Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Mellowmen - Tomorrow's Sound Today - 2007


While bands like Wolfmother, Jet and Kings of Leon have managed to carve out a niche in the post-millennial alternative music audience for rehashes of the excesses of '70s FM rock, the decade's history on the AM band remains unshakably uncool. The Mellowmen wouldn't have it any other way. From their undeniably naff name to the album's retro graphic design and ironic title, this Swedish quintet are unapologetic in their lack of fashion; the key is that the Mellowmen have not taken that unfortunate extra step into turning anti-fashion into its own trend, turning into slavish Electric Light Orchestra or Wings copycats with an "ironic" twist. Listening to Tomorrow's Sound Today, it's clear that while these guys are intimately familiar with all 25 volumes of Rhino's Have a Nice Day series, mere mimicry is not on their minds. As a result, '70s pop lifts like the George Harrison-like slide guitar solo on "Justify My Madness" or the pure bubblegum bounce of the gloriously tuneful "Sunshine Shell" are applied to otherwise up-to-the-minute indie tunes. One subtle but important distinction is that the Mellowmen don't try to come off as the second coming of the Beach Boys vocally: since the days of Jellyfish, too many retro-minded pop bands have tried to pull off elaborate vocal harmonies that they don't have the chops to accomplish or the imagination to properly arrange. Throughout Tomorrow's Sound Today, keyboardist Andreas Nyberg covers nearly all of the vocals himself; the rather weedy vocal harmony tag at the end of "My Dove" shows the wisdom of this decision. The press kit for Tomorrow's Sound Today lists a dozen acts from Ladytron (not so much) to 10cc (quite, especially the early Graham Gouldman era) as influences (the vibraphone and pedal steel parts on the utterly lovely closing acoustic ballad "Here Am I" suggest that the High Llamas could have been the 13th), but the key quote comes from the head of their label, who compares the Mellowmen to the unjustly ignored '90s power pop act the Sneetches. Those who remember the pride of the Bay Area will see the wisdom of this comparison on the first listen to Tomorrow's Sound Today: these laid-back but unfailingly catchy tunes casually plunder pop's back pages without making a fetish of their finds. -AMG

If you like "Tomorrow's Sound Today" get it here!


The Mellowmen - Tomorrow's Sound Today - 2007
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3 comments:

Silversuit said...

awesome work as usual CR thanks again :-) Do you have "Four Track Mind" - Ashley Naylor (from Melbourne's Even)..? Cheers mate.

dave p said...

thanks for many great posts,visit daily.one request:
BARELY PINK 'Ellies Suitcase'.
any chance?

Dee said...

This is a great find! Thanks Curty Ray. The Mellowmen review reminds me - do you have any Sneetches - 'Slow' or 'Obscure Years'?

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