The Meeting Places - You and I - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Meeting Places - You and I

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-24
The Meeting Places - You and I
The Meeting Places - You and I

It isn’t very often that a fairly successful band can take ten or more years off between recordings and not lose both personnel and a fair amount of their sound. Los Angeles based The Meeting Places hope to overcome those obstacles with their fresh EP “You and I”, and from what I have heard, it’s like they never left.

The quartet was formed in Los Angeles in the autumn of 2001. Scott McDonald, Chase Harris, Dean Yoshihare and Arthur Chan were all originally guitarists. When the foursome decided to become a working band, however, it became apparent quickly that they couldn’t all flail away on a Fender and expect anyone to listen. Yoshihara decided to take up residence on the drum throne, and Chan was pegged to man the four string. 

Their debut album, “Find Yourself Along The Way” was released in 2003 to critical and fan approval. “Numbered Days”, the sophomore disc released late in 2006, also was lauded by the music press, and cuts from both albums found their way on to various television shows of the era.

Then it stopped. Life got in the way of musical ambition, and very little happened for over ten years. Then in 2017, the band reunited to start doing gigs around their hometown. It is probable that all four remembered why they had been in the music biz before, and some new material emerged from these gatherings.

Four examples of that material show up on the new disc, and the shoegaze/dream pop they had specialized in before is back with a fresh spin on the sometimes tired genre. Offtimes this category of music can lack a real sense of melody or tunefulness, and sometimes it gets overindulgent to the point of annoyance. Neither of these traits are found here.

One warning I have to send out to the listening public: if you listen to your music for great lyrics and outstanding vocals, you may just want to look elsewhere. Harris is the vocalist for the group, and while his lyrics are probably on par (or superior to) his contemporaries, and his voice just fine for such a group, the mix of the EP takes the reverb and bombast of the guitars and effects to heights that mostly just drown out the vocals. On three of the four songs, I could make out the title phrase somewhere in a chorus, but without a lyric sheet, trying to interpret the rest was a bit of a challenge. 

That really isn’t a complaint, as far as I’m concerned. This style of music isn’t really known for deep-seated philosophies put to a tune, or anything close to Pavarotti like vocals. It is all about the sound, and there is no lack of that presented.

The title tune “You and I” opens the EP, and it is four minutes of atmospheric, reverb-drenched symphony with a wealth of melody and fully defined rhythms front and center. The reverb is so strong here that I’m amazed the neighborhood around the studio didn’t think a typical California shaker was in progress. If you have excellent speakers, this one will push them to their limits. Toward the end of the song, it devolves onto musical chaos that has the sound and feel of a few thousand angry hornets all buzzing in aggravated unison. That buzz then morphs into the opening bars of “Patricia Jane”, a much more upbeat composition that picks up speed and gives the rhythm section at least a fighting chance against the guitars.

Short and sweet “Stay the Same” stays on the faster pace and allows all four musicians to be heard and appreciated. The vocals, too, are slightly amped up, and the chorus lyric of the song title can be picked up without too much effort.

Finale “Fallout” drops back into the slower more subdued beats of the opener and defines the ethereal landscape that the entire recording presents. Harris is most impressive here with his vocal talents even if the echo-laden sound of his voice sometimes is overshadowed by the sonic tsunami he is swimming against. 

For a band that decided to take a fair amount of the millennium off, The Meeting Places seem to have not lost a step. The EP is a short one at just over 13 minutes, but I found myself listening to it whenever a 15-minute window of life wasn’t already spoken for, and not tiring of it as quickly as many recordings can elicit. It would be beneficial to the musical universe if this group releases new stuff with more frequency. A full-length recording would be just lovely, and the sooner the better. Ten years is too long to wait!

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