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Mellowdrone
A DEMONSTRATION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
(ARTISTDIRECT)

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Jonathan Bates hates Boston, where he lived while attending Berklee. Yet this EP ó his third, but his first for a label ó sounds poured from the crucible of the cityís í90s alternative-rock scene. Its six songs are a canvas of big textures: ringing and roaring guitars, cheesy Casio keyboard tones, growling basses, drum machines, and singing that preens, purrs, and pisses and moans. And Batesís lyrics drip with self-absorption. His characters zing between puffed-up egotism and deflated insecurity, sometimes, as in "And Repeat," from one line to the next.

If anything guides these numbers, itís a sense of numb beauty: Batesís bold layers of sound create an intoxicating sheen. That and the ease with which he negotiates his wide, soaring vocal range ó especially its sweet high end ó will probably garner Mellowdrone comparisons to Radiohead and Bates to Thom Yorke. But thereís a sense of humor at almost constant play here, not only in the mood-jumping lyrics but in the discís sonic twists, and thatís something Radiohead seem to have lost after they stopped writing songs.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI

Issue Date: January 16 - 23. 2003
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