Album Review: The Mallett Brothers Band
The Mallett Brothers Band are so deeply steeped in backwoods folk that their music literally conjures images of swamp land, decaying cabins, and tall mountains. Those descriptions may sound stereotypical or clichéd, but they aptly convey the rusty, dust-strewn authenticity that this group echoes. At a time when the shocking mainstream success of roots-rock brethren such as the Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons are threatening to open the floodgates to bogus clones, that this indie band would choose to explore their non-commercial vintage country and bluegrass origins further is quite encouraging.
Consisting of Luke Mallett (vocals, acoustic guitar), Will Mallett (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo), Nick Leen (bass guitar), Nate Soule (acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin), Wally Wenzel (dobro, electric guitar), and Brian Higgins (drums), the Mallett Brothers Band truly sounds like one. In other words, they have a bigger, more eclectic sound than the typical alt-country unit. The driving acoustic riffs and gruff vocals of “Black Moon” kick off the record, and it becomes immediately apparent that the Malletts, unlike too many other Americana acts, utilize classic country instrumentation to create an atmosphere instead of some trendy stylistic clothing. This is even more apparent with the gladiatorial “Last Man Standing” with its brittle guitars and sparks of feedback.
The locomotive rhythms of “Carolanne” should immediately reel in the unenlightened; there is a charming quality in which these lads harmonize, and this track certainly showcases that. “Walk Down the River” recalls both Counting Crows and the crystalline jangle of early R.E.M. “Hard Light” is a captivating ballad that unveils the Malletts’ reflective side while the closer, “Wrong Kind of Woman,” is the kind of hyper rave-up that wins over bars and jaded critics.