Rollicking and Rolling…

mantles coverThe Mantles

Long Enough to Leave

Slumberland Records, 2013

Review by Kent Manthie

“The Mantles — a sweet yet gritty San Francisco-based indie pop outfit rooted in 1960s garage rock, paisley underground, and the C-86 sound — started out as a three-piece consisting of frontman Michael Olivares, drummer Virginia Weatherby, and bassist Jermaine.”

That’s from their bio I found on their MySpace profile page (I’m actually surprised that there are still MySpace pages out there!)  Anyway, The latter left the group early on, and bassist Matt Roberts and guitarist Drew Cramer were subsequently brought on board to round out the Mantles’ lineup.  So, from there on, you have what you’re hearing about now.

Their new CD is Long Enough to Leave, a wonderfully jingle-jangle, gritty-garage pop band with a sound not unlike the mid 1960s Los Angeles scene, i.e., The Byrds.  The Mantles do have a retro sound to them, but it’s not stale or dated.  It’s a fresh breath of life that has needed to be injected back into a dying art form.  They aren’t pretentious or self-important and don’t try to be something they’re not.  Rather, they’ve put together some great “Rickenbacker”-sounding pop songs (even though Rickenbacker guitars may not play a role at all in their instrumentation).  Besides just California – L.A., San Francisco, etc, there are seeds of the hipster scenes throughout London from the same time frame.

From the very beginning, The Mantles exude a light, airy, toe-tapping sound that one just can’t help feeling a ray of sunshine in an otherwise deepening darkness of isolation, political disasters that threaten to keep humanity divided for the foreseeable future.  Long Enough to Leave is a well-crafted CD that will maybe not change the world, but it sure does show that there’s still hope for the future of something that is extremely important:  music.  Without music, what would we do for a way to recharge overtaxed minds, escape from meaningless babble and depressing political rhetoric that, even though the majority of people despise it, still manages to hang on to power because of a mixture of public apathy, crafty ways of quietly controlling and corrupting as well as uninformed and undereducated people who vote against their interests again and again.  Thinking about stuff like that is SO depressing – you can sit there and dwell on how bad the future is going to be because of the policies that the creeps who do bother to vote are enabling right now.  Our only hope is that, maybe in 20-30 years, a lot of the jerks who keep the death-loving religious fanatics and earth-hating fear-mongers will have died out (it’s really already started, since, if you think about it – the biggest voting blocs tend to be those of older people – once you retire and have nothing better to do, you watch C-SPAN all day and rue the day that things like the McCarthy hearings and even the Salem Witch trials ended).  So there’s hope – once all those angry old people die, then the ebullient young generations can eventually get their voice heard.  It’s just too bad that, at the moment, most of those young people who could make a difference just don’t care-they’d rather be getting high and going to clubs and having as much sex as possible.  But hopefully they’ll grow up enough to realize they need to do something about things – maybe when their ways of life are threatened in some fashion they’ll finally step up and things will start to change – hell, we have the technology nowadays to communicate around the world in seconds, why not use that and more to achieve the political goals that we want??

Anyway, sorry, I digressed there…This CD is a really groovy set and I just loved my first listen to it.  I was actually flabbergasted by the cross between the Clash and bands from the 60s like Moby Grape, The Byrds, The Kinks and more.  There’s the Clash’s tight, punk ethos that was always couched in major chord structures and irreverent song structures and the looseness of the 60s bands, especially the ones that evoked L.A. in ’66:  Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Sunset Boulevard and what was a completely different world than what those places are today.

Some examples of what will get you up and dancing from Long Enough to Leave include “Marbled Birds”, the Carnaby Street, London sound of “Raspberry Thighs”, which, also, by the way, reminded me a little of the not-so-well-known pop art of McCarthy – a very laid back sounding band that had some really hard-hitting political overtones in their cute-sounding pop tunes.  “Brown Balloon” is another London attitude, circa 1967 – mostly it’s the reverbing guitars, the crafty love that is in the music.

But the title track and “Reason’s Run” are both totally like hanging out with Brian Wilson and David Crosby (in his pre-Woodstock, free-wheeling days).

I want YOU to add Long Enough to Leave to your music collection!  Of the stuff I’ve reviewed so far this year, this is another one that I would put on my list of “the Best of 2013” – that’s “best of INDIE 2013”, of course.  A list I am keeping track of and at the end of the year –KM


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