It’s rare to find a band with such a lengthy career who have manged to stick to their ideals and beliefs so rigidly like Mecca Normal has managed to. Mecca Normal are an alternative two piece from Vancouver, Canada, made up of Jean Smith, vocals, and David Lester, guitar. The band formed in 1984 and were known for Lester’s melodic, swirling guitar parts and Smith’s feminist themed lyrics. The band are still going and are set to record a new album in November 2012.
Over the years the released 12 albums and helped to capture the diy ethos of the riot grrrl era. As with all Random Selection posts, you won’t remember many as there haven’t been many, I’ll listen to three tracks from the artist in question and form an opinion on them.
The first song I listened to was ‘Throw Silver’ from the 1992 album, released on K Records, Dovetail. Smith’s voice has a element of Patti Smith in there with with hints of a more subdued Kristin Hersh. Lester’s guitar leaps and writhes making the folk tinged riffs even more delightful.
The next is ‘Man Thinks Woman’ from 1987’s Oh Yes You Can!, which is a sparse number, like all Mecca Normal tracks, which sees Smith detail her thoughts on misogyny and how the male gaze affects women. There’s something quite discerning, but also enjoyable, about just how sparse yet full this song is. It sounds like a demo that was found in an old shoebox in the attic. It’s grainy and only features vocals and guitar but it works. Somehow it works and works well.
The final song is ‘Walk Alone’ from their 1986 self titled release. Smith’s declaration, “I walk alone / I’m not alone” seems to be both a battle cry of independence and a cry for help.
Mecca Normal are one of those bands that despite having an enormous back catalogue that still stands the test of time have somehow disappeared, though worldwide recognition does not seem to be something that Mecca Normal would have welcomed. Despite not being known but many they are still releasing the music they want to make, the way they wanna make it and that’s something even Madonna would envy.