Release Date: March 10th, 2017
Label: You’ve Changed Records
It is not easy to give a simple description of the style on ‘Memorial Ten Count’, given that it is an amalgam of indie, country/rock/folk, electric blues, garage, alt pop … and a whole host of others. But if you think that means the album is an uneven hodgepodge then think again. For McKiel never loses his sense of himself as a musician, so all of his influences simply get subsumed. He uses the phrases of others but the language is all his own.
To assist in his communication McKiel has recruited some impressive company this time out, with Joyfultalk’s Jay Crocker and Shawn Dicey (on guitars and bass, respectively) and Aaron Mangle (of Cousins) on drums. The four musicians bring a lunch-bucket, “no-nonsense” approach, resulting in music that is solid and uncomplicated. But an uncomplicated delivery does not necessarily mean the content is conventional or stock. For one thing, McKiel’s melodies and song structures are never predictable. In “High Five (Living a Lie)” the track starts out with a kind of garage boogie feel but then gets artsy as McKiel mesmerizes us with repeated vocal passages. “Conduit” suggests Beatles’ vocal stylings, yet the song is downright mathy. “Turf Wars” may take the cake, however, as McKiel delivers weird lines like, “Can I borrow a cup of your sugar, later tonight? And maybe some of your tears, and possibly some of your blood” then gives an evil laugh.
Despite the relative rawness of the performances, ‘Memorial Ten Count’ is so welled performed and engineered that you could appreciate it for the production quality alone. But there is so much more to McKiel’s artistry to be appreciated here. Whether he is telling you a tale around the campfire that starts off neo-yacht and ends up noise pop (“Still Remain”) or baking your peyote-fuelled head in the desert heat (“Jewel in the Sun”) the Maritimer commands your attention in every song, and rewards you accordingly.