Mecca Normal – “Brave New Waves Session” (2019)

I recently picked up a copy of Mecca Normal’s Calico Kills The Cat and was impressed, so when I saw that Artoffact was putting out a long-lost live session from 1996 I knew I’d need to check it out.

Right from the first needle drop Jean Smith is simmering with anger and grit, challenging the audience as if to say, “I’m not here to sing sweetly for you. You will LISTEN to what I have to say!” Musically things are very straight-forward, setting the pace and providing the platform for Smith’s lyrics, the drumming a pulse and the guitar capturing the changing mood and flow. The vocal don’t so much follow the beat or any standard cadence, instead flowing organically in an almost stream-of-consciousness way. It’s a risky approach and one that can come across as sloppy or lazy if you’re not careful, but Smith pulls it off perfectly with complete confidence.

The sound quality is tremendous, as you’d expect for something recorded by CBC for broadcast. You can stream it and/or buy a vinyl copy on Bandcamp HERE, so if you’re Jonesing for something you haven’t heard before with an honest riot grrrl vibe, go check it out.

Mecca Normal – “Calico Kills The Cat” (1988)

One woman said,
“I don’t like the way things are going.”
One woman said,
“I think I’ll change it all.”
— “One Woman”

This encapsulates the Riot Grrrl dream. The Riot Grrrls didn’t get there, because society moves slowly, like a glacier. But it was a step in the right direction. Today we have #MeToo. We’re continuing to make progress. It’s just sad that after this many years we still have so far to go.

Mecca Normal were a duo from Vancouver, BC, and their sophomore album Calico Kills The Cat was released on Olympia, Washington’s forward-thinking label K Records. I’m not sure I can truly say that Mecca Normal remind me of anyone else. The songs are simple – David Lester on guitar and Jean Smith doing vocals. That’s basically it. You don’t even notice the true simplicity of their sound until you focus on it, because you’re so focused on Smith’s forceful and agitated singing.

Their songs are forceful and message-driven. There’s an honesty here that runs deep. And I like everything about it.