Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Meryll-You’ve Got Cousins

March 1, 2006

meryllBand Name: Meryll

Album Name: You’ve Got Cousins

Best element: Passionate songwriting
Genre: Mid-fi, dreamy indie-pop

Website: www.meryll.net

Label name: Esotype Records (www.esotyperecords.com)
Band e-mail: booking@meryll.net

I’ve got a friend who loves a very classical form of pop music. She wants to hear some very precise songwriting, a great voice, and a perfect melody in the music she listens to- and as a result, she listens to a lot of good bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, Mae, etc. By having such specific tastes, it’s very easy to tell what she will and won’t like- and I can say with confidence that she would not like Meryll.

Meryll’s album You’ve Got Cousins isn’t a perfect pop album- it’s a mid-fi album of indie-pop with some shoegazer tendencies thrown in. It’s rough around the edges, and that’s what makes this album so positively charming. The vocals here are not perfect, and the production isn’t ‘slick’. The guitars are not crisp, and the songs aren’t simple verse/chorus/verse.

So if that’s all that Meryll isn’t, what IS Meryll? Meryll creates a fuzzy wave of sound with an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, a bass, drums, and occasionally keys. The acoustic guitar forms the basis of these songs, laying down the foundation for the second guitar to put melodies over. The bassist layers some more subtle melodies on, and the drummer, when he’s not programming electronic percussion, crushes his drums (“Dotted Lines”), playing simple lines as if there were no tomorrow. The vocalist has a unique voice- it’s a high voice that has a little bit of a warble, a little bit of insecurity and tiredness encompassed in it. It’s a very world-weary voice, and while it’s not perfect, hey- neither was Bob Dylan’s.

Sometimes the acoustic guitar leads to epic sections of rock (“Dotted Lines”), sometimes it leads to simple acoustic ditties (“Classy”), and there’s even a solitary alt-country tune (“Every Stoplight”). But most often, Meryll’s goal is to create lush, hypnotic tunes that ache with beauty. The best example of this is the 6-minute “To Touch/You’ve Got Cousins.”

The song starts out with some otherworldly hum in the background- I assume it’s a guitar effect on the electric guitar. Acoustic guitar and keys play over it, and the vocalist comes in with a beautiful, wide-eyed vocal line. As the vocalist sings in his slightly high-pitched voice “You’re nerve-wracking, still…” it just all comes together. Honesty and passion and talent meet in the first two minutes of “To Touch…” and it’s simply awe-inspiring.

“Leave Me Hate Notes”, “15755”, and “Inside on a Day Like Today? I’m Outraged!” are all of this variety- songs that build into giant climaxes of vulnerable emotion. It’s what they do best.

Meryll’s You’ve Got Cousins is a great album. It’s the type of album that unfortunately flies under the radar because it’s not a huge statement or a big production- it’s just a group of songs that mean a lot to the people who wrote them. That passion shines through on this album, and the joy and honesty in these beautiful shimmering songs is worth a whole lot more than most “big productions.”

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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