Monday, 12 March 2012
Mandana - I Own Leather Sleeves (Smashed Up Records)
On their website they helpfully explain the origin of their name. It seems that a Mandana is a ‘bandana worn by a man’. That sorts that conundrum out. They also list their influences, from Led Zep and Cream, to The Eagles and The Cars, but apart from the pop hooks of the latter, it’s impossible to comprehend their connection with some of the most capably produced groups of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Mandana are lo-fi, everything sounds like it was recorded in one take and the band, Calvin Ellis, Brandon Bettencourt, Christian Martinez, Ian Brown and Ezequiel Galvan, are neither virtuoso or slick. They do, however, have a couple of important redeeming features. They know how to write a tune, and I suspect they’ve got great record collections. The first attribute can be heard all over the songs of “I Own Leather Sleeves”. “Cool School” and “The Feeling Inside” are the best of the bunch, the former features a guitar line that’s stepped straight out of mid-70’s New York and the latter is pure ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll as interpreted by Lou Reed and/or Eddie and the Hot Rods. Lou Reed crops up again on their version of Tommy James’ “Crimson and Clover”, where the familiar central riff is given a Velvets makeover, and “Why Won't You Be My Valentine?” might feature some ‘interesting’ harmonies, but there’s no doubting its ‘60s proto-punk roots.