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You're Not Pretty

local band Meridene unveils new album (listen to some tracks)

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by Ian Jacoby

The word "catchy" came up quite a bit in the interviews with Meridene. It turns out that “catchy” can mean a lot of things. When a centerfielder is catchy, we all get pumped and start buying ill-fitting baseball shirts. When a flu is catchy, we run like crazy and take super gross vitamin C tablets. Fortunately for us, local power-poppers, Meridene is most certainly in the former category, and not in the latter.

“To me, Meridene songs are still exactly the same as they’ve always been – catchy,” said keyboardist Paul Brandt in a recent interview.

To say that Meridene has been in a bit of a flux since its last article in V1 is a bit of an understatement. Since then, the band has gotten rid of a banjo, replaced their bass and piano players (twice),  wooed a recording phenom to join in on guitar, and added a drummer that actually makes me scared for my life. Yes, quite literally.

They’ve taken a year to record a new album, played to large-ish crowds in other cities, dropped the country twang and added a little bit of mouth-punch to their set. This is all fine and good, but it doesn’t answer this burning question; do they rock?

Fortunately for the city of Eau Claire, the answer is a resounding yes. Meridene’s new album, You’re Not Pretty, You’re Worse finds the band awash in dirty guitar squalls and keyboard flourishes. Where the first Meridene album was a simple, almost Sufjan-esque approach to songwriting, this one relishes in the decadent. Track after track drives, heaves, and pleads over pounding drums and rollicking bass lines. This is an album without middle ground, a collection of songs that wears its heart on its sleeve. Let’s just put it this way, there are trombones on this album. Lots of trombones.

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