Greg Mendez / Trace Mountains / Thank You
Thursday, Nov. 30, 7:30-10pm
$15 Get tickets HEREThe Avalon Lounge
29 Church St
For Greg Mendez, reflection doesn’t mean a static image in a mirror, or even a face he recognizes. It’s more a kaleidoscopic mirage, where paths taken shapeshift with the prospect of paths untread, and the subconscious merges with the intentional. On his self-titled new album, the Philadelphia-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist investigates the shaky camera of memory, striving to carve out a collage that points to a truth. But there isn’t a regimented actuality here; instead, Mendez highlights the merit in many truths, and many lives, and how even the hardest truths can still contain some humor.
While this is technically Mendez’s third full-length album, his back catalog boasts an extensive range of EPs and live recordings. He’s a prolific and thoughtful songwriter, understanding the joy in impulse, and shying away from the clinical sheen of overproduction. 2017’s “¯_(ツ)_/¯” and 2020’s Cherry Hell garnered acclaim for their quiet, lo-fi urgency, exploring themes of addiction and heartbreak with an intentional, authentic haze, and it’s this approach that has solidified Mendez as a staple in the DIY community for years.
Greg Mendez was written in fragments, some stretching across more than a decade, with Mendez reworking old ideas and arrangements, and others blossoming much more recently. The weight of time––and perhaps the anxiety in running out of it––clouds the album, as Mendez prods at some painful experiences from his childhood and early adulthood. The common thread connecting the characters is their evident imperfections, and the various degrees of damage they cause, both knowingly and unknowingly. But where do we draw the line between a good person and a bad person? For Mendez, it’s never been that easy.
“There’s a lot of pretty bleak memories in the songs but one thing that I hope comes through is that nothing is ever fully dark,” he explains. While recognizing the severity of certain situations, Mendez is also careful to showcase the absurdity of our reality, and how that can often highlight a softness around the edges. Opener “Rev. John / Friend” begins with a cartoonish organ, like a sermon waiting to start, correlating with the album’s artwork: a Virgin Mary staring at Mendez’s name. It’s a smirk at the serious, where earnesty can still be encouraged, and the light and the dark can effortlessly co-exist.
Trace Mountains is the musical project of American indie rock musician Dave Benton. He has released 3 studio records since formally starting the band in 2018. First came A Partner to Lean On, then Lost in the Country and most recently, House of Confusion. Benton was formerly a member of the lo-fi band LVL UP.