Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
Sink Into Stone
I picked up Find Yourself Along The Way, the debut album from Los Angeles’ Meeting Places after seeing them at SxSW 2005 and thought that the title was especially fitting. I felt there was a good deal of potential in their post-shoegaze style but that they still had some ways to go before it would be fulfilled.
Now with the release of their second album, Numbered Days, I have to reasses that initial impression – it may have been that I thought I knew where they were trying to go but it’s entirely possible they’re working from a different map entirely. By considering them strictly as a “shoegaze” band, I projected a certain set of expectations on them on what they should sound like and I’m thinking that’s pretty unfair. First, it sets them up against a yardstick that thanks to my nostalgia goggles they couldn’t possibly measure up to and secondly, it doesn’t give them nearly enough credit for having the ambition and creativity to exist outside that pigeonhole. They actually remind me a fair bit of fellow Californians Film School in the way they blend the spirit of shoegaze with post-punk influences and give it all a decidedly American accent rather than going for the easy British affect.
Of course, this revelation doesn’t necessarily defuse some of my criticisms about the record – the tempos on some tracks are too rigid and lumbering, marching along in an unwavering 1-2-3-4 when a little swagger or sashay would do wonders (though to be fair, they do swing at points and those songs are all the better for it). Also, singer/guitarist Chase Harris’ vocals remain monotone and tightly wound, not doing justice to the melodies he’s delivering. Sometimes it works but over the course of the album, even at a scant 33 minutes, it gets to be a bit much though the appearance of guest backing vocalist Dilean Jimenez from Ole on a few tracks does wonders for balancing that out. When on autopilot, the Meeting Places veer frustratingly towards an unemotive mechanicalness that I don’t believe is what they’re striving for, though the band’s bio namechecks both My Bloody Valentine and krautrock so again, I could be completely wrong about that.
Like its predecessor, Numbered Days has its moments but is overall frustrating because I can’t decide if it’s too shoegazey or not shoegazey enough. It doesn’t have the same overall sonic whallop of Find Yourself but does feature more concise and focused songwriting as well as some fresher production ideas that generally pay off. I think The Meeting Places continue to merit my attention but I’m still waiting to really connect with one of their records.
Spin declared them band of the day last week.
The UK’s Forward Russia, whom you may have read about in assorted sundry blogs, and Snowden, whom you may also have read about in assorted sundry blogs (perhaps the same ones) will be at the Horseshoe on December 1.