Andy Macintrye – Melomania
Austin, Texas continues to produce real musical winners with the release of Andy Macintrye’s EP Melomania, a condensed genre synthesis illuminating Macintrye’s diverse talents as a guitarist, songwriting, and deceptively effective singer. Perhaps the bedrock astute move Macintrye made before launching into the recording sessions for this release is recruiting Grammy nominated booth guru Tim Palmer, a mixing engineer with credits like U2 and Pearl Jam, and they work well in producing what surely rates as the strongest studio release yet for this longtime fixture on the indie and Austin music scene. Macintrye draws from a handful of guest stars to inject a little added buzz into the collection, but the heart of Melomania is the sound of an inspired songwriter and musician working near or at the top of his game.
Rock plays an important role in Macintrye’s stylistic inclinations, but blues plays a perhaps surprising part in shaping Melomania’s musical DNA. Macintrye has a tendency, as well, to stretch and explore during these songs and the opener “Cocoon” vividly illustrates it. It bursts to life with riffing sounding like a cross between overdriven keyboards or guitar before moving into the airy, melodic main body of the song. Macintrye has an urgent voice throwing off emotive sparks with every turn and it suits the arrangement’s moody trajectory quite well; he gains extra luster playing off guest singer Jacqui Walker’s gut wrenching soul. The song challenges our expectations some with how neatly it plays off dynamics and the contrast between the harsher interludes and overall melodic arch gives it inner tension it would have lacked in lesser hands.
The near hard rock rave up kicking off the title song segues into a solid rock jaunt adorned with acoustic guitar flourishes along the way. It’s a song throwing off a loose, but confident and competent vibe and the relaxed quality is underlined for listeners with its fun ramshackle ending. The title song is easily one of the more conventional tracks on the EP, but wholly successful. “Soul Survivor” opens with spartan accompaniment for nearly the first minute, Macintrye’s voice working alongside early piano fills and plaintive electric guitar, but he soon develops the song for a much larger frame and the lyrical content is easily among the EP’s best. It scales surprisingly grand heights by its conclusion.
“Juice” goes full on blues and doesn’t make it a secret, but the bucket of blood blues riffing and lead work turns claustrophobic shortly after the introduction and cops a turgid crawl for much of the tune. Macintrye unleashes the hounds of hell musically as he strafes listeners with one melodically coherent blast after another of guitar set on kill. His vocal embodies the song back against the wall desperation with its go for broke passion. One of the EP’s most atmospheric moments comes with the finale “Blu Moon” featuring the guest talents of Van Wilks and Lauren Silva. Silva’s vocal chemistry with Macintrye on this closing song gives it much of its spirit, but Van Wilks’ contributions blend into the overall package without ever calling attention to themselves. It’s a thoughtful, pensive curtain for one of the most satisfying abbreviated releases you’ll hear in quite some time.