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Mean Creek

The Sky (or the Underground)

(Old Flame; US: 13 Oct 2009; UK: Import)

Mean Creek shows an awful lot of poise on its second album, The Sky (or the Underground). Of those two titular destinations, the Boston band aims for the former and hits it dead on. The title track itself is a giant, tumbling rock song, with a cinematic buildup and crashing payoff, that sets up the rest of the album beautifully. These guys aren’t afraid of size or breadth of sound here, from the pounding chorus of “Face of the Earth” to the thick pastoral weave of “Light Into Dark”. Mean Creek can grind with a ferocious energy, or it can soar with an airy expanse, as over each song Chris Keene sings with bracing soul and range. What’s more, Mean Creek also manages to sound fresh without feeling like it left the old behind. The Sky (or the Underground) is a new and vital sound, but one with deep roots in American music, roots that sprout sounds up out of the cracks of E Street and weave through the halcyon days at the Rat before blooming, mature and fully-formed, in the here and now. Somewhere in the space between the sky and the underground sonically, this record is one built to last. Let’s hope the rest of the country discovers what those crowds in Boston already know: Mean Creek is the genuine article.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Mean Creek - "Light Into Dark" (Live at TT the Bear's)
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