Sunday, March 8, 2009

Menomena (No, Sadly, not Sesame Street-related)

Among my current musical preferences at the moment is a band I recently discovered called Menomena. There are two main reasons that I like this band. The first is there name, which evokes vivid memories of a certain Sesame Street skit... Specifically this one: 
In addition, their somewhat unique, indie sound (classified by Wikipedia as "experimental rock") is quite appealing. Overall, what I love about Menomena is the creative aspect to their sound. To record, they use a program called Deeler, which allows each band member to record short riffs on their respective instrument, and turn these into loops onto which they base their songs. In the words of the band's leader Brent Knopf, "Deeler keeps the process democratic, which is the only way we can operate."

As a result, Menomena has produced two well-received albums: I Am the Fun Blame Monster! and Friend and Foe. While the latter is a bit more polished in its sound, I prefer the rawness of the first album. It often builds off of small, simple loops, such as a basic sliding guitar riff on E. is Stable that rises and falls with the intensity of the song, or the chillout guitar on Oahu. On both of these songs the music builds around these simple riffs,
with judicious use of some swirling pianos, a favorite of mine. Still, they don't keep everything too straightforward, pulling out the two-part beauty that is The Late Great Libido, which has two distinct parts, yet still manages to incorporate the main theme into both, with a droning saxophone and xylophone providing some serious novelty.

Their stuff from Friend and Foe seems a little... overdone, in my opinion - it seems to me that most of the songs from there have this enduring dark aspect to the music, and it lacks the charm of an earlier indie attempt. Nonetheless, I am infatuated with the dreamy My My, a floaty synth and guitar composition that makes my world seem to glow, yet brings me back down to earth with the opening line of "What if all my enemies were dead?"

In short, check out Menomena, if you're willing to try an independent band a little out of the ordinary. I would especially recommend I Am the Fun Blame Monster!, if not just for the album title.

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