Gil Mantera’s Party Dream
(Fat Possum/Audio Eagle)
Aggressive synthpop from burnt-out industrial center Youngstown, Ohio.
Finding connections between a band’s music and their hometown is overrated. The most asinine correlations are exploited and historical contradictions are overlooked. Youngstown — while not quite Flint, Michigan — draws its pride from its past as an iron and steel mecca, symbolic of the possibilities and consequences of industrialization. But after plant closures in the ’70s, it’s known for a quarter of its population at or below the poverty line, high inner-city birthrates, and noteworthy athletes escaping to the NFL. When Bruce Springsteen writes a song about you, as he did on The Ghost Of Tom Joad, you know you’re not on the right track.
It remains a mystery whether Gil Mantera and Ultimate Donny have heard the song or if they even know who Springsteen is. Or that progress passed Youngstown by. Favoring resplendent synthpop from the no-nukes ’80s, the Party Dream play as if in a void or it’s 1999. No more ass-shaking than Flock Of Seagulls were, there’s still a power blasting forth from BloodSongs, something you wouldn’t find out of place in your iPod between Stellastarr*, The Faint, or on your Devo-centric evolutionary chart. Diving headlong with vocoder effects and universal love (“Shadow Grip”) and synth-chime solos (“Super Plus Ice Festival”), maybe they hope to rewrite a little history. Forever Youngstown.
– Steve Forstneger
Appearing: January 27 at Empty Bottle in Chicago.
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