Premiere: ‘Everything’s Amazing Nobody’s Happy’
Album Premiere: ‘Everything’s Amazing Nobody’s Happy’ from Meliora
Comprised of members from Overslept, Kinesics, Left Hand Shakes, and New Leverage, Meliora is an intricate, dynamic rock band emphasizing atmosphere and lyricism. Meliora is a Latin adjective meaning, “for the pursuit of the better” which seems to exemplify the growth this group of Denver musicians has seen through multiple projects and pursuits. ‘Everything’s Amazing Nobody’s Happy’ is the debut album from the quartet, and it is well worth the wait.
The project started out as a secret in January of 2017 after Mickey Postilion (formerly of New Leverage, Dropping Heavy Objects, current guitarist in Overslept) sought a different type of creative outlet and enlisted the support of Ben Norton on guitar (Left Hand Shakes, Wolf Poets, Wild Trees), Malena Roberts on bass (Kinesics, Bellhoss), and Elias Armao on drums (Overslept, Wolf Poets). Practicing and writing in Postilion and Armao’s home studio made it easy to keep the work semi-confidential, and the secrecy made their first show even more exciting for friends and fans of past projects. Almost a year and a half after beginning the writing process, Meliora debuted in a sweaty basement surrounded by nostalgic feeling wood paneling, and it was absolutely cathartic. There is something special about hearing unfamiliar songs from familiar faces in such an intimate space, and it seemed to be ample motivation for finishing their first full-length by the end of the year.
When initially considering the group’s lineup, Postilion was incredibly deliberate in choosing his bandmates. It was important for him to experience compassion in this endeavor, and that was how he handpicked each member after seeing them play. It is a process trying to differentiate art and the process behind it from other projects, and it is interesting to see the shifts between Postilion’s prior projects (New Leverage, Dropping Heavy Objects) as well as another current band, Overslept, in which he plays guitar. Dropping Heavy Objects was essentially a solo creative writing challenge motivated by personal growth in songwriting. The work absolutely paid off in terms of eloquence and lyricism, and it’s carried over in a truly incredibly way. Meliora is intentionally a group project with an open process, something that is challenging, new, and not just his input. A lot of the time spent in secrecy was purely dedicated to that process. It was time spent playing with each other for the very first times, figuring out what they wanted to create as a group, and developing their communication channel even more. Rather than segmenting himself, Postilion noted that this project feels like the accumulation and balance of all the different things he wanted to try musically.
“It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten, I think, and I don’t know how stylistically cohesive it is, but it feels like a non-linear map that we get to continually expand.” -Mickey Postilion
Lady Cactus is incredibly honored to be able to share Meliora’s first album, ‘Everything’s Amazing Nobody’s Happy’ with the world. From the very first song, Postilion’s heavy-hitting lyricism is present and impactful. So much of art is inherently political by tradition, and this album carries its weight by spanning topics from health care to love to personal responsibility, and everything in between.
The album as a whole serves as a sort of social commentary. Rather than preaching, it expresses opinions and challenges to things we experience in differents realms every day. There are many barriers to the transmission of political messages in music. Even overtly political songs and artists can be shaped by contemporary context, and an understanding of the events inspired can be necessary to comprehend the breadth of the intended message. Postilion noted that if you’re treading into political waters, you can never be certain that you’re right, but you should be damn sure. It’s important to strike a balance in rhetoric, between being too direct, being so metaphorical that your nuances don’t come across, or worse, being misinterpreted. His goal in the writing process was to boil everything down to the simplest possible version, and trying to take a lot of caution in imagery and specific words. Being deliberate was a goal and theme of the album, both in the lyrics and composition.
There are certain elements of music that people are drawn to regardless of genre. We think this album hits so many of those marks - impactful lyricism, intentional interplay between instruments, dynamic awareness. These can transcend genre completely, or encompass multiple demographics. Does it make sense? Is the instrumentation purposeful? Are we working together to achieve a goal, or just playing in a familiar space? Definitively, we say yes. There are elements of nostalgia in the songs, but flipped on its head. Postilion notes that he sometimes misses writing primarily from a place of emotional passion in a purely visceral way, but that he enjoys the fruits of the labor even more with his current style of creativity. There are still personal songs on the album, but even when he’s deconstructing himself, he’s not being brash about it. The internal dialogue is still deliberate and careful. And maybe there’s a way to incorporate that in a measured way moving forward.
Not only was this album composed by Postilion, but he took on the responsibility of tracking and mixing the full-length as well. Despite the fact that mixing your own album that can be challenging for lack of fresh perspective, the album completely contradicts that idea and is impressively well-done. It was mastered by Corban Roberts at Tessitura Studios, who drums in Postilion and Armao’s other band (Overslept) and is close with the group. Mandi Quinn and Elias Armao collaborated on the album art, with Armao tackling the graphic line work and Quinn contributing some of the more delicate features. For example, the olive branches directly refer to a line from the 6th song on the album, Evangelist: “If you could just discern the trees from the forest, you’d see olive branches all around you.” The dove is a symbol for hope and goodness, referring to another line from the same song (“our hope is a fragile shape”) about trying to be the best we can, and the knife represents how we try to ruin even the possibility. It is a lithographic print, a medium that rose to popularity in the 1800s, and the process exemplifies a purpose… and maybe a bit of stubbornness. Finished with watercolor, we are enamored with the concept and the final product.
The album title ‘Everything’s Amazing Nobody’s Happy’ serves as social commentary by itself. It was fascinating to hear about the process of naming this body of work from Postilion. By observing how we interact with each other and how we conduct ourselves in the public realm, you see so much fear and hatred that is completely useless. While being on the cusp of incredible demographic changes, technological advances that will blow our minds, exponential growth of artificial intelligence, the possibility of greater quality of life, we view these problems that are not problems as terrifying because we are afraid of anything different. Rather than talking about what is owed to him, or how he was wronged or mistreated, he wanted to hold a sense of personal responsibility. This idea is especially embodied in the final song on the album, A Face That Toils So Close To Stones. The concept of personal responsibility can tend to have negative implications, so often referring to not having empathy for those who have less. Instead, Postilion means that in order to face the future in the best way possible, you have to hold yourself high enough to meet that challenge. That easily extrapolates to the rest of us. Everything can be great. Things are already great. We are all coping with this dramatic and deep unhappiness that ultimately stems from fear. It’s a pointless pursuit. It feels like Sisyphus’ constant and meaningless battle.
“The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” -Albert Camus
Overall, we were blown away by the wonderfully melodic guitars driving the harmony (but never becoming overbearing), with intricate supporting rhythms, and how both work to lift up the evocatively emotional power behind all the heart poured into Postilion’s vocals. There is something beautifully anthemic about the way it all comes together, which is nothing short of a triumph considering the overall tone of the record. It brings chills to think about some of the lyrics that are so easy to sing along with throughout the entire record. It speaks to the brilliance of his from-the-ground-up approach, making sure that the intent of the music always shines through, rather than any certain stylistic trope.
Meliora will celebrate the release of ‘Everything’s Amazing Nobody’s Happy’ on December 16th, 2018 at Globe Hall alongside Tolstoy, Pythalo, and Redivider. We hope you will join us. Find tickets and more information here.