the Meadowlands

the Meadowlands Turns 10 Today

cue party favors

It was half of 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper bought the band a copy of the Meadowlands. Probably for one of his more mature friends and hopefully w/ a discretely included gift receipt.

Meaning yeah, the Meadowlands came out exactly 10 years ago today, on Sept. 9th, 2003, which also means that our 'most recent' release pre-dates things like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Democrats in the White House, heck Bush's 2nd term, the show Lost, 6 albums and 3 EP's by Okkervil River, the Dinosaur Jr. reunion, some actual dinosaurs, the careers of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry COMBINED and the over 8400 separate and unique indie music micro-genres that gestated and died a quick bloggy death get the idea. But putting it in any of those terms does feel like saying it came out in the '70s. (choose your own century).

To commemorate so auspicious an occasion you'd think we'd be announcing some foncy ponts re-release of the album w/ bonus tracks, elaborate enviro-friendly zero-mass packaging and a photo of Greg shirtless, but we are not.

We plan to do a fancy re-release soon but for now, all late-night work shifts (except this one) are dedicated to finishing this record - the current depressingly life-devouring & exhausting one - and the idea of revisiting the last depressingly life-devouring caper, in order to milk out some sad bonus content, holds about as much appeal as well, milking anything really. Especially anything sad and 'bonus'.

So yeah, late to our own Meadowlands 10th Anniversary, as to all things ('keeping folks waiting, since...' et cet et cet..).

Instead, we're marking the anniversary w/ the first official Meadowlands 'album cover' t-shirt. Surprisingly, we've never done one. It will look something like this:

and is available now for pre-order here in our store and should be shipping in the next week or so.

I know, I know...ten years. And we put out a t-shirt. By the year 2043 we will have an entire mens' suit available a la carte with the next album incl. as pocket square. Totally gratis.

But if everything plays out like I think it's gonna, we should be marking the 10th anniversary of this next record in 2024.

A decade or two of thanks, as always,

the wrens


With this, the coldest day in August that I can remember, another sign of the End of Days is made manifest in our webby store – Meadowlands, in vinyl, the record, the actual album…is back in stock!

Yep, the full double album complete with bonus songs. You can finger the goods here in our store.

Relatedly, Four Horsemen seen approaching the city, leading an army of souls.


Actor/ Neighbor

About halfway through the four-year Gallipoli that was making the Meadowlands, we moved from Ft. Lee, NJ back to yet another house in Secaucus, our third there. On the first full weekend in the new place, I was home by myself cleaning up in the yard, trying to hide from neighbors that a band had moved in next door, the kiss of suburban death.

One of those neighbors, the one directly next door, came over from his yard, introduced himself as Dan and asked the general niceties you do when you meet someone who’s renting (us) the house next to the house that you own (him), raised children in, have a real stake in etc. and need to take a measure of the person the fates have cast in the role of new neighbor and adjust the new threat-to-peace-of-mind level accordingly.

Now I admit that I’m one of those folks that often, when I meet you for the first time in a situation like this, I’ll hear your name, and immediately begin a stupid yet intricate mental calculus on how everything I’m wearing, saying, even am, is coming across to you and trying to assess how all that in turn is being assessed, and so instantaneously forget your name, and hear almost nothing of what you say. I’m not proud of that, it’s more like shame really, but there it is. And as I’m correcting for internal rounding errors in how Dan would compute that a group of three well-past-thirty bachelors, living together in one house aren’t a suburban opium den or worse, a band, I gradually tune in that he is kind of going on and on about the film Caddyshack, which is airing that night in some sort of special anniversary package, if I remember right, and how funny Rodney Dangerfield really was.

Ty-D B., C’est moi

He changes topics and asks me what I do and determined to put the best neighborly foot forward, I tell him I work in advertising and that the two other also-rans I live with are in big pharma. He replies that he did some work in advertising and that “I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember, but the Ty-D Bowl Man – that was me”.

And I’m thinking, “great, we’ve got this common ground, advertising!”. Even though I’m sort of a charlatan in that, while I am working at a big ad agency at this point, I’m scrivenered away in Accounts Receivable which to advertising folks means something like, ‘you work in the accounting industry’. Which is also a total sham since I likewise had an absolute zero of any qualifications in either accounting or finance. Heck, I didn’t even finish my bachelor’s in jazz guitar. But that’s corporate America. Or at least New York. Or just me.

