About Jack Mesenbourg

Jack Mesenbourg is a writer, musician, photographer, and artist from Minneapolis. He has spent his years hopping around the country, scribbling notes & scratching pictures in poorly organized journals along the way. Traveling with him have been his passions and distractions such as music, gardening, baseball, cooking and finding good local beer. Hopefully his projects provide you with some insight, provoke some thinking or at least give you a little amusement.

Song Review -The Big Shaboozie  “Mr. Phony” from the album Mr. Phony EP  

If you have caught any of this band’s music prior to the release of the current EP there will be a nice, familiar feel to this song.  There is a great groove to this track that carries you along from a slightly muted lead-in to some nice drums and guitars.  The supplemental vocals tracks here also add some good layers of atmosphere  – there is some real depth there especially if you slap on some cans and really drop into the sounds for a bit.  

For some extended listening pleasure (aside from the rest of this EP) check out their Shades of Faces album – you will not be disappointed.  

You can check out more of the music and information on the Bandcamp page https://thebigshaboozie.bandcamp.com

Hey, it is summer!  Get out there and experience your local area – community is powerful.  

Song Review -The Gabbard Brothers  “Little Mama” from the album The Gabbard Brothers 

Hmmm…that is what I thought as I listened through this song for the first time.  Having been a fan of Buffalo Killers and also Andrew Gabbard’s solo endeavors (recently reviewed here) I was waiting for this collaboration to come out.  This track, an early release from the upcoming album set to drop in July, had me intrigued for sure but uncertain on exactly how I felt about it.  

Ten repeats later, I can say that I like it more every time I hear it.  The mix on this is interesting with the instruments just a little but forward of the vocals and the atmosphere of the music has a bit of the Beach Boys to it.  There is a very cool guitar part around the 1:30 mark and the pacing changes at several places throughout provide nice space.  And that lead out on piano at the end…very nice 🙂 

You can check out more of the music and information on the Bandcamp page https://thegabbardbrothers.bandcamp.com

If you are interested in diving a little bit deeper you can find Buffalo Killers here https://buffalokillers.bandcamp.com

As always, please support your local businesses, artists and friends – community is powerful.  

Song Review -DEHD “Stars” from the album Blue Skies

Song Review -DEHD “Stars” from the album Blue Skies

What can I say…I love this band and have been a fan for awhile.  I had previously heard “Bad Love” off this album which I believe was an early release on Bandcamp.  Having just checked back in and saw this entire album was available I had to jump at the chance to review one song 🙂

This track (and the album as a whole) is a very familiar DEHD song in all of the best ways…slightly eccentric guitar & smooth vocals from Jason Balla, simple & poignant rhythm from Eric McGrady and bellicose vocals & bass from Emily Kempf.  Listening to this song puts you in the mood to break out into a hypnotic dance groove.  

You can check out more of the music and information on the Bandcamp page https://dehdforever.bandcamp.com

You can also check out my review of their album “Water” here https://jackmesenbourg.com/2021/05/16/album-review-dehd-water/

Please remember to support your local musicians 🙂 – community is powerful.  

Song Review -Olathia “Believe” from the album Madness Reigns

Strange things happen.  I know I have said it before and it still mostly holds true…the cover is never better than the original.  Then, just the other day I was kicking around online looking for music from Ohio-based bands and came across Olathia.  More specifically, I came across their album Madness Reigns which contains covers of two Savatage songs.  How long had it been since I had thought of that band?  Well, it had been awhile indeed, although I did remember the song Believe from their Streets: Rock Opera album.  Thinking about Savatage took me on a little rabbit hole adventure involving the death of Criss Oliva, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and that oddly unsettling cover to their Gutter Ballet album….I pulled the plug at that point and went back to to this cover of Believe by Olathia.

I have to say…I was pretty impressed and it might actually be…better than the original.  Chris E. has a great voice and is backed by solid musicians.  They give this song that soaring yet somber tone that makes these kind of anthem-style songs really work.  There is a better depth of sound and ambiance in this version that the original…in my opinion anyway 🙂   Definitely take a few minutes to listen to it  and let me know what you think.  

You can check out more of the music and information on the Bandcamp page https://olathia.bandcamp.com

Keep getting out there and supporting your local people and businesses 🙂 – community is powerful.  

Song Review -Andrew Gabbard “Cloud of Smoke” from the album Live in Loveland

Some songs are amazing in their relative simplicity and this is one of the classics.  A song like this you can just wrap around yourself while sitting on the porch passing the time on a cool evening.  The music that accompanies the strong vocal treatment really helps as the clean rhythm and airy pedal-steel relax your mind and add a very warm tone.   Feel free to put it on repeat and chill out for a long time.  

You can check out more of the music and information on the Bandcamp page https://andrewgabbard.bandcamp.com

And remember to get out and support your local businesses – community is powerful.  

