I’ve been blogging on Life in the Vinyl Lane for a year and a half now, and it’s helped open my ears to lots of new-to-me music. Getting back into vinyl helped too, since I like to go to record stores and buy all kinds of random stuff, which I then get to write about. Sort of one obsession (music – particularly vinyl) fueling another (writing). Plus it keeps me off the streets, so I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.
I figured I’d eventually get emails from a reader here and there, and in fact I have… including more than a few from Iceland, which always makes me smile. But there was one thing about doing Life in the Vinyl Lane that I didn’t anticipate. Getting emails from bands and labels about new releases. I’m not sure why this surprised me. I guess I figured I’m just as full of it as the next guy… but still, I’ve been turned onto so pretty cool groups simply because they shot me an email and a link to some mp3s and asked that I check them out. Which happened to me about a month ago with a band out of Pheonix called MALLEVS. And I promptly, embarrassingly, forgot to check them out until they sent me a follow up email.
I’m so glad for that follow up email.
Because their album is incredible.
Now, I’m going to have a hard time describing MALLEVS’ sound. I guess if I had to shoe-horn them into a genre, it would be post-punk. But that’s not really fair, because there are elements of industrial in the metallic percussions, maybe some goth, a dash of psych, a pinch of noise, and certainly some electronica. Put that in your juicer and see what you come up with. Is it like a lo-fi set by The Cure in a dark basement? Is it the soundtrack to the new Hellraiser movie? Or is it something different… something with a dark tint, something with weight, something heavy being pulled along using just ropes and muscle and will like a bunch of ancient Egyptians building the pyramids?
It’s the best album I’ve heard this year.
“Now Jeff, c’mon,” you may be thinking. You’ve certainly sung the praises of a number of albums this year, to be sure. But consider:
I’ve listened to MALLEVS
seven eight times, all the way through, in the last four days (I listened to it one more time at work today after I wrote the original draft of this review…).
I think that says something.
The vinyl version of MALLEVS comes out next month on Gilgongo Records, a re-release of their original cassette. It’s six songs run about 26 minutes, putting it somewhere between and EP and a LP… but it’s just the right amount of music. Because the oppressive weight of it is powerful. I’m not sure how they get so much sound out of three people, with Adam Lovelady and Josh Rodriguez doing the music and newcomer Jen Deveroux supplying the haunting female vocals. But somehow the three combine to create a veritable wave of music, though not like the kind of wave you see crashing at the shore on the beach, but more like the deceptively huge swells in the open water that are enormous in size and deceptively powerful… and run deep beneath the surface.
MALLEVS reminds me of a handful of dark and brooding albums that I’ve heard in the last six months or so, most notably Shiny Darkly’s Dead Stars EP and more than a little of Þórir Georg’s It’s A Wonderful Life, both of which left major impressions on me. They’re all heavy, but not in the typical way meaning hard, but more in the way that feels like there’s a weight on your chest and you can’t catch your breath. MALLEVS is an album I’ve had a hard time truly getting a hold of and coming to grips with, one that requires repeated listenings so you can get past the initial emotional response and drill down into the richness of the sounds.
Even though I was able to get a digital copy of MALLEVS, I fully intend on buying a copy of it on vinyl when it comes out. I think that tells you everything you need to know.