Monday, August 19, 2013

Album Review: "As For Martinton" by Manna Frost Trio

As For Martinton was released on July 30 and is
available on Manna Frost Trio's Bandcamp
Manna Frost Trio are a band that's likely to take you by surprise. When I first listened to the band I'm not quite sure of what I expected, but I can guarantee you that it wasn't this. The Manna Frost Trio is an amorphous project that seems to straddle between the one-man band of Stacy Harden and an array of talented Carrboro area musicians. Though the band may not actually be a trio--Harden records these tracks by himself--nobody here is arguing semantics when they pull off their sound as brilliantly as they do. As For Martinton grasps the listeners attention from the opening note to the closing croons, with gorgeous folk rock roots guiding the band along the way.

The album opens with the wistful "Waste I Will,"a track that feels like a conglomeration of Dawes and Fleet Foxes, the track is fueled by its strong, passionate lyrical content but has been built upon a shuffling foundation of fingerpicked guitars and effervescent percussion. "How could I be lonesome here?/There's only time to waste, and waste I will," the words have the capacity to seep into your core while you find yourself mesmerized by the rich harmonies that fill the album. As For Martinton is filled with plaintive lyricism that's brightened by fantastic harmonies, making for an experience that's just as emotionally fulfilling as it is aurally.

Songs bleed together and all maintain similar vibes, making for a smooth albeit sometimes static listening experience. But when your sound is as finely tuned as Manna Frost Trio's is, you can faithfully stick to what you know and still be guaranteed to produce fantastic results. At first listen it may seem hard to pinpoint the finest aspects of the album since it all meshes together so well, but as you acquaint yourself with the tunes you can begin to find dazzling strong points in damn near every song. Whether it be within the dynamic shifts in tracks like "So Wonderful" or the skittering openings of "Family Reunion Pt. 1" that swiftly unravels into a groove-heavy exploratory jam, as the album goes on one can find small aspects of each track to anxiously await as the album unfolds.

While there are a few tracks like "Family Reunion Pt. 2" and "My Face of the Earth" that feel almost like pages ripped from a separate book, they're still contextually a solid fit. Perhaps it's just because I'm more akin to hearing these melodies as soft-spoken and subdued, but as Manna Frost Trio dips into electric territory it begins to feel almost jam-bandy. But hurrah for sonic exploration either way, it's truly the only way for a band to reach new plateaus. So while sometimes tracks like "My Face of the Earth" can feel displaced, tracks like "All Turned Around" fill-out the end of the album and remind you of the soothing vibes that brought you to Manna Frost in the first place. "All Turned Around" feels like a banjo-driven Band of Horses tune, the melody has a slow bounce to it, but is filled out perfectly with the accompanying harmonies while the instrumentation slowly churns along with a diligent drive before it comes to a head with a marvelous crescendo.

Ultimately As For Martinton is an incredible listening experience, it marks the full length debut of a band that's filled with promise and potential. Though they've been honing their craft with a handful of EPs, their music is beginning to take form both lyrically and sonically. The band's melodies can captivate listeners while the lyrics pack a hefty punch, making for an experience that always keeps you on your toes. Small lines from each song will stick out like a sore thumb in the best way possible, right when you've lost yourself in the sounds you'll hear a phrase that pulls you from your comfort zone and grabs your attention, beckoning future listens to better acquaint yourself with these fantastic songs.

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