Outside their rehearsal space, Mean Creek are standing with their hands in their pockets, excited to dig into some discussion about their anticipated new record, Youth Companion. Officially out October 16 on Old Flame Records, and technically their second full-length album, Youth Companion comes after last year's self-funded Hemophiliac EP — a consolation prize wrought with disappointment from the temporay loss of label funding. Now back on their feet with a killer record packed with explosive folk-rock that channels a love for '80s British post-punk, drummer Mikey Holland, bassist Erik Wormwood, and guitarists/vocalists Chris Keene and Aurore Ounjian stand in this Allston industrial alley ready to answer questions.
"I feel like this is our first record in a lot of ways — we found our sound on it," says Keene of Youth Companion, a title that gives clues to both the album's late-adolescent emotional rawness as well as to the halcyon soundtracks of its creators' memories. It's the sound of a collective set of remarkable talents — from Holland's lyrical drumming to Keene's impassioned, Bryan Ferry-esque voice — all brought together in a cohesive whole. Album-opener "Do You Know?" is delivered with so much force and intensity that it seems impossible that it's only about love. The frustration is there too. As the quartet drives along past the refrain, you realize that this song has no chorus because it simply doesn't need one. "[Producer] Chris McLaughlin called it the 'anti-chorus,' " jokes Keene, recounting how six months of practicing four days a week resulted in a record created in just a few inspired weeks with McLaughlin at 1867 Recording Studio. "The point of that song was to be brain-dead simple, like a Ramones song," Keene adds.
Simplicity, risks, and spirit are all touchstones that helped guide Youth Companion. It's not just the rockers that bear the fruit, but the ballads, too — such as the first-love tale "Indian Summer" and "The Reason Why," which highlights Ounjian's gossamer vocal work. "I like it when they are strange and unorthodox and maybe don't fit in perfectly," she says of her off-kilter, but astute, harmony lines. "It only makes it that much more beautiful and interesting."
Having now been together for six years, Mean Creek are suddenly Boston music-scene veterans. This is a city that's not always kind to those who add a little rust to their carriages, but for the bandmates, the frustrating years of grinding it out on the outskirts of national recognition have driven them to their best work yet. Whether or not Youth Companion feels like a reboot, the songs contain enough whomp and purity to wipe the slate clean.
MEAN CREEK + MOE POPE AND QUILLS + YOU WON’T + DJ MICHAEL V | Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | October 11 @ 8 pm | 18+ | $12 | 617.779.0140 or brightonmusichall.com
: Music Features
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