Though I’m predisposed to like anything rootsy and jangly, Meridian’s banjo- and piano-infused “existential crisis you can sing along to” would have been up my alley even if it wasn’t composed by Signals Midwest’s Max Stern, who possesses the supernatural ability to punch me right in the feels. This filled-out full-length is a follow-up to 2012’s stripped-down Aging Truths LP. Its eight heartrending tracks feature full band instrumentation that includes cello, trumpet, and trombone. Though all of its selections skip along with the same flavor of nostalgic whimsy as the first, the opening, titular track required nearly twenty repeats before I could bear to part with it and listen to the remainder of the record. The charming imperfections of Stern’s trademark vocal melodies and lyrics communicate the earnestness of his passion and force me to reflect on my own lost loves with a teenaged yearning. The Youth Conspiracy-distributed vinyl LP is limited to five hundred. My CD came with a handwritten note from Stern, thanking me for my support and expressing a genuine enthusiasm about eventually touring through my neck of the woods. If this sweet gesture and the depth of emotion on The Cathedral are any indication, Max’s—and his brother and collaborator Jacob’s—barebones live show will be a moving and personal affair that I cannot wait to witness.
–Kelley O’Death (Youth Conspiracy, [email protected], youthconspiracy.bigcartel.com)