Long Beach’s Manuel The Band are not your average rock band. As well as vocalist/guitarist Manuel Grajeda, bassist Kevin Nowacki, and drummer Brandon Worth, the band also features George Madrid on pedal steel, Richard Fernandez on trombone and percussion, and Matt Kalin on saxophone.
The line-up of the band alone will already set their debut album, ‘Room For Complication’, apart from its contemporaries.
The album opens with ‘Breathe’. The soft guitar in the intro pairs perfectly with some hypnotic chords on the pedal steel. When the drums come in, the song becomes something you can dance to, and towards the end it turns anthemic, giving the brass and woodwind instruments a moment to shine. ‘Casual Love’ starts off with a familiar indie-style guitar part, before a Theremin-like line on the pedal steel comes in. The chorus slows things right down and retains the hypnotic quality of the previous track.
‘Strong Independent Woman’ has a vibe of old jazz and soul about it, bringing to mind singers like Nina Simone. While the song starts out slow, the energy given throughout is a completely different vibe from the rest of the album. Before the track’s closing moments, there’s a section where Grajeda croons, while the rest of the band vocalize in a classic gospel style, which further adds to the whole tone of the song.
‘Get Your Heart Off My Mind’ closes things off whilst bringing a funk element to the piece, and brings the energy of the album to a massive climax.
‘Room For Complication’ is a pretty good indie album. The pedal steel, trombone, and sax add a completely new flavour that makes them unique, and also jumps from style to style while still feeling homely and rooted. This is a very impressive record, and hopefully just a taste of what Manuel The Band have to offer.
20/All things Scottish Rock/Emo/Metal