While split EPs are by no means an absolute rarity these days, we don’t come by them often enough, and it’s certainly not often you get see to see two popular South Carolina bands collaborate. Greenville’s Shallow Palace and Charleston’s Sleepy Eye Giant are finally about to unveil Mamushka, a name that may sound a little strange for any one who isn’t very familiar with The Addams Family (and I’m going to feel quite embarrassed if there’s an additional obvious meaning to the phrase that isn’t a random pop culture reference only myself and a handful of others pick up), but what isn’t strange is the meeting between these two bands. Both artists deliver four tracks apiece, and because the sequencing features four songs from one artist, then four from the other, it almost feels like there’s two EPs at work here. Or….an EP within an EP within an EP. Oooooh.
Manushka has not been without its setback. The bands sent the record out to press to have in time for their joint tour together. Unfortunately, there were problems with the test pressing, which “were not up to snuff” in quality. Though the bands had another pressing made to their liking, it wasn’t ready in time for their tour. However, they have ten pressings they’re taking with them on the road, and are holding a raffle each night for one advance copy of the EP per show. For every one dollar you donate, you get one ticket placed in the jar, so the more you donate, the better your chances are at getting this release before anyone else!
As for how the record is? Both band brought their A game to Mamushka. Shallow Palace fine-tunes their brand of indie rock with a slightly dirtier bar rock. In tracks like “Sultana Spirit,” the use of the cow bell sounding lead off and full, jagged guitar riffs create a very boisterous ambiance, which is then blended with an infectious piano melody. On paper, if I was listing the sounds that go into this, part of me says it shouldn’t quite work, but Shallow Palace does a commendable job tying these sounds together into one cohesive piece that not only delivers, but rocks pretty damn hard. It’s a killer combination that has made this band such a favored mainstay in the area. “Goin’ West” further solidifies the band’s admirable effort in playing with their influences. There’s quiet moments, loud moments, far reach vocals, stretching guitar solos, and piano pieces all stuffed into one five minute finale.
Not to be upstaged, Sleepy Eye Giant comes out swinging as well in “Beautiful Mistake.” Sounding like the odd child of Modest Mouse, The New Pornographers, and U2, the band’s lo-fi rock compliments their rowdier friends quite well. ”Consume” floored me. I loved the jaunty melody, additional female vocals , and spacy pop-rock feel of this song. There was a sort of an early We Are Scientists vibe about it in it’s cleverness and subtlety. Starting off slow, the listener’s led to believe they’re in for a softer effort. Steadily, however, the track continues to build and build, layering sounds and melodies that all ensnare the listener.
Mamushka is a success as both a release for both artists and a split EP. Neither overshadows the other, but both artist stand steadily on their own two feet. My hope is that this release inspires more local artists to team-up and revitalize this dying form of release. Splits are a fantastic way to engage in comradery and introduce your music to a new fanbase. It’s encouraging to see two artists step up to the plate so successfully and try something a bit different in a time when so many artists feel like they can only focus on number one. Mamushka stands out not only as a release of good tunes, but a testament to the ambition and dedication both artists have to their craft and the South Carolina music scene. Well played, gentlemen.
Sleepy Eye Giant and Shallow Palace will be playing together this Staturday, October 8th at the Radio Room in Greenville. So come out to see these two great rock bands and enter to win an advance copy of Mamushka!
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