Song Review Graveyard Club “Valens” from the album Moonflower

I was super happy to hear that this band has a new release coming up in June and took the opportunity to purchase this song which was out early.  Most of the reviews you read out there about Graveyard Club reference comparisons to The Cure, New Order and the like…and I really have no complaint with that as there is a definite connection.  For me through, their music does a great job of melding the influences of bands such as that with their own brand of energy and music composition.   

The way the drums lead off this song draws you right in and the synth gives a positive lift of underlying energy.   You have a sense of running somewhere and then the vocal comes in to tell a story that I am honestly still trying to figure out…which just makes it more fascinating to me:)  It is one of those songs that likely has a very different meaning to various listeners.  And high-five for the brassy guitars that ring out several times along the way…very dramatic!  My only complaint is that the vocal mastering is a little muddy but there is always the chance that this was intentional as it does add a layer of texture.

Fun song to listen to and well done – it definitely gets my recommendation.   

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://graveyardclub.bandcamp.com

Hey it’s spring! Please remember to hit up your locally-owned businesses as you go out to enjoy the sun…community is powerful 🙂 

Song Review – Meskales “Mis Amigos” from the album Mis Amigos

I first started listening to this band back in 2020 when I heard a song off of their eponymously named EP.  The energy and sense of fun that they bring to their music caught me right away and it shows up well on this track.  Even without a translation for the lyrics (which they do provide on their Bandcamp page to back up my poor Spanish skills…) you can experience the fast-paced and tightly played music that shines though on this song.   And those horns…what can I say…they make me happy 🙂   I also have an affinity for the lyrics: “It’s impossible to try to make me change…what you think of me will never matter.” 

This is a solid ska / reggae style song that I would definitely recommend you give a listen.   

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://meskales.bandcamp.com

And please remember to support your local artists & businesses…community is powerful 🙂 

Song Review -Partial Traces “Ruins of Rome” from the album Panoramic / Ruins of Rome 

Always check the B-side first…something I started doing a long time ago to mixed results but it paid off well here.  Not that there really is a B-side these days in many cases..but you get the point.  Not to say I have any objection to “Panoramic”…I just like this track better 🙂

There is something very poignant in the stark way in which this song begins.   And it is not just the discordant keys but also the way that the vocal cuts in over the top.   It sets an immediate mood…mournful, accepting…maybe a little sad humor.   The words here are simple yet evocative – lines such as “you like how it covers up the trash with the snow,” tell you much about the scene and also about the people involved in the story.  

The instrumentation is good here also, starting off slowly and building as it moves along.  It is a nice sonic journey that adds to the atmosphere and tone of this entire track.   And I really like that tight drum in the second half…hammering away…very nice. 

The last 40 seconds or so of this get a little too muddled for me but there is also a message there which does work…just a personal issue for me I guess:)  And at the very end there is a very graceful final 10 seconds that cleans it all up very well…kind of a static good-bye.  

Overall, there are a lot of good musical layers in this song.   These musicians, who have turned out such great music both together and separately over the years,  shine through here and I would definitely recommend it. 

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://partialtraces.bandcamp.com

And please remember to support your local musicians wherever you are…community is powerful! 

Song Review -Avenues “Supersonic” from the album We’re All Doomed 

I have always liked a hard-driver of a song and this one is a great example of just that kind of energy.   It comes in with some crisp, heavy drums and gets right to the point.  Much of the track maintains that initial drive but I really liked the bridge at the one-minute mark. It provides a nice contrast to the rest of the song while still maintaining the sonic feeling of the music.  The production quality is also well done with the vocals clearly out front while maintaining a good instrument mix in the very near background.   The lyrics are fun but also a little creepy (“she locks the cellar door behind her”) and the energy is…well, like everything else that Avenues does so well.  

Side note there that their video for “Lights Out” is a cool Halloween-type production and worth a look.  

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://avenuesrock.bandcamp.com

Support your local bands & artists – community is powerful! 

Song Review -Chamberlain “Fairytale of New York (Feat. Gabrielle Sterbenz)” – Single

Well, Happy New Year…and if you know me you are not surprised to see me writing a review for a cover of this epic Pogues song.  There are of course some songs that should just be left alone in their original version but I have never considered this to be one of them.  Even though Shane and his mates original from 1987 has been imbedded in the soundtrack of my life for many years, I consider the song free game for a redux.   Not to say all covers of it have been good…but everyone is welcome to try.  

This version by Chamberlain stacks up well and I really enjoyed playing it over the recent holidays.   They kept the pacing about the same and also utilized the vocal talents of Gabrielle Sterbenz for the female vocal.  Her voice is well-suited for this song and also pairs well with David Moore as they take us through the classic story told in the tune.  If you get a chance you should check out her music also (link below).

Well played all around by some talented musicians although sadly no tin whistle….but that is a rare talent to find these days.  And the shaker that puts the rhythm down in the background is a unique sound.  

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://chamberlain.bandcamp.com

Gabrielle Sterbenz here —> https://gabriellesterbenz.bandcamp.com

Please remember to support your local bands – community is powerful!