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Mean Creek-Around the Bend

September 1, 2007

Band: Mean Creek

Album: Around the Bend

Best Element: A perfect synthesis of folk and indie rock.

Genre: Folk/indie rock


Label: Clubhouse Records

Around the Bend is a gem of a debut album from Boston indie rockers Mean Creek. It’s full of tight harmony, great songwriting and that rare sort of emotional resonance that makes you want to listen to it again and again. Mean Creek has created a wonderful synthesis of folk and indie rock that is positively refreshing. In places, their tight harmonies recall the Mamas and the Papas. In others I can almost hear Bringing It All Back Home-era Bob Dylan. Also, their mastery of the indie-pop song reminds me of The Shins.

“Hands Behind Our Heads” is a catchy raucous romp of a pop song complete with a driving drumbeat, great lyrics, excellent vocals and all the enthusiasm of a live show. “Momentary” is yet another exquisitely-crafted pop song. Wailing, distorted guitars coupled with another driving drumbeat will have even the most jaded audiophile tapping his toes. As far as sound-alikes go, think Death Cab for Cutie with a bit more enthusiasm.

“Ohio” might be the highlight of an excellent album. In stark contrast with the previous songs, “Ohio” is a mellow folk song that warms my soul as a folk junkie. Other reviewers have compared Mean Creak to Simon and Garfunkel, and at the risk of being unoriginal, I will too. Soaring harmony and folksy finger-picking certainly recall the legendary duo.

The title track is positively thrilling. “Around the Bend” is a sophisticated, upbeat electric folk song full of bright, clean sounding arpeggios and lines about sunshine, but it is no shrill bubblegum pop song. I love this song. Did I mention there’s a harmonica part?

I love this album; it is marked by a degree of versatility, skill, and sophistication that I did not expect. I would have bought this album if they hadn’t sent it to me free. I might buy a copy anyway. If you like music, you should buy one too.

-Brian Burns

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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