Redemptive and downright Southern

By By Jesse Peterson

By Jesse Peterson

Maylene and the Sons of DisasterIIFerret Music, LLCFour out of five stars

Maylene and the Sons of Disaster’s sophomore album, II, is less conceptual than the band itself-the members of Maylene envision themselves as the sons of murderous Ma Barker of the early 1930s.

To an extent, they revel in the lives of these thieves, kidnappers and ingrates. That said, the band’s representation focuses more on the doomed outcome of a reprobate life. The artful (and somewhat graphic) photography for the album depicts the Barkers’ shootout with the FBI, which ultimately ended in the Barkers’ deaths. II’s music is more redemptive than anything else.

Now, I’m not one who knows a lot about Southern rock, but II steeps itself in it. Flannel, God, whiskey, damnation-the whole album exudes a Southern feeling. Heavy on guitars (three in the lineup), II has a very full sound because at any given time, one guitar has the freedom to meander whithersoever it will. Upon listening, one can envision the lessons Maylene has learned from the music of Willie Nelson or Lynard Skynard.

Nevertheless, II is also heavily influenced by metal. Certain tracks are heavy, and much of the vocals – choked up by former Underoath frontman Dallas Taylor – pin the record down as abrasive. In fact, Taylor’s delivery might just be the make-or-break deal for those who take a listen. At times, it’s instantly agreeable, especially during the acoustic closeout track in which Taylor goes entirely melodic; but at other times, I just can’t help wondering if I do like it.

Odd.

II will definitely be a record of mixed reviews, especially from fans. From an analytical perspective, I think Maylene has done a good job melding its influences, constantly piquing interest by maintaining variety and the occasional “awesomeness” in its song structures. Regardless of whether people like II, its music seems to be reaching for something unattainable, like a lost soul. In my opinion, I think it’s found it.

Maylene will play March 17 at Avalon, three days before II is officially released.