July 25th, 2009 | Album reviews

Download: Mellowdrone “Elephant”


(from Angry Bear available now from Coming Home)

Mellowdrone’s latest Angry Bear is an album rich and thick with heavy lo-fi goodness. Bandmates Jonathan Bates on vox and bass, Tony DeMatteo on guitar and Brian Borg on drums have been going strong for about a decade with a few EPs and band member changes in between. Now with their second full-length, the trio has released their definitive album. Starting off minimally with vocals and backing guitar, “Where Ever You May Go” becomes a psychedelic ballad without pretentious lovelorn emotions. With this track, Mellowdrone establishes a woozy wall of sound that lasts for most of the album. “Elephant” and “Big Winner” are strongest, powered by thunderous bass licks and Bates’ hollow baritone. Then there are the comparatively cheerful guitars and droning backing vocals on “Esmerelda” and the druggy “Sugar,” and the seductive waltz of “Lady in Her Underwear” and the dancey haze used to camouflage traditional Americana in “Jumping Off the Pier.” From the grungy and gritty rock to the harmonized vocals and experimental instincts at their core, Angry Bear is a celebration of this Los Angeles-based band’s ability to wield many forms of rock for ends all their own.

—Christina Nersesian