Thursday, June 20, 2013

REVIEW: The Mantles - Long Enough to Leave

I have a problem.  It isn't a new problem, but it is something that crops up from time to time.  You see, I write about music, and to write about music, I need to listen to music.  But if I keep the same music in my car and iPod after I listen and make notes for a piece, I can't do my job preparing for the next review.  But sometimes, I just can't quit an album  It happened earlier this spring with Calendar Days by Dick Diver; that album is still in my car's disc changer.  As I think about it, the Ooga Boogas disc hasn't been ejected yet either.  And now I've got a slot occupied by Long Enough to Leave by San Francisco's The Mantles.  Admittedly, it is a first world problem, so I won't solicit donations.  Hugs are always welcome (some restrictions apply; photo and references required).

With that confession out of the way, I'll get to the business at hand.  Long Enough to Leave's appeal to me is founded in its core of timeless jangly garage pop, evocative of other worthies but replicating none of them.  You'll hear some VU, some of The Feelies, The Clean and The Byrds.  And a shared bill with The Bats in San Francisco last week undoubtedly highlighted some flattering similarities with my favorite New Zealand band.  But what distinguishes The Mantles from the number of bands that can ably replicate the sounds of others is their songwriting and arranging skills.  Combining a relatively clean version of a psychedelic garage pop with slightly gritty vocal delivery, lyrical themes in which darkness manages to peak through the opacity and varied, appealing melodies, the group presents a set a songs that is from the onset delightful and familiar.  But more importantly, the album (and particularly for me, the second half of the album) grows more compelling with repeated listens.

Here is my current favorite, "Brown Balloon" --

"Bad Design" seems to me an instant folk rock classic --

Here is the relaxed vibe of "Shadow of Your Step" --

The Mantles are Michael Olivares (guitar, vocals), Virginia Weatherby (drums), Matt R. (bass), Justin (lead guitar) and Carly (keys).   Long Enough to Leave was produced by Kelley Stoltz, and it is the second gem dropped on us by Slumberland Records this week (we reviewed Sob Story by Spectrals  Tuesday).  I suspect it is fair to say that the label is burnishing its claim to be one of the more relevant indie outfits on the scene.


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