Anton Mink - Outside The Lines
Like an old friend who shows up unannounced and certainly welcomed with open arms, I was recently given the heads up on Louisville, KY's most prominent and professional (so says I, anyway) jam-heavy, beer-slamming, nostalgic modern classic alternative rock/blues/jazzy fusion-y...whew...band known as Anton Mink with their newest release, Outside The Lines. Just like our old friend, it's like they'd never left in the first place. Like our old friend, they have some new things to talk about, and at the same time can wax nostalgic about what you'd been through in the past. Of course, this is me talking here. What you end up thinking of Outside The Lines will ultimately depend on...well...what you think of it. Duh.
To be brief prior to being specific, let it be known that nothing much has changed for this band sound-wise. While they still come off as an improvise-heavy jam-band, there is that undercurrent of chemistry and direction that reminds you during each transition, tempo-shift, bridge and chorus that reminds you they're writing songs and writing them well. Free-spirited is about as apt a term as you can find here. Chloa is still the focal point of the music in my mind, her potency, soul and attitude gives voice (literally) to the band's instrumental prowess and the ecclectic, off-beat and, dare I say, hippie-esque lyrics provide an interesting bit of material to couple with that beautiful voice. As you hear the sounds change behind her, you realize that her voice is almost a blank slate that could work in a wide variety of genres. Alt-rock, classic, southern, country, and I'm willing to bet (although she doesn't let us know it on this record) she has a rather sinister metal voice somewhere down in her lungs, haha. This is no discredit to the rest of the band, either; Andy Jack has a brilliant array of guitar styles and tones that add flourish and substance to the sound, while the rhythm section of Anton Z on bass and Gerome on drums add the groovy foundation in style. The rolling fill and surf-rock guitar line of opener "Watchman" are accented tremendously by some grooved-out basswork, an early highlight that is hard to live up to the rest of the way. "My God" slinks along in a devilish manner and Chloa conjures the spirit of Amy Winehouse (to my ears, anyway, and RIP Amy) in sound and lyrical substance. This sort of moody, brooding track is easily and comfortably off-setted by the Marley nods of "Chronic", an obvious tribute to an obvious inspirational and recreational pastime. "Pristine Chapels" slows things down and reminds me of a female-fronted Lynyrd Skynyrd. Think "Tuesday's Gone" with a heaping dose of feminine soul and a bit more groove in the back-end. Probably my favorite track of theirs right now, but strong in contention would be the guitar-heavy "Volcanic Vacation" and Chloa at her most seductive on "Sweet Thing".
Another collection of fantastic rock and roll that fuses inspiration from a myriad of other genres to create a jam-like, DIY feel. Outside The Lines may or may not win over anyone who took the time to check them out based on my review of their last LP, but let's be honest; that's the first step you should be taking at this point. And, for what it's worth, I think Outside The Lines is a much more refined, well-written and overall more enjoyable place to start.
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