Gil Mantera’s Party Dream : Bloodsongs

Jeff Terich

I’m not sure I “get” Gil Mantera’s Party Dream. I mean, sure, there’s not much to the band: new wave synths, crunchy distorted guitars, and some danceable party vibes. That part I get, but what about everything else? Why does singer Ultimate Donny sound like Brandon Boyd? Why are they signed to Fat Possum, of all labels? And don’t even get me started on the album art—a bleeding cabin, a Neanderthal sprouting flowers from his pores—I really don’t know what to make of all this.

Actually, come to think of it, their music doesn’t make sense. That Brandon Boyd comparison doesn’t stop at the vocals alone. When Donny bellows over the anthemic guitars and über-cheese synthesizers on opener “Buffalo Tears,” it actually does sound like remixed Incubus. Same goes for “Shadow Grip,” but that song raises the bar by adding some stutter-step Timbaland beats and vocodered chants. But the whole thing gets turned on its head when Donny starts shredding on some Eddie Van Halen shit—I mean some real guitar heroics here, though no fingertapping…sorry. And it becomes clear that there’s another similarity between GMPD and Van Halen (in addition to the sonic ones mentioned on the onesheet)—both bands are named after a member that isn’t the singer. And the two dudes in Gil Mantera’s Party Dream are brothers, much like Alex and Eddie.

Okay, now, see, the vocoders sounded cool on “Grip,” but on “Elmo’s Wish,” the digitalized “I don’t know why I love you” comes dangerously close to “Do you believe in life after love?” The Party Dream repents, however, rocking harder on “Building Rockets,” which is like an Atari 2600 game blasted through a Peavey. And it ain’t half bad, I must admit. At this point, I’m even warming up to Donny’s hammed-up vocal flamboyance. There might just be an American Idol audition waiting for this guy in Columbus, after all.

This pattern of bafflingly discordant elements and oddly catchy tunes continues throughout the album. “Alligator Missions” in particular has a fun little intro and some hyperactive techno beats, while “Brave New Christmas” gives the retail outlets something new to blare during the Holidays. Still, even with all of its quirky charms, Bloodsongs is overwhelmingly silly, at times, too much so. Once metal guitars, jeep beats and sleigh bells start crossing paths, you know that something just isn’t right. If nothing else, Bloodsongs is a fun record. But I can’t help but think that this is just a big joke that I’m not in on.

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33Hz – 33Hz

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