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'.
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
12. Bone Marrow
13. Limb To Limb
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