SSR Picks: Daniel - February 24 2022

Mandy, Indiana: EP (2021, Fire Talk Records)

I spent most of the past four days driving alone from Denver, Colorado to Raleigh, North Carolina, about 1,600 miles. On the long drive I binged on podcasts and albums, and I had a great time.

At one point I was listening to an interview with Fred Armisen on Samantha Bee’s podcast, and she asked him if there was a particular way he liked to listen to music. His answer was that he loved to listen to music while traveling, like in a car or on an airplane, because he felt like he could devote his full attention to the music and get lost in it. This has always been the case for me, too. I think part of it is that I feel like I always need to be doing something. Sitting there, just listening to music feels like an indulgence, but when I’m in transit, I’m already “doing” something, so it sets free whatever part of my brain craves productivity and lets it focus on the music that I’m listening to. Exercise works in a similar way, and in the pre-COVID days when I had a gym membership, I loved zoning out to music while on the elliptical machine.

I have many fond memories tied to traveling and music. Growing up in the country, I’ve always had long commutes to school, work, and virtually everywhere else. When I was a kid, the radio was always playing in my parents’ cars, and once I was old enough to drive, the car was a rare private space where I could listen to whatever music I wanted as loud as I wanted without worrying about disturbing anyone else. I also remember many late nights riding around with my best friend Billy blasting bands like Less than Jake and Bad Religion, screaming ourselves hoarse as we sang along. I can’t count the number of artists and albums I’ve fallen in love with in the car.

On this trip from Denver, I spent a lot of time listening to the BBC Sounds app I wrote about last week, and I’m pretty sure I heard multiple BBC 6 DJs play tracks from Manchester’s Mandy, Indiana. I remember hearing them for the first time when I was driving around Raleigh last week and thinking it sounded pretty cool, then after hearing them multiple times on the trip from Denver, I was intrigued enough to the whole record.

I must have put on at the perfect time, traveling through the rolling hills of middle-of-nowhere Kentucky just as yet another Red Bull was hitting my system. Mandy, Indiana’s dense polyrhythms perfectly suited my forward momentum, the deep, dub-style bass lines so loud on the rental car stereo system that I could feel my bowels shaking. In the higher registers, Valentine Caulfield’s French-language vocals and a dense maze of whooshing and echoing noises are an aural feast, a wonderland of criss-crossing rhythms and melodies.

I don’t know how you’d describe Mandy, Indiana’s music in terms of style or genre. The closest comparison I can think of is Rakta’s Falha Comum LP, an album I was completely obsessed with when it came out. Like Rakta, Mandy, Indiana’s booming bass lines and dance music grooves remind me of Public Image Ltd, but what they lay over the rhythm section is denser and crazier-sounding. Mandy, Indiana, also seems to take more influence from techno, particularly on the two remix tracks that close this 5-song EP.

Once I got home, I looked up who was pressing and distributing Mandy, Indiana’s vinyl. Rather than just getting one for myself, I ordered a couple of copies for Sorry State, even though it’s well outside our usual wheelhouse. I’m keeping one for myself, but a couple of you might like this and want a copy too.

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