1. Bust 'N' Boom
2. Broken Flowers
3. Always In The Summer (Live)
4. Tall Grass
5. Tall Grass (Live)
The nine-piece musical kaleidoscope that is T. Mandrakes release their debut five track EP on TMC (distributed by Universal) on April 12th 2010. Reclining on a bed of clavinet-driven soul, lead track Bust ‘N’ Boom takes a pertinent swipe at the world’s current economic travails and is possibly the first song to suggest that Barack Obama might not be the answer to our problems (“Is your bust too big for this boom?/Is your head too big for this room?”) The EP also features four other tracks: the REM-tinged Broken Flowers, the feverish, Wonder-esque, gospel rant Always In The Summer and two versions of the band’s live favourite, Tall Grass, a song uniquely situated halfway between Walk On The Wild Side and something off Paul Simon’s Graceland album. All tracks have been produced by Pete Brown and Mark Garfield, and mixed by Eddie Kramer.
T. Mandrakes take their name from the flower (mandrake) whose roots (which resemble human figures) are used in magic rituals. Musically, they combine rock (and a lost ‘70s soundtrack that might include The Chicago Transit Authority, Arthur Lee’s Love and Blood, Sweat and Tears) with ‘60s Stax soul and jazz. However, a T. Mandrakes song is as likely to remind you of the good time soul-pop of Q Tips and Kid Creole and the Coconuts as it is conjure up images of Strange Days era Doors and Young Americans era David Bowie.
T. Mandrakes are fronted by half Thai, half American vocalist/guitarist Jay Zieseniss who attended the same boarding school (Institut le Rosey) as The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jnr and Julian Casablancas, incidentally winning the school’s drama award the year after Casablancas. Intriguingly, T. Mandrakes also feature legendary Cream lyricist/percussionist Pete Brown as co-lyricist and backing vocalist, Brown also securing co-production credits for the band’s debut album From East To West And All The Rest alongside another legendary figure, Eddie Kramer, famed for his work with Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin amongst countless others. The band also include Leigh Coffin (tenor, saxophone), Mark Garfield (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Matt Hanson (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals), Nicki Hutchins (alto, baritone sax, clarinet), Tanya Jackson (vocals, melodeon), Tad MacDonald (bass), Al MacSween (keyboards, backing vocals) and Kate Plane (trumpet, flugel horn, backing vocals).