Patrick Meese has stayed so busy over the last decade that reviving his solo project The Centennial did not seem like an option.
The Centennial rises and falls on Meese’s inspiration, and devoting all of his attention to Colorado’s biggest acts comes first. His main gig is drumming in and producing for Denver’s world-touring Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, but he has occasionally filled in on percussion with nationally known Colorado indie acts such as Tennis and Gregory Alan Isakov.
As with so many other musicians, the pandemic finally forced Meese off the road. He was set to tour behind Rateliff’s sold-out, solo album tour for “In Memory of Loss” in spring 2020, as well as a summer 2020 Night Sweats tour opening for Bob Dylan.
“Last year was the time to make the best of a bad situation,” Meese, 38, said. “I was mostly just grateful that I have a studio (Harvey Park, in south Denver) and was just able to make music with the guys.”
A veteran of the Denver music scene, Meese also fronted the appropriately named band Meese (with brother Nate) in the mid-to-late 2000s, which was signed to major label Atlantic and produced slick, melodic pop. But the Ohio native has stuffed another decade of living under his belt since then, and the five gorgeously layered new songs on The Centennial’s “Buried Gold” EP show off all he’s learned.
“I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. I just did not have the time it required — especially when I’m doing it on my own — because it’s a lot to mentally power through,” Meese said. “Nathaniel’s one of those guys where even his demos sound great. Meanwhile, I’ve got a voice memo from nine years ago that I’m toiling over to turn into a song.”
Meese teamed with LA-based artist Ben Radatz and New York-based Brian Alfred to create five lyric videos for the EP, each inspired by images of the West, he said. It’s a complement to his Denver work, which has not wanted for worthy collaborators over the years.
One of those is Rateliff, whose solo album Meese poured himself into, and James Barone, whom he’d just had lunch with before this interview. Barone is another of the Denver music scene’s secret weapons, producing and drumming live for celebrated bands such as Beach House, as well as Tennis (there’s even a short Reddit dedicated to him).
Like Barone, Meese has long, if quietly, held vital parts of the Denver music scene together. The Centennial’s new batch of songs shows why. Somewhere between classic indie acts like Low and Red House Painters, ambient instrumentals and the hypnotic, haunted vocals of Washed Out, The Centennial creates a moody, candlelit vibe.
“Buried Gold,” which The Know is proud to premiere today, is just one example. Like its spare lyric video, the song evokes a visceral Western atmosphere so familiar to Meese from his road jaunts with various musicians. Its polyrhythmic underpinning supports hushed melodies, immaculately produced.
“Like a lot of these songs, it started on piano,” Meese said of “Buried Gold.” “I wrote that verse riff and it kind of hit me in the gut a little bit. On this record, I really wanted to feature percussion, and do interesting things with the drums. It really did shape the rhythms of the melodies and how I sang certain things.”
The song is about sitting on something that should be shown, but that one might be afraid to share. But there’s an upside to that, Meese said, knowing that you have something good in your back pocket that nobody knows about yet.
Sound familiar? The Centennial’s “Buried Gold” EP is out Friday, July 9, on Mod y Vi Records.
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