For years, Dead Mellotron occupied a dark, unlabeled corner of my iTunes library; just a few free single track downloads I’d accumulated over time from the blogosphere that constituted a jumbled collection of soda pop atmospheric drone-y goodness. When my Facebook news feed momentarily spasmed a few months ago with their “We’re breaking up…” post, I was mildly depressed that this band would never take their rightful place in the lineage of Baltimore successes like Beach House or Animal Collective. But the boys and girls of Dead Mellotron just blessed us with five brand new songs on their bandcamp, allowing a bit of room for hope to grow that they might not be as finished as we have been led to believe.
The Winter 2014 EP begins with two scorched instrumental tracks, allowing the guitars to sprawl in every which way over crashing and bumping percussion, reminiscent of the band’s strongest release to date, Glitter. Devolving into a feedback screech, “Intro” morphs cleverly into an uptempo bopper, “Totaled,” tipping its cap as much to late 60’s psychedelia as to Lockett Pundt and the scuzz pop of Yuck. “All Gray,” despite the bleak implications of its title, is the lush and languorous pivot track of the album, and the project’s first foray into vocals. The verse is an unassuming straight rock strut reminiscent of early Kevin Parker, but the band lets rip a drone chorus that’s along the lines of psych-ier DIIV material, but way groovier, sweeping and euphoric.
Lyrics are there (if you dig deep enough), but they are reverb’d into near total abstraction – think Slowdive behind an acousmatic veil. They act as countermelody to the guitars in most cases, but are used nowhere else on this EP as tastefully as the closing track “Sleepover”. It’s a perfectly nostalgic wintry track to close this collection of songs, leaving a small but loyal fan base unsure about the next time they’ll hear from Dead Mellotron, if ever.
Aside from cryptic but leading social media posts like “What if we played a show…” fans can read these five songs’ new explorations as proof that the creative wheels are still churning. With experimentations around downtempo feels (like on “Who Else”) and more prominent use of synths for atmospheric effects, there is something quite fresh about this new drop from a band supposedly broken up. There’s lots of material to dig through on their bandcamp, but Winter 2014 is definitely something worth adding to your rotation this season.