Early Listening: Menomena - Mines
There was once a time when Menomena was fresh on the Portland indie rock scene. It was 2003 and the band had just self-released their debut album I Am The Fun Blame Monster! to a rather impressive critical acclaim (P4K gave it a 8.7). In true Portland/DIY fashion, the band included a self-assembled, 88-page flip book as part of the album, something the band members assembled while working at Kinko's -- which has had a history of cultivating some of Portland's finest minds (see the entry for Tres Shannon).
Intuitive whimsy was Menomena's strong point, yet the band also produced some of the most promising indie rock to come out of Portland since The Decemberists. Mines, the band's fourth full-length, sees a band matured in their years, recording music for a bona fide label while still managing to capture that fantastical DIY approach from the band's formative years.
Mines is the band's second album to be released on Barsuk Records, and it carries with that distinction some pretty weathered chops. The polish is abundant on the album, which is quite a feat given the band's penchant for using a rather impressive array of instruments and sounds. On any given Menomena track, one might hear some baritone guitar, a foot synthesizer, both alto and baritone saxophone and a glockenspiel. Convention knows hardly any bounds when Menomena is involved.
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