"Tender Loving Empire is a media and arts collective / record label / comics imprint / consignment store / gallery / custom screenprinter / concert production house / general purveyor of things artistic based in beautiful Portland, OR."It's fitting then, that our first album review is on the TLE label. They like jewelry and music; we like jewelry and music. Only Good Thoughts Can Stay is the third release from Jared Mees & the Grown Children and it's the first I've heard. I only wish I'd discovered them sooner. The album is solid. It's honest. It's fun. It's nostalgic. It's about getting through some tough spots along the road without moping or slapping on a smile speeding through them. It's about love. And it's full of hooks, full, lively arrangements, group singing, and energy. It's a really nice listen. The album is earnest and raw. Guitar, bass, and drums drive much of the album, an energetic foundation for nostalgic string arrangements, big happy group singing, and ska horns. The tunes are interesting, varied, but cohesive, catchy, moving. Lyrics are terse, vivid stories with a warm intimacy. I'm not a lyrics guy, so when I notice them, it's because there's something special going on. Mees is especially gifted in this department. Favorites include Hungry Like a Tiger, Billy Bird, Shake, and W.W.J.B.D
The recording (engineered by Adam Selzer) is punchy, crisp, and warm while still remaining lively and spontaneous--no small feat with horns, strings, organ, keys, piano, guitars, hand claps, chorus, bass, and drums in the mix. Mees' vocals/drums/bass/guitar out in the front where they should be. Though there are spots where I wish the chorus was slightly further back in the mix, it's only because I'm so keen on Mees' lead vocals.
The band is touring Oregon, California, and Idaho now through early June. Catch up with them if you can.***Song of the Moment: Shake, by Jared Mees & The Grown Children***