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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

(the) Meices - Dirty Bird

Name: (the) Meices
Album: Dirty Bird
Year: 1995
Style: Alternative
Similar Bands: Soul Asylum, Green Apple Quickstep, Goo Goo Dolls, Ape Hangers, John Easdale, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr
"One-Word" Review: Slacker-Nasal-Grunge
Based Out Of: San Francisco, CA
Label: London Records
 Dirty Bird - Real Cover
Dirty Bird - Promo Cover, Back, CD

Dirty Bird (1995)
  1. Wow 3:13
  2. Disenchanted Eyes 3:22
  3. Hold It Together 3:05
  4. Uncool 3:23
  5. Wings 2:42
  6. Harry 4:07
  7. Yeah 4:08
  8. Monday Mood 4:09
  9. Helping Me Along 3:35
  10. Hey Fella 2:17
  11. Rosies 3:45
  12. Leave Me Alone 2:46
  13. Well I 3:56
---Bonus College Radio Play Tracks---
     14. Wow (no fuck or shit) 3:15
     15. Yeah (no fuck) 4:08

Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Howie Weinberg - Mastering Engineer
Joe Reineke - Guitar, Vox (Alien Crime Syndicate, Yusif!, Sweetkiss Momma, Colorsoul, Schoolyard Heroes, Lonely H)
Steve Borgerding - Bass (Grand Mal)
Gil Norton - Producer
Apollo 9 - Drums (Rocket From The Crypt)
Marina Chavez - Photography
Melanie Clarin - Strings, Vox (Barbara Manning, SF Seals, Cat Heads, Donner Party)
Bradley Cook - Engineer Producer
Katrina Del Mar - Photography
Tom Galbraith - Drums (Field Trip, Mensclub, The Time Outs)
Scott Hull - Editing
JC 2000 Drums (Rocket From the Crypt)
Edward O'Dowd - Design
Mark Pythain - Electronics
Audrey Riley - Arranger
Chris Shaw - Engineering, Mixing
Roy Spong - Mixing
Shawn Trupeau - Drums
Eric White - Illustration

Unknown-ness: So this is one of those albums I have, that I don’t remember why I purchased it. It sat on my shelf since high school, and I don’t remember one song from it, nor what it sounds like. Assuming it’s alternative, but to what degree? I’m pretty sure I read about them in CMJ music monthly, and later with the name in my mind, I must have seen it for sale used, and picked it up then. NO artwork, and instructions on how to keep CDs clean on the back, there is nothing to identify this album by it’s packaging (with the minor exception of revealing that there are cuss words in 2 of the songs, and the 2 bonus n on-album tracks are for [college] radio airplay).

Album Review: Well, this is just a slice of alternative history. Teetering on the balance of metal, garage rock and pop, this, their 4th album also dips a toe in the ska/swing revitalization with the use of horns. At least for the first song. It’s no Might Mighty Bosstones or Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, but it invites a touch of diversity, as the band entered the twilight of their career. But overall, this is a general dictionary definition for the Alt-Grunge scene. Reineke went on to start Alien Crime Syndicate, another TSM entry I did a while back, which was more popular and slightly divergent, adding electronics into their genre mix.

