It's more than time to announce that my favourite album of the year will no doubt be the debut longplayer from San Francisco's The Mantles. Together, SF and LA have by now caught up with Brooklyn, being the homes of groups like Dum Dum Girls and The Fresh & Onlys (more about them later) and perhaps best exemplified by the Part Time Punks festival which is on right now. Like a more fun-packed equivalent to the Captured Tracks/Woodsist fest, the line-up includes bands like The Raincoats, Section 25, The Jazz Butcher, The Intelligence and locals Weave!. And let's not forget The Smell.
But The Mantles self-titled lp on Siltbreeze is, to my ears, the first record landing exactly between the otherwise widely separated worlds of indiepop and 60s garage. Other people have mentioned the similarity to Flying Nun bands and the Paisley Underground scene of early 80s San Francisco (two things that are suddenly hip again). But I think the garage element of their sound goes right back to Golden Dawn and The Mantles' Californian predecessors The Seeds and The Chocolate Watchband. It's a perfectly produced album and every song knocks me out. It sounds very simple and I bet the rest of the American punk-pop bands are regretting all the time they spent disfiguring and tweaking their guitar sounds. Like the very few garage-revival bands who actually achieved a pure 60s sound in spite of the despicable production values of the 80s (LA's The Last come to mind of course!), songs like "What We Do Matters" and "Yesterday's Gone" give me the same thrill as a crackly 45 from 1967. "Samantha" makes me think of The Summer Suns (who have song called the same thing) and the 12-string-laden "Don't Lie" and "Burden" sound like a mix of them, Dom Mariani's other group The Someloves and "Misty Lane" by The Chocolate Watchband. "Disappering Act" kicks off the record, just like the equally 60s-influenced Biff Bang Pow!, with it's frantic strumming. "James" is the most blantant pop offering, and crashes along like The Wedding Present or This Poison!, before stopping just shy of the 2-minute mark.
I can't see myself tiring of this album in the foreseeable future.