Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mineral - "End Serenading"

This album was released long before all-ages venues were drawing 400+ kids...long before "independent" record companies had been purchased by Red/Sony...long before the internet truly had an influence in selling, and marketing records. "End Serenading" came with little fanfare in the summer of 1998 on Crank records. No EPK's (that's electronic press kits for those of you living under a rock) myspace banner ads (myspace is the not-as-cool step brother of facebook for those of you living under a rock)...none of the modern marketing tools that are crucial to an album "launch. Mineral had already released one full length ("The Power of Failing") and had numerous songs on compilations and 7" singles...but this album, for me, was their masterpiece.

Mineral had been given the "emo" tag long before Spin magazine started referring to Weezer as "emo". The tag...a tag which would become somewhat of an albatross a mere 5 years later, was perfect at the time. Mineral had always blended moving music with gut-wrenching lyrics...a full-blown emotional exorcism that was never lacking in sincerity. It was that sincerity, and honesty, that drew me to them in the first place, and it was that same formula, magnified by 1000 on "End Serenading", that made this album one of my top albums of all time. The music was never "heavy" but always had the perfect mixture of intricate guitars woven into a dynamic swell of changing tempos and loud/soft dynamics. It was that dynamic quality that would lend itself to lyrics about restored faith, love, and loss. The lyrics were honest and simple...and the phrasing slid through music sections in a way that I have yet to hear recreated (outside of other Chris Simpson projects like The Gloria Record and Zookeeper). Simpson (vocals/guitar) would sing "Ivadell I held you in my thoughts that day...And wish that they were arms when you were frail...And passing from this place" on "For Ivadell"...a song that began with a memory of a loved one...and ends with anther memory of their passing. Never too wordy...never a case of "shock and awe" juvenellia...just an honest snapshot of how a person feels. True emotion. "End Serenading" mixed the driving songs like "For Ivadell" and "Serenading", with slow-building epics like "Palisades" and "Sounds Like Sunday". A 10 track passion-rollercoaster full of vivid imagery...10 pictures of a blessed life, regardless of circumstance. It was song after song that I could relate after song that reminded me that life is a series of photos or snapshots... snapshots that Simpson, and Mineral, brought to life.

As I listen to this album while I write this I'm transported back to a time when bands actually had something to say...and conveyed that sentiment with true passion. Bands like Mineral are missed (and in my opinion never received the credit they deserved)...and many bands that were peers of theirs at the time (SunnyDayRealEstate, JimmyEatWorld, Boys Life, Christie Front Drive) did their part to make music like this something special. Call it "emo" it "rock" it whatever you want. It was music before girls-jeans and neon tshirts were more important than substance. A time when bands like Mineral would pour out loads of feeling in front of 20 kids at an all-ages show and not care about the product in their hair or how many "friends" they had on facebook. Those times are missed...

Buy this record...thank me later.

When I was a boy I saw things
That no one else could see
So why am I so blind at twenty-two
To the hope that is all around me
Filling up this room

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