NEW Live Album (1996)

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Mecca Normal live in Montreal, 1996
LP, CD, download (extra tracks on BandCamp)

Jean Smith – vocals
David Lester – guitar
Peter Jefferies – drums

Release: March 22, 2019

Irritated by the standard four-guys-on-stage scene in the early 1980s, Mecca Normal – Jean Smith and David Lester – formed their voice-and-guitar duo with one thing on their mind. Changing the world. Weirdly, they succeeded. Frequently cited as an inspiration to the co-founders of Riot Grrrl, Smith regularly spoke from the stage between songs in the 80s and 90s, encouraging women in the audience to form bands of their own, and a few key figures did just that. “Jean Smith was really poetic and had feminist ideas at the core of a lot of her songs and she wasn’t ashamed of it. And when I saw her, I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill (The Fader, 2010)

For a few years in the 90s, Vancouver’s Mecca Normal headlined (and sometimes sold out) shows on the west coast and in the Northeastern USA, yet, until now, there hasn’t been a live album. For a brief time in the mid-90s, New Zealander Peter Jefferies (Nocturnal Projections) was on drums. Known for the intensity of their live shows, this one borders on incendiary. Recorded at The Cabaret, a beautiful little theatre in Montréal, Québec on April 16, 1996 for later broadcast on CBC’s Brave New Waves, Smith’s unparalleled delivery of songs about injustice is viscerally enmeshed with Lester’s furious guitar. As for the drums… while there is wisdom in not allowing romantic partners in a band, that tension had been intensified after the couple in question started a new band (2 Foot Flame on Matador) while living in New Zealand. “Maybe it’s just me, but I figure the guitar and the drums are both trying to get the last word, while I felt I needed to elevate my performance to justify the drama,” Smith recently divulged about the show.

In 2016, Mecca Normal opened three shows for The Julie Ruin (Bikini Kill members) at which Kathleen Hanna said from the stage: “Their music is still as relevant as it was 25 years ago when I first saw them. It makes me happy that their music is still relevant because they’re doing it better than ever. And their new songs are so fucking great and hilarious.”

Jean and David’s incredible creative partnership continues, but its focus is currently visual art. Lester’s graphic novel about the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is out now, and Smith has sold over 600 of her ‘$100 USD brand’ paintings on FaceBook.

Mecca Normal’s long-running association with the CBC’s Brave New Waves included many interviews as well as songs recorded by Kevin Komoda at DNA Studios in Montréal. Mecca Normal’s Brave New Waves session is released on vinyl, CD, and digital formats. The digipak CD comes with a short interview with Brent Bambury, as well as bonus cuts from the CBC archive. Released on Toronto-based Artoffact Records.

ORDER / limited edition

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Limited edition 12″ vinyl on see-thru green wax with insert of Jean Smith’s $100 USD paintings

1. Water Cuts My Hands
2. Prize Arm
3. Don’t Shoot
4. Tower Island
5. Revival of Cruelty
6. The Dogs
7. Drive At / Peach-a-Vanilla
8. Ribbon
9. Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone
10. Armchairs Fit through Doorways
11. Are You Hungry Joe?

Limited edition digipak CD with bonus tracks
1. Water Cuts My Hands
2. Prize Arm
3. Don’t Shoot
4. Tower Island
5. Revival of Cruelty
6. The Dogs
7. Drive At / Peach-a-Vanilla
8. Ribbon
9. Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone
10. Armchairs Fit through Doorways
11. Are You Hungry Joe?
12. Crimson Dragnet
13. Brave New Waves CBC interview, 1986
14. You’ll Never Know
15. Black Star
16. Hideous
17. Alibi

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Patti photo
Peter Jefferies, Jean Smith, Patti Schmidt (Brave New Waves host), David Lester

David Lester, Jean Smith, Peter Jefferies
photo: Robert Karpa

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Live in Montréal 1996

23 years after the fact!  The only live album! Mecca Normal with Peter Jefferies on drums! Unlike most of the other albums in the Brave New Waves series, our session was recorded at a show and not in the CBC studios.

Available in early 2019 on CD // LP (fewer tracks) // BandCamp (Artoffact Records)

cover screengrab

CD

1. Water Cuts My Hands (5:09)
2. Prize Arm (1:41)
3. Don’t Shoot (3:23)
4. Tower Island (3:00)
5. Revival of Cruelty (2:12)
6. The Dogs (4:16)
7. Drive At / Peach-a-Vanilla (3:31)
8. Ribbon (5:28)
9. Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone (7:00)
10. Armchairs Fit through Doorways (4:28)
11. Are You Hungry Joe? (4:04)
12. Crimson Dragnet (5:00)
13. Mecca Normal, Brave New Waves CBC interview, 1986 (1:25)
14. You’ll Never Know (3:09)
15. Black Star (2:03)
16. Hideous (4:15)
17. Alibi (3:39)

Tracks 1-12 recorded live at The Cabaret in Montréal, Québec, April 16, 1996 for broadcast on CBC Brave New Waves.

Track 13 recorded at the CBC in Montréal with Brave New Waves host Brent Bambury in 1986.

Tracks 14-17 recorded by Kevin Komoda at DNA Studios in Montréal for a Mecca Normal Brave New Waves session with Patti Schmidt on September 21, 1993.

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Jean Smith’s $100 USD paintings (11 x 14″) on the LP insert and CD digipak interior

Mecca Normal poster Montreal, BNW, 1996

Rough mix. The song was originally released on a 7″ by K Records and then on the Jarred Up compilation, also on K Records.

Jean Smith – vocals
David Lester – guitar
Peter Jefferies – drums

October 2013

Later this month, David Lester’s graphic novel The Listener will be presented at Promoting Social Justice and belonging in the Classroom with Canadian Literature, a three day conference in Edmonton.

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Jean Smith is selling vintage clothing on Etsy at Total Score Vintage, CRAZY Mac’s, Estate Sale Vintage and Vintage 604. The 1940s blouse above (modeled and photographed by Jean) is at Estate Sale Vintage.

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Read the story behind the Mecca Normal song “Attraction is Ephemeral” on Smashpipe.

Jean Smith ILLO June 15, 2013 1000

Index of Jean Smith’s online dating stories and illustrations for Smashpipe.

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Mecca Normal The Observer is now in BandCamp.


Joyland Returns! at the Railway Club in Vancouver, June 9, 2013. Jean Smith reading “Odele’s Bath” – an excerpt from “The Black Dot Museum of Political Art” and a Mecca Normal song. Introduced by Kevin Chong.

New Mecca Normal – “Wasn’t Said” recorded by KRAMER at the Laundry Room in Miami Beach, November, 2012. KRAMER on organ. Video and photos by Jean Smith.

“Odele’s Bath” – live – Radio Active Records, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, November, 2012.