Anyhow…I seed my reply with handsful of the advertising jargon I’ve picked up from cooler actual-advertising friends – “oh, I do remember [about the Tidy Bowl Man account]; that’s great and must’ve been a big deal. Were you the copywriter for that spot or did you account exec. that or something?” [note jargon, improperly used].

“No,” he says, “the Ty-D Bowl Man – that was me. I was the Tidy Bowl man. I’m an actor.”.

Dr. B., C’est moi

“Oh…cool”, I feeble out as I’m completely reshuffling the few decks I’d mentally dealt both of us for this conversation while at the same time, some internal previous contextual alarm goes off telling me – really, re-hearing and reinterpreting for me – that in his opening salvo about Rodney Dangerfield, Dan meant the person, the actor Dangerfield and he doesn’t mean in the movie – or not just in the movie – but on-set. As in “I am his peer, we worked together, what a card”. And at that same moment I sort of see through the veneer of what is hopefully early/middle old age (Dan would’ve been about 70 at this point) and realize that at some level right below that, I can make out a face I kind of recognize – he’s that other guy in Caddyshack! The priest! No wait, it was a doctor - Dan is the doctor from Caddyshack!

Anyhow, we lived past the awkwardness of that initial meeting to be functional & perfunctorily friendly, if not close, neighbors. We let his dog “get away from him” and crap in our yard hourly; he let us crap up the sonic flagstone path between us with one billion consecutive mixes of “everyone choose sides”.

When we had some big-ish press stuff run after the album came out, he very, very nicely came over and enthused about it at length, groused about being an artist in a small town so close and yet so far from New York City, where he’d done a bunch of Broadway and commercial work over the years etc., which all sort of flatteringly meant that he now counted us as stranded artists too.

Anyway, all this because per some online news, Dan, passed away last Saturday, July 31st, of complications stemming from Parkinson’s Disease.

We liked Dan a lot. Dan, here’s to you. It was nice knowing you and our thoughts are with your family. I hope you and Rodney are having a great time.

More laurels...

More laurels to rest (your head) on

Perhaps you know Stylus Magazine – they were a great online music (& movies) site that unfortunately stopped publishing new content a couple years back, (although you can still peruse the archive of articles here).

Decennially, they reconvened this past month to put up a series of decade wrap-up lists & articles and super flatteringly, they put the Meadowlands as their #76 album ‘o the aughts. We’re pretty sure they’re about 75 slots off (meadowlands feels like a #151 at best) but there it is.

Decennially means every 10 years, which isn’t accurate, I just wanted to type it.

You can see the rest of the Stylus Decade here.

Thanks very much, Stylus, sincerely.

The Me(adowlands) Decade

Addendum to the addendum

Again, we don't have a press page and have always been iffy about putting up a whole page of flattering press (also too lazy to go ahead and write that press ourselves). But we were so knocked out that some people had put the Meadowlands on their lists of favorite albums of the decade that that we went ahead and broke our own little convention here and then again here when someone pointed out that we'd hilariously missed Pitchfork.

So now we're kind of stuck on this train (and it ain't a bad ride) and adding two more as an addendum to the addendum:

First, Steve Holtje put us in his Top Albums of the 2000s on CultureCatch, which like the other ones, is just bonkers. It means a lot to us because (1) Steve works at Sound Fix Records in Brooklyn so (1a) he hears a LOT of music and (1b) Charles actually shops there because (1c) everyone there is really nice and there's pretty much zero snob-factor...and (2) because Steve is a wonderful musician & composer in his own right.

And for those of you of the Facebook persuasion, James Bradley also put us in his Top 100 Albums of the Decade. James owns Sound Fix (notice a theme here?). So maybe consider this not only a self-administered back-pat but a plug for one of our favorite record stores anywhere.

Thanks, Steve & James, sincerely,

the wrens

Top Albums of the Millennium - addendum

...well at least 1% of the way into it

See what happens? With a nod to Kenneth Koch, one brag may hide another.

Last week, after a lot of moral wrestling, we put up a self-congratulatory list of folks that had the Meadowlands on their own respective 'best of decade' lists. And from that, over the weekend, a few people hit up our Facebook page with a couple others we didn’t know about:

First, Pitchfork put the Meadowlands in their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s too. We hadn’t actually heard of this website until now. Pitchfork, is it? I understand it’s fairly popular with the under-50 agricultural set. Well, thank you, “pitchfork”, and hopefully the link above will drive a little traffic your way - we’re always trying to help out newcomers on the alternative and college rock scenes.

