Every now and then, there's that one band from your hometown that pops up out of nowhere and just blows you away. They write the kind of songs that make you jealous enough to question your own creativity... A group of musicians with just the right chemistry that they've happened to stumble upon a unique algorithm of writing songs that just doesn't exist elsewhere. I am of course talking about the beautiful angularity of the now defunct Arctic Death.
Needless to say, since their demise, the Arctic Death-sized hole left in Buffalo's otherwise impressive music scene had yet to be filled... Until now of course. Don't get me wrong, this band is NOT an Arctic Death rip off - instead, they pick up where Arctic Death left off and put their own spin on things.
The Malones is guitarist and vocalist Steven Floyd, bassist Elliott Douglas, and drummer Brandon Schlia. Their songs are loaded with that weird charm that made Arctic Death so appealing. At the same time, they have a strange pop allure that is buried deep within their songs, but is also so integral to their structure. Think Tokyo Police Club without the keyboards. The next closest comparison I can come up with is Arctic Death - but that's not really fair to The Malones.
The demo kicks off with "Bones About It," where Floyd sings, "Please don't depend on me, I'm all fuss and feathers knowing I can't do better." I hope he's talking about trouble with women and not his trouble with music, because for a three piece band, The Malones have great control over what they are trying to accomplish with their music. For example, Floyd's tenor is quirky enough to be memorable, but it's never too odd to be unpalatable. And something else I always appreciate in a band - Floyd's guitar often provides the backbone for Douglas' nimble bass lines. "Bones About It" is only one instance of this... The third track "Lie Straight" is probably my favorite song on the album, propelled mostly by Douglas' bass. But in all actuality, "Lie Straight" could be the blueprint for an archetypal Malones song - self-depricating lyrics, insane bass lines, and easily digestible guitars and drums.
Another personal favorite track of mine is the iconic "Love Music." Hardcore Floyd fans might recognize this as a Floyd & The Nicknames jam, but it's been reworked into Malones territory for good reason. "Love Music" has my favorite line in this batch of songs - "I'm not self-centered, I'm immersed. I know I'm bad but I'm not the worst. Lying to you has become second nature, but lying to myself has become like first." The Malones are like The Strokes if they weren't so stoned and mellow all of the time - they are a little bit neurotic and a little bit pompous, but it's refreshing to know that at least they're aware of it... and that chorus is irresistible - "oooh waa, oooh waa, ooooohwaaa."
For the rest of the songs on this demo, The Malones walk the line between Arctic Death and The Strokes and somehow blend it indistinguishably. "Information" leans more towards The Strokes side until an Arctic Death-ish guitar interlude rears its head at :55. Same goes for "Scream and Shout," but opposite - this particular song is reminiscent of Arctic Death until The Strokes inspired chorus.
Rounding out this demo is the shortest song, "Clenched Fist." Floyd spits out lyrics in a frenzy, telling a story of a prototypical 20-something - "We'll make the floor into our beds, we'll wake up smelling like cigarettes... We were fools, but I didn't mind being lost with you." In a way, this demo by The Malones is also kind of a snapshot of a bunch of twenty-something musicians in their prime. It just also happens to fill an Arctic Death-sized void for me.