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3E/Red Ink/Columbia

Ok, look, I'm just going to be honest here: this is going to be the most biased review ever written. I love this band. A lot. There's no point in trying to lie about it or hide it, because if you're smart enough to read, you'll be smart enough to see right through me from the get-go anyway. If you want something closer to unbiased, go read Spin's "Band of the Day" review, or Filter's feature, or IGN, or whomever you want. BUT!-there are advantages to a biased review. I, for instance, am proof positive that Mellowdrone isn't just some flash-in-the-pan hype band that will be around long enough to make the label some decent money, only to be forgotten a year later. I've been a rabid fan for five years now, back when it wasn't even a band, back when it was just Jon Bates alone with his guitar and a loop pedal. And this is coming from someone who's too A.D.D. to read, much less write, a review that's more than two or three paragraphs long, so that's saying something.

So what on earth is it about this music that evokes such tenacious and fervent loyalty from an otherwise complete flake? Where do I begin? First of all, the man and the band long ago cashed in the need to show off their extensive technical prowess for the humbler but ultimately more satisfying aesthetic of simple, interwoven melodies. This has never been more evident than on their first full-length album, Box, where each song's infinitely catchy melodies and harmonies and background ephemera seamlessly tumble over and around each other. Bates is never heavy-handed in his songwriting, but beautiful does not equal weak. There is something very solid about the music, and as a result there are no filler songs on the album. Then, of course, there is his voice; which is indeed at times a mellow drone, although he's also fully capable of belting out a howl worthy of Matt Bellamy. One listen to the passionate and anguished sustained notes in "Bone Marrow" and "Limb To Limb" is enough to convince anyone of his immense vocal capabilities. But what's a voice without lyrics? Again, flowery poetry and elitist pedantries are exchanged for simple exposition, and the result is wittier and lovelier than both. Good music + good vocals + good lyrics = the Holy Trinity of Awesomeness. Mellowdrone are the total package if ever there were such a thing, and Box is proof of that.

I'm not telling you that you're going to love this band as much as I do - that's probably impossible, anyway - but you will have to try very hard not to like them, at the very least, and will most likely end up listening to Box on repeat while checking pollstar.com for their next tour date in your town. I'm just sayin'.

-Emily Strong

Track listing:
1. C'mon and Try Just a Little Bit
2. Oh My
3. Four Leaf Clover
4. Fashionably Uninvited
5. Beautiful Day
6. Fuck It Man
7. Whatever the Deal
8. Madison (AND…)
9. And Repeat
10. Orange Marmalade
11. Amazing
12. Bone Marrow
13. Limb To Limb

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