Normal History Vol. 483: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 34-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

A poster in the elevator at the hospital caught my eye. One can send a patient an email, and it will be delivered to them by the amazing staff! I had no idea!

Dear Mom (98 … 3 weeks in hospital),

I did not bring you grapes so you could throw them at the nurses.

Yours,
Jean

“Frozen Rain” from Sitting On Snaps (Matador, 1995) (download):

MP3 At 3PM: El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven is a post-rock duo from Stinson Beach, Calif., that’s set to release seventh album Banker’s Hill on August 10 via Topshelf. The music that guitarist/double-neck bassist Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogarty make together has been described as “meditation in motion,” and one thing’s for sure, it’s seriously authentic and original. Banker’s Hill marks the first time El Ten Eleven has worked with a producer—Sonny DiPerri (Animal Collective, Portugal. The Man, Dirty Projectors)—but as usual, all the music was generated solely by the duo, utilizing looping pedals, not computers. We’re happy to bring you album track “Phenomenal Problems” today. Stream and/or download it below.

“Phenomenal Problems” (download):

Normal History Vol. 482: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 34-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Mystery and secrecy seem very important in celebrity culture. As a band, Mecca Normal has always been very earnest and maybe even overly transparent about our motives. We’ve explained many things about why we do what we do, perhaps to our detriment. Then we look at someone like Jandek, and I don’t recall him explaining himself at all. He made a bunch of albums and took a bunch of photos that were on the same level of quality as his music and inadvertently(?) created intrigue. I’ve noticed that men seem very curious about other men’s lives. The art they make, their sexual conquests. When I see top-10 lists for literature, art or music made by men, it’s rare to see women represented. 

Is there a female equivalent to Jandek? Where a charming ineptitude and mystery swirl together to create cult status intrigue?

“Crimson Dragnet” from Sitting On Snaps (Matador, 1995) (download):

MP3 At 3PM: Elle Belle

Christopher Pappas (a.k.a. Elle Belle) is an L.A.-based composer who brings a new flare to your typical heartbreak anthems. Pappas speaks to his disappointment with America on new album No Signal, out June 29 via Little Record Company. In the past, he’s written music for NASA, composed for Broadway and created his own orchestral works. Obviously, Pappas is no stranger to telling stories through music, and No Signal showcases this special talent yet again. Stream and/or download album track “The Real World” below. It’s the perfect antidote to the poison emanating from our reality-TV president.

“The Real World” (download):

MP3 At 3PM: Alexander Biggs

Alexander Biggs brings emotion and hope together on his latest single, “Car Ride.” The Melbourne native gently and melodically sings atop layers of ethereal acoustic guitars and soothing synths, delivering a gorgeous, peaceful sound not unlike a slightly more experimental Bon Iver. Biggs has already had success with his two previous singles, “Out In The Dark” and “Tidal Wave,” which together have gathered more than two million streams on Spotify. This is a “Car Ride” you definitely want to call shotgun for.

MP3 At 3PM: Vamos

The Chicago-based Vamos just issued sophomore LP 1-2-3 (Maximum Pelt). After the rapid-fire release of two EPs and debut album Spiderbait, there’s been a three-year gap between full-lengths. 1-2-3, although finished in November 2016, was delayed after frontman Ryan Murphy broke both arms in a bike accident (our belated well-wishes, dude), but it’s worth the wait. The trio describes the LP as “a controlled descent into madness and mayhem,” though you can decide for yourself when you check out album track “Bathroom 54.” Stream and/or download it below.

“Bathroom 54” (Download):

Normal History Vol. 481: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 34-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

I believe most artists want their art to speak for itself without it requiring extraneous explanation. Men seem more likely to grant themselves this creative freedom, whereas women seem to end up defending their artistic viability in terms of whether what we create should be called art at all. Look out! Maybe it’s a craft or, god forbid, a hobby. Maybe a man helped us with it! Definitely, before we advance to any secondary stage in The Arts, we’re going to be asked about gender. Something men are rarely subjected to.

“So tell us Mr. Dickswing,” the interviewer says. “What’s it like being a male artist?”

“Something To Be Said” from Sitting On Snaps (Matador, 1995) (download):

MP3 At 3PM: James Rose

Los Angeles native James Rose is gearing up to release a new EP on July 27. Based on its title, you can guess what a lot of the five-track Lullabies To The Ocean was inspired by. While Roses’ songs have that sunny, California feel to them, they also speak to more consequential topics like existentialism and substance abuse. First single “Head For The Coast” is a perfect example of this dichotomy. Stream and/or download “Head For The Coast” below.

“Head For The Coast” (Download):

MP3 At 3PM: Eureka California

Eureka California has developed a lot since its inception in 2007. Growing from Jake Ward’s one-man bedroom project to a five-piece band to, finally, the dynamic duo—Ward and drummer Marie A. Uhler—we see today, the Athens, Ga.-based indie-rock outfit has got in the van and toured all over the U.S. and just released its fourth LP. Roadrunners (HHBTM) features an array of short, to-the-point, fuzz-pop songs (shortest: 1:08, longest: an epic 3:32) that, like past efforts, will hook you immediately. Of the 14 tracks on Roadrunners, “Threads” might be our favorite, and—eureka!—you can stream and/or download it below.

“Threads” (download):

Normal History Vol. 480: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 34-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Follow-up phone call with my dad (93) this morning after a long talk last night about how he’ll get to the hospital today to visit my mom (98). I registered him with HandyDart—public-transit short bus for otherly abled. I booked the trip, got the details and waited (semi-patiently for an hour) while he struggled to write everything down. I’ve seen what his notes look like, and it’s not too good.

Telephone number, account number, fare. Gong show.

So, this morning when I phone, he’s re-writing everything. The time, the automated 10-minute warning call, the fare ($2.85). We go over (and over and over and over) everything again.

I ask him if he has change for the fare, and he said he does.

“Good. You can even let the driver take it out of your hand if you want.”

“They’ll take a two-dollar bill won’t they?”

“There hasn’t been a Canadian two-dollar bill since the mid-’90s, Daddio.”

“Oh.”

“If it was me,” I say, “I’d give him $3 and forget about the 15 cents.”

“Have one yourself, chum,” he says, without missing a beat.

I laugh. “Go ahead and say that! Maybe he’ll get it about half way through the trip.”

“Vacant Night Sky” from Sitting On Snaps (Matador, 1995) (download):