Sunday, February 24, 2008
It has been a great six months for new releases from Greensboro bands, and The Meeting After The Meeting by a band called Citified, gives us proof that the best is always yet to come. Just released on Eskimo Kiss Records, Meeting is a collection of seven songs each tremendously beautiful and written by singer/songwriter Chris Jackson, who recorded the group’s last record in 2005 pretty much all on his own, recording all the instruments and using drum machines for his rhythm section. While that was a refreshingly listenable and gorgeous record from beginning to end, The Meeting After The Meeting improves upon the band’s original vision by leaps and bounds, with live instrumentation from each member, guitarist Franklin Kane, drummer Eric Ussery, and bassist Diego Diaz, giving the record the bonus of the full band sound. One can tell each member’s musical vision makes this record in better an improvement in every way. With seven songs, the record is over before you know what hit you, and leaves you wanting more and more.
Combining influences from R.E.M., The National, Ride, to Echo and the Bunnymen, Citified clearly have a love for the melancholy and the autumnal in their music. The first line of the first song entitled “Weddings”, gets to the point pretty quickly. “Open bar/Means I’m safe.” Citified are probably not the first band to suggest the only good thing about weddings is the free booze to warm your own loneliness as a pensive indie rock musician, yet the honesty rings true and continues throughout the record. The high end melodic guitar lines present over Jackson’s voice are drenched in reverb and delay pedals, making the listener feel as if they are floating in a sea of fantastic guitar tone. Many critics have pegged Citified as a Shoegaze band, a term coined by a British music journalist who observed that this style of spacey, reverb drenched music required so many effects pedals, that the musicians spent the entire time looking at the floor for which pedal they had to press next, standing motionless and captured by the music.
British Bands such as Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, and Ride were some of the frontrunners of this musical movement, and their influence seeps through every pore of this record. The swirling guitar lines of the song “Read Like A Number” calls to mind the sound of another British band, who go by the name Radiohead. The reflective melancholy present in each song seems to give voice to small town-anxiety, the feelings that come from living in a place where everybody seems to know everybody, and the same few people occupy the same bars night after night. If anything, this record comes off as a soundtrack to Greensboro life in the cold winter months.
Most of the songs clock in under the four minute mark, and with only seven songs, each one ends somewhat abruptly. The restraint and structure present in each song show a sense of discipline lacking with many bands today. The strength here is songwriting, and the band’s ability to transpose that strength into something real and powerful, on a full band scale, is truly awe inspiring. They don’t overdo it, they know exactly when to quit, so as to leave you wanting more rather than bored and looking at the clock. They fill their songs with tasteful and beautiful parts without being too busy, leaving plenty of room for the listener’s mind to fill in the rest with their own nostalgia and memories. This is certainly a perfect record for the end of winter, a reflective album that may help you gain enough perspective to move forward into the spring. Once you’re done with your first listen, don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to it again and again. Citified are playing in Greensboro several shows around North Carolina in the coming months, so be sure to catch them whenever you can. http://www.myspace.com/citified.