“Wow” begins the album with a “Huh!” and horns. This is sorta Nu-Metal, with heavy guitars and a brash personality. The chant of “wowwow” in chorus, punches home the melody. The vocals are angsty and strained, and a little nasally. The big hook in the song is the instrumental horns section. The rest of the song just builds to that chorus. The vocals are sung in distorted fashion through a megaphone at some times, and the end of the song has a call and response bit between the main vocals and backing chorus.
“Disenchanted Eyes” starts with three Nirvana style chords, and adds in a sing song melody of David Pirner style lyrics. The gritty feel to the song typifies the Alternative style that was starting to wane in popularity at the time of this albums release. There is a little John Easdale (Dramarama) in the vocal delivery as well. But the music is far from as catchy as Dramarama ever was.
“Hold It Together” begins without a break from the previous song. This song starts at a higher tone, and is sunnier pop-punk tempo and structure. But the singing style is just as jaded as the previous songs. The song drives on and heads straight through the verse to the delivery in the chorus. After 2 sets of verse-chorus, there is a slight come down, that builds back up, only to quit and fall flat. Like a multiple personality, the song picks back up, and it can’t decide to relax or sprint forward. It comes crashing down at the end in some chaotic clashing styles.
“Uncool” lightens the mood with a strummy acoustic guitar and super nasally vocals. But they cannot let that Alternative title fall, because soon after it begins, the grungy fuzzy guitars pick up the rhythm and bolster the sound. The song builds right up to the chorus, which is an uncreative repetition of the title; similar to the repetitious usage of Wow (and in the future song “Yeah”).
“Wings” also wastes no time with driving electric guitars and chugging bass line, with minor chord changes like a car shifting lanes without slowing down. There are a couple of pauses of tempo in the chorus, giving the live music mosher a chance to breath, but it ends in a fury.
“Harry” twinkles in the beginning with softly plucked guitar notes, before soaring ahead with fuzzed out chord changes and vocals that almost teeter off the cliff of following the melody. The guitars remind me of Dinosaur Jr. At its heart is a power pop song, buried under the sludge that was alternative production. We are briefly transported back to the sentimental sting plucked emotion of the intro, but the guitar wipes that clean (or makes it dirty) and blasts the listener away from that imagery, with only a quiet retaliation at the end with the echoing individual note melody.
“Yeah” starts with a dark bass line that rolls between two notes with a third transitory note between. This is the set up for the entire song’s melody. The chorus is shouting “Yea-hey-hey-e-yeah” It is Nirvana quality in fuzziness and slacker simplicity. The one line of the song that sticks out is “Don’t take our guns when killing’s all we got.” Still a quality commentary on today’s society. 

“Monday Mood” is a sullen, brooding number that features a string section paralleled with sludge chugging guitars. The song pauses for a sentimental realization that a Monday mood is not something to be enjoyed, but it is a chemically sedated state where it seems pleasant, but is really just tedious. By the time the song comes full circle, the strings begin to soar, and the song reaches a sunny perception, embracing the Monday mood [like he changing outlook in Pearl Jam’s Better Man]
“Helping Me Along” has an elongated drum intro that finds its rhythm along with a repeating siren like guitar. The vocals begin with an energetic yeah, and the song becomes another album stuffer of alternative sound. The energy and mood feels a little frantic at the end of the song.
“Hey Fella” is a heavier song, and driving, like “Wings.” There are harmonizing background vocals during the bridge, as there is really no chorus. There is a lot of energy in the song, with some shout and response sections and grimy bass. The song ends quite abruptly.
“Rosies” starts quietly enough with some muted conversation dialogue, then what sounds like the approaching mechanical energy of an airplane. The dark bass line quickly lets us know the song will have a stomping, rolling rhythm, and by the time the song reaches the chorus, the soaring metal guitars take their turn at guiding the spotlight. The chorus at the end of the song features more call and response set up from the lead singer and backing chorus. Then a heavy, chugging guitar reboots the path into repeating with even more energy for one final round.
“Leave Me Alone” has high hat playing, coupled with a passive aggressive bass line. This song possesses the typical grunge music song in lyrical meaning. But the song is actually kind of bold, with power pop changes and what sounds like a keyboard buried down in the mix. After a barrage of leave me alones yelled on repeat, the song wears itself out and goes to sleep.
“Well I…” enters with a wary guitar and brushed percussion section. Even after the energetic instruments are added for an emotional section, the song returns to the unsure, paranoid vibe. This song is reminiscent of the mid 80’s dark and depressing college radio album filler songs. If this was made 10 years earlier, it would sound vaguely the same. But it could not have been in today’s musical landscape.

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