near miss mallet
melissa wiggins - vocals/acoustic guitar
brock wiggins - elect. guitar/backing vocals
Bakersfield, Calif.-based rock act Near Miss Mallet won't kick out the jams. It won't force you to shake your moneymaker. Or fight for anyone's right to party. Which is good, because, hey, haven't we heard enough mindless rump-shaker anthems already? Isn't life a bit deeper than that?
"I've got some joy, so run for cover." -- from "Might As Well"
Instead, consider this female-fronted band of thought-rock maestri more as the musical accompaniment to a day spent ditching work. A self-realized memo to self. Coffeehouse philosophy. Driving down the freeway, sticking your arm out into the wind like an airplane wing. Every break-up letter left on boyfriends' dirty windshields. Wiggling toes first thing Sunday morning. Bittersweet goodbyes. Crispy-wicked puddles of spent candles. A lullaby for the hipster class. In short, the soundtrack to living -- from moments of melancholy sadness to each giggly victory, all sung with a honeyed voice that slides from driven croon to creamy coo.
"I don't believe in gravity/But I can pull the moon." -- from "Falling"
Not that Near Miss Mallet tries to be so ambitious. The band's songs began as nothing more than scribbles in Melissa Wiggins' little black notebook, backed up by simple strums on her acoustic guitar. She wrote her tunes while hiding from the world, behind a closed door, on the bathroom floor in the apartment she shares with husband Brock Wiggins and her young son, Phoenix. "I don't know, that's just one of the few places I can be by myself," Melissa says, laughing. Strange how the echoey smallness of linoleum and bare walls has managed to produce such delicately heartfelt tunes.
Fellow local musicians have come and gone, leaving artifacts on demo recordings, helping turn Melissa's tiny treasures into full gems. But there's one constant in the mix: Brock's electric guitar spinning emotive webs, while his buttery backing vocals wrap a warm blanket around Melissa's melodies.
(Trivia note: Brock's mother is former '70s country princess Susan Raye; his father, a drummer, once backed Bakersfield country star Buck Owens.)
Guitar strings and heartstrings. Sunday jams and short-notice gigs. A life lived wide open and a pen poised on paper. That's Near Miss Mallet. The end result is a batch of songs that could be a sweet whisper of the Next Big Thing -- if modern rock radio ever craved something more complex than a shaking booty.
"Finally I can show you everything/And everything will show you who I am/Careful not to tear my heart open." -- "Fifteenth Floor Serenade"