Premiere: Mellowdrone, ‘Let It Out’


The most unexpected — if not the most welcome — reunion of 2018 in Los Angeles environs has been the re-emergence of Mellowdrone, the indie-rock sophisticates who withered away after releasing their second album in 2009. After a chance meeting in late 2016, singer-guitarist Jonathan Bates, guitarist Tony DeMatteo and drummer Brian Borg recaptured their creative spark, leading to the release of the songs “Way Out” and “I Don’t Believe It” earlier this year, as well as a packed show at the Moroccan Lounge.

Now Mellowdrone is plotting the release of a three-song EP, “3,” and it’s clear the trio has refined its craft since releasing the self-produced “Angry Bear” some nine years ago. In the ensuing years, Bates explored synth-fueled rock as Big Black Delta, and DeMatteo, while segueing to the business world, kept a hand in music, most recently assisting L.A. quintet the Neighbourhood with production on their latest album. So Mellowdrone’s heady mix of intricate ambient rock and spacey electronica has never been more impressive, but equally important is the emotional heft in their new songs.

The new EP’s lead track, the gripping march “Let It Out,” is exemplary. It speaks to a litany of personal woes — notably, alcohol addiction — that plagued Bates in recent years, problems that induced the songwriter to get clean and rethink what it means to be a man. The song hinges on the chorus — “a group of people operatically crying and a dude is saying, ‘Just let it out,’” Bates says.

He elaborates: “Being raised as a male in my generation, you’re never allowed to show feelings. You know: A man suffers through life and that’s what makes him a good man. I feel like that’s every movie we’ve ever watched. And Tony comes from a very Italian family — he’s one of those dudes that never complains.

“The point is, you’re allowed to be imperfect, you’re allowed to suck at things, you’re allowed to not know how to do things. The fear of not being adequate was so strong in me that I had to go to alcohol or, I don’t know, start a band and get in front of everybody and say, ‘Look at me!’ And then not enjoy it.”

He’s feeling the joy this time around. The new EP is out on Sept. 26.

||| Stream: “Let It Out”

||| Also: Stream “Way Out” and “I Don’t Believe It”

||| Live: Mellowdrone play the Teragram Ballroom on Oct. 27. Tickets.