Steal This Track: Jesse Manley and MombiBy Eryc Eyl | March 14th, 2011 | No Comments »
Oh, Monday! How you do beguile us. It’s time for another edition of Steal This Track, your weekly change to pilfer, purloin and pluck fresh new tracks from some of Colorado’s best and brightest musicians, absolutely gratis. For those of you whose Latin is a little rusty, that means free. This week, we have a banjo-based beauty from Jesse Manley and some ecstatic electronic folk from Mombi. Sometimes stealing is ok!
We’ve sung Jesse Manley’s praises before, and we’re not ashamed to do so again, especially with his first full-length album finally in the can and ready for release on April 29th. Though the young singer-songwriter sounds nothing like Slim Cessna or Munly, there’s a melodramatic darkness that he shares with those name brand Denver acts.
Montana-born Manley has been promising an album since he first hit my radar more than two years ago, but the wait has been worth it. The songs are complex without being overly complicated, the lyrics are evocative without being obvious, and the instrumentation is organic and varied. Banjo and mandolin figure prominently, but this is no bluegrass album. It’s mountain music, most definitely, but with a healthy dose of blues and indie rock. If there’s a single distinguishing feature of “Devil’s Red,” however, it’s Manley’s voice. With a subtle brogue, it conveys depth, melancholy and a wisdom that exists somewhere outside of our world.
Mark your calendar for some exciting upcoming events featuring Manley. First, he’ll be part of Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s Rarities and Oddities performance, which occurs Apr 22-24. Then, on Apr 29, he’ll be releasing the long-anticipated “Devil’s Red” at the Walnut Room, with Rachael Pollard and Radical Knitting Circle supporting. If that seems like too long to wait, you should probably steal “Oh Lord,” the album’s penultimate and longest track, right now.
On the surface, the duo Mombi doesn’t have much in common with Jesse Manley. The pair’s album, “The Wounded Beat” — due on Apr 25 via Luxembourg-based Own Records — is filled electronic, ambient, folky, atmospheric songs that will appeal to fans of acts like the Album Leaf and Owen.
You don’t have to be hip to those names to appreciate what Mombi is all about, though. Instrumentation that manages to be lush yet sparse, melodies that are haunting but slippery, and lyrics that skirt the edges of sense combine to create a luxurious musical world that sounds like the cool side of a pillow feels. “The Wounded Beat” has been more than two years in the making, with tracks traveling back and forth between Kael Smith and Matt Herron here in Denver, and Portland’s Keith Kenniff, and the care they’ve taken shows in the album’s shimmering, solemn beauty. There’s a comfort in these songs that is both sad and soothing.
After the release of “The Wounded Beat” late next month, Smith and Herron will set out on a European tour, accompanied by noteworthy Denver guitarist Andrew Solanyk of Killfix. Pass the time between now and then by stealing “Glowing Beatdown.” You’ll be glad you did.
If you like Steal This Track, you’re gonna love Steal This Track: a Reverb Dance Party at the Hi-Dive. We’re taking over the South Broadway indie rock institution on the last Thursday of every month with special guests, giveaways, drink specials and more. This month’s guest DJs will be Kitty Vincent of Le Divorce and experimental electronic eccentric Cacheflowe. In the later hours, DJ Savior Breath (a.k.a. Reverb’s own Eryc Eyl) turns the shindig into a pants-dropping dance party. And just like Steal This Track, it’s absolutely free. You won’t want to miss it.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Eryc Eyl for consideration.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Monday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.