Further evidence that Chicago is the place to be when it comes to interesting new bands sprouting up constantly. Me Jane is a quartet that met in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and has since released a demo and a single, and now their debut full-length entitled “ISON.”
The production is stripped down and transparent, making the overall sound of the songs reminiscent of Wire’s “Pink Flag,” or early Cure, but the songs here have a tendency to be somewhat more ebullient at times, alternating with inquisitive melancholy – or at least nostalgia. Me Jane walks a tightrope, balancing the stark production with touches of dream-pop and deeply affecting guitar leads.
Take the track “Ghost” for example. As the guitars fade in and the synth emerges from the background a multi-layered song structure is beginning to take shape. More instrumental than lyrical, I think the band’s ensemble work and craftsmanship really shines on “Ghost.” I can’t help but feel that, on the track that immediately follows, “Racket,” the singer is channeling a bit of Wild Flag era Carrie Brownstein. The sharp crescendos that punctuate each vocal phrase, and just the delivery in general – with the backing vocals also owing to the Wild Flag sound – borrows elements from a style, without coming off at all like a cheap imitation.
It’s the moments where the guitar breaks free a little bit, with a kind of reverbed surf-rock tone, that really define Me Jane’s sound. They seem to be testing out a bunch of different approaches across the album, but their distinctive and original voice is most certainly coming through loud and clear.
“ISON” came out this past May and can be purchased either digitally from their bandcamp page, or on limited edition white vinyl directly from the Me Jane site. They also have a few shows coming up in September in Chicago if you happen to be in the area. Dates and other things can be found at their awesomely named website: mejaneyoulisten.com
Here comes another dose of aggressive, detuned raw post-punk energy. Stumbled across this one while bumming around Soundcloud and it really grabbed my attention.
My knee-jerk reaction whenever I hear a band that extends what it means to use the guitar as an instrument, where they realize that it is so much more than just the notes, that it’s about everything else, is “Sonic Youth.” The tone, the slack-stringed jangle with harmonics that ring out alternately with a wall of inescapable noise. But really after about two seconds my thoughts quickly turned away from my beloved Sonic Youth and towards something more like Wire.
“I Need a Bag” starts us off with incessant guitar abuse; bashing the daylights out of the strings so much that the pitch bends. But, in addition to the overall “Wire-ness” there is something about the abrupt vocal delivery that calls to mind The Blind Shake. Definitely a good thing.
Then we come to the even noisier “Bring Dumpster Back” and “Trollin the Lake.” The latter of these starts with some calm–relatively calm–though somewhat unsettling ambience. A few stray notes here and there, a few open strings before suddenly everything explodes in a fiery ball of aggression in the form of dissonance in every aspect imaginable. This is pretty much the stuff that I live for. Polvo-like guitar tunings, early Sonic Youth’s energy, up front and bordering upon hostile vocals. Really great stuff.
Of course, check out the tracks above, or head over to the soundcloud page to hear them and other fantastic stuff from S.S. Records. This is the band’s 2nd full-length, and if you want one you had better act fast because it seems that S.S. can’t keep these things on the shelf very long. Their first LP has already burned through a couple of pressings. “Rodeo Songs” is available on vinyl right now.
And below you can check out the official video for “Yawn Factory” from the band’s first album. There’s also some really great footage of them live online as well.