steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"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' atmospheres nicely.

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.

meanings' myspace


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2008]