Normal History Vol. 466: 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.

Cripes. If Cobain was still around, even he might agree that the most important thing that came out of the grunge era was riot grrrl.

“Echo” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Premiere Of 3hattrio’s “War”

On February 23, 3hattrio will issue Lord Of The Desert, a 13-track album of what the Utah trio has come to call “American desert music.” Well, they hit the nail right on the head with that description, a Southwest-inspired fusion of folk, psych and chamber-esque music that’s both timeless and timely. Lord Of The Desert is the third LP from the band—seasoned vets Hal Cannon (banjo) and Greg Istock (bass) and youngster Eli Wrankle (violin)—and its noir-ish sounds are made even more trancey and otherworldy with the addition of some adventurous Autotuned vocals. We’re proud to premiere album track “War” today on magnetmagazine.com. Says the somewhat-mysterious Istock of the track, “Is it inevitable that the human species talk about, think about or prepare for and engage in war.” Well, we’ll pretend to understand exactly what he’s talking about if he and his bandmates keep making music this fascinatingly original. Download and/or stream “War” below, and catch 3hattrio live around the Southwest next month.

“War” (download):

Normal History Vol. 465: 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.

One could make a case that riot grrrl’s original influence appeared to taper off only to surge again as a sort of macro-nostalgia 20 years after its inception. Now, around the 25-year mark, riot grrrl’s powerful history begins to look both fluid and cyclical. Who saw Pussy Riot (founded in 2011, inspired by riot grrrl) on the horizon? Who imagined that Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile) would record a relaxed interview with Ana Da Silva (the Raincoats) about influence and inspiration all these years later? Let’s say Mick interviewed Paul 20 years after the fact. What the hell would they talk about? This note. That chord. Record sales. Ana’s conversation with Allison effectively connects two revolutionary eras of populist uprising. Never mind that it’s also feminist history!

“More More More” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

Normal History Vol. 464: 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.

Even though I frequently encouraged women in the audience to start bands with their friends, we had no idea that an identifiable social movement of young women would rise up and connect us to their activities. That Mecca Normal was far enough along in its evolution to be releasing a compilation album of singles (Jarred Up, 1993), added to the fact that Dave and I were 34 and 33, respectively, by this point, it seemed like our trajectory had already transpired in terms of success—something I spoke to Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Sex Stains and the new podcast I’m In The Band) about way back in 2009, when riot grrrl seemed totally off the radar, in the distant past.

“From The Surface” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

Normal History Vol. 463: 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.

As a group that set out to change the world—in equal parts by our sound, our words and our configuration—reaction has always been of significant interest to Mecca Normal. In the beginning, I suppose we thought our worth and viability would be articulated back to us through reviews—and, to a degree, they were, but it was surprisingly polarized. While we were busy assessing this love/hate dichotomy, something happened that we hadn’t imagined. A bona fide social movement was forming around Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, who we met at some point on tour. In a 2009 interview, Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Sex Stains, Ex Stains) articulated the impact Mecca Normal had on her evolution.

“Upside Down Flames” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

Normal History Vol. 462: 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.

Narrow
She used to have smooth blonde hair
she still does
but it doesn’t matter any more

A man might think she’s singing
while she braids her hair
she is not
she braids her hair while she sings

A smile like a snake’s mouth
make a snake’s eyes narrow
mud dries on my skin
on the bank of this river

Born
don’t remember
I learned to hate
pulled Judy’s hair
I tried to stab the corsage into my heart

A smile like a turn in a wide wide river
mud dries on my skin
on the bank of this river

“Narrow” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

MP3 At 3PM: River Matthews

Today, we’d like to introduce you to one of our latest folk discoveries: River Matthews. Raised in the lovely city of Surrey, Matthews is an British singer/songwriter who spent his days using music to help build the self-esteem of special-needs children. Now, he’s taken his experiences and whipped up a gorgeous selection of songs for his debut LP, Imogen (Catherine/Nettwerk, February 16). Download and/or stream album track “Must Have Been Love” below.

“Must Have Been Love” (download):

MP3 At 3PM: Jodee Lewis

As popular country music keeps moving farther and farther away from its traditional Nashville roots, it’s always great to find that certain artist who brings the nostalgic sound back home. Here’s a Southern native (now living in Chicago) sure to knock your cowgirl boots off. Meet Jodee Lewis, a former small-town gal who used to spend her days runnin’ through the trees, buildin’ forts and dreamin’ of the future. Now, Lewis is off and captivating music lovers with her gorgeous melodies, as heard on the title track of sophomore album Buzzard’s Bluff (out April 6). With her awe-inspiring acoustic sound and rustic voice, get ready to fall in love with Lewis. Download and/or stream “Buzzard’s Bluff” now.

“Buzzard’s Bluff” (download):

MP3 At 3PM: Jared Saltiel

While you encounter the rather rampant blues that January has to offer, take some time today to let Jared Saltiel cure your sorrows. First coming onto the scene as the singer for rock quartet Dirty Birds, Brooklyn-based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Saltiel has emerged as the creator of soothing folk music. Below, we’ve shared his latest single, “The Fountain” (off Out Of Clay, out February 2), which features a lovely combination of harps and harmonies sure to lift you off your feet. Stream and/or download “The Fountain” below.

“The Fountain” (download):

Normal History Vol. 461: 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.

The way I’ve structured my painting business is part of what I consider a political art project that goes beyond individual pieces of work. I didn’t go looking for a gallery or try to enter the official art world, nor did I raise my prices when things got going sales-wise. In an attempt to swerve as much capitalism as possible, I used what I had at hand, which was Facebook, a community where I’d made connections with like-minded people.

It’s very much like what we did with Mecca Normal’s first record in 1986. We didn’t go looking for a record label because we wanted to do that part of it ourselves. Weirdly, Vancouver (which is on unceded Coast Salish territory) had a record-pressing plant. When we went in to watch them do the initial set-up, we were given the option of adding what was called inner groove writing. We had them write in “we live on Indian land” on one side and placed an order for 500 LPs, which we somehow crammed in my 1973 Toyota Corolla when they were ready. It was all a total thrill and the beginning of long friendships and social change, and I wouldn’t trade it for a traditional career in the music industry.

“Fan Of Sparks” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):