Burgess Meredith: Banana Moon

As much as I enjoyed the Zoltars’ release that Dan reviewed yesterday, lo-fi recordings only do so much for me. I’ve been the recipient of many lectures from some of my more music-obsessed friends about the wonders of Guided By Voices and the Elephant 6 collective. I can appreciate what GBV or Pavement bring to the table, and I even like some lo-fi bands (Apples in Stereo, what what!), but when it comes to moving my soul, I’m more of the “teenage-symphony-to-God” school of thought. Nothing sounds better to me than crisp, clean, big production. From Phil Spector through Radiohead, it never ceases to amaze me what people can do with a studio. And now Burgess Meredith’s debut EP is getting lumped into that group.

Banana Moon is big. It’s huge. And you can hear this right from the very start. “Me As in You,” which is one of my favorite songs of the year out of Austin so far, starts off with some staccato keyboard chords and a minimal drumbeat (and a muffled spoken word sample) before exploding at the 15-second mark in a tangled fury of voices and keyboards. It’s an overwhelming and unexpected moment that presages an album filled with huge harmonies and subtle studio flourishes. Danny Reisch – the drummer and producer – again proves himself a studio master over the course of this record, and it makes for an utterly engaging listen.

Burgess Meredith - 'Me As In You'

None of that would matter (well, some of it would matter) if the songs weren’t damn good. The Burgess Meredith press bio describes them as being “rooted in 1960s rock and roll” and it’s disarmingly accurate. It would be easy for me to just say that this is another throwback oldies band, but they merely take their cues from that time period. There’s the rollicking piano-driven “Routes and Rockets,” the Chuck Berry guitar of “The Big Deal,” and the tender ballad “The Other Room.” All of them rely on the 60s pop-rock formula, but are clearly born of this era. The arrangements and dynamic range on the tracks just seem to go further than their stylistic predecessors, and the vocal harmonies from three fantastic singers are pristine.

Banana Moon just sounds like a blast. It’s probably appropriate, then, that Burgess Meredith’s next Austin gig is this Sunday, April 29th at the 60s Beach Party at the Mohawk. I recommend checking them out, and definitely picking up this record. This group of musicians know what they’re doing in the studio and out, and you will not be disappointed.

– Carter