The Mesmerisers - Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers (Citadel)
This is a return to the record store racks (those that are left) for Mick Medew and one that's well overdue. His regular band The Rumours are still a going concern and this was conceived as a solo side project, but grew into a full-blown, plugged-in album with a new band. "The Mesmerisers" is a superbly rounded record.
There's a touch of country rock running through some of these tunes but Mick still rocks out when he wants. The attack isn't as direct as his other band, The Rumours, and there's a move towards lusher and more layered arrangements but fans of the man's work down the years will lap this up. A few of the songs have been woodshedded for a very long time but they all sound as fresh as if written yesterday.
There's a distinct chemistry at work with the players Medew has assembled. Fellow Brisbane scene veteran Brian Mann (The Girlies, Ed Kuepper, Screaming Tribesmen) played bass and engineered and produced. Mick played all the guitars with Leah Dent on drums on all but one track (where Rumours stickman Chris Dixon was co-opted.) Mel Fraser plays bass in the live band with Mann moving to guitar.
These are songs with a big degree of emotional investment by the writers (there are co-writes with Meera Atkinson and Screamfeeder's Phil Ballantyne) and you'll do well to also envelope yourself in them. Mick's vocals are on the money throughout. "Broken Hearted Blues" kicks off the record with a hint of dissonance before opening into widescreen, atmospheric blues.
"On Fire" recalls the If you're looking for straight-up rock, "Dream On The Slide" is the cut to seek out with Medew's focussed guitar-work a stand-out. There's some more dazzling work on "Been Here Before", the mid-tempo song that closes the album.
"The Mesmerisers" is a grown-up record. In a fair and just world, "On Fire" would be pushing sterile crap off the mainstream radio airwaves and bringing back The Big Chorus and lyrical guitar. "Making Goodtimes" especially recalls some of the measured moments on "Bones and Flowers", the debut Screaming Tribesmen album.
Brian Mann's production imbues the album with a layered but wide-open sound. You could hear these songs making it to the soundtrack of a movie. It's music not easily pigeon-holed and a reminder that Mick Medew is one of the best songwriters in the country.