Reviews

(EM)


(EM) will be releasing his next album Turbine Regalia this Friday, 23rd April. The album sees Mead invite the listener along for the ride on his road to recovery from depression and addiction, and provides a raw glimpse into the many highs and lows the healing process can entail. 

MEET (EM) is the solo moniker of recording artist Eddie Mead, who delivers introspective garage punk from the cold woods of Wisconsin. He is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer, among other creative capabilities. He has been playing and writing music for nearly two decades. While Eddie has went by (EM) when sharing recordings for close to ten years now, it wasn’t until the very beginning of 2020, with the release of his first actual album ‘dumb decades, dumb centuries’ , that the name was used officially for his solo work. The music he makes presently as (EM) builds on years of experience from his time spent in a wide variety of local bands, recording projects, and other musical endeavors. As leader of the bands Backer, Mercer, and Wisher (all three now defunct), Eddie’s songwriting and performing ability were able to flourish particularly.

Now, embracing solitude and isolation, he has assumed full creative control and harnesses it to translate the noise in his head into songs to share with the world. It has already led to a prolific output, with four full-length albums having been released in 2020. The over three dozen songs they contain are both the product and document of a still ongoing quarantine (they are a silver lining of a year spent in seclusion). The records are a great introduction to the ever-changing musical world of (EM). Each improves upon the one before it, in songwriting, variety, recording quality, and all else. (EM)’s creations have quite quickly matured into a consistent sound, distinct and full of little surprises.

In writing music, Eddie finds his main emotional outlet. Lyrically, he examines isolation, nostalgia, dreams, memories, mental illness, substance abuse, addiction, and the struggles of recovery. He sings sad songs for the apocalypse. His words are sometimes stream of consciousness, or taken from the pages of his journals, and can be influenced by the works of Kurt Vonnegut, T.S. Eliot, and Beat Generation authors. He hopes listeners might relate to the issues discussed in his lyrics and find comfort or inspiration.

Musically, (EM) blends together a strange hybrid of lo-fi garage rock/shoegaze-sludgepop with elements of folk and hints of psychedelia. All of his music is self-recorded and produced in bedrooms, attics, and garages around the lonesome towns of Wisconsin. The solitary, stubbornly self-reliant approach he takes towards musicmaking results in idiosyncratic lo-fi tunes with a special, friendly homemade quality. However, they retain a depth and density in their mixes that is distinguishable. His songs have a balance of intricate, layered guitar work and dreamy, textured noise. They can feature cut-up beats and odd patterns of disfigured sounds. There might be instruments stacked until they blend into an ambient wave, manipulated melodies spliced together until unrecognizable, and collages of noise that form strange machine-like sounds.

Small bits of unusual editing like this appear often in (EM)’s songs, weaving in and out of the music, somewhat hidden, to add texture. It makes his music more worthy of being revisited, for the possibility of noticing pieces that may have been missed on the first listen. The detailed mixing and production of his tunes gives them a surreal feel, one of many qualities that define the uniqueness of (EM)’s music. That slightly offkilter aspect contributes to maintaining a steady atmosphere from beginning to end of each release. When listening to an (EM) album, you are pulled into a private world to explore until its existence ends with the final song. This, and the lyrics’ unfiltered, confessional quality, helps listeners imagine seeing the songs being recorded, and the dimly lit rooms it took place in.

(EM)’s tunes sound unlike many of his contemporaries’ , yet hold a strange familiarity. They are like the distant hazy memories that fall into our minds sometimes, details scattered, seeming almost as if they were only ever dreams. His music style has been classified in many ways, including punk, garage rock, shoegaze, post-punk, indie rock, lo-fi, bedroom pop, psychedelia, folk rock, grunge, and plenty of other niche genres. Amongst his many influences are Bob Dylan, Guided By Voices, Television, Nick Drake, Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine, Mission of Burma, Big Star, The Cure, The Replacements, and much more.

His music combines these styles, expands on them, streams seamlessly from one to another, and even a single song may make multiple sudden turns. Not only that, but most importantly, it transcends those many genres and lives in a little space of its own. (EM)’s music can be difficult to define but is easy to understand. It pushes on the boundaries and expectations of what music of its kind sounds like, but does not alienate listeners.

(EM)’s prolific output continues, with multiple releases planned for 2021. The first is ‘turbine regalia’ , an exploration of living life with mental illness, addiction, and the constant ups and downs of recovery. It shows a new side of Eddie, through both its music and lyrics. He is very excited for it to be heard.

(EM) – mortality disco

(EM) – open letter

(EM) links:
Band/Artist location – Appleton, Wisconsin
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