Grunge was Sub Pop’s lucky marketing term and helped carry some of the label’s early groups (Soundgarden) to commercial success and others (Mudhoney) to critical acknowledgment. It’s all rock’n’roll when the day’s over, but if the loosely defined noise-pop genre had to have a typical representative, it might as well be San Francisco’s Meices, a scrappy, loud, fun-loving garage-rocking trio led by singer/guitarist Joe Reineke. (The group, which formed in Florida and migrated to the West Coast, losing its original drummer and bassist in the process, was originally called the Mice, and released an obscure album under that name.)
Greatest Bible Stories Ever Told ain’t even close to a theological tract, as Reineke and company storm through eleven hooky paeans to party tricks (“Pissin’ in the Sink”), shoplifting (the speedy “Alex Put Something in His Pocket”) and Los Angeles (“La La Land”). In between the hijinks and ear-piercing feedback, Reineke delivers one or two genuinely pretty/scruffy tunes (“This Way,” “Didn’t Wanna”), a three-chord raveup (“Don’t Let the Soap Run Out”), a condescending anthem for snot-noses (“Hey Little Punker”: “They look funny, but they’re fun to party with”) and a solid package of tuneful, muscular rock.
The Meices signed with London and brought friend Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks in to record Tastes Like Chicken. Like its predecessor, the album has its share of silly, energetic charmers (“The Big Shitburger”), but Reineke offers introspection along with his sloppy guitars and three-minute-plus pop songs. Proving there’s more to the Meices than just juvenile posturing, “Daddy’s Gone to California” bridges the gap between the Bible Stories‘ thrashy ethos and Chicken‘s more dynamic material. Reineke’s warbly vocals sometimes resemble Tom Petty’s, and cuts like “Hopin’ for a Ride,” “Slide” and “Now” reveal a nice bittersweetness developing in the band’s style.
Given the Meices’ background and sharpening writing/playing skills, it’s not surprising that Dirty Bird, co-written by Reineke and bassist Steve Borgerding and produced by Gil Norton, fits nicely alongside those Goo Goo Dolls albums on the shelf. Expressing more emotion than usual in his voice, Reineke packs dense guitar chunk and wry, sensitive lyrics into “Wow” (complete with horns and surf leads), “Disenchanted Eyes,” “Hey Fella” and “Rosies on the Dole.” The yelping “Hold It” reconnects the band to its sloppier past, while the semi-acoustic “Uncool” suggests just how uncomfortable the Meices will sound when they get around to making that long-awaited MTV Unplugged appearance.
The Meices broke up in early ’97.