The Key Studio Sessions: Greg Mendez - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Greg Mendez writes folk songs for survivors.

Like The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle — or like Elliott Smith, an artist to whom Mendez is often compared, and not without merit — the Philly singer-songwriter populates his music with stories of addiction, trauma, abuse, and pain, personified through a tapestry of characters who often fit the bill of outcasts. Folks on the fringes of society trying to make their way, one day at a time.

Songs like “Maria,” which finds the narrator and a friend jumping through a window to avoid a drug bust, or “Morgan,” which watches from the sidelines as a moment of anguish escalates into a full-on subway brawl, stop short of providing a resolution, a point of strength and overcoming, that Hollywood ending cast into an indie pop song. Instead, Mendez captures the breathless uncertainty and hushed sadness of life — all of our lives, to some degree — and uses his music to serve as a reminder that while survival is a goal, it isn’t a moment, but an ongoing process.

Joined in WXPN studios by frequent collaborator Veronica Mendez on guitar, keys, and vocals, Greg performs a haunting, gorgeous set spotlighting two songs from his celebrated new self titled album — out now on the Forged Artifacts label and the recent recipient of praise from Pitchfork — as well as two moving and minimal highlights from his back-catalog. Mendez, who moves in the emo-adjacent circles of Modern Baseball and Shannen Moser, has been recording music since 2006, and his Bandcamp discography is worth a deep dive, beginning with Live At Purgatory, where you can find earlier versions of most of these songs.

Watch Greg Mendez’s full Key Studio Sessions set below, and celebrate the new self-titled album with him this Sunday, June 4th at Johnny Brenda’s, where he’ll perform a semi-seated show with Moser and Swim Camp providing support. Details can be found at WXPN’s Concerts and Events page.

Greg Mendez - The Key Studio Sessions (Full Set)

“Long Division”
“Shark’s Mouth”

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