Reviews of new albums by The Woolly Mammoths, Marvel Prone, and Palanapanache
“Resist Consumerism *Buy Our Album*” by The Woolly Mammoths
Mammoth Collective Records
The idea that punk-rock music was created to antithesize disco probably made a lot of sense to those who lived through its development in the ’70s. But, in the 21st century, as blurring genre lines has become a much more accepted practice, we get music like The Woolly Mammoths: rock that lets you wear platform shoes and a leather jacket.
The Hampton-based group’s brand of dance-punk melds both facets of the genre. The quartet employs the more abstract psychedelic characteristics of Bloc Party and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, while laying down a foundation of the rocking distortion and hard lateral-hip swing rhythms of Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem.
The band throws a lot at the listener throughout its sophomore album, “Resist Consumerism,” but the songs reveal intricacy. It’s evident in the minimalism of the guitar and vocals in “Motion IV,” and in the banger of a single “Daggers,” in which each band member creates layer after layer of sound from wood blocks, electronic drums, and synthesizer.
While the musicianship and the infectious electric energy is impressive, the real feat is the fluidity of the album’s track list. As stand-alone singles, “Red Tie Blue,” “Daggers,” and “Cigarettes Are Bullies” are good representations of the band’s core sound, but to get the full effect, play the CD from start to finish without skipping a track.
For a generation that gets a lot of flack for creating singles and not full records, it’s refreshing to see a group pay so much attention to the art of the album. Check it out here.
“Moonlightning” by Marvel Prone
Stirring up elements of classic rock, psychedelia, and bubblegum pop, Marvel Prone’s debut EP “Moonlightning” features eight songs that float along a plume of hazy dreams. The band’s trip-pop melodies are rooted in The Beatles and Tame Impala.
The latest product of Chris Chase and the famous 1130 ft Studios in Rollinsford, “Moonlightning” harnesses angly guitar, chunky bass, and psychedelic synthesizer to construct another collection of songs aimed at expanding the mind. The album acts as Marvel Prone’s introduction to the jam-based Newmarket scene, from the opening harmonies of the Phish-inspired opener “DAVE, the Supermoon!” to the melancholic melodies of the eponymous track.
The album really starts to cook with its best track, “Diamond Eyes.” Singer and guitarist Rainor Tsunami thrashes on the guitar as Peter Dubois lets his keys run wild with noise over the furious jungle rhythms produced by drummer Bailey Weakley. The enthusiasm rings palpably in the song, and everything simply comes together, sonically and lyrically.
The lyrics offer the spectrum balance of poetry and rhyming dictionary consultation. The EP is made up of eight confessionals that yearn for love, making for some excellent imagery. “Nocturnal Life” and “After a While” both showcase the thoughts of a budding young poet. But while most of the songs read well, songs like “Beauty Blazing Fury” stumble. Despite its interesting rhyme scheme, the song features a lot of shoehorning from Tsunami that can sometimes wake the listener up from the band’s dreamy lyrics.
“Moonlightning” is an impressive debut, but where the band really shines is on stage. Seeing Marvel Prone live will help “Moonlightning” make more sense. You can listen to the album here.
“Wonderful Most Incredible” by Palanapanache
Every once in awhile, an album comes along where you can tell by the first track that something is wrong. Not wrong as in incorrect; wrong as in different, exposing how strictly you’ve trained your ears to seek the comfort of Western pop structures.
“Wonderful Most Incredible” is not for the passive listener. It is, however, a work of sonic art divided not into songs but vignettes. With the longest track measuring under three minutes and the shortest barely over 40 seconds, the eight-song EP is a puzzle in which songwriter Palana Belken has re-cut and rearranged the pieces into a brand new picture.
Even when the Somersworth-based band comes close to conventional pop in “sizeblind,” the disjointed vocals and melodies from the Roland 808 drum machine still require some intensive listening in order to understand the full scope of the song (here’s hoping that “radical diarrhea” is just a metaphor).
Just when you start to wrap your mind around the songwriting, “remarkable child” kicks off the second half of the record in a lo-fi punk explosion. In a fury of over-distortion, thrashy pop guitar, and bopping beats, the final three tracks — “got pot,” “(wonderful most incredible),” and “jane” — add even more tension to the need for attention.
The avant-electronica of Palanapanache isn’t your ordinary summer soundtrack for a drive to the beach; this music calls for a little thought. In other words, it’s art for art’s sake. The message may be hard to receive at first listen, but opening up your ears is the first step to opening up your mind. Give it a try here.