, Mines, is the latest collection of tunes from Menomena. It’s not that this album is radically different than previous offerings from the band musically, but the tone of the album is much darker and deeper.

The opening track, “Queen Black Acid” begins slowly with a simple guitar riff and key patch building towards an “Animal Collective” type hook. Bassist/vocalist Justin Harris sings, “I made myself an open book. I made myself a sitting duck.” with heavy reverb on his vocals as a guitar feeds-back.

Hand claps, piano, and a fuzzy bassline are an undertow of sound as the refrain of, “Dirty Cartoons” repeats creating a hypnotizing atmosphere.

“Tithe” is a signature song from Drummer/Vocalist Danny Siem who has loads of classic lyrics and vocal patterns on this disc. “Someone retired on a percentage of the Tithe that paved these roads. They lead to nowhere, but they’re still grid locked. Made of Solomons pure gold.” The song which begins with a chorus of bells ends mid-word/mid sentence.

Very rarely can a band sustain three vocalists sharing the spotlight, but Menomena seem to seemingly play off each others talents song to song. They create wonderful melodies, multiple vocal patterns at once, and never seem to step on each others toes.

Compared to previous albums it appears Menomena stepped up their game as far as engineering and production quality. This album however does seem to be missing some of the experimental innocence of previous Menomena discs as if they have built some guide posts to stick to this time around rather than the wide open palates fans have grown used to.

What could be the catchiest sing-along chorus of 2010, “Five Little Rooms” is one of the few songs to have saxophone featured prominently in the mix. I can’t pretend to understand what the lyrics are talking about in the song, but I can admit that every time I listen to this song I sing, “All this could be yours someday” embarrassingly loud, and I encourage you to do the same. Not that you will have a choice as like I said its as catchy a hook as you can have.

Brent Knopf who plays piano, guitar and more for Menomena shines on “Sleeping Beauty” with his effects laden voice playing off the groove so well I almost want to raise my lighter…but since I don’t smoke and I am at home alone I will just raise this cranberry ginger ale to my lips. I would’ve preferred to hear more of Brent’s vocals on the disc, and I wonder if there is a reason he is not used as much.

The song “TOAS” seems to stick out from the bunch as a loud, clunky, New York City club scene song that is a great song, but doesn’t fit the vibe of the rest of the album.

Overall, this album is full of beautiful, fun, eye-opening, creative, soul-bearing, thoughtful musical moments, and I recommend it highly. Though, as I stated earlier, go into the album with an open mind and forget everything you know about Menomena previously.

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