The Meeting Places: Find Yourself Along the Way (Words on Music, 2003)

by Brent

The Meeting Places Find Yourself Along the WayLovers of that early 90’s dream-pop sound (a la The Cocteau Twins) have a new band to embrace in The Meeting Places. With their dense wall-of-sound guitar textures and 4AD-influenced songwriting, The Meeting Places take the listener back to the glory days of shoegaze/dreampop. Featuring Scott McDonald (of Alison’s Halo and Brad Laner’s post-Medicine project, Amnesia), as well as other talented musicians, Find Yourself Along the Way is a delightful listen for both newcomers to and longtime fans of the dreampop sound.

Featuring the male vocals of Chase Harris buried under layers and layers of sound, Find Yourself Along the Way journeys much farther than this typical description of a dream-pop CD. What sets The Meeting Places apart from the multitude of bands in this subgenre is their ability to craft strongly written songs with well-defined balance and melodies that are accentuated (not overwhelmed) by sonic fireworks. In fact, Find Yourself Along the Way largely lacks the extended ethereal jams that are so prevalent in today’s dream/space pop scene. Instead, the band lets the songs run their course without overindulgence, allowing the melodies shine through. The restraint in songwriting, though, is offset with irreverent experimentation in the sounds used in the songs. Simply put, Find Yourself Along the Way features gorgeous washes of sound that beg for the listener to get lost in. Yet, the white noise never kills the listener’s ear…instead, it merely caresses and soothes. Listening to a song like “Same Lies as Yesterday” aptly contains both strengths of The Meeting Places: a catchy song coupled with a crazy (but beautiful) sonic carpet of guitars. Or is it guitars and keys? In fact, the sounds on songs such as this and “Take to the Sun” are so thick that it’s impossible at times to decipher just what instrument the sound is emanating from. Whatever instruments and pedals construct the sound is beside the point: the main point is that the thick (but never harsh) sounds of The Meeting Places are sensitively incorporated into the songs of Find Yourself Along the Way.

The Meeting Places, with this their debut CD, is one of remarkable poise and confidence. I’m impressed with their ability to seemingly effortlessly master the balance between songwriting and experimentation. This band knows how to harness their amazing brand of noise while letting the song guide the music. It shows that the band members have had experience playing with Alison’s Halo and Amnesia, for Find Yourself Along the Way comes across as a CD recorded by experts. The Meeting Places have accomplished no small feat in their marriage of songwriting and sound experimentation, and music fans would be wise to give Find Yourself Along the Way a listen. Quite recommended.

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