An adventure into the cavernous minds behind The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina awaits all who dare to pick up their new album Little King and the Salamander (demos), starting with the groove-savvy terrain of “Hey Everybody.” Absent are the confining linguistic-heavy pop melodies of the 21st century as we examine songs like “White Light and Lullabies,” the fractious tone of “Particle Craze” and the splashy guitar-driven wrestling match in “Together,” and in their place we discover nothing but air-tight rhythms that defy critical perceptions of what rock music is supposed to sound like in 2019. The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina have a style that is as stone cold as anything you would find in a vintage collection of vinyl garage rock records, but faceted with a much more despondent sense of rebellion more akin to present day punk rockers – as is clearly demonstrated in their equally explosive acoustic and electric material found throughout this album. Their psychedelic accents aren’t the ambient fodder of shoegaze, but instead something that is in a direct line of descent from bands like Blue Cheer, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, minus the virtuosic blues guitar elements.
“She’ll Do Anything” is one of the more chilling acoustic songs on the record, but it doesn’t minimize the impact of other ballads like “Slip Away (Dreamin’ Again)” and “Fade into the Night.” One of the most charming components of the listening experience that audiences can expect out of Little King and the Salamander (demos) is that while the substance of the music is slick and streamlined, it isn’t packaged with a poppy polish as to limit the natural tonality of the music
As a result of this approach, all of the songs have a similarly dynamic feel that makes them gel together exquisitely. The humor of “Definitely Not My Underwear” and “Jeepers Creepers” provides the album with a bit of humility that is strangely missing from the bulk of alternative music nowadays, and I actually think that they make more brooding moments like “I’ll Be (Kisses at Your Door),” “What Fools We Can Be” and “I Have Always Been Here” all the more potent.
My opinion of Little King and the Salamander (demos) is based exclusively on how the music it contains moved me on both a physical and emotional level, and not on how it champions the eccentricities of The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina, but after giving the record all of my attention over the past few days I’ve yet to tire of its evocative melodies and strikingly textured lyricism. My first few listens of this record left me utterly spellbound by the musical prowess of the band in the studio, while after more concentrated analysis I found myself feeling drawn more to its subtly-arranged verses and burly master mix. There’s a lot to take in here, and even if I had another week to really break it down to its nuts and bolts, I have a feeling that there would still be a lot of ground left to be covered in this incredibly entrancing, multidimensional effort from an unquestionably talented band.