Ok really, a great deal of thanks to Pitchfork, for a great deal of stuff. They've been very kind to us over the years - running a lot of news items that barely qualified a such, having us play their first Pitchfork Fest (which was a hoot), stuff like that. And the write-up that accompanies our entry in the list is pretty funny and very nice. So once again, thanks, ‘fork.

Secondly, Chris Campbell at the Huffington Post put the Meadowlands on his own Favorite Records of the Decade list at number…well, it’s ridiculously high. He may have been also.

Seriously, this one’s maybe the biggest honor – I mean it’s the Huffington Post. Finally, all those left-leaning benefits & causes we’ve been a part of have paid off in spades. We’re also now officially sanctioned as both Progressive and more hilariously, as news. Or at least that’s how we like to see it. Hope Arianna accepts our Facebook request now.

Again, all jackassery aside, our sincere thanks. All this has made our week. Honestly.

the wrens

behold this, our self-tooted horn

Hey, saw the light on thought I'd drop by

One of the stranger (but occasionally cooler) aspects about being a long-lived but less-than-prolific band that makes it to near-2010 (and with a slow-but-working internet connection) is that online, your older albums never die, they just continue to pop up here & there like that person from accounts payable you made out with at last year’s office holiday party. Or say, the undead. Not necessarily out to do harm or even embarrass, but making things kinda weird just by being there.

And people send you links to see it happen.

With our last album having come out in ‘03, we’re not exactly generating a hipster’s-weight-in-gold’s-worth of press lately. So it’s a really nice surprise - and a super flattering one as well – to find out some folks had put the Meadowlands on their Best-of-Decade lists of varying sizes (theoretically I guess, if the lists were long enough, we’d be on all of them. Like say, Top 110,343 Albums of the Decade).

Now, we should preface all this by adding that we’re kind-of of a mixed mind about posting this type of thing - notice we don’t have a press/reviews page. But making this dumb album almost killed me/us and the work that went into it & the depression that came out of it, dwarfed the small-beans industry setbacks that have become something of our ‘story’ (but more on that some other time). 
So this means more to us than you might think and figure if you’re here reading this, we're counting you in on whatever modest successes we have and so wanna share our good luck & news and say thank you.

And lest you still think we take all this (or ourselves) a tad too serious, probably worth a quick revisit to what we wrote about one of our own early heinous band photos (as opposed to our more recent heinous band photos).

That said...

behold this, our self-tooted horn

...behold this, our self-tooted horn.

We just squeaked in on Stereogum’s Gummy Awards list of top 50 albums of the decade at, well, #50. But this one means the most to us because it’s a readers’ poll and sort of boggles our micro-sized brains that there are enough readers that would vote our album up there esp. given how many great albums there have been in the last 10 years (a point driven home by looking at lists like these). But so, dear readers, thanks very much.

John Richards & DJ Shannon at KEXP also put the Meadowlands in their respective top 10’s . You’d think being dj’s they’d have better record collections. Seriously, KEXP have been awfully kind to us and are super nice folks, so thank you, John & Shannon. Our “pledge checks” are in the mail.

The following three were nice ‘cause we found them ourselves since they’re on blogs I/we actually already subscribe to via the moderny miracle time-suck of RSS. Both Oceans Never Listen and Heeb magazine put the meadowlands in their ten-year top-10s and as the friend who forwarded the Heeb link said, “it’s almost as good as being Jewish”. But actually, as a band we’re ¼ Jewish, ‘Bissell’ is a Yiddish word meaning ‘bit or piece’ and our label is Absolutely Kosher.
At this point we’re considering a run for the Knesset.

And in lieu of long lists, An Aquarium Drunkard has been doing sort of re-reviews of albums of the last 10 years, and were very kind on our sole aughts output.

Lastly, a couple blogs who gave us album of the decade. Just even typing that sentence seems crazy but hey, it’s your list. So truly, our sincere thanks to Thus Spake Drake and Babystew.

Again, hopefully this didn’t come off as braggy, it’s more that to not acknowledge these and say thanks would seem rude. And for us, it’s a wonderful way to finish out 2009 and as our master plans come to final fruition, we should have something new in 2010 to hopefully get all listy about.

Until then, as always, our humble & sincere thanks,
The wrens

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