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The Art of David Lester

April 22, 2017

Normal History: The Art of David Lester our weekly column, a collaboration for Magnet Magazine. Illustrations by David Lester with  captions that can turn into short stories by Jean Smith. Every week a  Mecca Normal song to hear or download.

Opening for The Julie Ruin

More Mecca Normal videos and photos from the three shows we played with The Julie Ruin in October, 2016.

Feminist Punk in 33 Songs

Mecca Normal’s “Man Thinks Woman” (1987) made the cut with a great write-up by Douglas Wolk for Pitchfork’s story of feminist punk in 33 songs. Posted August 8, 2016.

“Mecca Normal break rules like they never noticed them in the first place. The Vancouver-based duo of singer Jean Smith and guitarist David Lester are anarchist-feminist activists and constant experimentalists, implying a rhythm section with negative space alone. Always an intense presence onstage, they’ve become the most tenacious of D.I.Y. road warriors, touring and recording for 32 years now. In the early ’90s, they popped up on most of the biggest American indie-rock labels (Sub Pop, K, Matador); by their 25th anniversary, they were on the road with a performance-and-lecture project called “How Art & Music Can Change the World.”

Smith’s lyrics often foreground her political perspective; their anthem “Man Thinks ‘Woman,’” released in 1987, started out as a barbed dissection of gender normativity: “Man thinks ‘woman’ when he talks to me/Something not quite right.” The song kept expanding its radius from there, encompassing both bitter poetics and a disarmingly funny account of a drunken makeout gone weird. Kathleen Hanna has cited Smith as an early inspiration: “When I saw her,” she told The Fader, “I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” – Douglas Wolk

“Man Thinks Woman” Super 8 film by David Lester

Oh%20Yes%20you%20Can!

“Oh Yes You Can!” 3 song 1987 K Records IPU 004

Artifacts from recent and related media

images

Shameless Magazine’s review of Jessica Hopper’s book “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic” is a conversation between Nyala Ali and Laura Friesen.

“Hopper’s section Females collects her reviews of female musicians who, in different ways, shake up listeners’ expectations of what women performers should represent.

SWF, 45: Mecca Normal’s The Observer” is an album review that reflects on The Observer as a confessional narrative, and how it plays with and against expectations of what a 45-year-old single white female should sing about.

Hopper does seem really interested in ideas surrounding women’s songwriting – I’d say that all of the artists in the Females section are invested in rewriting not only the content but the purpose of confessional narratives. St. Vincent consciously refuses to give us the whole story, whereas Jean Smith of Mecca Normal turns these stories on their heads to expose the vulnerabilities of the people she’s singing about, these deficient men that she’s met through online dating. I really appreciated that she didn’t really internalize any of their shit, so to speak.”

Kathleen

Postcard from Kathleen Hanna to David Lester, 1991

Excerpt from an article called Sisters Outsiders The Oral History of the Bikini Kill E.P. by Jessica Hopper in BBB Magazine (London, UK) 2013

Excerpt from a 2011 Spin Magazine article called Sisters Outsiders The Oral History of the Bikini Kill E.P. by Jessica Hopper

Record Store Day

Horses Records, Vancouver, B.C. on RSD 2015

Video by Wendy Atkinson

Video: Boating with Clyde

A fine time out on Lake Washington (near Seattle) in July of 2014 at the very start of a short Mecca Normal tour on the west coast.

Mecca Normal performed songs from the new album “Empathy for the Evil” and debuted “Anguish/Misogyny” which has grown in intensity since that day. It must be the only sitting down debut Mecca Normal has ever done!
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