Best Album of 2015

The Mallett Brothers Band: Lights Along the River

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I’ve been waiting for an album like this for years. I don’t think I’m being grandiose in the slightest when I say this cruel world of ours needs this record to exist. Without even a second thought, Blue Collar Songwriting’s “Best Album of 2015” goes proudly to The Mallett Brothers Band’s “Lights Along the River.”

First off, it’s a band from my old home State of Maine. That’s not why they received this spot. Hell, I moved to Michigan on purpose. This record is perfect on its own terms. Still, there’s something about such a great record coming from Vacationland that needs to be highlighted. Maine has some great bands but, man, I wish their fame would spread past New England more often. The Mallett Brothers are the folks who are gonna do this. Second, this album is equal parts rock n roll and country, in their truest & purest form. Distorted guitars that set your heart on fire, slide licks that break it, drums that pound you back into reality, all paired with thoughtful, perfectly penned lyrics.

Finally, I think this album carries some cultural importance for country music as a genre. While I celebrate that the always-expanding world of indie has in recent years been more welcoming of country music (ie. Hank III, Scott H. Biram, Wanda Jackson, Margo Price, etc.), it’s limiting that almost every country artist is immediately associated with the South, whether they are from there or not. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the South, its music, you name it. But great country music is not exclusive to Texas and its neighbors, in sound or geography. The State of Maine has proof of this: The Mallett Brothers Band.

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There’s not a corner of Maine that a particular type of country music doesn’t penetrate to its core. You hear it on the bus, in the fields, in CHURCH for Christ’s sakes, in bars, at the county fair, at every where. And sure, it has the traditional, omnipresent twang that’s essential to country music everywhere. But there’s a grittiness to the sounds of Maine country that I’ve not heard elsewhere. As if the guitar strings are washed in the mud of a backwoods road and the drum set is built out of used tractor parts. Like the name of our zine/podcast, it is truly blue collar music.

Which brings us back to “Lights Along the River.” When I first heard it my heart and imagination were flooded with deep-rooted nostalgia. Listening to it was like making out under the grandstand at a county fair at night, having Natty Ice and red snappers at summer BBQ’s, sharing a joint at a bonfire, and falling in love at a pit party. Like lights along the river, this album feels like the sweetest memories we can think of. Yet there is a sheen to it, dare I say pop appeal that gives the band power enough  to reach beyond their own genre and state. Mark my words: they will.

This is one of those albums that you hope never ends.

Fact: This band is co-lead by Luke and Will Mallett. They are the kids of acclaimed singer-songwriter and legendary Maine folk artist David Mallett.

Standout Songs: Sunny Day, Late Night in Austin, There Are No Rules in this Game, Rocking Chair, Coronado

Standout Lyrics:

“And everything’s precious and everyone’s dead
That were livin’ in the time of Alexander and Eric the Red
Only thing changing are the thoughts up in your head
Everything’s precious and everyone’s dead”
-From “There Are No Rules in this Game”

“The way you smile, I don’t mind the morning.”
-From “Don’t Mind the Morning”

Check them out, buy their albums at www.mallettbrothersband.com

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