"Alas, Not Us" CD
Sort Of Records
Genre: indie pop, folk pop
June 27 2008
Meanings is the solo project of Nate McDermott, who
plays with labelmates Paper Thin Stages. Alas, Not Us is
the first release from the new moniker, and it could best be described
as unconventional folk-tinged pop. While the first couple of listens
serve as an adjustment period to McDermott's unique formula,
eventually the melodies gain more salience and complement the songs'
Certainly, there are things McDermott will want to work on
for the next time around. "Lemons" is an interesting case study - it
operates as a pleasant acoustic-guitar-and-vocals folk song until just
after the two minute mark, when drums and electric guitar enter the
mix in an inexplicably ugly gearshift. The transparently overdubbed
drums and guitar clash with the existing composition, leading to a
confusing transition that would make Lost Highway proud.
However, many things are also done well on Alas, Not Us. "Fresh
Meat & Fruit" brandishes an unusual melody, but makes for a tasty
folk-pop nugget that could double for a Palace project.
Meanwhile, "Construct an Atlas" is a percussion-less slab of slowed
rock, while intricate "Minister" boasts a uniquely ductile song
structure, although a stronger voice would have made its two (well
written) climaxes sound much better.
In the end, Alas, Not Us is an interesting work of pop music
that occasionally sounds a little half-baked. It almost sounds as if,
no longer surrounded by band members, Nate McDermott found
himself overwhelmed by duties. As it stands, this
album shows plenty of promise, and is actually quite enjoyable,
but Meanings still seems like a work in progress.
[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by