Greg Mendez by Greg Mendez album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


Greg Mendez

Greg Mendez

We are revisiting some of our favourite albums of 2023

Greg Mendez, who has been playing the independent scene in Philadelphia since 2006, and came out with his first proper album in 2016, has just dropped an indie gem, (Greg Mendez,) that sounds like the bedroom folk that Elliott Smith was doing at the turn of the century. But as his songs deal with God, drugs, and the complexities of relationships, a better comparison might be Alex G.

Mendez’s album is melancholy and lo-fi, but his honest stories and warm production is inviting. The cover of the album encapsulates the feeling of the record: a saint rolling their eyes. Most of the songs deal with toxicity in one form or another, whether it’s from drug addiction, which he struggled with for many years, or relationships where they say they “don’t ever wanna see me again,” in one breath and “I love you and you’ll always be my friend,” in the next.

This plays out in metaphors on the album, like the second song on the album, “Shark’s Mouth,” where he sings in falsetto over somber, plucked guitar, “If you wanna be caught in some shark’s mouth / Spill a bucket of blood in the water.” It is an apt metaphor for someone releasing an album with his own name as the title, and the way people flock to (or exploit) people’s vulnerabilities. It is a vulnerable record, is probably one of the best things that I think that you could say about a record, I think. And this one certainly is that.

“I guess I just think that every love is complicated,” Mendez said in an interview with Stereogum magazine in tandem with his latest release. “You know, even one that is overwhelmingly good for your life. I feel like lately a lot of things are very cut and dry. Like, oh, this is good and this is toxic. And I just feel like in my experience everything is — I mean, a lot of times one is significantly more one thing than the other. But even in there, if you look further, it’s all in everything to varying degrees.”

This complexity plays out in songs, like “Cop Caller,” where an antagonistic relationship results in someone telling him to call the cops, but he can’t bring himself to do it. Like Alex G’s songs before him, the love is found in the subtle behavior and reactions of the songs’ characters, and an overwhelming search for some goodness or divinity in the mix in the songwriters’ work.

It’s an album of compelling subtlety in sound and story, and though the songs sound sad, as he’s said before about what he likes about songwriting, there are many emotional responses possible in each song. Despair, hope, embarrassment, solidarity, and the list goes on. There are some people who will not vibe with the lo-fi aspect of the album (he attempted to write it in the style of The Beach Boys to begin with, but scrapped the idea as time went on), but for anyone who has been in the indie scene from the 2000s to now, it is an epic example of the best in that genre of music. Perhaps Mendez will not just be a Philly musician, but a national treasure, soon.

Pre-order Greg Mendez by Greg Mendez HERE


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