All Odds End
Reviewed by: Max Miller
The Mantles have long sat atop the picket fence across which garage rock and beat music chat neighborly. The five-piece hail, as so many of their contemporaries do, from California — San Francisco, to be exact. Their third full-length, All Odds End, is a concise testament not just to the Mantles themselves, but to the sun-kissed shimmer and seaside joy of the Golden State’s throwback guitar pop.
Opening cut “Island” sets the template the band follows for the majority of the album’s 30-minute runtime. Guitarist/vocalist Michael Olivares lays down a jangly chord progression over which guitarist Justin Loney might interlace some subtle melody lines or chiming arpeggios. Bassist Matt Bullimore adds in a bouncy bassline to compliment drummer Virginia Weatherby’s tight, urgent rhythms. In the background, Carly Putnam inserts keys that never stray into the sonic realm unleashed by the advent of the synthesizer.
Sometimes, the formula yields results like “Lay It Down” and “Police My Love,” which feel like lost ‘60s gems along the lines of the Knickerbockers’ “Lies.” More often, though, Loney’s lead guitar lines have a particularly ‘80s indie feel that reminds simultaneously of Johnny Marr, Peter Buck and Bob Stinson. Also reminiscent of the Replacements is the acoustic ballad “Lately,” which sounds like it could snuggle up to “Unsatisfied” on a mixtape.
If the Mantles have a failing, it’s not inherent to their music, but instead their scene. There’s simply a glut of this kind of music that’s been steadily building over the past 50 years, and especially over the past decade. However, the creeping influence of ‘80s underground favorites gives All Odds End a unique charm that should help the group escape a destiny of fading away into memory alongside the California summers their music so vividly evoke.