MAMAHAWK’s New Album Deserves That Diamond
Austin, Texas is known for its vibrant music scene, and one band that has been making waves with their soulful pop music style is MAMAHAWK. The four-piece outfit has a penchant for groovy quasi-funk production and a generous lime-twist of jazz in their chord progressions. A bit of Zappa with far gentler and more melodic vocals.
MAMAHAWK’s story so far is as old as time, tried-and-true humble beginnings in a compact bedroom studio, using borrowed equipment and even gluing egg crates to the walls for a bit of “soundproofing”. But anything worth pursuing is often an uphill battle at first, and their efforts and persistence soon proved to be true, as they started gaining traction in local radio stations and their recordings soon found a significant audience on streaming services as well.
In 2019, MAMAHAWK had the opportunity to support the renowned band ‘Black Pumas’ on tour, further solidifying their presence in the music scene. The following year brought a new chapter for the band, upgrading to a less-improvised home studio, just as bassist/engineer Mario Castellanos joined their ranks and helped widen and polish their sound.
Their newest album, “A Diamond Shy,” is a testament to the band’s growth, perseverance and artistic vision. Consisting of 10 songs, including three previously released singles – “Walk in the Fire,” “Fighter Jet,” and “Blue Jay.” A Diamond Shy showcases the band’s evolution while retaining their signature complex style.
“We hate politicians, the world is ending, and I had a breakup.”
With “A Diamond Shy,” the band adopts a punk-like stance to face the rather pessimistic world around us with a bit of a sardonic smile and subtle sentimental streak for good measure. Evert track is more or less in a genre of its own, going from upbeat and quirky moods to more pensive and exotic synth soundscapes, the album does nearly all and it does it really, really well. Of particular notice is the absolutely killer synth-backed sax solo in the opening track, “Walk In the Fire”, which has got to be one of *the best* things I’ve heard all year, all on its own.
You never know exactly what MAMAHAWK has in store for you after each track, but it does become apparent early on that they’re rather fond of jazz’ lack of boundaries, and they’re also enthralled with retro wave-ish synth work, strong prog-rock energies, pop lyrical structures and even the hazy nostalgic familiarity of Muzak. For everything they do in one track, they very comfortingly elaborate upon it further later on, for instance in “Time Traveler” you get this condensation of all the little bits of cosmic/psychedelic prog-rock tendencies they’ve generously sprinkled through the album in a much more powerful dose; this track is yet another standout that you definitely need to be on the lookout for.
A Diamond Shy explores the idea of idealizing tumultuous relationships, Misanthropy, and Escapism Disassociation. The band describes the album as “a colorful, abstract mosaic of life and love in modern dystopia.“ And while that is obviously accurate, it is also a bit of an oversimplification that doesn’t do it justice. The band has set what I hope becomes the cornerstone of their ethos and their pathos from now on. An unpredictable yet comforting listening experience that is almost too rewarding and unreal in its supreme quality.
Astonishing. Good work, guys!