In “Hey Everybody,” the jazzy spat of instrumental violence that ushers us into Little King and the Salamander (demos), The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina make it abundantly clear that they came to do some serious business in their latest trip to the recording studio, and that business consists of rocking our stereos with unstoppable grooves and basslines that could bludgeon an elephant to death. Divided into two uniquely stylish batches of psychedelic rock and alternative folk, Little King and the Salamander (demos)’s “What Fools We Can Be,” “White Light and Lullabies,” “She’ll Do Anything,” “Particle Craze” and “I’ll Be (Kisses at Your Door)” are among the most polished songs that the band has ever committed to record, and though these are allegedly unfinished demo tapes that represent only the most carnal of ideas that the band developed while jamming together, they don’t feel incomplete or fragmented in the least. I wasn’t very familiar with The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina, but after finding myself addicted to songs like “Slip Away (Dreamin’ Again)” and “Together” in the last month, I must admit that I’ve become quite a fan of their stately approach to melodicism.
LIVE VIDEO CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghFb1MhyQjM
The second half of this record is much more eccentric in tone than the first is, but both complement each other in the big picture of things here wonderfully. The zanier material, like “Definitely Not My Underwear” and “Jeepers Creepers” break up the tension created by more serious songs like “Thinking of You” and the awesomely chilling “Fade Into the Night,” the latter of which might be the most thrilling listening experience I’ve had in all of 2019. The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina are no one-hit wonder, and they prove to have a melting pot of tonality in this album that is off the charts-exciting. There are no big guitar solos that cling to rapped rhymes or relentless electro-pop beats in Little King and the Salamander (demos); instead, we find in their place homespun harmonies that are as indebted to Bob Dylan-style folk music as they are psychedelic riff rock from bands like The Zombies, Cream and even The Beatles during their most surreal of periods.
One part throwback to 60’s garage rock and another part a verifiable and contemporary experiment in post-punk etherealness, Little King and the Salamander (demos) is a must listen for fans of sublime indie rock that doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but strikes a familiar chord within any hardcore audiophile’s heart. I’ve found that listening to this record from beginning to end without anything to interrupt the textured fluidity of the tracklist is really the best way to understand the sonic profile of The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina, and thanks to the erudite master mix presented to us here, it ends up feeling more like an exclusive opportunity to sit in on a recording session than it does just listening to a new album from a skilled group of musicians. I don’t plan on missing anything that this band puts out in the near future, and if I were you, I’d be keeping them on my radar as well.
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