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Numbered Days is the second album of luminous, infectious noise-pop by Los Angeles' The Meeting Places. It is an all new mix in 2020 by Monte Vallier with the inclusion of a live favorite Millions. On their sophomore record the quartet has written ten new songs that craftily combine melodic indie-pop with the tremulous soundscapes first explored on their debut Find Yourself Along The Way (Words On Music, 2003). Numbered Days was recorded at The Ship by Jim Fairchild (Grandaddy, Earlimart).
The Meeting Places' renowned mastery of noise-pop shines through in the gorgeous melodies of "Until It's Gone" and in the blistering, darker guitar work of "Sink Into Stone" — two songs on different ends of the lyrical and sonic spectrum in which singer Chase Harris delves into changes in his family life.
Harris' vocal delivery serves as a refreshing counterpoint to the egocentric formula calculated by most singers on the scene today. The Meeting Places' more egalitarian approach to their art provides Harris with a forum to make subtler points with his lyrics, the impact of which may be dulled in the moment, but deepened over time. For example, on "Pause," the music has a deceptively relaxed cadence — resurrecting "Sister of Europe"-era Psychedelic Furs — that temporarily cloaks the intensity of Harris' narrative of a relationship deteriorating into autopilot.
The inclusion of resonating atmospherics is, for The Meeting Places, never an end itself, only a means to an end. Instead of droning into nothingness, shimmering coats of reverb anchor the songs to set up the delivery of a well-placed hook or a knockout punch of a chorus, such as in the boisterous, pulsating "Nothing's The Same" or the catchy, upbeat "Hall of Fame."
The cunning implementation of dynamics and sundry instruments (e.g. piano, glockenspiel), showcase The Meeting Places' songwriting talents, as in the album closer "Cardboard Robot" which alternates between a calm, unwavering verse and a searing chorus that detours into early My Bloody Valentine and kraut-rock: both pieces stitched together seamlessly by Arthur Chan's melodic basslines.
Scott McDonald's howling guitar melodies sometimes take their cues from Eastern music ("Love Like The Movies," "Numbered Days," "Pause"), imposing order and form to the reverberating ambience that lurks beneath the surface. Dean Yoshihara's relentless drumming fastens the music to rhythms that help to broker an immediate relationship between the listener and the band.
With ten songs clocking in at thirty-three minutes, Numbered Days evokes a leaner, more urgent approach to songwriting, in the spirit of The Jesus and Mary Chain's Darklands or The Shins' Oh, Inverted World. Compositions judiciously weave together from start to finish with a proportionality rarely found in an age whose digital format tends to bloat records by the inclusion of filler.
The Meeting Places was founded in September 2001 in Los Angeles, California by four guitarists: Scott McDonald, Chase Harris, Dean Yoshihara, and Arthur Chan. Having a shared interest in music, the three guitarists later decided to rehearse and after a few practices they recruited Yoshihara, a college friend of Harris' at the University of Arizona, to play drums. Chan then switched to bass while singer and lyricist Harris remained on rhythm guitar. Original compositions started to develop immediately — "Wide Awake," "Where You Go," and "See Through You" were the first songs written by the group.
While McDonald became the architect of the quartet's signature reverberating washes, each member contributed to the songwriting process on their debut album.