Monday, October 19, 2015

The Mantles - All Odds End

Tastes are individual.  But for me one band that never fails to satisfy is Oakland's The Mantles.  And their ability to deliver isn't dependent on outside of the box genre or incredible production wizardry.  It is the result of doing what they do -- psychedelic garage pop -- and doing it better than the field.  Not louder, not faster, not by jerking out tears, not by aping some past fashion.  Just better.  So here we are with a clear contender for a spot in the top ten of my list of best albums of the year, All Odds End.

So, what makes this album so good?  It starts with excellent songwriting, emphasizing simple but appealing melodies and enough hooks to make a fisherman happy at Christmas.  The tone and vocals are melancholic, warm, and unassuming.  The songs don't force themselves on you, but rather seep into your brain and soon feel like old friends.  And as you get excited about the bright guitars and irresistible groove, you listen to the lyrics and realize that there is a lot more going on than Brit pop/Nuggets 'I'm in love' or 'live your life'.  Of course, that's a good thing, like finding the guy at the creamery store put an extra layer of fudge and whipped cream underneath your scoop of ice cream as well.  The album commences at a brisk pace with "Island", "Lay It Down" and "Police My Love" suggesting the dance album the Velvet Underground never recorded.  "Hate To See You Go", one of my favorites, adds a more melancholy shade with hints of the Yardbirds in the guitar chords.

The fine "Lately" finds The Mantles in a more reflective mood.  "Doorframe" and the gem "Time To Come Away" pick up the pace again.  "Undelivered" has a California jangle pop feel and could have been a hit for Asylum back in the day.  A hint of country rock comes with "Best Sides".  The album closes with "Stay", a surfy garage stomper so perfect, and perfectly placed, that you will unconsciously reach the the button to replay the album.  Sneaky, but sneaky good.

Of course, a tour through the album will stir memories of potential influences, such as Nuggets, paisley pop, British invasion, VU, '80s New Zealand guitar pop, Postcard era Glasgow bands.  But The Mantles aren't looking over their shoulders.  This is music for today and tomorrow, built on strong foundations.

All Odds End is out today, and is available on vinyl and CD, and as a digital download, via Slumberland Records.

The Mantles are Michael Olivares (guitar/vocals/songwriting), Justin Loney (lead guitar), Matt Bullimore (bass), Carly Putman (keys), and Virginia Weatherby (drums).  Olivares, Loney and Weatherby are Mantles veterans.  Newbies Putman and Bullimore more than pull their weight, adding substance and energy to the performances..  All Odds End is out now via Slumberland Records on CD, vinyl and digital formats.

Slumberland Records page for All Odds End

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