Song of the Day: Menomena – Taos

photo by Jim Bennett

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show Host Cheryl Waters, is “Taos” by Menomena from their latest album Mines available from Barsuk Records.

Menomena – Taos (MP3)

After a three and a half year hiatus (which included touring, writing, side projects like Ramona Falls, Lackthereof, and Faux Hoax), Portland art rock-eteers Menomena are back with a new album that is already living up to the buzz around it. Their last album Friend and Foe lit up the blogosphere and broke the band to countless audiences who have fully embraced this trio.

Danny Seim provided a little insight into how this album came together in the press release for the album which explains why it took so long to be finalized:

“Nothing holds up a process like an indispensable band member being both a perfectionist and a control freak. Especially when your band features three of these types. And we certainly haven’t gotten any more agreeable in our old age — quite the opposite.”

But in the end, all was worked out and the result is a stylistically diverse album that may take a few listens before it sinks in but will be well worth the effort. Today’s song “Taos” is one of the more straightforward rocking tunes found on Mines. The fuzz drenched guitars, the powerful drums, the saxophone, the piano breaks, and the sexually charged lyrics on “Taos” aren’t your typical indie rock fare and provide a stark contrast to the melancholy “Dirty Cartoons” which goes to show there’s a little something for everyone on this album.

The only thing that remains consistent is their process for crafting songs which hasn’t changed since their first album. They are still using the digital looping program that was programmed by Brent Knopf which takes pieces of music they’ve recorded live and loops them, giving each song the feeling of putting together a jigsaw puzzle. One thing that separates Menomena from other bands is how democratic they are in their songwriting process. As each member shares in vocal duties and plays a variety of instruments, their songs are known for dense instrumentation which begs closer listening from their audience. The old “if you whisper people have to listen harder” approach works well for these indie-press darlings.

You can catch Menomena in all their splendor at The Showbox on September 10th the first stop on an impressive fall tour. More dates and info on their MySpace page.

Earlier this year a fan leaked the entire album out on Youtube before it was officially released late last month. They don’t have any new videos for any of the tracks on Mines just yet but in a recent interview, Justin Harris spoke to Pitchfork about videos for Mines which are in the works. He hinted at working with director Stefan Nadelman again who previously did a video for “Evil Bee.” Here is that video:

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