Bobb Bruno – Mellowdramas LP
Bobb Bruno, known for his work in fuzzy dream-pop outfit BEST COAST, slow-burning metal merchants GOLIATH BIRD EATER, and post-rock lurkers POLAR GOLDIE CATS, to name but a few, not to mention his role in shaping the current LA underground by making records with MIKA MIKO, POCAHAUNTED, and MAGIC LANTERN, in addition to stints with THE FOR CARNATION and IMAAD WASIF, has been turning out his thoughtfully-crafted solo work for years, and never so seamlessly as on “Mellowdramas”. With it’s combination of late-night-loner electronic drift, dream-inducing rhythmic workouts, and masterful avant-pop orchestrations, this is a record that stays with you. Written and recorded during a period of personal turmoil, the album travels the arc from the deeply melancholic to the triumphant, leaving bad dreams to die on the bedroom floor. Not concerned with coolness, with “Mellowdramas” you get the real thing, and just maybe, a good night’s sleep.
Mastered by JAMES PLOTKIN (KHANATE, JODIS)
GUEST appearances by NELS CLINE (WILCO), REBECCA COLEMAN (PAGEANTS, ex-AVI BUFFALO ), JOSH KLINGHOFFER (RHCP) & MORE.
“Most folks probably know Bobb Bruno as the guitar player in sunshiney retro poppers Best Coast, although some aQ-ers no doubt know him as the man behind ultra heavy guitar/drums duo Goliath Bird Eater, and still others might remember him as a member of late great nineties indie rock weirdos the Polar Goldie Cats, so with all that in mind we weren’t sure what to expect from this long in the works solo record, on which Bruno plays everything, but has some notable guests along for the ride (including Nels Cline, and Josh Klinghoffer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers!).
The title is your first clue, as these are in fact mellow sonic dramas, the opener is a dark, dreamy gloom pop gem, all murky chordal whir, shimmery organs, and some gorgeous torch song vocals, courtesy of Kandyce Lynn Crane, the song smolders and slithers, peppered with pizzicato strings, sounding a bit like a moodier creepier Best Coast actually, the music could maybe be a Best Coast 45 spinning at 16rpm, but regardless it’s so lovely. The second track is another dark pop gem, this one more orchestral, sweeping and grand, a dreamy softly fuzzy epic, laced with some cool droned out buzz, it’s the sort of sound you might have expected from Cardinal back in the day. “Loveletter” is another symphonic pop number, all swirling soaring strings, swaddled in mysterious electronic chitter, the melody theremin like, hazy and lush and again so lovely, the guitars warm and buzzy, and when the drums finally kick in, the song slips into a Mazzy Star like shoegaze drift, all dreamy slowcore, and again, the song features a cool, weirdly effected super melodic guitar solo.
The vocals return on “We Know You Know” which is all low slung, electro-skitter, which quickly blossoms into a sort of dubbed out Portishead-y downtempo shuffle, but with lush squalls of super distorted guitar and some gorgeous wordless vocals, the sound dark and dramatic and a little bit gothic, sounding like a more post punk shoegazey Zola Jesus, which is not at all a bad thing.
“Loners” is all murky lysergic slow jam, with James Blake like distorted slo-mo soul vox, the sort of track Balam Acab or Clams Casino might conjure up, woozy and washed out, warped and warbly. “Near Ecstasy” starts off all minimal and fuzzy, with some sweetly crooned vox, again sounding very goth, almost Kate Bush like at times, all over an almost krautrock sounding groove, wreathed in flanged synths and swirling gauzy thrum, and then finally, the record finishes with “Over”, a strange bit of experimental synthscaping, that sounds like it was modeled after some Beach Boys outtake, pounding chords, overlapping, all over a hushed shimmer, finally coalescing into a fuzzy chunk of dream pop, with a sweet tinkling chime melody, only to seemingly melt into a warped stretch of druggy murk, that sounds more like the Skaters than anything, but a gorgeously tripped out finish to a pretty fantastic record. Not at all what we were expecting, but all the more exciting for that. Definitely for fans of dark, lush pop and hazy electronic dreaminess, we’re actually digging this like crazy!
Cool bloody panda bear sweat sock cover art! ”