Release Date: Jan 28, 2014
Record label: Ashmont Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Relocating from his native Glasgow to Toronto in 2012, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake discovered he was a near neighbour of Joe Pernice of The Pernice Brothers. Bonding over a shared love of The Byrds and The Hollies, and joined by Mike Belisky of The Sadies on drums, a gloriously uplifting harmony-infested pop trio was born. After a few feet-finding low-key shows in Canada and the 2013 EP Australia, The New Medicants announce their full-scaled arrival with a collection of songs that, while echoing with the sonic beauty of their bygone heroes, stands boldly as a very modern, very “now” proposition.
Some pairings make perfect sense right from the start. When Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers) announced in 2013 that they had started a new band together, fans of classic, harmony-driven guitar pop recognized a winning formula. Arriving in early 2014, the New Mendicants' debut LP Into the Lime contains all of the classy songcraft, jangling guitars, and big harmonies fans expected and it almost comes as a relief that the two beloved songsmiths didn't use this project as a platform for some other sort of wild artistic experimentation.
The New Mendicants is a project from Joe Pernice, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, and the Sadies’ drummer Mike Belitsky. Their first offering came last year in the mostly acoustic, understated but solid Australia 2013 EP. But that collection could not have predicted the lush, excellent pop songs that comprise Into the Lime, the band’s first full-length.
Formed in Canada, but not entirely Canadian, The New Mendicants is a happy coming together of circumstance that found Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Joe Pernice and Mike Belisky (Pernice Brothers/The Sadies) within spitting distance of each other. For the mathematically minded, a mere 33% of the band is actually Canadian. Not that place really matters a jot in this particular instance, because musically The New Mendicants trade in the kind of jangly indie pop that could easily come from just about anywhere The Beatles’ albums are freely available.
You don't have to be a genius to guess what a collaboration between Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys, Pernice Brothers) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) is going to sound like. Might there be ringing guitars? There very well might be. Could there be an undertow of melancholy? Indeed. And will there be harmonies on the choruses? Naturally.
So you were expecting what from The New Mendicants, the grouping of Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, Joe Pernice of The Pernice Brothers and The Sadies' drummer Mike Belisky? A techno album? An excursion into drum and bass? Speed Metal, perhaps? To complain about the predictability of jangling, chiming guitars, glorious harmonies and an iron grasp of joyous melodies so firm as to turn coal into diamonds in a matter of seconds is to grumble that the sun rises in the morning or that summer follows spring with a tedious regularity. Moreover, Into The Lime does much to dispel the received wisdom that side projects are little more than exercises in vanity wherein the cast off songs from the individual players' day jobs are given a new lease of life in order to satisfy egos while nursing the bruises of rejection. No, this a welcome shot of vitamin D in the cruellest month of the year where summer seems to be an eternity away while the filling of tax return forms only adds to the harshness of January.