Mantra Love, Photo: Anthony Flores
For the past five years or so, the term “psych rock” has been given to many bands who are nothing more than garage rock. Though that’s generally semantics, it’s always nice to come across bands who are actually psychedelic, and who play the type of music that they claim to be. Enter Houston’s Mantra Love, a local three piece that’s been getting on all sorts of shows that seem to be getting bigger each time they perform. These guys make a mixture of cultivated psych rock that utilizes old school elements and new soundscapes that are found throughout the genre. On their latest EP, “Mantra Love” to be released tomorrow, they explore all forms of the category while keeping things fresh and inventive.
Things kick off with “Hireth” which comes across as a proper opening song. It has these engaging percussion sounds mixed with a dreamy guitar and an underlying vocal that adds to the mystery of the song. Those vocals morph into a reverbed sense that lies behind and then on top of the other instruments on the song, and help really stretch the band’s sound. They kick things up a notch in speed before finishing the song off in a haze of pedal sounds. They follow it up with the spaced out vibe of “Perceptions,” where again the drums have this different feel that you don’t get to hear from most psych acts today. There’s a beauty in how the recording isn’t really polished and almost has the feeling of a live recording. If it was done live, then the fact that the band changes speed several times without missing a beat is a skill that should be noted. The band changes it up a bit for the third track “Song For The Human Experience,” where the band kind of plays what sounds closer to a free form jam than anything else complete with a loungey opening. The reverbed vocals mixed with the sound of a band playing in an airport lounge to vacationers is not without merit, as they still find a way to change direction in the track at least twice.
Around the fourth song, “interlude,” which is exactly that, you should have that hazy feeling of when you’re on ‘shrooms and you can hear the voices people in front of you, behind you. The band definitely plays up the psych vibe of their sound with a little ditty that ends almost as quick as it begins, only to follow it up with the drunken jam of “Howlin’.” There are moments in the song that feel like you’re on the corner of Ashbury & Haight and there are lava lamp looking visuals on the wall while some cute hippie girls dance in the foreground. Which, I think is the point that the band is trying to make, that the psych they’re bringing is just as chill as it is different from the herd. I seriously had flashbacks to hanging out fifteen years ago with these granola girls who blew glass pipes for a living when the song played, making it the most standout track of the release. They close things out with the jazz structure of “Dream Chasing” where the guitar takes a nosedive into multiple effects while the drums create a world of chaos without going off the rails. While they pick up speed in and out of the song, it never feels out of place and they keep everything between the worlds of relaxed and furious.
The end result is a collection of six songs that represent the true nature of the genre by culminating multiple sounds that all leave you with the feeling of getting the munchies. The druggy way in which the songs glide along without making you feel seasick is pretty cool, while they still find a way to do things their own way. You can get your own copy of the album when it gets released tomorrow, November 7th via bandcamp here, and then catch the band at either Big Top on November 13th, or at the rescheduled Creeperfest at House of Creeps on November 28th.