The record I'm listening to right now, Jared Mees' If You Wanna Swim With the Sharks..., with its unashamed, unvarnished emotions and wordy proclamations of love and misery, should really be heard by all the teenagers out there being force-fed whatever Clear Channel is playlisting these days. It's in the same universe, but stripped of the sneer and ugliness, full of hooks and charm and hope. You can sing along.
It's a good listen no matter your age, but it helps to remember when the highs were a little higher, the lows lower. If you're willing to do that - if you can appreciate, say, Bright Eyes' Letting Off the Happiness without rolling your eyes - you'll be really glad you heard this. If You Wanna Swim With the Sharks... is a full of songs mixing highly palatable pop-punk and sincere and rambling indie-folk, with a wide-eyed exuberance not unlike what we've recently heard on Tilly & the Wall's records.
Listen to "Loboito": "as your holiday crescendo begins/it's like when christmas came a thousand times each year/once on the 25th, the rest when she was near/and you could lose yourself in all the coke and beer". It's a fist-pumping anthem, in its own small way. Album opener "Suicide Squeeze" is folkier but in the same emotional vein; poetry girls, exploding stars, and the like. This could be terrible, but the close-miked male-female vocals, and a snaky low-key melody full of tiny refrains, saves the day and makes this a wallow worth sinking in to.
Mees will be playing a CD release show along with Leigh Marble, Ross and the Hellpets, and Hush Records' Reclinerland February 3rd at Portland's White Eagle Saloon. You can buy the album and hear a few more songs here.
MP3: Jared Mees - Suicide Squeeze
MP3: Jared Mees - Loboito