The Mantles - Self Titled LP
Silt Breeze Records
The Mantles may hail from San Francisco and their self-titled album may have been released on Siltbreeze in 2009, but after listening to it, one would be excused for thinking the group hailed from Los Angeles and the album was released on Down There in 1986. Or that they were from Auckland and the record was released on Flying Nun in 1990. (Or even that they were from the Midwest, maybe Dayton, OH, and opened for Plasticland or Death of Samantha when they came through town.) They share the swirling guitar and organ textures of the Paisley Underground crowd, the chiming, chugging feel of classic New Zealand groups like the Chills, and the jangling, melodic songcraft of bands like Love and the Byrds (who inspired the Nuns and Undergrounders). The Mantles isn’t some studied nostalgia trip, though, despite how strong their influences come through. They escape it through strong songwriting, spirited performances, and the garagey energy that comes hopping off the grooves as the record spins. Songs like the pretty folk-rocker "Don’t Lie," the surging rockers "What We Do Matters" and "Yesterday’s Gone," or the a surprisingly soulful organ-led ballad "Look Away" make a strong case that The Mantles are almost on par with their inspirations. The rest of the album isn’t far behind, with the hits beating the duds 10-0. It’s an impressive debut album from a band that loves the past but doesn’t live in it.